Through three practices, the Detroit Lions haven’t shown a ton to the media on each day. Jared Goff hasn’t tossed many downfield passes, team drills have been limited to a handful of reps here and there, and without pads, it’s almost impossible to draw anything meaningful from the play of the offensive and defensive line.
But that isn’t to say there hasn’t been anything interesting out of the first three days of training camp. Players are battling out there in Allen Park, and some have managed to make quite a positive impression despite the limited number of opportunities.
Here are five players I believed have helped their stock through three practices.
LB Shaun Dion Hamilton
With Jalen Reeves-Maybin still on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the Lions have used the opportunity to see who among their off-ball linebacker depth can roll with the second-team defense. Hamilton has regularly been in that rotation, and on Friday, he showed that he belongs there.
Early in practice, Hamilton knifed into the backfield and caught the running back for a tackle for loss. Later during 7-on-7s, when D’Andre Swift ran a wheel route out of the backfield, Hamilton stayed on his hip, forcing an incompletion.
There have been bumps along the way—he had a false start during a special teams rep on Friday—but he has separated himself from the rest of the reserves and used Reeves-Maybin’s absence to his advantage.
FB Jason Cabinda
Not only is Cabinda running unopposed for the fullback position, but it doesn’t appear the Lions are interested in replacing the fullback position with a tight end playing the H-Back position.
In fact, the Lions have been using Cabinda frequently all week. That was especially true on Friday, when the Lions were focusing on third down. Cabinda was a frequent target all day, including a trick play in which he was the primary target. Unfortunately, he ended up dropping the pass.
CB Jeff Okudah
At the risk of hyping him up too much, Okudah looks poised for a breakout year. He certainly has a much different attitude out there on the field—dancing, stunting and trash talking—but he’s bringing the play to back it up, too.
On Friday alone, he perfectly read a screen pass, making a “tackle” right near the line of scrimmage, and he went stride-for-stride with Victor Bolden on a deep ball that fell harmlessly incomplete.
Through three days of practice, I’ve only seen one or two complete passes against Okudah in coverage, and none were beyond 10 yards.
WR Kalif Raymond
Raymond continues to be first up in the group taking kick and punt returns—a good sign that Raymond is starting out camp as the favorite to win both jobs. But on Friday, Raymond showed his route-running chops. Though he didn’t get the ball thrown to him often, he was able to create a lot of space between him and the defender during 7-on-7 drills. Of all the depth receivers, none have had a more positive start to camp than Raymond.
QB Tim Boyle
Boyle has been far from perfect, but Friday was a good day for Detroit’s backup. After spending Thursday with the third team, Boyle was back with the second team. He had two of the biggest plays of the day—which were also two of the biggest from camp. On the first, he dropped a bomb nicely into the hands of Damion Ratley, who had soundly beat Quinton Dunbar by a step or two. On one of the final team drills of the day, he also displayed his touch on a nicely lofted pass on a post route to tight end Alizé Mack.
Boyle may have the strongest arm on the team, and he also has a surprising amount of athleticism. I can’t get into details, but let’s just say the Lions were testing out that athleticism with a couple of play calls that only he seemed capable of running.