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Detroit Lions training camp Day 4 observations: T.J. Hockenson shines on injury-filled day

Here’s what we saw during a very physical practice.

Detroit Lions Training Camp Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Sunday was perhaps the most intense of the first four Detroit Lions practices. Their second day with the pads on, players did not shy away from contact much at Allen Park, much to the pleasure of the Lions fans in attendance.

I was sitting with the fans on Sunday, giving myself a different perspective of practice. Here’s what I saw:


Everyone but A’Shawn Robinson was accounted for, including Kerryon Johnson, who had an excused absence on Saturday, according to head coach Matt Patricia. Johnson’s Instagram story suggests he was at his brother’s wedding.

Defensive end Romeo Okwara and cornerback Marcus Cooper returned to camp after missing Saturday’s practice, although I did not see either participate in team drills.

That means the following players were out (but present), as expected: Tommylee Lewis, Steve Longa, Trey Flowers, Darius Slay, Damon Harrison Sr., Darius Kilgo, Jonathan Wynn, Devon Kennard, Christian Jones, and Malik Carney.

Additionally, while Mike Daniels was present, he was not participating in practice.

Unfortunately, the injury list would only grow as practice went on. Da’Shawn Hand injured himself on the very first rep, according to the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett. I didn’t see the play, but here’s how Birkett described it:

Hand, who finished last season on injured reserve with a sprained MCL in his right knee, was taking part in a four-on-three rush drill, where three interior offensive linemen block four defensive players, when he grabbed at his left elbow area.

He walked off the field shaking his arm and was immediately visited by a Lions trainer and what appeared to be Lions coach Matt Patricia’s chief of staff, Kevin Anderson, before heading to the locker room.

Towards the end of practice defensive end Mitchell Loewen (more on him later) left after a collision with Nick Bawden. And fourth-round rookie Austin Bryant also left practice after staying down on the field for a minute or two following a full-contact drill. Of all the injuries I saw, Bryant’s appeared to be the most serious, but he did walk off under his own power.

You can’t stop Hock

The Lions have put a lot of different players on first-round selection T.J. Hockenson this training camp, and they have all been beaten. Sunday, Hockenson elevated over rookie safety Will Harris for a huge gain down field. Then a little while later, he beat Tracy Walker by a good two steps for an easy score during red zone drills.

The rookie is playing with some swagger, too. After both big catches, he celebrated, giving the crowd a first down motion and an “Are you not entertained?” pose after each catch.

I haven’t seen enough out of Hockenson during blocking drills to make a fair evaluation on that part of his game, but he has been absolutely dominant as a receiver.

The rise and fall of Mitchell Loewen

If there has been a secret superstar of training camp, it is Mitchell Loewen. The depth defensive end has looked good in both team drills and one-on-one as a pass rusher. With no Okwara or Trey Flowers over the past few weeks, Loewen has been getting reps with the first team, and he is making the most of it.

His play of the day came on a goal-line drill, in which he knifed into the backfield and made a huge hit in the backfield—and let every person in attendance know it with a loud celebration. Literally, on the very next play, a collision with Bawden sent him to the locker room with just a few minutes left in camp.

Mark Thompson making an impact... literally

Even after the release of Theo Riddick, running back Mark Thompson may be a longshot to make the roster. However, he certainly made an impression on Sunday. Early in practice, he trucked over Tavon Wilson, and later in practice he did it to Jamal Agnew, causing a bit of a stir between the offense and defense.

The defense, however, would get the last laugh. Late in practice, Miles Killebrew sent a shoulder right into Thompson’s arms, blowing the running back to the ground and jarring the ball free in the process.

Drill of the Day: Oklahoma Drill knockoff?

The NFL told teams that the Oklahoma Drill is no longer allowed in practice, and while there are different variations of that drill, the Lions managed to do something somewhat similar on Sunday.

Players started on their backs—head-to-head—and after a whistle they would scramble to their feet and try to hurry their way past a defender. Much like Saturday’s tackling drill, every player participated, with the exception of the offensive line, quarterbacks and special teamers.

Odds and ends

  • Rashaan Melvin continues to look the part at No. 2 cornerback. He had a solid pass breakup in coverage against Marvin Jones Jr. on Sunday.
  • Tre Lamar also had a really solid pass defended. While he’s a long shot to make the roster, I’ve had more positive notes than negative for Lamar.
  • Travis Fulgham got a little bit of playing time with the first-team offense. Good sign for the rookie.
  • Good day from the reserve cornerbacks. Amani Oruwariye had a couple of a pass breakups and a near interception. Meanwhile, Mike Ford had the only interception I saw all day while in coverage again Fulgham
  • The Lions were back to their 1B offensive line group, using Joe Dahl and Oday Aboushi at left and right guard respectively with the first-team offense. Kenny Wiggins (left guard) and Graham Glasgow (right guard) were with the second team.

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