The Detroit Lions closed out training camp on another sweltering day of practice. Though the team was just in shells (no shoulder pads), it was the perfect ending to camp. We had a coach as the most animated person on the field, some pushing and shoving, and ultimately a full-team scrum that, thankfully, didn’t result in any punches thrown or injuries.
Here are my observations from Wednesday final training camp practice:
New injuries are bolded
Unable to practice
- DT Da’Shawn Hand (groin, more serious than originally thought)
- WR Tyrell Williams (groin injury, should return next week)
- CB Jeff Okudah (undisclosed)
No new absences from practice on Wednesday, but we did get a little more information on Tyrell Williams’ injury situation. It does not appear to be serious.
“He’s got a little bit of a groin right now,” head coach Dan Campbell said. “So, we’re just being smart with him. He’ll be down this week, but he’ll be okay. He ought to be back next week ready to go.”
Okudah went through walkthroughs and stretches but went to the locker room afterward. He told the media on Tuesday that the Lions are just trying to manage his workload.
Returned to practice
- DT Michael Brockers
For the first time I can remember seeing, Brockers took part in some team drills on Wednesday. The Lions have been pretty dodgy about the veteran defensive tackle’s situation, suggesting he’s not dealing with an injury, but earlier in the week they expressed concern that he may or may not be ready for Week 1. It’s worth noting he still didn’t get a full day’s worth of team reps on Wednesday.
Also noteworthy, D’Andre Swift practiced for a second straight day after being a full participant on Tuesday. Although assistant head coach Duce Staley echoed Campbell’s statement that he’s concerned about Swift’s Week 1 availability, he admitted getting out there a second day in a row is important for him
“Being able to stack those days are very important when you have a injury,” Staley said. “You got to be able to put them back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back.”
FIGHT! (sort of)
About halfway through the practice, defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant chewed out the entire secondary. And while I can’t reveal the exact nature of his comments, let’s just say he wasn’t pleased with the team’s energy level.
So later in practice, when the offense was running reps around 70-80 percent speed, the secondary was flying all over the place, knocking down pass after pass. Whether they were supposed to be going as fast as they were remains to be seen, but at one point, it was clear the offense had had enough. One play ended with offensive tackle Matt Nelson giving new outside linebacker Rashod Berry a pretty intense shove. Nothing materialized there.
But on the very next play, the entire team got in a scrum. It was hard to see what exactly happened, but there were no visible punches thrown and it was basically all the Lions getting together in a tight circle, with the defense clearly hooting and hollering at the offense, and the offense taking exception.
“Those guys are very enthusiastic. I love them to death,” offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn said about the defensive coaching staff. “I like the energy that they bring to the field, we believe iron sharpens iron, so if they raise their intensity we gotta raise our intensity that’s all there is to it.”
One good red zone segment for the offense
The first-team offense ran eight plays from about 7 yards out. I had the Lions' offense scoring touchdowns on five of those plays. Here’s how each score played out:
- A back-shoulder throw to D’Andre Swift with Alex Anzalone in close coverage
- Kalif Raymond touchdown catch on a crossing route
- Lions sent Jalen Reeves-Maybin on a blitz, Jared Goff saw it the entire way on the read-option, and handed it to Swift, who quickly cut upfield for the touchdown.
- T.J. Hockenson—double teamed by Will Harris and Reeves-Maybin—shook both with a nice shimmy, and Goff found him for the easy score.
- Out route to Swift with Anthony Pittman way too far back.
It’s worth noting that Reeves-Maybin did pick up an interception during this session, but it was only after Goff threw a decent pass at Darren Fells, but the ball bounced off his facemask high in the air and into the linebacker’s hands.
One great goal-line segment for the defense
The defense got their revenge not much later, forcing the offense to go 0-for-3 from inside the 5-yard line.
On the first rep, Ifeatu Melifonwu—again repping with the first team in Okudah’s absence—blanketed Geronimo Allison completely, forcing the incomplete pass. On the next play, Goff tried to throw it to Hockenson but threw it right into Will Harris’ hands. Unfortunately for the defense, Harris dropped what should have been an easy interception. On the final rep of the session, Tracy Walker sent a well-timed blitz that forced a quick throw from Goff. The Lions quarterback put some nice touch on it—all things considered—but Quintez Cephus couldn’t catch up to it in time. It’s worth noting that Cephus had a touchdown in an earlier session with the twos on a well-thrown ball between two defenders by David Blough. In a very Megatron-like move, he dunked on the uprights afterward.
- The kicker battle swung in the other direction today, as Zane Gonzalez was a perfect 4-for-4. He had makes from about 40, 46, 48, and 50. Randy Bullock missed back-to-back 46 yarders but made all other three kicks.
- Goff had perhaps his most impressive throw in camp on Wednesday. He fired a ball with good velocity to a streaking Kalif Raymond. The ball arrived just in time to float over Melifonwu’s waiting hand.
- It’s hard to judge the session in which the defense was clearly moving faster, even though the offense was not going full speed (on purpose), but there were still a few impressive plays of note. A.J. Parker jumped a route from Tom Kennedy that would’ve resulted in a Tim Boyle pick-six. Amani Oruwariye logged a pass breakup, an interception, and punched the ball out of Amon-Ra St. Brown’s hands during this session. Mike Ford forced an incompletion (or fumble, depending on who you ask) after Victor Bolden made a catch.
- Earlier in the week, we heard that the Lions were going to give Tom Kennedy some non-returner looks on special teams to see if they can find a place where he can contribute. We finally saw a little bit of that on Wednesday, as Kennedy worked both as the gunner and the jammer. However, he only got three reps, so it was hard to get a real feel for how he was doing.