With some disappointing turnouts at Allen Park for training camp, I was pleasantly surprised by a decent turnout for the Ford Field Lions scrimmage game. The sections over the 50-yard line were nearly full with fans and their family. The scrimmage was set to start at 6 p.m. ET, but before getting the actual game started, the Lions ran some individual drills for about 20-30 minutes, much like what you’ll see at the start of a normal practice.
Once the scrimmage was under way, we were notified of how the scoring works. The scoring system for the offense was self-explanatory and how you’d expect, while the defense was given points for third-down stops, red zone stops and for creating turnovers. After a couple of late-game interceptions, the defense pulled away and won the scrimmage by a score of 30-20.
Here are some of the standouts from Friday night’s scrimmage game.
The biggest standout and someone who has really impressed me lately has to be Andrew Adams. Heading into training camp, I admittedly didn’t know a whole lot about Adams. On our first Bubble Watch, I had him on the outside looking in, but that was before I saw him in action.
Adams is a true ballhawk and has made countless plays on the ball during camp this year. During the scrimmage game, he showed off his impressive ball tracking skills by hunting down an overthrown ball that I believe was intended for Travis Fulgham. Adams cradled in the ball over his shoulder like a wide receiver would and earned some much needed points at the time for the defense.
Andrew Adams picked off a poorly thrown Tom Savage pass intended for Travis Fulgham, a deep shout down the sideline that Savage left too far out in the field. All Adams does is make picks. He had 4 for Tampa last year, including 3 off Cam Newton, and had one earlier in camp.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) August 3, 2019
Surprisingly, it was not Andrew Adams’ coverage skills that impressed me the most, but his ability to dish out a nasty hit on Andy Jones over the middle on the final drive of the game. If Adams can continue to stand out in a crowded secondary, then I have a hard time seeing him not making the final 53.
Marvin Jones Jr.
Marvin Jones did not play for much of the scrimmage game. He did not make a ton of plays, either. But he stood out to me, nonetheless, and I am very excited to see him healthy again. On the very first drive, Jones was targeted on third down with Amani Oruwariye draped all over him. He still managed to haul in a tightly contested throw on an intermediate route to move the chains. Kudos to Oruwariye for nearly breaking up the pass, but Marvin Jones just did what he does best.
Jones is probably not going to suddenly become a silky smooth route runner and he’s not going to be known for creating separation. He is what he is. He just simply makes plays and when healthy, he is one of the best deep threats in the league.
The first touchdown of the game also went to Jones in the back of the end zone, where he was able to find a soft spot in zone coverage for a wide open TD.
This year’s scrimmage felt a little shorter than those previous, which meant players didn’t have many opportunities to stand out. For some players, all it really took was one or two plays to have fans walking out of the stadium, echoing their name to friends and family.
Nauta was definitely one of those guys that made the most of his opportunities and made perhaps the biggest play of the night, cradling in an underthrown pass with Miles Killebrew all over him.
“Just ran a vertical route up the field, saw that it was man coverage, knew that the ball was probably coming my way with that man-to-man look,” Nauta said. “Looked up, saw it out the corner of my eye and just tried to slow down, show late hands so I didn’t tip off the DB that the ball was coming.”
This subtle trick is not something that many rookie tight ends are accustomed to. Though he might not be the most athletic tight end out there, Nauta is very technically sound with soft hands for a TE. The Lions should absolutely keep him around as a fourth tight end.
The Lions have a history of keeping five running backs, and that’s likely what’s going to happen this year, which means Zach Zenner is making the final roster. Zenner is not going to be your starter, and he probably won’t even be your RB2, but he is the perfect guy who can contribute as a RB3 or RB4 while adding plenty of value on special teams, too.
Of all the running backs, Zenner had the best results. He ended the day with a couple of nice runs and back-to-back receptions late in the scrimmage, including one where he was left wide open along the left sideline for a huge gain.
Zenner has gotten a lot of praise from coaches this offseason for his hard work and for the first time in a while, I’m feeling pretty comfortable about Detroit’s current running backs group. There’s not really a single guy that I absolutely wouldn’t want touching the ball on offense.