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MathBomb training camp observations: DeShawn Shead winning CB2 cleanly

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The No. 2 corner battle was one to watch entering camp, but it already appears settled pretty handily.

NFL: Detroit Lions-Training Camp Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The pads are on and players are hitting each other, bringing us one step closer to the regular season debut of these Detroit Lions. The morning was hot, sometimes unbearably so, but it didn’t prevent Matt Patricia from pushing his players to the very edge and once they’d arrive, push them even further. It was interesting seeing a new approach to training camp. There was an approach for efficiency with Jim Caldwell’s camps but Patricia appears to favor fundamentals and pace. While I’m sure some of you remember the stock reports I would put out last year in camp but I’m following Matt Patricia’s approach and doing things a little differently.

Quarterbacks

The difference between Matthew Stafford’s arm strength and the other quarterbacks on the roster is always one of the most hilarious camp observations for me. There’s a tremendous gap between Stafford and any of his backups, which our friend Mathis (who you should be following on Twitter if you aren’t) sums up thusly:

Running Backs

The group everyone was excited for, it was a mixed bag today. Plenty of ups and downs, even with how the team ended the day. The final series saw Kerryon Johnson making two of the best plays of the day back to back, but we also saw LeGarrette Blount leave injured.

Tight Ends

There were a few bright moments, but it was mostly a bad day for this unit. Particularly in their blocking, this group looks to be the weakest on the offense.

Offensive Line

With so many upgrades and focus of the past few seasons, you’d hope that we’d finally start seeing some dividends from this group. They were the second-best unit on the field all day, and there looks to be some brighter days ahead.

Wide Receivers

The strongest individual unit on the roster by a wide margin, this group shows plenty of promise even if the secondary got the best of them most of the day.

Defensive Ends

I payed very close attention to the offensive and defensive lines today and I gotta tell you... this unit isn’t looking good. Ezekiel Ansah and Devon Kennard aren’t back from injury yet, so we’re talking depth guys, but even when facing the bottom of the roster there were only a few good moments.

Defensive Tackles

There were some ups and downs, and while it was more bad than good it’s worth noting that they were better than the edge guys. I continue to worry about any kind of interior pass rush, since there was very little of that.

Linebackers

Normally we see linebackers get lit up in passing drills and make up for it in run defense. Overall, it was a pretty nice day from this unit despite few stand out moments. I was rarely left laughing about how sad watching Thurston Armbrister cover is (not just because he’s not on the roster, either). Run defense was mixed, but considering what they had up front to work with, it went well.

Secondary

This was mostly an impressive unit, and easily the best group at camp today. There were a few key missteps, but overall this group was facing a ton of tough assignments, and I mostly came away impressed.

The Breakdown

Replacing the old “Quick Hits” section of the stock reports, I’m going to be breaking down as many players as I can based on what I observed. I’m going entirely in alphabetical order here, so feel free to skip around as needed.

Ameer Abdullah, RB - It was a pretty good day overall for Abdullah. He mostly just took what the offensive line was giving him, but he did have one run where he cut between the guard and center for a big game. He looks more explosive than he did in 2017, which could just be the foot healing fully.

Jamal Agnew, CB - Swagnew fielded some punts and did some special teams work, but it was his work on defense that had people cheering. While 2017 camp saw Agnew and Jace Billingsley going back and forth, there wasn’t a single rep Agnew lost in coverage today. Still needs to work on run angles, though.

Deontez Alexander, WR - He was on the field, but didn’t stand out in any way.

Alex Barrett, DE/OLB - Barrett filled in for the injured Devon Kennard, but it was a pretty rough showing. Going against Taylor Decker or Rick Wagner really pushed the limits of what he could do and if he won any of those reps I didn’t see them.

Trevor Bates, LB - Mostly a non-factor on the day, there was one moment where Tyrell Crosby missed a block and stumbled leaving an opportunity to cut inside and take down the RB at the line, which Bates was happy to take advantage of.

Nick Bellore, FB - If there was hope of using a fullback more often in 2018, that seems to have mostly left with the team’s drafted fullback. Bellore didn’t stand out in any way, but it was notable how little he was used.

Jace Billingsley, WR - Billingsley was beaten by Jamal Agnew on every rep, but he lined up in the backfield and took the ball for a nice gain so maybe that’s his in?

Freddie Bishop, DE/OLB - A longshot to make the team, the pass rusher from Western Michigan hat at least one nice standout play on special teams taking advantage of the ball carrier being slowed by Tavon Wilson.

Adam Bisnowaty, OT - I mean, he was there. Probably did the least amount of work of all the OL.

LeGarrette Blount, RB - I mentioned in passing that Blount was possibly the least exciting part of this running back group and his day mostly looked like that. Did his job, left all the flash to everyone else.

Matt Cassel, QB - Cassel seemed to have the most snaps out of the backup QBs and did fine. Not much to talk about good or bad.

Amari Coleman, CB - Coleman had one of the best defensive plays of camp. Cassel threw a deep pass that was well placed and Coleman leapt to where the ball was going to be, knocking it down for a pass breakup. Coleman would have a long road to make the roster, but, wow, plays like that are how you stand out.

Tyrell Crosby, OT - There were some ups and downs, but it was mostly up for the Lions mid-round pick. Crosby had one block that was done so well that Matt Patricia shouted various amounts of praise and obscenities to make sure he knew it. He followed it up with a play I mentioned earlier where he missed a block, but he rebounded quickly and had a good day playing left tackle.

Joe Dahl, OG - Dahl didn’t make an impression.

Antwuan Davis, CB - It may just be because I paid less attention to the WR and CBs than I normally do, but I never even saw Davis on the field.

Jarrad Davis, LB - There weren’t any noticeable gaffes that I saw, though he didn’t stand out positively very much either. Had a ‘sack’ in goal line drills, but that was mostly due to coverage.

Taylor Decker, OT - Decker blocked everyone he touched into oblivion.

Quandre Diggs, SS - Diggs had a good day overall. He mostly played safety from what I saw and had one really nice play where he just wrecked Dwayne Washington in goal line drills.

Josh Fatu, DT - Presumably, he was both at practice and practicing. I watched the OL and DL units very closely, and I never noticed him once.

Dontez Ford, WR - A holdover from last season, Ford didn’t stand out in a stacked WR corps.

Mike Ford, CB - One of the guys I was excited to see, I had a hard time keeping tabs on Mike Ford. Will try again on Thursday.

Jonathan Freeny, LB - I would worry if Freeny makes the roster. One of the only linebackers that stood out entirely negatively on the day.

Graham Glasgow, OC - There was one play where Glasgow was absolutely destroyed by Sylvester Williams but otherwise it was a very positive day for him. I’m going to be checking again later this week, but I think he’s holding the ball differently (Normal now, anyway. He held the ball from the top in previous years which was unorthodox).

Kenny Golladay, WR - I expected to see Golladay making some circus catches or schooling fools, but he was mostly locked down by DeShawn Shead and got knocked off his routes way too easily in goal line situations.

Da’Shawn Hand, DL - I tried to watch for him often, but what little I saw wasn’t notable one way or the other.

Kerry Hyder, DL - Hyder is a great feel-good story, but there wasn’t much to talk about from him today. He was handled quite easily from the offensive line.

Ricky Jean Francois, DL - The newest addition to the line didn’t do much from what I saw.

Cam Johnson, DE/OLB - Cam Johnson managed to make two of the worst plays of camp on back to back plays. He was casually thrown aside by Tyrell Crosby on a run play and on another was levelled by something called a *checks notes* John Montelus.

Kerryon Johnson, RB - I saw very little of Johnson for most of the day, which was surprising. He came in for some pass blocking reps and did well, but it was the goal line drills where he truly shined. On one play, he made a beautiful jump cut to force a miss and easily shot through the hole for a touchdown. On the very next play, defensive tackle Toby Johnson stormed the backfield unblocked, but Johnson casually wheeled left and blew through a hole for another touchdown. If you were worried about someone vulturing touchdowns from the rookie, I’d worry more about it being the opposite.

Toby Johnson, DT - Aside from the aforementioned goal-line play where he rushed unimpeded into the backfield, I’m not sure he did much.

Wesley Johnson, OC - I didn’t see a single snap from Johnson, which I’m going to chalk up as a win. He was my 90th rated player in our recent series.

Marvin Jones, WR - Marvin left early yesterday but he was one of the first players on the field today. If you had any concerns about his health, put them straight to bed. He was the best player on either side of the ball today.

Chris Jones, CB - He exists and is currently on the roster.

Christian Jones, LB - Jones was often on the field, but rarely made an impression. That could be just because he’s doing his job, but you usually want your linebackers making plays.

TJ Jones, WR - Jones continued his play from last season and looks very smooth. It’ll be hard for anyone to take his fourth WR spot, and he may be more of a 3a or 3b.

Miles Killebrew, SS - I was hoping to see more of Killebrew, but saw little of him.

Leo Koloamatangi, OC - The main thing I was looking for was if Koloamatangi had lost some of his bad weight and put on some muscle. He appears to have done so, and it was never more apparent than when he planted Christian Ringo so deep in the turf they needed to bring the team gardener to get him out.

Chris Lacy, WR - Lacy wasn’t a guy I expected to be talking much about, but here I am. A bigger receiver, Lacy was tough to cover. The DBs won more often than Lacy did, but it never looked easy. One to watch.

T.J. Lang, OG - One bad play on the entire day, dominance for the rest of it.

Nevin Lawson, CB - Lawson practiced after having yesterday off due to a personal matter. He’s pretty far down the depth chart, taking reps behind Shead, Tabor, Agnew, and obviously Slay.

Jeremiah Ledbetter, DL - This one was tough because I really liked Ledbetter in 2017, but it wasn’t his best day. He wasn’t manhandled, but he was beaten quite often.

Steve Longa, LB - Longa is known for his special teams ability, but he got plenty of work backing up the linebackers and may be the top reserve on the team.

Marcus Lucas, TE - I’d heard good things about Lucas, but I saw nothing that would back that praise up today, I’m afraid.

Bradley Marquez, WR - Stood out only when he was getting beaten on by Nevin Lawson.

Sam Martin, P - Martin did fine when he punted, and as far as I can tell he held for every kick Matt Prater made (a big sign for where he stands).

Stefan McClure, FS - I’m pretty sure he exists.

Sean McGrath, TE - I mentioned that the tight ends didn’t stand out much positively, and McGrath easily stood out the least positively.

Chad Meredith, LB - I did my best to keep an eye on him, but there wasn’t much to report. I had hoped the team would use him as an outside linebacker, similar to like how they were using Alex Barrett, but he was exclusively off ball from what I saw. He did fine, but nothing stood out.

Brian Mihalik, OT - I didn’t see much out of Mihalik, but he appears to be OT4 on a team that might only keep two.

Rolan Milligan, FS - The only time I noticed him was on a Dwayne Washington run in which he was run over.

John Montelus, OG - Aside from beating Cam Johnson badly, Montelus didn’t do much that I noticed.

Don Muhlbach, LS - I heard that during camp he delivered three babies, wrestled a brown bear to a draw (he was tired), and played shot put with the prince of Denmark.

Brandon Powell, WR - Having watched Powell in college, I didn’t expect much out of him. As a receiver, I got exactly what I expected (nothing), but he showed several nice flashes on special teams as a gunner and that may be his in.

Matt Prater, K - Prater missed several field goals wide left, but that’s not a big deal. Prater uses narrow goal posts, so his near misses are likely in during an actual NFL game.

Glover Quin, FS - Not much to say. He looked like himself.

Frank Ragnow, OG - Ragnow looked pretty good from what I saw. A few rough patches early, but he was handling Sylvester Williams and whoever else lined up across from him pretty easily after a while.

Teo Redding, WR - A favorite of mine, I have some doubts that Redding makes the final roster. It’s not that he did badly—quite the opposite, he played well whenever he was on the field—but man does he need to put on some muscle. Redding may be the leanest player on the field, even skinnier than TJ Jones was as a rookie. and that’s saying something.

Jalen Reeves-Maybin, OLB - JRM wasn’t asked to do too much, but he looked fine when he was on the field.

Theo Riddick, RB - He still struggled running the football, even with it being camp, but he’s going to get so many red zone targets that it probably won’t matter.

Christian Ringo, DT - I saw nothing positive on the day.

Michael Roberts, TE - Roberts had a few nice moments catching the football. I think he’s going to be used quite often in the short and intermediate areas of the field, as his speed prevents him from being much of a deep threat but his large frame is ideal for boxing out defenders in tighter areas. Blocking was not his thing today.

A’Shawn Robinson, DT - It started out well, but a short time into training camp I had nothing to say about Robinson’s play. He was getting worked by T.J. Lang solo, then by Glasgow.

Corey Robinson, OT - Robinson’s days may be numbered as he barely worked from what I saw.

Jake Rudock, QB - Like Cassel, not much to say. Pretty boring competition, really.

Darnell Sankey, LB - Didn’t do much of anything.

Ryan Santoso, P - Santoso didn’t do much on the day, but he was able to get a few punts in. One boomer pushed the returner (Agnew) back, but he seemed to have outkicked his coverage as there was far too much room for someone like Agnew to break one. His next punt was low, but long, and likely would have led to good field position (with help from some strong gunning).

DeShawn Shead, CB - No defensive player had a better day than Shead. The No. 2 CB competition is less of a competition as it is just Shead taking the job and daring anyone to take it from him. He looked very sticky in coverage all day.

Dan Skipper, OT - Skipper was there, and he is still really tall. That’s about it.

Matthew Stafford, QB - Looks like himself.

Teez Tabor, CB - For much of the day I was trying to simply find Teez Tabor. He wasn’t taking No. 2 reps, nor was he lining up in nickel formations. When he finally did see the field, it was a shallow crosser thrown to TJ Jones who had beaten Tabor by at least two yards when he made the catch and turned upfield. On another rep, he was beaten initially on a double move but the ball was thrown immediately to another part of the field so we didn’t get to see if or how well he would have recovered.

Golden Tate, WR - Tate looked fine. He seemed to be taking it a bit easier in camp, though that might just be pacing himself.

Levine Toilolo, TE - The tight ends didn’t look great as a group, but I was surprised that Toilolo would struggle blocking as much as he did. He may be the slowest offensive player on the team, including linemen, so I wouldn’t expect to see him used much in the passing game.

Hakeem Valles, TE - Blocking was really bad, but there were a couple of nice moments in the passing game that Valles showed promise.

Jeremiah Valoaga, DE - Valoaga has a harder road to making the team, but it wasn’t a bad day overall. Not great, but not terrible. On one play he beat Michael Roberts so badly on the edge that he had to pull up to avoid crashing full speed into Matt Cassel.

Rick Wagner, OT - Wagner beat everyone he faced from what I saw.

Tracy Walker, FS - I was hoping to see more out of Walker, but he wasn’t rotated in much. He surely looks the part.

Charles Washington, FS - Washington didn’t do much on the day, but he looked fine when he was on the field.

Dwayne Washington, RB - It started out far better than it ended. Washington had a nice run where he took the ball up a crease and hit safety Rolan Milligan so hard it echoed across the park. Later, during goal line drills, he ran right into the back of his offensive lineman and came to a near full stop before getting hit by Quandre Diggs and taken down. More notable is that I saw little of Washington on special teams, with others taking his role.

JoJo Wicker, DL - I saw very little of Wicker, though that was not for lack of trying. The edge group was getting swallowed up so badly so often that it was hard to keep track of everybody.

Kenny Wiggins, OG - Wiggins seems to have an inside track to the roster so far, and he looked far better than I expected him to. On one play in particular it was a toss sweep and he got past all of the DL, creating what would have been a big hole for his runner.

Sylvester Williams, DT - It looked good at first with a huge run play blown up by Williams and Robinson, but it didn’t last very long. The OL got the best of him for the rest of the day.

Luke Willson, TE - Willson made a nice touchdown grab in red zone drills (after a clean blitz pickup by Kerryon Johnson), but I didn’t see much of him otherwise positively. His blocking has not been fine.

Tavon Wilson, SS - Mr. Inconsistent himself had a pretty good day. Wilson made a play or two on both defense and special teams.

Zach Zenner, RB - You know, if I had to move the needle one way or the other I’d say it was a positive day for Zenner. He needed to show he could do more than just occasionally pass block, and he did well when asked to run or catch.

Anthony Zettel, DE - Zettel got very little push on defense regardless of who he was facing.