By this time in the offseason, usually things start to settle down. You see the same kind of observations that you’ve been noticing throughout Detroit Lions OTAs, and you get a pretty good understanding of what each player’s role may be in the upcoming season.
But every now and then you’ll get a curveball thrown your way. While it’s important not to overreact to one day of practice, it certainly is notable. That’s how I would describe the Lions’ offensive line usage in Day 2 of mandatory minicamp.
Let’s get into my observations.
Offensive line shake up
The Lions changed out two players in the presumed starting offensive line on Wednesday, and they’re probably not the ones you would think.
Previously, the Lions have mostly had Kenny Wiggins at left guard and Graham Glasgow at right guard. Both of those players were relegated to the second-team offense for almost the entirety of practice. In their spots were Joe Dahl at left guard and Oday Aboushi at right guard. With the second team, Wiggins and Glasgow kept their same positions on the left and right, respectively.
At this point, it would be very surprising if either Dahl or Aboushi were to win out a starting role, but it’s interesting to see head coach Matt Patricia and company give them a shot.
Defense dominating offense
At this time of year, it’s pretty common for the defense to be ahead of the offense. That is probably especially true for a team learning a new offensive system. But on Wednesday, it was clear just how much better the defense is compared to the offense.
The offense, similar to Tuesday’s practice, seemed like they weren’t on the same page for several plays, and it was an abysmal day for the backup quarterbacks. On one play, Tom Savage panicked, scrambled from the pocket, ran back in the other direction, then threw an interception right to Andrew Adams.
Of course, the offense is also missing a few key pieces in Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay, so there’s no real reason for concern.
Arise, Chris Lacy
For a few weeks now, I have been looking to see if any of the Lions’ receiver depth would emerge with Jones and Golladay out, and finally it happened Wednesday. Lacy was a popular deep threat during Day 2 of minicamp, with Matthew Stafford connecting with Lacy on several occasions.
During one drill—where players were probably running around 70 percent speed—Lacy made an impressive leaping grab over Rashaan Melvin. Then, when the Lions went full speed 11-on-11s, Stafford hit Lacy deep over Teez Tabor, who had a pretty rough day by his own admission.
“I ain’t doing too good right now,” Tabor said after practice. “It’s a lot of things I need to work on still.”
That being said, Lacy did have one pretty bad drop on another deep ball in which he had a step or two of separation.
Tight end notes
T.J. Hockenson had an up-and-down day, as you would expect from a rookie. However, there was one series of plays that impressed me.
Working on goal-line drills, Matthew Stafford tried to hit Hockenson on a quick out. The rookie tight end made a clean move and had clear room to make the catch, but he was too slow to turn his head and didn’t have enough time to catch the ball thrown right at his hands.
However, on the very next play, Tom Savage went right back to him and Hockenson made a good touchdown catch near the back of the end zone.
Wednesday, however, was more about Jesse James, who showed he can be a down-field threat, as well. Early in practice, Stafford found James in a tight window between zone coverages. A few plays later, Stafford went deep to James over the middle of the field and after bobbling it a few times, James came down with it.
Michael Roberts had a fairly quiet day, as he struggles to create separation in coverage. However, he may have made the catch of the day. Roberts hauled in a fade pass at full extension at the corner of the end zone, pulling it down clean and coming down with it as the defender landed with him. Unfortunately, it was out of bounds according to the nearby referee.
- I’ve been asked a few times where Mike Ford stands in the CB2 race. Well, this may be an indication. Ford saw playing time all over the field, including some safety work with the third-team defense. Ford still had plenty of time working with the cornerbacks—including during 11-on-11 drills—but this is something to keep an eye on as we near training camp.
- The participation notes from Wednesday’s practice were identical to Tuesday. Also of note, Justin Coleman and A’Shawn Robinson don’t seem to be getting much playing time (if at all) during full 11-on-11s. Neither appear to be working with trainers.
- Tavon Wilson made a near identical play to his interception from Tuesday... but he dropped it.
- The Lions ended Wednesday’s practice with a field goal kicking contest between the offense and defense. The media was stationed at the exact opposite corner, so we couldn’t tell who exactly was kicking, but the defense won, as evidenced by the entire offensive roster doing pushups. Be on the lookout to see if the Lions post highlights of it on their website.