The Lions wrapped Week 2 of organized team activities on Thursday, finishing their fifth practice of the session. Unfortunately, the media was shut out from the two practices this week, leaving us with little information to go on.
But because the team’s official website has provided us with photo galleries and highlights from the past few games, we’re able to pull from them minor observations about the team and their practicing habits. Of course, with such little information to go on, there’s no reason to draw sweeping conclusions on what the Lions will look like in 2018.
That said, combining what we can see from this set of media with observations made from earlier in the offseason, here’s what we’ve learned from Week 2 of Lions OTAs.
It still looks like Frank Ragnow is headed for left guard in 2018... BUT
#RagnowWatch2018 continues with more of the same this week. In photos and highlights from Wednesday’s and Thursday’s practices, Ragnow was only seen at left guard with the first team offense.
However, for the first time since OTAs began last week, there’s evidence that Ragnow was getting some reps at center. In Thursday’s photo gallery, there are a couple pictures of Ragnow at center. It’s hard to tell exactly who he’s playing aside, but based on clothing, he’s not with the first-team offense (Graham Glasgow is wearing black socks and shoes, but the left guard in this case is wearing white shoes and black socks.)
Position versatility is key among interior offensive linemen, so Ragnow practicing at multiple positions is good for the rookie (he’s also taken reps at right tackle during OTAs). But as it pertains to the first-team offense, it still looks like Ragnow is headed for left guard.
Anthony Zettel may play from a stand-up position
Throughout Zettel’s short NFL career, we’ve almost exclusively seen him line up with his hand in the dirt, but it has been a different story during this offseason.
Take a look at this picture right here. Zettel is lined up over the right tackle in a formation that looks a lot like a 3-4 front. Except Zettel is acting as an outside linebacker here, not as a defensive end. Next to Zettel is rookie defensive tackle Da’Shawn Hand.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this. We saw him in a similar formation over the left tackle in Day 4’s photo gallery.
When Matt Patricia talks about his personnel as “multiple,” this is what he means. We could see Zettel playing a 4-3 defensive end/3-4 outside linebacker hybrid, similar to a role many see for free agent acquisition Devon Kennard.
Lions linebackers are practicing to be aggressive
Last week, a few Lions reporters now Detroit was utilizing their linebackers in a pretty aggressive manner. From Dave Birkett (emphasis added):
First, as promised, the Lions used a mix of odd- and even-man fronts in Thursday’s workout. They had four defensive linemen on the field the first time they sent their first-team defense out (in a nickel package), but often played with three linemen and a pass-rushing linebacker near the line of scrimmage.
Evident from this drill — and of no real surprise — is that the Lions look like they’ll be aggressive asking their linebackers to attack the quarterback. The D-line for one rep consists of Jeremiah Valoaga, Cornelius Washington (at nose tackle??) and Anthony Zettel, with Devon Kennard and Jarrad Davis practicing blitz timing behind them.
Looking at Thursday’s photos seems to support these observations. Jalen Reeves-Maybin (photo), Chad Meredith (photo) and Steve Longa (photo) are just a few who were caught either showing a pass-rush stance or straight up barreling toward the line of scrimmage.
Last season, the Patriots finished tied got the seventh most sacks in the league. 14.5 of their 42 total sacks came from the linebacking corps. The Lions, on the other hand, only had 3.5 (of 35) sacks from their linebackers in 2017. There could be a big change in strategy coming from that unit in 2018.