The Detroit Lions opened the padded practice portion of their offseason workouts to a group of select reporters on Monday morning.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Pride of Detroit was not on hand for the opening practice, but, don’t worry, we’ll be there Tuesday and select days throughout the next four weeks. So while we were eagerly awaiting updates from our home just like you, we’re going to try to summarize the best recaps from reporters that were present at Allen Park.
Out of respect for the media there and the job they’ve done, I’m not going to pull full-scale quotes from any of the articles and, instead, will focus on the main storylines pulled from the collective observations from Lions media. I would highly suggest you support local media—even if it means shelling a bit out to get behind their paywall.
Anyway, here are the collections of training camp observations you should all read if you want more details on what happened on Monday morning.
- MLive (subscription required): Jeff Okudah works with Lions’ backups on first day of padded practice
- The Detroit News: Reeves-Maybin among standouts; Okudah works with second team
- The Athletic (subscription required): Twenty observations from the opening day of Lions training camp
- DetroitLions.com: Training camp Day 1 observations
- Detroit Free Press (subscription required): Jeff Okudah has a welcome-to-the-NFL moment
With those in mind, here are the top four storylines from Day 1.
Jeff Okudah gets the rookie treatment
As you can tell simply from the headlines of some recaps, Lions third overall pick Jeff Okudah repped with the second-team defense all day. Last year’s fifth-round pick Amani Oruwariye jumped into the starting lineup across from free agent addition Desmond Trufant.
That being said, Okudah did get some work against the Lions’ top receivers in one-on-one drills, which included a humbling moment for the rookie:
“But when matched against Kenny Golladay, Detroit’s No. 1 receiver spun the rookie into the ground, breaking an in-cutting route back toward the sideline,” wrote Justin Rogers.
That all being said, Oruwariye has apparently made an impression with the coaching staff, as head coach Matt Patricia explained later that afternoon.
“His movement skills are really good,” Patricia said. “I think he’s starting to maybe open up the game a little bit in his vision.”
Still, Patricia noted that no starting positions have been really settled yet—except for Matthew Stafford—and he expects Okudah to get some first-team reps in certain packages soon.
Jonah Jackson starts on jumbled offensive line
As we noticed in a video of an indoor practice, Jonah Jackson was with the first-team offense at right guard. But his contributions didn’t stop there. With Beau Benzschawel not practicing for an unknown reason, Jackson was one of a couple players (Kenny Wiggins) getting backup center reps.
Note: DetroitLions.com’s Tim Twentyman reported that Kenny Wiggins was at right guard with the first-team offense, although most other reporters noted that it was mostly Jackson at the position.
That’s a big vote of confidence from the Lions coaches to not only throw their third-round rookie into the starting lineup, but cross-train him as well.
However, according to Patricia, that starting right guard spot has been occupied by several different players in the previous weeks of walkthroughs, including veterans Kenny Wiggins and Oday Aboushi.
“Really, Oday and Kenny and those guys have been working through there previous to getting out there today,” Patricia said. “So kind of just a rotational thing. (Jackson) just kind of wound up being the first day of pads.”
And don’t be too scared of that “rotational” word in there, Patricia said they haven’t committed to doing an in-game guard rotation this year... yet.
For what it’s worth, Joe Dahl was starting on the left side, per multiple reports.
Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. continue to dominate
Last week, Marvin Jones Jr. confidently said this to the Detroit media:
“You look to the left, you look to the right and we have ballers”
On Monday, he and Golladay balled. Many of the reporters told the same stories, but here’s a taste from Tim Twentyman:
“Wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. split two defenders for a long touchdown from quarterback Matthew Stafford in a 7-on-7 period. Later on, wide receiver Kenny Golladay went up over cornerback Justin Coleman and safety Tracy Walker for a touchdown in the back of the end zone from Stafford in a team red-zone period.”
Don’t count out Jalen Reeves-Maybin
Talk around the Lions’ linebacking corps has surrounded free agent addition Jamie Collins Sr. or Jarrad Davis’ last chance or Jahlani Tavai’s Year 2 jump. But none of them apparently stood out more in a positive light than Jalen Reeves-Maybin. Three different beat writers noted his solid performance on Monday, specifically in blitzing drills against running backs.
Patricia, who said Reeves-Maybin made “tremendous strides” on the defensive side of the ball last year, also came away impressed with his performance on Monday, specifically during one running play.
“I see that he just kind of recognizes a lot more and plays with a lot more patience right now,” Patricia said. “He made a really nice play today on defense, too. It was a run play, he recognized it, and stacked it, came back into it. Really kinda pushed the ball where he wanted to go with it. That was a very encouraging thing where he actually saw the big picture of all of it, and then was able to fit in it, not just understand what his job was in that scheme.”
He’ll have to keep up this momentum to make the final 53-man roster, but for someone who also brings a fair amount of special teams value—another thing Patricia noted in his press conference (“It’s been really awesome to watch”)—that’s a very promising start for the fourth-year linebacker.
Note: Tuesday, I’ll be live at Allen Park, so training camp observations will be based completely on my own view and will be significantly more thorough than this piece.