It was a pretty calm scene Monday morning at Allen Park as the Detroit Lions took the field for Day 4 of training camp in front of a small crowd. While practice seemed to lack the intensity of Sunday’s practice—the first padded practice of the year—there were plenty of interesting observations. Here’s what I saw from the team on Monday:
LeGarrette Blount was back and a full participant in Monday’s practice, despite leaving Sunday’s session early. Matt Patricia said, “I think he should be okay today,” during his pre-practice presser and he appeared to be right.
However, there were a few new players who sat out of practice. In addition to the four players who remain on injury lists, Cam Johnson, Chad Meredith, Stefan McClure and Tavon Wilson were all sidelined.
Wilson was moving pretty well on the sideline, so he may not be out for long, but perhaps more interesting was who the Lions put in Wilson’s place...
Rise, Rolan Milligan
No, the Lions didn’t move Quandre Diggs backs to strong safety again. Nope, it wasn’t Miles Killebrew’s chance to finally move up the roster. It was former Toledo Rocket Rolan Milligan with the first-team defense.
Milligan spent most of 2017 on the Lions’ practice squad, and is probably still a pretty big longshot to make the team, but the fact that the Lions are at least giving him a shot with the ones has to be a signal of a little faith in the young defender.
“Multiples” on defense
For the first time in training camp, I finally saw the Lions move some of their defensive linemen all over the formation. In one particular long-lasting drill, the line-up was as follows, from left to right:
Alex Barrett - Kerry Hyder - Sylvester Williams - Anthony Zettel
With the second team, it was Anthony Zettel who slid into the 3-technique.
While this was the first time we saw this in practice, it almost certainly won’t be the last.
Sloppy on offense
Once again, I thought the defense was ahead of the offense in practice, especially in the red zone. Coverage has been absolutely sticky between Marvin Jones and Darius Slay, and DeShawn Shead and Kenny Golladay. However, in the instances in which Jones has been opposite Shead, Marvin clearly has the upper hand.
Monday was a particularly sloppy day for the offense, and they paid for it with some extra conditioning. Three times the offense was told to stop the drill and jog to the other side of the field as punishment, twice because of a botched snap (one with Matthew Stafford, and one with Matt Cassel).
Da’Shawn Hand injury
About two-thirds the way through practice, Lions fourth-round rookie Da’Shawn hand walked to the sidelines with a trainer and was fitted with a pretty heft wrap on his right leg.
Da’Shawn Hand leaving the practice field with a big wrap on his knee pic.twitter.com/ALRNzRWSeM— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) July 30, 2018
While he stayed outside for the rest of practice, he did not take off the wrap and obviously did not return to play.
Frank Ragnow stands out
Both because of my positioning and the lack of hitting, Lions first-round draft pick Frank Ragnow hadn’t stuck out after the first three practices, but he looked like the real deal on Monday. He was consistently getting push alongside Taylor Decker, and even put Sylvester Williams on his back during one drill.
Odds and ends
- No player had me checking my roster more than No. 36 cornerback Antwuan Davis, for both good and bad reasons. He had two pass breakups during skeleton drills, but was absolutely toasted at other times. Matt Patricia mentioned consistency as one of the most important characteristics of a good corner, so that’s not a good sign from a longshot to make the roster.
- Jeremiah Ledbetter had an above-average day. He made a nice tackle for loss during a goal-line play after swimming through the offensive line nearly untouched.
- Camp darling Teo Redding had an up-and-down day. In a drill in which cornerbacks were designed to be chasing a receiver from behind until they make a cut, Redding managed to put nearly five yards between him and the defender. Late in practice, though, he had a bad drop.
- Levine Toilolo looked like the clear-cut, best blocking tight end on Monday. Doing the same one-on-one drills against edge defenders we saw yesterday, Toilolo was consistent, while both Luke Willson and Michael Roberts would follow up one good rep with a bad one.
- Speaking of Roberts, he had to do a lap after a bad fumble. For someone who is expected to take a key jump from Year 1 to Year 2, he’s off to a slow camp start.
- Today was Matt Cassel’s best day of camp. He looked confident, poised and he dropped a couple of deep dimes on Monday. His only clear mistake was on a miscommunication with a receiver, and it’s always hard to know who is truly at fault in those situations.
Drill of the day
The Lions continued their focus on ball security with a drill Detroit News’ Justin Rogers called “the spanking drill.”
A receiver would come back to catch a pass, only to immediately get slapped across the hands with a pad. After that, two defenders would chase the receiver as they turned upfield: one from behind, one from upfield. To the receivers’ credit, I did not see a single ball on the ground during this drill, but I did see Nevin Lawson put a wideout on the ground with a blindside hit.