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4 standouts from Lions-Patriots joint practice: Day 1

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A look at some of the positive performances from Monday’s practice.

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

Towards the end of the Detroit Lions first joint practice with the New England Patriots, things were becoming hard to watch. The offense was pretty rough in red zone drills, and their two-minute offense looked downright bad. The defense’s poor finish to practice was a little more excusable, considering over half of the projected starters were sidelined against that Tom Brady guy.

So while I think my overall observations from Monday’s practice probably had a negative spin to it, I wanted to make sure I gave the good performances some credit, too. Here are four standout performances from Monday’s practice.

Nick Bawden

During the opening red zone drills, Bawden was getting open early and often. He caught two of the team’s seven touchdowns during that drill. Even during one-on-ones, Bawden was creating consistent separation against Patriots linebackers.

His ability as a lead blocker has been well documented by a strong start to camp and his prolific college career at San Diego State. But don’t sleep on his ability to be a potential red-zone threat on play-action passes near the goal line and maybe even a notable threat between the 20s, too.

Tavon Wilson

In my latest 53-man prediction, I had Wilson on the outside looking in. If he continues to perform like he did on Monday, however, he’ll be a roster lock by the second preseason game.

On Monday alone, I credited Wilson with two pass breakups, one blanket coverage and a tackle for loss in the run game. Additionally, he made at least one solid play combo-blocking the gunner on a punt return. We know how much the Lions value special teams, and if Wilson can prove he has no problem contributing in that manner, he’s going to have an easy stroll onto the 53.

First-team WRs

As I mentioned in my Day 1 recap, I unfortunately missed most of the one-on-ones between Lions receivers and Patriots defensive backs, but during team drills, each of the Lions’ top three receivers made at least one huge play.

There was this one from Kenny Golladay, where he made a diving grab with Jason McCourty a step behind:

There was Marvin Jones Jr.’s pickup up at least 40 yards on a wide-open crosser. And Danny Amendola continues to be a route-running fiend capable of picking up 15-20 yards in an instant.

Back in 2017, the Lions’ receivers were responsible for more big plays than anyone else:

If Monday’s trend continues into the regular season, we could be in for another big year from the Lions wideouts.

Sam Martin

The Lions punter hasn’t quite been himself over the past two seasons. In his first four seasons in the NFL, Martin averaged at least 40 net yards per punt in each season, with his peak being 44.2 in 2016. In the past two seasons, he’s averaged just 37.6 and 39.2 net yards per punt in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

But Martin looked more like himself on Monday, booming punts nearing five seconds of hangtime with the distance to boot. Maybe his reunion with special teams coach John Bonamego is already paying off.