Friday’s open practice at Allen Park was much more livelier than previous practices and you could feel the energy from the players all the way in the bleachers. Players were chirping back and forth, and there were even some big hits despite tackling not being allowed.
Sitting out practice this morning: TE Eric Ebron, G TJ Lang, WR Ryan Spadola, DE Cornelius Washington, LB Thurston Armbrister, RB Mike James— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) August 4, 2017
Though Ebron was out once again, he was seen laughing and running around on the sideline with the running backs and I’d venture to guess that he’ll be back soon, but probably not for the Mock Game on Saturday.
Cole Wick left the field after a dropped pass and was getting checked out by the trainers toward the end of practice. No indication on how severe that injury may be.
Tavon Wilson, Theo Riddick and Don Carey were all wearing the red no-contact jersey once again.
Closest to our seats were the defensive backs running backpedal and transition drills. Teez Tabor looked really smooth during these, and that will be the last positive thing said about him in this article.
Jamal Agnew also had a really nice pluck out of the air at the end of his first rep. I can’t say enough positive things about him.
Every defensive group went through tip drills today, and I’m betting that coaches are putting an emphasis on creating turnovers this year. Glover Quin made the most impressive play during these drills and made a nice one-handed grab with his left hand.
On the opposite side of the field, the receivers were working on their slant routes.
Teez Tabor had by far the worst day in 1-on-1 drills, and his lack of speed got the best of him on multiple occasions. However, it is notable that the Lions have played him in press a lot lately, and that’s not exactly where he’s at his best. When Teez gets his hand on a defender at the line of scrimmage, he’s usually fine, but that wasn’t the case today.
Most of the receivers had really good days in 1-on-1s, including Jared Abbrederis, who seems to be Tabor’s Achilles’ heel at this point. The most consistent receiver out there was Keshawn Martin, who may have won just about every rep he was out there for. I’ve yet to find a negative thing to say about him, and there is a good chance he’s fighting for Abbrederis for the potential No. 5 receiver spot, with TJ Jones safely ahead of both.
The closest camp battle right now has to be for the starting nickel job. Quandre Diggs impressed yesterday and looked even stickier in coverage today. DJ Hayden was up and down, but had a strange rep where he gave a ton of room to Kenny Golladay who made the easy grab. And, of course, Jamal Agnew had another solid day in coverage and continues to excel. This battle is one that I will be keeping a close eye on during Saturday’s Mock Game.
I didn’t have a great view of team drills, as they chose to play on the opposite field for the final portion of practice, but I did see enough to know that the Lions are in really bad shape at left tackle. Both Cyrus Kouandjio and Greg Robinson had really poor showings on Friday with the first-team offense. Laken Tomlinson also filled in for T.J. Lang, who was without pads today.
Noel Thomas, who turned heads on Day 1 of camp also had a solid day, notably beating Josh Thornton on a go-route for a touchdown in 7-on-7 drills. The linebackers, though, made the most noise of any positional group during these drills.
Though unable to actually tackle in team drills, Jarrad Davis hit Marvin Jones Jr. hard across the middle and popped the ball loose, only to be caught anyway by Jones, who then took a second licking from Davis. I was really impressed with the first-round pick out of Florida today, and he was often the first person to the ball and would have racked up the tackles during these drills if they were permitted.
Antwione Williams is another guy that clearly looks like he wants to hit out there and gave Keshawn Martin a hip check at one point. Williams is the front-runner for the starting SAM linebacker spot and looks like he’s ready for an increased workload.
An interesting development was seeing Tion Green and Cole Wick get some reps as a fullback, or as Jim Caldwell likes to call their “F.” It will be interesting to see the personnel that the Lions use during their Mock Game, as they have been using a lot of 12 (one running back, two tight end) and even 13 personnel during practice.
A couple of guys that have not been mentioned much, but did impress me today were center Leo Koloamatangi and defensive tackle Jordan Hill.
In goal-line formation, the Lions had Zach Zenner as their power back and scored two touchdowns on four plays. I’d expect him to maintain that role moving forward, unless Dwayne Washington or Matt Asiata step it up big time.
Chad Ochocinco showed up at today’s practice in bright red pants and had some nice things to say about the team, but also specifically Kenny Golladay.
Don’t forget tomorrow’s Mock Game at Ford Field has been moved to 10:20 a.m. ET. Gates open at around 9:00 a.m., so plan accordingly if you are attending.