Expectations have been slowly rising as the Detroit Lions compete in training camp. Though concerns with some of the starters have largely been quieted with the play of the others, the concerns with depth have mostly been answered. Confidence in the Matt Patricia run team was not very high coming into the year after a 6-10 season, but if these stock reports have been any indication that is turning around. The kool-aid is flowing, but we’re going to look at both the ups and the downs in camp over the past couple days.
Stock up: Amani Oruwariye, CB
For a while now, we’ve been talking about how the battle for #2 cornerback hasn’t really been much of a battle. The competition for the next outside corner spot wasn’t really getting much traction either, but that all changed on Day 7 of camp. After his worst day of camp by far, Teez Tabor was removed from the first team and Amani Oruwariye was thrust into his first real action covering NFL quality receivers. His first snap was covering Marvin Jones on a double move, on which he bit so hard it left an imprint. After getting torched that badly, however, Oruwariye bounced back immediately and finished stronger than we’ve seen him play all camp. He had a nice pass breakup while covering both Marvin Jones and Chris Lacy and then capped it off with an interception on a back shoulder target to Kenny Golladay. It was a great way to finish the day and might have been enough to get him some serious reps from here on.
Stock down: Teez Tabor, CB
Anytime one guy moves up, there’s someone who moves down. Tabor had his best day of training camp on Wednesday, but Thursday was an abject disaster for him. On the near side of the field where I was watching, he got burnt a couple times on deep routes, which has been pretty par for the course in camp. Other than that, he did alright in drills I was able to watch. When the team moved to the other side of the field, in view of the media tower, it was a completely different story. In red zone drills, I heard from multiple sources, he was completely outclassed on every play to the point that he was visibly struggling with his assignments. It was after these drills that the team started 11 on 11s and Amani Oruwariye took over on first team.
Stock up: Jarrad Davis, LB
Davis had a good day on Wednesday and he followed it up on Thursday with another strong showing. In both cases it was coverage where he was able to make big plays, netting difficult pass deflections both days that drew cheers from the crowd. Coverage is an area of concern for Davis, so seeing positive strides in that area could be huge for this defense.
Stock down: Jahlani Tavai, LB
If there was any rookie that has been consistently good in training camp aside from T.J. Hockenson it has been second-round pick Jahlani Tavai. Day 7 was a completely different story and when the team ran RB on LB passing drills, Tavai didn’t win a single rep. The runners were running breaking routes where they would cut to one side of the field or the other, and it didn’t matter who he was covering because the result was always the same. I can give him a pass for his coverage of Ty Johnson, who outran him so quickly he never really had a shot to cover, but getting beaten by Nick Bawden as badly as he was is as bad a learning experience as you could see. Tavai would later miss a ‘tackle’ that left him grabbing at air. Linebackers aren’t allowed to actually tackle, so misses bad enough to be called one are always egregious.
Stock up: Tracy Walker, S
I’m running out of laudatory phrases to use for Tracy Walker. I had thought about running a count of how many passes he’s able to disrupt either by picking them off or knocking them away, but I’m having enough trouble keeping track of T.J. Hockenson touchdowns. Walker continued his strong camp both days, getting in the way of a ton of passes and making it very difficult for the quarterbacks in camp to get passes to their intended targets.
Stock down: Will Harris, S
Like Kenny Golladay last season, the coaching staff is putting Will Harris in position to fail. Not long term, for sure, but they have been putting him in situations he struggled with in college and working with him to improve them. This has the side effect of making him look pretty bad in camp as he struggles to read routes and angles the deeper from the line of scrimmage he is. Add to that being a step late in coverage far too often, usually from giving too much cushion and having to adjust, and he’s had a rough start. It’s lucky the Lions have the depth to bring him along slowly.
Graham Glasgow, OG: Glasgow has been standing out in drills the past few days and with the team finally settling in with their OL grouping I expect him to keep showing out.
Mike Ford, CB: Ford actually lost more reps against Chris Lacy today than he won, but one of those wins was a forced fumble so I’m gonna give him some love here.
Rashaan Melvin, CB: Melvin has completely taken the CB2 job so far and hasn’t relinquished his grip. Can he hold off a new challenger in Amani Oruwariye?
John Atkins, NT: Atkins seems to be holding onto his second team nose tackle job as he’s taken all of the first team reps in Snacks’ absence.
P.J. Johnson, NT: Though he hasn’t found his way up the depth chart at all, Johnson had a nice rep where he batted down a David Fales pass.
Nick Bawden, FB: Bawden continues to look good as a blocker, but he’s stood out with his receiving skills the past couple days and even started picking up long snapping.
Garret Dooley, LB: Dooley continues to steal reps with the first team and I have yet to see him stand out in a negative manner.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB: JRM continues to look stronger in coverage than anywhere else, and his abilities in that area might be enough to force himself on the roster.
David Fales, QB: Fales has been a bit of a punching bag due to his play in camp, but the team took extra time to help him with the timing of his passes early on Thursday and it really showed throughout the day.
Kerryon Johnson, RB: Johnson sometimes has to remind us that he’s awesome and did so on Thursday with a swing pass where he beat an end turned upfield for what would have been a large gain.
Miles Killebrew, LB: Not only for having the head coach talking him up, but Killebrew actually had a really good day in coverage on Thursday, especially attacking running backs.
Jesse James, TE: James hasn’t gotten as much work in the passing game as some of the others, but he did a fine job working the middle of the field on Thursday.
Marvin Jones, WR: This was a fine day for Jones who got the better of Teez Tabor, Amani Oruwariye, and Justin Coleman at least once each.
Jermaine Kearse, WR: The veteran receiver has had a rough camp, but this was a very nice day for him as he bested Jamal Agnew and later another corner on intermediate routes.
Chris Lacy, WR: Lacy had a nice battle going with Mike Ford, but after an early fumble he was able to get the better of the former undrafted starter in team drills.
Justin Coleman, CB: For a while, it seemed like Coleman could do no wrong. On Thursday, we saw several mistakes from Coleman, posting his first real negative day.
Mitchell Loewen, DE: After a few days where he tore it up, the Loewen hype has largely died down. He doesn’t seem to have moved up the depth chart yet.
Beau Benzschawel, OG: Benzschawel is miles away from contending for a roster spot and will need to really pick up the pace to stand a chance.
Christian Jones, LB: With Davis, Tavai, JRM, and even Dooley standing out positively, I have to wonder what kind of risk there is for Jones to possibly not make the roster.
Tre Lamar, LB: Lamar’s lack of speed becomes very apparent whenever they run coverage drills as he is usually not only beaten, but beaten very badly.
Don Muhlbach, LS: A long snapper has only one real job and as much as we love the dude it’s gotta be mentioned that he’s whiffed on a couple the past two days.
Ryan Santoso K/P: Santoso whiffed so hard on a kick on Thursday that I had to wonder if maybe he was aiming at something else. Like the freeway.
Tom Savage, QB: Savage has had a good camp, but Thursday was not a good day for the former Texans signal caller.
Andrew Adams, FS: Adams has had a good camp, but on Thursday I saw him get beaten cleanly a few times and he seemed to be hesitating in coverage.
Isaac Nauta, TE: Wednesday was quiet, but Thursday was a down day for Nauta who dropped one pass that hit him right on both hands.
Brandon Powell, WR: I only saw a couple plays with Powell, but each showed him struggling to separate from coverage.