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Detroit Lions Day 9 training camp observations: Nobody can cover Danny Amendola

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The Lions’ nickel corners had a rough day.

NFL: Detroit Lions-Training Camp Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions returned to practice on Sunday after a day off. With the New England Patriots coming to town, the pace was a little slower, the team wasn’t in full pads, and the duration of practice was a tad shorter.

That being said, in front of a crowd full of only season-ticket holders, the energy was actually a little higher, as the fans filled out the place for the first time and even brought some noise on Sunday.

Here’s what I saw from the Lions’ ninth training camp practice.

Attendance

There were a few notable changes to the lineup on Sunday, as the Lions practiced in partial pads (shells).

Most notably, Darius Slay returned to practice. The Lions eased him him, sharing first-team reps with Amani Oruwariye during 11-on-11s, but it’s clear he’s just about ready to go.

Sticking with the cornerbacks, Teez Tabor was sidelined all practice, but was not sporting the bandage/wrap around his right leg that he was wearing on Friday night.

Additionally, Devon Kennard was back with the first-team reps for the first time since Week 1 of training camp. Like Slay, he wasn’t a full go, splitting snaps with Garret Dooley, but he’s very close.

Darius Kilgo and newly-signed Tarvarus McFadden were also suited up and ready to go. Here are the players that sat out on Sunday.

  • Christian Jones
  • Malik Carney
  • Jonathan Wynn
  • Da’Shawn Hand
  • Austin Bryant
  • Mike Daniels
  • Marcus Cooper
  • Teez Tabor
  • Tommylee Lewis (PUP)
  • Steve Longa (PUP)
  • Trey Flowers (PUP)
  • Damon Harrison Sr. (NFI)

Jonathan Wynn and Christian Jones appear to be the players closest to coming back, as they both participated in some early individual drills before sitting out team reps.

Rough day for the nickel corners

For the first time all camp, Jamal Agnew received just about every first-team rep ahead of Justin Coleman as the nickel corner. It was a rough day for Agnew, as Danny Amendola consistently blew by Agnew rep after rep. In my notes, Matthew Stafford found Amendola at least three times with Agnew in coverage, and two of those plays saw Amendola with at least two steps on Agnew. To be fair, Amendola has been doing this to everyone at camp. I guess age is only a number.

To make matters worse, it’s never a good sign when the nickel corner you signed to a four-year, $36 million deal is repping with the second-team defense. While the optimist in me wants to believe that they’re simply testing out Agnew, the realist in me knows that Coleman hasn’t done a particularly great job this camp against Amendola, and even on Sunday, he struggled in coverage against Brandon Powell, who beat him cleanly on back-to-back team reps.

Of course, the positive spin here is that the Lions’ slot receivers are looking good thus far, but when you’ve invested far more money on the defensive side of the ball, there should be some concern.

Jermaine Kearse starting to emerge

It was a really slow start to camp for Jermaine Kearse, but over the past week, I think he has separated himself from the rest of the reserve wide receivers. Twice on Sunday, he made great contested catches for big gains. Near the end of practice he pulled in a perfectly thrown back shoulder catch with Mike Ford all over him.

That being said, when Kenny Golladay took a rest in full team drills, it was rookie Travis Fulgham who took reps with the first team. It was a quiet day for Fulgham, though on one play, he had thoroughly beaten Andre Chachere deep, but a sprinting Andrew Adams knocked the ball away after an impressive close from center field.

Offense dominates 7-on-7s

Early in practice the Lions worked on red zone drills, and I don’t think I saw the offense lose a single rep out of six or seven plays. The offense scored every single time.

Obviously, 7-on-7s tend to favor the offense, but watching the route combinations actually scheme receivers open was—and continues to be—a refreshing sight for this offense. Fulgham and T.J. Hockenson both had fairly easy scores after finding open space on defense.

Matt Patricia gets big mad

At one point in practice, Matt Patricia made the entire team run a lap after some 11-on-11 drills. Team rules—and general decency—prevent me from printing some of the things Patricia was screaming at the players, but let’s just say it wasn’t hard to hear him from the opposite end zone from where he was situated.

It’s hard to know exactly what sent Patricia off, but on the play prior to the lap, Chris Lacy had beaten Mike Ford by at least a step or two. However, an underthrown ball from Tom Savage allowed Ford to recover, and the young corner made an athletic play to intercept the pass. The Andrew Adams pass breakup was the play that preceded that one.

Odds and ends

  • The Lions offensive line was back to having Kenny Wiggins and Graham Glasgow at left and right guard, respectively. Joe Dahl and Oday Aboushi did take a very limited amount of reps with the first team, but spent the majority of practice with the twos.
  • One interesting new wrinkle: Andrew Donnal took a small amount of reps at left tackle, with Tyrell Crosby at right. Though it was just for a few reps, it was the first time I have seen that alignment all camp.
  • The Lions worked a little on onside kicks today. It appeared they were focusing on the receiving team recovering the ball, and they managed to do so on every rep without incident.
  • Nick Bawden has made some serious progress as a long-snapper in the three days I’ve watch him. He still is prone to airmailing one or two, but he’s got the spiral down and is even bringing some heat. #LONGSNAPPERWATCH2020 is on.
  • Marvin Jones Jr. got the best of Amani Oruwariye several times on Sunday.
  • Tracy Walker: Still good. Had another interception on Sunday, though I don’t believe his feet landed in bounds.