What a day Monday turned out to be. The first thing that was different was that I suddenly found myself inside the Lions media room at Allen Park, my first time having any sort of press credential in my three-year career.
As I walked into the room, fog arose from the floor, lightning struck in the background and Justin Rogers looked up at me and nodded in approval of my entry—or maybe he was trying to figure out who I was. It was probably the latter.
It was all quite surreal. Getting to meet all the names and faces you’re used to conversing with on social media. But probably not a surreal as seeing former Dallas Cowboys Vice President of Player Personnel Gil Brandt walk into the room to use the restroom. It would appear that we’ve made it to the big time.
Anyways, as always, I have some thoughts. These are those thoughts.
Matthew Stafford is really good, you guys
Stafford somehow looks better than he did in 2016, at least here in camp. It’s too early to tell what Stafford will do during the season, but as far as camp goes, Stafford was on point all day long, especially when it came to the long ball. He was hitting receivers in the end zone from 40 yards out with ease. Detroit could be in for a real treat.
Stafford wheels still spinning
I thought Stafford would stay firmly put in the pocket all day and that would be that. No, sir. Stafford scrambled on a couple of occasions and looked like he may be just a pinch faster than he was last year.
Rudock and Kaaya had a bad day
Brad Kaaya looks to be the odd man out when it comes time to cut the roster down to 53 men. He didn’t do anything of note on Monday and hesitated far too often in the pocket allowing the ball to get swiped on one throw.
Jake Rudock ,on the other hand, tried to do his best Matthew Stafford impression and wound up throwing a pick-six when tried to bomb the ball down field. He also missed on few other shorter passes or couldn’t get the right zip on others. The Lions backup quarterback situation should scare everyone more than “Ernest Scared Stupid” scared me when I was a kid.
Johnson Bademosi had a big day
It seemed like Bademosi was everywhere on Monday afternoon. Remember those bad plays that Rudock had? It was Bademosi that was making them look good on the defensive side.
Bademosi was able to deflect two passes and had the big pick six on Jake Rudock when he was running against the second team. I’m not sure where Bademosi will fall in 2017, but today he made a great case for himself sticking around Detroit, and not just in a special teams role.
Mike Payton is a dork
Just about everyone here could tell you that. While all the beat writers were hard at work, I was taking short “Look, it’s so-and-so” breaks every 5-8 minutes. My worst moment came when I had to go introduce myself to Curt Menefee. I said “Hi, Mr. Menefee. I would be remiss if I didn’t come over and shake your hand and introduce myself.”
I then held onto his hand a little too long and never told him my name. “Nice to meet you too....Mike,” he said as he looked down at my name tag. I laughed and he walked away. Needless to say, I’m taking Rob Riggle’s job this season.
Hey, I talked to Jamal Agnew
As all the beat writers went around and talked to some of the big names, I took the time to talk with Jamal Agnew one-on-one. I had to know his thoughts on potentially being the Lions return man.
“A lot of us are in the mix for returner. It’s a fierce competition,” Agnew said. “Obviously, I had a pretty good day in the mock game. Still that’s gotta show up on Sunday.”
Agnew has the speed and the ability play in and excel at that role in Detroit. But it may be too early to tell if he’s going to be the man to get it. One thing is for certain, this guy wants to help out anywhere he can.
“Anyway I can get on the field and help the team get a win. I’ll do it,” Agnew said. “Whether that’s playing safety, corner, nickel, return or any kind of special teams. If I’m able to contribute in any way to a W, then I’m all for it.”
Corner looks good. All of them.
A week ago on Facebook Live, Jeremy Reisman and I talked about the massive amount of depth that’s suddenly in the Lions secondary. I said then that not knowing which defensive backs to cut is a good thing. I feel that even more so today.
As I mentioned earlier, Bademosi had a nice day, but so did guys like Agnew, Teez Tabor and D.J. Hayden. These cats were all over the field all day and making big plays. Tabor, for example, made a huge play in the end zone when he was able to deflect what was sure to be a Marvin Jones Jr. touchdown.
Nevin Lawson also continues to look good despite many of the fanbase believing he’s not that good. He made a few big stops, knocking a pass or two out of the air. If the Lions can get some help up front, things could be looking very good in the secondary in 2017.
Anthony Zettel looks to have a big role in 2017
It looks like Anthony may retire from tree tackling and start hitting some quarterbacks more often in 2017. Zettel filled in for an injured Ezekiel Ansah today and looked like an old pro in most scenarios.
Once Ansah comes back, Zettel’s role will likely become smaller, but don’t be surprised if he becomes a major flex player come Week 1.