As training camp has rumbled on, the only real constant has been that the Detroit Lions pass rush has been woefully bad and consistently unimpressive. That changed somewhat on Friday, where the defense, as a whole, saw a bit of a resurgence The defensive line finally got the better of the offensive line consistently throughout the day. Even better, the linebacking corps showed some real improvement, displaying improved coverage ability and a tendency to hit their teammates and draw cheers from the crowds with their work.
Stock Up: Antwione Williams, LB
Antwione Williams just gave Keshawn Martin a hip check. He just wants to hit.— Alex Reno (@alex_reno) August 4, 2017
The Lions 2016 fifth-round pick was thrust into action far too early in 2016 (he wasn’t expected to play on defense at all, even rotationally, as a rookie). Still, he somehow played fairly well outside of coverage, and it was hoped that he would take a step forward in 2017 as the Lions presumed Sam linebacker. He has struggled in coverage throughout camp, but on Friday was having some genuine joy in hitting other players in pads. It was an impressive day from a player who has largely been ignored by the fan base, but could impact 30 percent or more of snaps on defense this season.
Stock Down: Teez Tabor, CB
Teez Tabor's struggles continue. Lost his jock in coverage against Golladay, then got beat for a long TD by Abbrederis.— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) August 4, 2017
No player had a worse day on Friday than the Lions’ second-round pick, Teez Tabor. The rookie was abused in coverage routinely, regardless of who was lining up across from him. To make matters even worse, the player who beat on him the most was Packers castoff Jared Abbrederis. Tabor has had ups and downs in camp, but the concerns about his speed have not, up until this point, caused much of an issue. That wasn’t the case on Friday where Tabor’s lack of speed was a huge, glaring issue. His biggest issue was playing in press, but even when not in press, he could not keep up with Jared Abbrederis or Kenny Golladay, both of whom ran 4.50, just barely above average speed for receivers in the NFL.
Stock Up: Jarrad Davis, LB
The gap between Jarrad Davis and the other rookies right now is monstrous. The way he calls a defense and moves to the ball seems vet-like.— Nate Atkins (@NateAtkins_) August 4, 2017
The Lions first-round pick from this year has quietly been having a strong training camp. That changed a bit on Friday when the ‘quietly’ part was replaced by thunderous hits and flashes of the elite athleticism that pushed him so high in the draft to begin with.
One of the best plays of the day was when Jarrad Davis gave Marvin Jones a big hit. He also chased down tight end Robert Tonyan (4.58 speed) after he caught a pass ten yards downfield, despite Davis being in the flat the time the pass was thrown.
Davis was flying all over the field, making his presence known, and for the first time in training camp, we had a linebacker having a consistently good showing in coverage. Hallelujah!
Stock Down: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT
Cyrus Kouandjio fell on his face just now. It'd be comical if, you know...— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) August 4, 2017
Cyrus Kouandjio started at left tackle, got blown up, then gave way to Greg Robinson. Later, Robinson would start, get blown up, and then Kouandjio would start. To call the tackle play bad would be a bit of an understatement. It seemed like every defensive end rushing from that side was going to end up deep in the backfield every time the ball was snapped.
The left tackle position needs help and the signing of this former Buffalo Bills second-round pick was expected to help mitigate the damage done from Taylor Decker’s injury.
Stock Up: Kenny Golladay, WR
I'm not a scout but I know my shit, Golladay is gone be special ® pic.twitter.com/ynIcAmlSZE— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) August 4, 2017
If you hadn’t gotten your tickets for train G19, it’s already left the station but is somehow still accepting passengers. Golladay had another great day of practice, beating multiple cornerbacks with different levels of ease.
There was one play where D.J. Hayden saw his route but still stayed above it, allowing an easy catch that shouldn’t have happened, but each of Golladay’s other catches were instances of him beating his defender using size, speed and route-running savvy. His ability to change gears at the top of his routes is incredible and may be a more important trait than his size or hands.
Stock Down: Greg Robinson, OT
#Lions have serious LT problem. "I watched Anthony Zettel spin Cyrus Kouandjio like a top during 1-on-1s & then eat Greg Robinson's lunch."— Nick Mensio (@NickMensio) August 4, 2017
Like Kouandjio, Greg Robinson played a large amount of left tackle snaps and gave up a large amount of pressure. The former Ram didn’t put up much of a fight and it’s difficult to gauge just where the LT battle is at this point. Given his pay and what it took to acquire him, the assumption is that Greg Robinson would come in and win the job outright. Not only has he failed to do so, but he’s failed to do so with minimal competition.
Jared Abbrederis, WR - Abbrederis has been inconsistent in camp and while I’ve heard he wasn’t good on Friday, he was very good on all the reps I caught.
Johnson Bademosi, CB - Bademosi had a nice hit on Michael Roberts. The rookie was pulling up, but it’s a defenders job to hit and Bademosi didn’t shy from a bigger target.
Alex Barrett, DE - The UDFA had a strong rep where he smoked Storm Norton off the edge.
Barrett is moving around well, better than he tested IMO. I think he's had a pretty good camp. Haven't seen much of Valoaga.— Alex Reno (@alex_reno) August 4, 2017
Brandon Copeland, DE - Copeland was among the DE who benefited from poor second-team OL play.
Quandre Diggs, CB - Diggs didn’t have a perfect day, but he’s improved over the last two practices after his tough start to camp. He isn’t done yet.
Bruce Gaston, DT - I only caught Gaston on a couple reps, but one of those reps was deep in the backfield after beating one of the guards immediately at the snap.
Tion Green, FB? - Tion Green has been quiet since the start of camp, but the team started using him as the second-team fullback on Friday. It’s odd, but we’ll call it a win.
In this picture it was Cole Wick in this picture but they also ran it with Tion Green and Matt Asiata— Erik Schlitt (@erikschlitt) August 4, 2017
Jordan Hill, DT - Another good day rushing the passer from Hill. A dark horse to make the roster, Hill’s pass rushing abilities would be a boon to this team if he keeps it up.
Marvin Jones Jr., WR - Jones continues to make plays as camp wears on, seeing Golladay balling out may be motivating him.
Brad Kaaya, QB - Usage still says Kaaya is the QB3 and Rudock the 2, but this was the first day Kaaya looked noticeably better than his counterpart.
Nevin Lawson, CB - The feisty starter is trying to play up to Slay’s level. He had a good day at camp where he played sticky in coverage.
Jeremiah Ledbetter, DT - Ledbetter was at the table while the reserve DL were feasting on OL.
Steve Longa, LB - Longa is probably the sixth LB on the roster right now, but that’s valuable since the team might roll with six on the final roster.
Keshawn Martin, WR - Martin’s strong camp continues and he’s solidified his spot as the fifth WR so far. If the team keeps five, his versatility will be important.
Rolan Milligan, SS - Milligan continues to make a case for a practice squad spot.
Haloti Ngata, DT - Ngata was the first to kick off the DL dominance today, shooting through the line like he was ten years younger.
Haloti Ngata just shot into the backfield, would have been a nice TFL deep in the backfield.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) August 4, 2017
A’Shawn Robinson, DT - Robinson didn’t get into the backfield, but he was making life hell for the blockers on the interior and was a big part of the rush as a whole.
Akeem Spence, DT - It’s been a quiet camp so far for the former Buccaneer, but he made some noise along with the other DL once second team took over.
Jeremiah Valoaga, DE - The UDFA rookie came off the PUP on Friday. A move in the right direction.
Rick Wagner, OT - The only OL I have yet to see beaten in camp, Wagner is everything he was expected to be.
Dwayne Washington, RB - Washington wasn’t great, but he did bounce back from the horror show on Wednesday.
Tahir Whitehead, LB - Whitehead has been improving as camp goes on. That’s a good sign for a player likely to see a large portion of snaps this season.
Cole Wick, TE - Wick still needs to stop dropping passes, but his usage suggests he’s holding to the fourth spot, even if his play hasn’t been that high. He’s improving, though.
Zach Zenner, RB - As badly as the OL was getting beaten on Friday, Zenner still managed to take in a couple touchdowns on goal-line drills.
Brandon Barnes, TE - With all the receiving drills, the one player I never saw make a play was the undrafted rookie.
Jace Billingsley, WR - There’s plenty of time left, but TJ Jones and Keshawn Martin are making a very hard case for Billingsley to make the final roster. Time is a factor.
Joe Dahl, OG - Dahl’s second-team OL was beaten to a pulp by the reserve defensive lineman on Friday. He was beaten by Jordan Hill at least once.
Ego Ferguson, DT - Day 5, due to our efforts we spotted number 67 on the field. No. Wait, that’s not right, that’s 97, nevermind. On a day the backup DL dominated, he was nowhere to be seen.
Graham Glasgow, OG - The left side of the starting offensive line was beaten early and often on Friday and it was more than just the tackle spot.
Desmond Lawrence, CB - The team went back outside the red zone and Lawrence is back to being beaten routinely.
Khari Lee - Cole Wick has bounced back some and the lead that Khari Lee had for the fourth TE spot has all but evaporated.
Cornelius Lucas, OT - Lucas has been up and down, but this was a day he was very down allowing pressure after pressure.
Matt Rotheram, OG - I didn’t catch any individual plays, but the entire second and third-team OL were getting just destroyed.
Jake Rudock, QB - Rudock wasn’t as accurate as he had been the previous practice and forced receivers to pull back on their deep routes to catch underthrown passes.
Laken Tomlinson, OG - Tomlinson was one of the OL getting beat with the first team (in for Lang) before passing off those duties to the next guys.