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5 things we learned from Lions-Patriots joint practices

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Here’s what we took away from this week of practices.

NFL: AUG 06 Lions - Patriots Joint Training Camp Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s far too early to be making any sort of big proclamations about the 2019 NFL season based on two weeks of training camp. Most teams haven’t even played a preseason game, so there’s no reason to jump to conclusions.

That being said, the joint practices between the Lions and Patriots this week provided the first measuring stick for Detroit and where they may stand against the rest of the league. So here are five things we learned about the Lions during their three-day practice sessions with New England.

The Hock Hype is real

T.J. Hockenson absolutely dominated the first two weeks of Lions training camp, but you can never be too sure whether that has more to do with the rookie himself or the Lions defense. Detroit has had a rough history of covering linebackers, and those same concerns remain with the 2019 squad.

But the Patriots have a much better linebacking corps, and Hockenson’s performance didn’t wane at all when he shared the field with New England.

Maybe it’s dangerous to keep hyping up a rookie tight end, a position in which rookies notoriously struggle in their first year, but Hockenson has given us no real reasons to doubt his talent yet.

Detroit may have a nickel cornerback problem

One of the Lions’ biggest offseason signings was nickel cornerback Justin Coleman, who was one of PFF’s favorite players at the position:

After handing him a four-year, $36 million deal, it’s clear the Lions felt similarly about Coleman.

But after a good start to training camp, Coleman started to struggle against slot receivers. That concern was only amplified after a rough set of practices against the Patriots. New England’s 2018 sixth-round pick Braxton Berrios got the better of Coleman several times throughout the week.

It wasn’t all bad for Coleman. He still tallied a handful of pass breakups throughout the week, but there was more bad than good and it was really bad at times.

Unfortunately for the Lions, things may have only gotten worse when backup Jamal Agnew stepped into the starting role for a day.

Danny Amendola may surprise many in 2019

On the other side of the coin, when Danny Amendola started to stick out during Lions practice, there was a concern that it may have just been the Lions struggling to cover the slot position.

While it appears that may still be true, Amendola didn’t lose a step when stepping onto the field against his former team. Amendola’s route running is still far and above the best on the team, and it’s resulting in him getting wide open, especially on over-the-middle crossing routes.

Perhaps most telling was how often Matthew Stafford relied upon Amendola in end-of-game scenarios. He’s developing into Stafford’s security blanket, much like Theo Riddick was at the end of halves.

Amendola may have only crossed the 600-yard threshold five times in his 10-year career, but I have to imagine he’ll do it again this year, assuming he can stay healthy.

The Lions’ CB2 job may still be open

Rashaan Melvin has held onto the Lions’ CB2 position all camp, and he hasn’t half bad doing it. That being said, there are some clear competitors that are trending upward. Fifth-round pick Amani Oruwariye has already earned himself some first-team reps, and has looked somewhat comfortable in that role.

And while he’s still injured and didn’t get any playing time against the Patriots, don’t forget about Teez Tabor.

The Lions love Joe Dahl

It’s still unclear which Lions guards will start in 2019, but even if Joe Dahl continues to serve as a backup, the Lions showed their commitment to their former fifth-round pick by handing Dahl a two-year extension this week.

At this point, Dahl still seems like the runner up to the left guard position behind Kenny Wiggins, but considering how often the Lions are switching up their starting guards, that competition still appears to be open.