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Detroit Lions training camp observations: Backup quarterbacks rebound after rough practice

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The offense was moving a little better after a rough practice Saturday.

New England Patriots v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions offense finally showed some signs of life without Matthew Stafford on Sunday afternoon. With the Lions’ franchise quarterback taking another veteran day off and Tom Savage still in concussion protocol, it was up to David Fales and newbie Josh Johnson to run practice after a not-so-hopeful session on Saturday.

Both rebounded nicely, but we’ll get into that in a bit.

Here are my Day 14 training camp observations:


Matthew Stafford and Marvin Jones Jr. had the same deal as yesterday. Show up and go through stretches, but that’s it. At this point, there’s no reason to assume either are injury related, but we’ll see next week.

Here are the players that did not participate in practice:

  • Tom Savage
  • Tyrell Crosby
  • Steve Longa
  • Damon Harrison Sr.
  • Ray Smith
  • Da’Shawn Hand
  • Austin Bryant
  • Mike Daniels
  • John Atkins
  • Jarrad Davis
  • Teez Tabor

A couple notes here. Da’Shawn Hand no longer had his brace on his left arm. Instead, he was still wearing his compression sleeve.

John Atkins was a new name that was out. I did not spot him at practice at all. He, Crosby, and Savage were the only three players that were unaccounted for completely.

Interesting to note that Tre Lamar was at practice despite the fact that he was waived-injured. This suggests the Lions believe Lamar will clear waivers and return to their IR list. Lamar had a big wrap around his left knee.


Today was a much cleaner practice from David Fales, who was extremely sharp and accurate in one-on-one and seven-on-sevens. In fact, during the first set of seven-on-sevens Fales went 8-for-8 in red zone passes.

Unfortunately, it was a different story when the offensive and defensive lines came in. We saw some of the same issues with Fales once the team went full 11-on-11s, mainly his tendency to hold onto the ball way too long.

As for Josh Johnson, I still haven’t seen him test his arm too much, but his fade leaves a lot to be desired. He threw a pretty awful ball right at Rashaan Melvin during seven-on-sevens. Then, during full team drills he was picked off by Andrew Adams.

4-minute drill

Prior to practice, head coach Matt Patricia said that the team would work on what they call a four-minute drill: a possession in which the offense is already leading and trying to milk the clock.

The first-team offense ran three plays of varying success. First down was a run up the middle that was stuffed for no-gain. The Lions moved the ball up three yards anyway and ran for another 3- or 4-yard gain. Facing a simulated third-and-3 situation, they ran the ball yet again on third down. While it was hard to tell if he made it based on our view from the end zone, though the roar of the offense on the sideline suggests they picked it up. If so, it wasn’t by much.

The second team was a little more interesting. After a first-down run was stuffed, Johnson found Travis Fulgham in one-on-one coverage, and Fulgham pulled down the catch and spun off the would-be tackler for a huge gain. The next play, Johnson looked for Fulgham in the end zone, but Darius Slay batted the ball out of Fulgham’s hands and followed it up with his patented finger wag.

Finally Kevin Strong gets his own section

If there’s one defensive lineman that keeps coming up in my notes but doesn’t get the recognition he deserves, it’s undrafted rookie defensive tackle Kevin Strong. Remember, Strong comes from University of Texas-San Antonio, where currently Lions defensive line coach Bo Davis coached him in 2017.

Strong again looked like a standout player Sunday, and with all of the injuries along the defensive line, he split time with Fred Jones with the first-team defense. When the Lions are fully healthy, it’ll be tough for Strong to find a spot on this roster, but he keeps making a case for himself over the likes of John Atkins or P.J. Johnson.

Odds and ends

  • The offensive line shakeup from Saturday remained the norm on Sunday. That means Joe Dahl was repping as the first-team left guard, while Kenny Wiggins was the second-team right tackle. Left guard duties with the second team were split between Beau Benzschawel and Joe Dahl running double duty.
  • You may want to start putting Chris Lacy in your 53-man roster predictions. Lacy beat Darius Slay on a route and pulled in the catch despite Slay limiting his vision.
  • As the Lions start to get their linebacking crew back, Jahlani Tavai and Devon Kennard both picked up tackles for loss in the run game. Tavai also forced a fumble that sent Kerryon Johnson doing a lap.
  • Favorite play of practice: Ty Johnson and Kerryon Johnson on the field at the same time.
  • After practice, the Lions beat writers had a friendly punting competition. The winner? Yours truly, with this beauty:

Look out, Sam.