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Detroit Lions training camp Day 7 observations: DBs recover after slow start

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The Lions defensive backs had their worst day of camp, but recovered nicely.

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

The Lions ended the work week with one of their more highly attended practices on Friday. With the crowd buzzing, and the Creed blasting through the speakers, it was another eventful day at camp. Here’s what stuck out to me the most:

Participation report

Friday saw a few big changes in the injury report. The follow players did not participate:

  • DT A’Shawn Robinson (new)
  • DT Da’Shawn Hand
  • LB Chad Meredith
  • DB Stefan McClure
  • G T.J. Lang
  • TE Michael Roberts
  • LB Cam Johnson
  • DE Ezekiel Ansah

I wouldn’t be too concerned about Robinson, even though his snaps had been limited for the past couple days. Along with Lang, Robinson was running pretty hard out there on the sidelines and shouldn’t be expected to miss much time.

In for Lang was mostly Joe Dahl at right guard, while Ricky Jean Francois was with the first team yet again on Friday.

Returning to practice was Cornelius Washington, who was taken off the NFI list earlier Friday. Both he and Devon Kennard—who was taken off the list Thursday—were pretty much limited to individual drills, although Kennard is slowly making his way into some team drills as well.

Additionally, today looked like a big step in the right direction for Da’Shawn Hand, who has been out since suffering an injury to his right leg on Monday. Hand was running the length of the field on Friday and was only wearing a very small band around that knee.

Up and down day from the defensive backs

Early in the day, every cornerback not named Darius Slay was getting beat up, and sometimes by players that had no business beating the Lions’ DBs. Wide receiver Bradley Marquez, who had a pretty impressive day on Friday, beat DeShawn Shead by three steps in one-on-ones, then had a big gain later in the practice during full-team drills.

Teez Tabor was also victimized by Kenny Golladay, who had beaten him so thoroughly that a pretty well underthrown ball was still easily caught by Golladay for a 50-yard touchdown.

But the group rebounded in a big way toward the end of camp. In the two-minute drill against the second-string offense, both Tabor and Nevin Lawson notched pass breakups. And in an early team drill Shead had sticky coverage on Marvin Jones Jr., forcing Matthew Stafford to scramble and eventually throw it away. Then a few plays later, Shead punched the ball loose from LeGarrette Blount, forcing the veteran running back to do a lap.

There was probably more bad than good on Friday, but the defensive backs have been having a pretty consistently solid camp, so I wouldn’t worry too much.

Running back pass protection a big problem

For the first time all camp, we saw running backs and linebackers go face-to-face in a pass protection drill. The linebackers were absolutely dominant for the entire drill.

Of the entire group, Ameer Abdullah struggled the most, losing three of four reps to Steve Longa. And those weren’t just three modest losses, they were clean beats that would have gotten Matthew Stafford killed.

Other notes from this drill:

  • Christian Jones beat Dwayne Washington on back-to-back reps
  • Jarrad Davis physically dominated Kerryon Johnson, but Johnson responded with a stalemate on the next snap between the two
  • Jonathan Freeny managed to get by LeGarrette Blount
  • The only running back who came out mostly unscathed was Theo Riddick, to no one’s surprise.

Rough day for Abdullah

In addition to getting beat up in the pass protection drills, Abdullah seemed to struggle wherever he went on Friday. He even got a few looks with the first-team offense, but struggled to find his way to the line of scrimmage during a few carries and was a non-factor in the passing game. At times, Abdullah was visibly frustrated, which is understandable for a guy who may be playing for his football career in Detroit.

Compare that to Theo Riddick, who not only thrived in the pass protection drill, but proved, once again, that no linebacker can cover him. Theo caught back-to-back passes on plays that only he could make.

Overall, I think Abdullah has been grinding out this training camp and looked alright, but today was a clear step in the wrong direction.

Small notes

  • The Lions worked more on kickoffs today, specifically unusual kickoffs. Onside kicks, short kicks, squib kicks to make sure the ball was taken care of. The return team recovered everything on the day.
  • A group of offensive linemen stayed after practice to get in some extra work. That group included Brian Mihalik, Leo Koloamatangi, John Montelus and Jamar McGloster.
  • A bunch of defensive linemen also stuck around with some coaches to get extra time. In back-to-back days, I’ve seen Ricky Jean Francois take on a leadership role during this extra time.