The Detroit Lions strapped on the pads for another full practice on Thursday night. The lack of a crowd certainly gave the environment a different feel to it, but the intensity was still high. With this being the final practice before Saturday’s preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, there was no room for a day off. And considering training camp is winding down, this was one of a few fully-padded, full-contact days of practice left on the schedule.
Here are my observations from Day 16 of training camp.
New injuries are bolded
Unable to practice
- OL Tyrell Crosby (Grade-1 hamstring)
- DT John Penisini (undisclosed)
- DT Da’Shawn Hand (undisclosed, not considered serious)
- CB Corn Elder (Injured on Day 9 of camp)
- QB David Blough (shoulder)
Not only is this list the shortest it’s been in several practices, but Tyrell Crosby and John Penisini appear to be very close to coming back. Both were actually suited up for practice but didn’t go through anything other than a little bit during walkthroughs. By the end of practice, they had gone into the locker room and came back out without practice equipment on.
No sign of Da’Shawn Hand or Corn Elder, though.
Blough has been dealing with a sore shoulder, but head coach Dan Campbell said he just wanted to give Blough the day off, and he expects him to be ready for Saturday’s preseason game.
Limited during practice
- TE T.J. Hockenson (injured last week, not considered serious)
- DT Michael Brockers (veteran treatment)
Hockenson returned to the practice field, and although Campbell said he wasn’t going to do much beyond warmups, Hockenson appeared to go through positional drills, as well. Even better, he joined in the final 11-on-11 session of the day, helping Detroit’s first-team offense on a two-minute drill.
Returned to practice
- RB D’Andre Swift (groin)
- RB Dedrick Mills (undisclosed)
- TE Brock Wright (undisclosed)
- DT Miles Brown (undisclosed)
- QB Tim Boyle (ankle)
- QB Jordan Ta’amu (new)
- WR Damion Ratley (undisclosed)
Lot’s of good news here. Swift appeared to get a full load at practice today with no clear snap limit. The injuries to Wright, Mills, and Brown don’t appear to be serious.
This was the first time I saw Damion Ratley involved in any team drills for the past two weeks. Boyle returned despite missing a day with his ankle injury and appears on track to play Saturday. With Blough out, we got to see a good amount of Jordan Ta’amu, as well.
Injured during practice
- DT Nick Williams
Williams returned Thursday from the reserve/COVID-19 list and was immediately placed back into the starting lineup. Unfortunately for him, on an early team rep, he appeared to get tangled up with someone and spent some extra time on the ground. He got up favoring a leg. Later, he put on a helmet, seemingly wanting to get back in, but the coaching staff held him out for the rest of practice.
The Goff-ense struggles again
It was a practice to forget for Jared Goff and the first-team offense. During team periods, Goff threw two interceptions, two passes that were nearly intercepted, and failed to find the end zone even once.
On the first near-interception, Goff was throwing a quick out but did not notice Amani Oruwariye sitting in a zone. The third-year corner jumped the route but dropped the easy pick.
A couple of plays later, Goff was intercepted when the Lions sent blitzes from both sides of the line. Nickell Robey-Coleman and Jerry Jacobs came from opposite sides, untouched, and forced a hurried throw from Goff. Again, Goff completely missed the defender, Jamie Collins, who stepped in front of a crossing route intended for Amon-Ra St. Brown.
The next set of drills came in the red zone. On one play, Goff couldn’t find anyone open, rolled to his right, and then forced a ball into coverage. Jeff Okudah broke up the pass, as it bounced high up in the air. Tracy Walker came down with it but appeared to be out of bounds. Just a play or two later, a Goff pass was deflected by Austin Bryant at the line and picked off by Charles Harris.
The best offensive drive of the day came at the end of practice. The offense had the full length of the field to go with 1:38 left and down four. Goff went four-for-seven (not including a spike). He hit T.J. Hockenson twice for short gains, found D’Andre Swift on a nice angle route, and hit Jamaal Williams on a wide-open crosser. But when it came down to the final two plays, the Lions' offense couldn’t make anything happen. Tyrell Williams dropped an out route that would’ve gotten them down to around the 10-yard line, then Oruwariye broke up the next pass to Williams, ending the drive.
Derrick Barnes learning from the best
It was a quiet day from Barnes on defense, as he continues to rep late in the rotation. However, he got a lot of good looks during special teams. For an entire session that was focused on one-on-one blocking for punt returns, they paired Barnes with Detroit’s special teams ace Jalen Reeves-Maybin. The two took about six reps together, and after each one, they would have a conversation with each other, working on hand and foot placement. Though Reeves-Maybin certainly got the best of Barnes more often than not, the rookie ended the session with a win, out-juking Reeves-Maybin on the way to the returner.
Despite his promising preseason showing, the Lions are likely going to take it slow with Barnes. That could mean a heavier focus on special teams in Year 1.
Don’t expect Frank Ragnow to play Saturday
Around the middle of practice, Frank Ragnow stopped taking reps with the first-team offense. There was no visible injury and he wasn’t ever working alongside a trainer, but all of a sudden it was Evan Brown taking first-team reps. Ragnow later returned for the two-minute drill at the end of practice.
Campbell said before practice that he was thinking about holding certain veterans out for the rest of the preseason, and Ragnow would make sense given his high value to the team. Further evidence Ragnow will not play on Saturday, Evan Heim was seen practicing snapping the ball to the side. To put it nicely, he looked like he could use the practice.
- One of the final players off the practice field was Jordan Ta’amu, who was working with running back Craig Reynolds. Don’t be surprised to see both of them late in Saturday’s game. Overall, I thought Ta’amu played well on Thursday, including a deep shot to Tom Kennedy between Ifeatu Melifonwu and Alijah Holder.
- Another bad drop from Victor Bolden today, and he continues to rep behind Kennedy in punt returns.
- #KickerWatch update: Randy Bullock was 3-for-5 today with misses from 47 and a bad miss from 40. Zane Gonzalez was 4-for-4, with his longest make from 49 yards.