As the Detroit Lions prepare to enter joint practices with the New England Patriots, and ultimately the preseason, it’s time to reflect on the first two weeks of training camp. The Lions have had nine total practices, including one scrimmage, and the information has flooded our Kool Aid receptors, leaving us with an overflow of optimism.
But it hasn’t been all positive in the first few weeks, so let’s find some balance in our analysis of Lions training camp. Here are five winners and three losers from the first two weeks of Detroit Lions 2019 training camp.
Winner: Tracy Walker
Count me as one of the people who was a little skeptical of Walker assuming a starting role after only playing a limited role in his rookie season. However, Walker has done plenty already to assuage my concerns.
Walker has been all over the field over the past two weeks, dropping down as a box safety occasionally and looking great in zone coverage as well. Perhaps most importantly, Walker has proven to be one of the few Lions defenders that can match up with Detroit’s tight ends one-on-one.
Loser: Justin Coleman
Not sure how much we should read into it, but Coleman being dropped to the second-team defense on Sunday can’t be a great sign. It’s an even worse sign when he’s losing reps against the second-team offense, too.
And this isn’t just about Sunday’s practice. Coleman has had an up-and-down camp through two weeks, and that’s not what you want to hear from a guy that was just handed one of the richest nickel corner contracts in the league.
Winner: Danny Amendola
On the other side of the coin, Danny Amendola has come into camp and answered every possible question about him. At 33 years old, he’s easily the most polished route-runner on the team, and I haven’t seen him put a single pass on the ground. Now, if he can just finally answer his most pressing question—can he stay healthy?—there’s a chance Amendola greatly outperforms expectations in 2019.
Loser: Lions WR depth
Behind Amendola, there hasn’t been much progress in the Lions’ depth at receiver. Every day we’ll see flashes from the likes of Travis Fulgham, Chris Lacy or Jermaine Kearse, but none of them have put together a full camp. One of the main things you’re looking for during training camp is consistency, and we’re not getting it from anyone in this group.
Winner: T.J. Hockenson
Remember Eric Ebron’s minicamp? Remember how we would get daily reports of an Eric Ebron drop counter?
Compare that to the coverage of Hockenson in camp. All we’ve seen is consistency, both in terms of outstanding hands and crisp route-running. The Lions’ eighth-overall pick still has a ton to prove, including his skills as a blocker, but he’s passed every test thus far with flying colors.
Winner: Graham Glasgow
No one has stood out on the offensive line more than Graham Glasgow. His move to right guard seems to have been an easy one, and the former Wolverine has meshed well alongside Rick Wagner and Frank Ragnow.
It’s curious as to why Glasgow continues to share his first-team reps with Oday Aboushi, but Glasgow is putting plenty of good tape together to not only convince the Lions to keep him as a starter, but to strongly consider a contract extension before training camp is over.
Loser: Lions 2019 undrafted rookie class
Many fans were a little upset when draft experts considered the Lions’ undrafted free agent haul among the league’s worst. However, if training camp has been any indication, they may have been onto something.
Beau Benzschawel and Ryan Pope were both considered high-priority free agent rookies, but both have shown no signs of competing for a roster spot this year. For a team with plenty of questions along the offensive line—and, in particular, its depth—it’s definitely been a disappointment for this group.
The lone exception for the Lions’ UDFA class is defensive tackle Kevin Strong, who is taking advantage of his increased reps due to Detroit being short handed at the position.
Winner: Andrew Adams
One of the Lions’ most undersold free-agent signings, Andrew Adams has consistently gotten some first-team reps as Detroit’s third safety in dime sets. It’s one thing to be taking first-team reps, it’s another to shine during those plays. Adams is definitely doing both. Outside of Tracy Walker, there hasn’t been a more impressive defensive back than Adams during training camp, as the veteran safety has shown he has a knack for getting his hands on the ball.