The Detroit Lions made it a mission this offseason to overhaul their tight end room. They are entering the 2019 season with literally an entirely different set of players, devoting two draft picks—including the eighth overall choice—and a high-priority free agent signing to the position.
While we are far from anointing this new set of tight ends as a vastly improved group, the signs have been mostly positive through training camp. And that was especially true on Friday night as the Lions took camp to Ford Field for their annual camp scrimmage.
Here’s are my observations from the Ford Field mock game.
Here’s everyone who wasn’t suited up for Friday’s practice:
Players not suited up for the scrimmage:— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) August 2, 2019
- Marcus Cooper
- Jonathan Wynn
- Steve Longa
- Trey Flowers
- Tommylee Lewis
- Darius Kilgo
- Da'Shawn Hand
- Austin Bryant
- Malik Carney
- Christian Jones
You can throw in Teez Tabor on that list, who appears to be dealing with a leg injury.
Additionally, Darius Slay, Mike Daniels and Devon Kennard did not participate in the scrimmage.
Tight ends put on a show
Literally every tight end caught a pass during the scrimmage portion, and most of them were big plays.
T.J. Hockenson was first on the board with a big 24-yard pickup down the middle of the field that set the first-team offense in enemy territory. Jesse James earned a first down on a nice sideline catch (though they marked him short). Finally, Isaac Nauta had the offensive play of the night, pulling down a big touchdown catch with Miles Killebrew draped all over him. The pass from David Fales was short, so Nauta had to fight through Killebrew to get to the ball, but the rookie tight end made the play.
Andrew Adams standing out
The Lions likely brought in Andrew Adams for his playmaking abilities, and those were on display at Ford Field on Friday night.
First, the veteran safety perfectly played a deep ball thrown by Tom Savage that was well beyond the intended target. It wasn’t an easy catch for Adams, but he pulled it in nicely. Then, on the final drive of the night, Adams was closing in hard on Andy Jones and laid a big hit that drew some oooohs from the crowd.
A few plays later, the Lions sent Adams on a blitz, which freed up Eric Lee, who pressured Tom Savage. It forced Savage to throw the ball earlier than he wanted, and Hockenson wasn’t even looking when the ball sailed right by him and into the awaiting arms of Quandre Diggs.
That sort of versatility should give Adams a serious chance at this roster.
Offensive line rotation continues
The Lions started practice with Joe Dahl and Oday Aboushi at the guard positions with the first team but rotated Kenny Wiggins and Graham Glasgow in there throughout the day. It’s still unclear who exactly will earn the starting job.
First-team offense 99-yard drive
After their first drive stalled, the Lions’ first team offense put together a stellar drive, starting from their own 1-yard line.
On the very first play Kerryon Johnson found a big hole on the right side and took it for 30 yards. A few plays later, Hockenson made his big catch, setting up the Lions on the defense’s side of the field. Throw in a Kenny Golladay 20-ish-yard catch, and suddenly the Lions were threatening in the red zone. To cap things off, Matthew Stafford found Marvin Jones Jr. in the end zone after he slipped by Rashaan Melvin in the back of the end zone.
Odds and ends
- Defensive tackle Kevin Strong continues to make a good impression. He picked up a “sack.”
UDFA Kevin Strong with a "sack" on 3rd and long.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) August 2, 2019
- The Mitchell Loewen hype has died down a little bit, but on one pass rushing snap, he got free enough to draw a holding penalty, which eventually killed the offense’s drive.
- While Melvin was responsible for Marvin Jones’ touchdown, he also had an impressive pass breakup on a deep Stafford ball to Kenny Golladay.
- Danny Amendola continues to look uncoverable by the Lions defensive backs. He found daylight several times on Friday and turned one into a big gain.
- Jamal Agnew nearly had a huge punt return in the scrimmage, but a referee blew the play dead after a defender barely got a hand on him (they aren’t in full-contact mode). Agnew was animated in his displeasure.
- Ryan Santoso has been erratic in training camp, but he nailed a 48-yarder Friday night.
- A few big plays from Zach Zenner, both in the receiving game. He picked up nearly 30 yards on a reverse-field throw back, and followed that up with another 10-yard grab on the very next play.
- Finally, the Lions’ kicked off practice with a really cool moment: