After a day of rest, the Detroit Lions were back at Allen Park for Day 3 of padded practice at training camp. Again, Pride of Detroit wasn’t able to make the trip up to give our first-hand observations of practice. However, we don’t want to leave you empty handed.
There were several media members there on Thursday morning to break down all of the big plays, important moments and deep analysis. I highly suggest reading each and every one of them, as nothing can really compare to first-hand analysis.
That being said, we read them all, and pulled out what we believe to be the four most important storylines from Thursday’s practice. In respect to the people on the ground giving the direct reports, we are not going to pull any direct quotes from their articles. If you want that, we’ll provide links right below this.
- Detroit News: Cabinda used at fullback; Huntley a handful to cover
- DetroitLions.com: Training camp Day 3 observations
- DetroitLions.com: Camp Spotlight: Kerryon Johnson
- Detroit Free Press: A sleeper to watch in the offensive backfield
- The Athletic: Signs of growth from T.J. Hockenson, Tracy Walker
- MLive: Lions’ Matthew Stafford sure looks sharp in return from back injury so far
Matthew Stafford’s near-perfect day
Just about everyone noted how sharp the Lions quarterback was on Thursday. MLive’s Benjamin Raven tweeted out that he didn’t see the ball hit the field once with Stafford throwing. Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com corroborated this, saying he didn’t see a single incompletion during team drills.
2. Matthew Stafford missed maybe two throws that I saw today, and he was pissed about one -- a short out route to Golladay, fighting off tight coverage from Okudah(!). Everything else was on point. Deep, short, avoiding the rush ... just a great day from No. 9.— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) August 20, 2020
This is simply what we’ve come to expect of Stafford in training camp, but it’s always good to hear, especially given the tumultuous year he and his family have had.
A new fullback candidate emerges
With the recent cut of rookie Luke Sellers and Nick Bawden fighting through an injury, the Lions brought a new fullback into the fold on Thursday. Linebacker Jason Cabinda donned the offense’s white jersey on Thursday according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. He reportedly helped the Lions convert two short-yardage situations during practice.
It’s interesting to see Cabinda get the reps over a guy like Isaac Nauta, a player that many believed would contend for Bawden’s roster spot given his late-season playing time at full back in 2019.
Kerryon Johnson, Jeff Okudah bounce back after slow starts
Early on Thursday, we expressed our concern that Kerryon Johnson’s injury may prevent him from being a big contributor in 2020. However, Johnson came out after two days off and looked the part, according to several media members.
Third Lions practice down. Will drop some thoughts on here shortly. Couple backfield notes:— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) August 20, 2020
* Kerryon a full participant, had a couple of nice routes
* Never saw Scarbrough. He didn’t look 100% Tuesday, will see if Patricia has an update tomorrow
* Cabinda played FB all day
Johnson was also the feature in Twentyman’s Camp Spotlight on Thursday. Twentyman noted Johnson’s success in receiving drills vs. linebackers and in team periods. Although, he did note one fumble that was recovered by the defense.
It’s worth noting that Johnson likely saw an increase in opportunities at least in part because Bo Scarbrough was out. As we noted in Tuesday’s observations, Scarbrough came up limping after a head-on collision with Jalen Reeves-Maybin in one-on-one drills.
As for Jeff Okudah, it sounds like he was looking much more like the player the Lions expected when they took him third overall. Here are a couple of Tweets from the Lions beat:
Much smoother day for Jeff Okudah after the off day. Was around the ball more. Better with his breaks. Thumped a shoulder into a back in run support. Still learning. But you can already see areas where he’s making gains.— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) August 20, 2020
That’s right, he’s so versatile he can be smooth and sharp.
One interesting note from Birkett: Okudah has been playing mostly the left cornerback position—the position that Desmond Trufant currently holds with the first time.
Jason Huntley making an impression
While Ty Johnson has been regularly repping in front of Jason Huntley (Johnson has been even getting some first-string action), the Lions fifth-round rookie managed to turn some heads on Thursday.
His speed is likely his best quality, and he’s been flashing that in one-on-one coverage drills. But on Thursday, he even showed some improvement in pass protection, according to both Justin Rogers of the Detroit News and Twentyman.
Huntley has some stiff competition in a crowded offensive backfield, but with more days like this, he could not only make a case for a roster spot but some playing time, too.