Day 2 was expected to be the highest intensity practice of training camp to date, and it absolutely lived up to the billing. The Detroit Lions and New England Patriots went at it on a Tuesday overcast day, leaving the crowded Allen Park stands with plenty to cheer and jeer about.
Here are my observations from practice:
Not much changed from Monday’s practice. With Tommylee Lewis off the PUP list, we saw him return to action, but he was clearly still limited. Even as he walked off the field, he appeared to be walking a little gingerly, so I wouldn’t call him 100 percent yet.
Additionally, defensive tackle Ray Smith was out after suffering an injury during Monday’s practice. Despite looking beat up at the end of last practice, both Jerome Cunningham and Joe Dahl were good to go on Tuesday.
The following players did not suit up for Tuesday’s practice:
- Ray Smith
- Da’Shawn Hand
- Austin Bryant
- Mike Daniels
- Jarrad Davis
- Garret Dooley
- Marcus Cooper
- Teez Tabor
- Steve Longa
- Trey Flowers
- Damon Harrison Sr.
Devon Kennard and Darius Slay continue to see more reps, and, at this point, it looks like Kennard may be a full participant. Slay isn’t far behind.
Towards the very end of practice, wide receiver Brandon Powell went down with a leg injury. He eventually walked off under his own power, but he was down for a bit. Matthew Stafford even came running onto the field to check on him.
Things got a little chippy on Tuesday, and it kicked off with Lions seventh-round rookie P.J. Johnson. During a full team rep, Johnson was absolutely pancaked to the ground. He quickly scrambled to his feet and gave Patriots guard/center James Ferentz a two-armed shove. From there, things escalated quite quickly, almost to the point where it looked like a full-blown fight might break out.
However, head coach Matt Patricia came zooming in on his ATV and immediately threw Johnson out of practice before the dust-up turned into punches being thrown.
After that, there were at least two other little skirmishes, one involving Devon Kennard, and another that nearly developed between Ryan Pope and Chase Winovich (more on them later).
Ragnow shines, Decker struggles vs. Patriots defensive line
On Monday, most of the line position drills were done on the other end of the field, but on Tuesday the media was treated to a front-row seat during one-one-ones.
The Lions were back to their 1B offensive line formation (Joe Dahl and Oday Aboushi at the guard spots) and Dahl stood out well in this drill, stopping Ufomba Kamalu in his tracks and winning at least one more rep.
Perhaps the best performer on the Lions offensive line was Frank Ragnow, who won reps against two solid Patriots interior defenders: Danny Shelton and Mike Pennel Jr.
On the other side of the coin, the Lions’ tackles had a rough day overall. Taylor Decker was beaten handily by Chase Winovich on an early rep, while Ryan Pope had one of the worst days I’ve ever seen in camp. Unlucky for him, Winovich was repping against the Lions’ third-string offensive line most of the day, and he may not have lost a single rep. Andrew Donnal also fell victim at least once.
Lions DBs vs. Patriots WRs
Continuing with one-on-ones, Lions nickel corner Justin Coleman started Tuesday’s practice with a nice bounceback session. He won at least three 1-v-1 reps against Patriots receivers, though he was beaten once, too. Unfortunately for Coleman, it didn’t last very long. Once the team moved to 11-on-11s, Braxton Berrios, the Patriots sixth-round pick in 2018, was consistently beating Coleman. Berrios torched him in back-to-back touchdowns later in the day, and once more by a good two or three steps on an earlier rep.
Darius Slay continues to do Darius Slay-like things. He’s back.
Elsewhere, Rashaan Melvin continues to play well enough to hold onto that No. 2 corner spot, while Amani Oruwariye had a mixed day. The Lions’ fifth-round pick nearly picked off Tom Brady in a one-minute drill situation, but a couple plays later, Phillip Dorsett burned him for a 32-yard touchdown.
Lions WRs vs. Patriots DBs
Today was a good day for two players that will be in the hunt for one of the final roster spots. Chris Lacy continues to make big plays in between mostly quiet days. On Tuesday, he cleanly beat a defender for a touchdown in full-team drills. Lacy has shown he’s a great point-of-catch receiver, but it was his route-running that allowed him to get open several times on Tuesday, including winning a seven-on-seven rep by at least two steps.
Jermaine Kearse continued his hot streak at camp, winning several reps in one-on-one drills and he even pulled in a 50-yard touchdown during 11-on-11s. Though the play was negated by a holding penalty, Kearse beat his guy by a step and made a nice catch on a well-thrown ball from Matthew Stafford.
The Lions and Patriots simulated two different late-game scenarios.
Scenario 1: Down 4 points, 40 seconds left, starting on the opponents’ 43-yard line
Here’s a rundown of the Lions’ first-team offense’s crack at the scenario:
- Pass to Danny Amendola for 9 yards, spike
- Pass to Danny Amendola for 9 yards, spike
- Pass to Andy Jones for 12 yards, spike (seven seconds left)
- Pass to T.J Hockenson for a 13-yard touchdown
After practice, Hockenson mentioned how Jesse James’ route up middle freed him up, and Stafford hit him with the perfect pass. But Hockenson has proven that all you need to do is hit him in the hands and he’ll come down with it, contested or not.
Now the Patriots’ turn:
- Pass broken up by Amani Oruwariye
- Pass incomplete to Berrios with Coleman in tight coverage (refs ultimately decided it was a catch after officials gave conflicting signals)
- 32-yard touchdown pass to Dorsett with Oruwariye in coverage (as noted above)
Scenario 2: Down 2 points, 30 seconds left, starting at own 45 yard line
Lions (second team offense):
- Travis Fulgham was wide open but David Fales (yes, Fales was with the twos) missed him
- 23-yard pass to a wide open Brandon Powell
- Tom Kennedy sideline catch for 5-6 yards
- Ryan Santoso’s 50-yard field goal attempt hits the right upright on the skinny posts (would’ve been good)
The Lions defense held up fairly well, holding the Patriots to a 53-yard field goal attempt, but New England converted.
Odds and ends:
- Jahlani Tavai was a standout on Tuesday, getting run stops on back-to-back plays during full team drills. The second play would’ve netted a loss of at least three yards.
- Miles Killebrew continues to show up in odd places. Coming off the edge, Killebrew picked up a sack during 11-on-11s.
- The Lions got a punt block during special team drills. It was hard to see who got it, but Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Jonathan Duhart were in the general area.
- Speaking of Reeves-Maybin, he’ll forever get to tell his friends and family that he picked off Tom Brady. Sitting in a zone during 7-on-7 drills, Maybin perfectly read Brady during a red-zone rep and came away with the pick.
- Overall, I thought this was a much better practice from the Lions. They eliminated a lot of the sloppiness on both sides of the ball, and the defense looked a lot better than they did on Monday. I think Detroit still looked a little vulnerable in the trenches, as they didn’t seem to run the ball or stop the run all that well through two days, but things were significantly better Tuesday.