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Detroit Lions training camp Day 15 observations: Levi Onwuzurike arrives

The Lions’ second-round pick made one heck of a first impression on Tuesday.

Detroit Lions Training Camp Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions switched things up on Tuesday, moving training camp practice to the evening. Given that this was their last opportunity to practice in front of a live crowd—perhaps the biggest crowd all camp—it was no surprise the intensity increased a bit. With full pads on, and a team eager to hit for the first time since Friday’s preseason opener, it was an eventful night for the season-ticket holders on hand.

Here are my thoughts on Day 15 of training camp.

Participation

New injuries are bolded

Unable to practice

After participating in warmups and walkthroughs on Monday, Swift was in street clothes on Tuesday, a clear downgrade from the previous day, in which he was running up and down the sidelines during the team portion of practice.

Joining him was Dedrick Mills, who was out for an undisclosed reason. Also new to the list was tight end Brock Wright. No update on him yet.

Limited during practice

  • QB Tim Boyle (ankle)
  • QB Jordan Ta’amu (new)
  • WR Damion Ratley (undisclosed)

Boyle went through some individual drills, but when it was time for full team drills, it was only Jared Goff and David Blough going through reps. Newly-signed Jordan Ta’amu was on the practice field and suited up, but did not have any team reps.

Ratley, again, went through all individual and positional drills, but I did not see him take a team rep. At this point, he’s the only remaining wide receiver who is limited in any noticeable way.

Returned to practice

  • DT Levi Onwuzurike (back)

On Monday, Onwuzurike didn’t appear to be limited, but Tuesday was his first fully padded practice, and it was clear the rookie defensive tackle had the training wheels off. He got a full load of reps with little restraint.

Levi’s breakout day

Let’s stick with Onwuzurike, because I know Lions fans have been dying for an update about the second-round pick, and they’re going to like what I have to say.

Onwuzurike made an impression almost immediately with a drill that tested the offensive line’s ability to handle a stunt. (Spoiler: they weren’t). On the first rep, Onwuzurike teamed up with Austin Bryant. Bryant crashed inside, giving Onwuzurike a lane to curl around on the outside and win the rep. Bryant was so pleased with his performance that he did a little dance. A couple of reps later, it was Onwuzurike’s turn to crash down and free up the other defender (didn’t get a number). That worked, too.

It should come as little surprise that Onwuzurike would succeed in this drill. His quick first step will allow him to be incredibly difficult to block on a stunt, while he brings a ton of strength to play the other role, too. Though, it’s worth noting these reps came against reserve offensive linemen (Tommy Kraemer, Matt Nelson).

But that wasn’t the end of Onwuzurike’s good day. Once they moved to team drills, he looked even more impressive. With the second-team defense, he picked up a 7-yard sack ON THE VERY FIRST REP. Later, during a goal-line drill, he picked up another sack and even got a literal hand on David Blough.

“I kind of didn’t pull up,” Onwuzurike admitted after practice. “I got to get better about that.”

It was a hell of a debut for the Lions’ second-round pick, and it will only build anticipation for his preseason debut on Saturday against the Steelers.

“I’m just ready to play. It doesn’t matter who it is. I’m just ready to play.”

Scrimmage results

The Lions ran something resembling a scrimmage, which is really to say there were a bunch of different drives in different scenarios. Here’s how all of the ones I tracked went down (Note: there are some situational ones I skipped over)

Drive 1 (First-string offense vs. first-string defense)

  • 3 plays, 9 yards
  • Highlight play: Will Harris came crashing down on first down and took down Jamaal Williams for a three-yard loss.

Drive 2 (Second-string offense vs. first-string defense)

  • 3 plays, 8 yards
  • Highlight plays: Sack from Oruwariye on first down, pass breakup by Jamie Collins on second down.

Drive 3 (First-team offense vs. a mix of first/second-team defense)

  • 6 plays, 70-ish yards, TD
  • Highlight plays: Third-and-14 conversion from Kalif Raymond, 20-yard strike to Raymond, bomb to Tyrell Williams, who beat Mike Ford soundly for a touchdown. Though it’s worth noting that Romeo Okwara probably would’ve sacked Goff, but the team let it slide.

Drive 4 (First-team offense vs. first-team defense — Red zone)

  • 2 plays, TD
  • Highlight play: Post route to Raymond for a TD with AJ Parker in coverage

Drive 5 (Second-team offense vs. second-team defense — Up 5, two minutes left, starting at own 2-yard line

  • 3 plays, TD(?)
  • Highlight play: After two runs for a total of 4 yards, David Blough threw a quick slant to Tom Kennedy. It appeared Jalen Elliott made the “tackle,” but the coaches let the play continue, and Kennedy ran it in for a 94-yard touchdown.

Drive 6 (First-string offense vs. first-string defense — start around midfield)

  • 3 plays, 5 yards, punt
  • Highlight play: Bruce Hector with a tackle for loss, and Trey Flowers with a third-down sack.

Drive 7 (Second-team offense vs. second-team defense — red zone ~15-yard line)

  • 4 plays, TD
  • Highlight plays: Blough found a wide open Quintez Cephus on a crosser. It appeared it was Julian Okwara who was supposed to be in coverage.

Drive 8 (First teams, 30 seconds left, down six, ~50-yard line)

  • 5 plays, no TD
  • Highlight plays: Goff found Raymond on a post for about 25 yards on first down, splitting the zone nicely. Jamaal Williams picked up another 15 or so on the next play via a successful angle route on Alex Anzalone. But as the clock ran down, Goff couldn’t find anyone on the final two plays.

Drive 9 (First team offense w/second team receivers vs. second-team defense—1:20 left, down 6, midfield)

  • 5 plays, TD
  • Highlight plays: Breshad Perriman came down with a beautiful contested catch with Bobby Price in coverage, and Goff connected on a nice back-shoulder throw to Cephus. The touchdown came on a flukey play. Goff scrambled, through a prayer that bounced off one receiver’s hands and landed right in Cephus’ lap.

Quick thoughts

  • Though the stats may not show it above, it was a pretty sluggish day from the offense.
  • Kalif Raymond continues to get first-team reps ahead of Breshad Perriman, and he continues to be trouble for the Lions' defense.
  • The Lions broke out a netted target for quarterbacks to throw at from about 10-15 yards away. The target is quite small—maybe one foot by one foot. I saw all four quarterbacks (including Ta’amu) throw two attempts at the netting. Blough hit both of them, Ta’amu was 1-for-2, and the other two quarterbacks were 0-for-2.
  • Kicker update: Randy Bullock was 1-for-2 from about 55 yards and made one from 50. Zane Gonzalez did not miss a kick that I saw, connecting from 55, 50, and made all his extra points.
  • Sticking with special teams, I did not notice an inaccurate long snap from Scott Daly, but there is a noticeable lack of zip on those snaps in comparison to Don Muhlbach.