The Detroit Lions held their annual Ford Field practice in front of about a half-filled lower bowl of fans. It was the first time fans have been able to watch the Lions inside the downtown Detroit stadium since the end of the 2019 season.
For the first hour, the practice resembled any other. Some warmups, a decent amount of positional drills, and a handful of seven-on-seven reps. But for the final hour of practice, it was all about scrimmaging. The Lions practiced situational football, including two-minute drills, but mostly just ran plays like a normal drive.
Here are five players that stood out during Saturday’s practice.
During just a limited amount of snaps, I counted three pressures from Okwara alone that had Tim Boyle trying to escape the pocket early and often (the second-team offense went against the first-team defense for most of practice). Two of those pressures came off the offense’s right side, while one he beat second-team left tackle Dan Skipper.
Hockenson had touchdowns on two of the three first-team offense’s drives. He continues to be one of Jared Goff’s biggest weapons and his main security blanket. On one touchdown pass, Goff nicely faked play action, rolled to his right, and just floated the ball over the defender’s head for a 5-yard touchdown pass. (Unrelated note: Jermar Jefferson picked up a block on Kevin Strong nicely on the play).
Amon-Ra St. Brown
With Tyrell Williams (groin), Breshad Perriman (hip), and Quintez Cephus (head) all out for Saturday’s practice, it was St. Brown’s time to shine. The rookie receiver picked up the other touchdown from the first-team offense, and also had a key fourth-down pickup that extended Goff’s two-minute drill. St. Brown continues to regularly beat Mike Ford in team drills and finds space as a crisp route runner.
Hand absolutely blew up backup center Evan Brown on a rep and met Jermar Jefferson in the backfield for a tackle for loss. During the final drive of the game, Hand also tallied a “sack,” forcing the second-team offense to lose valuable time during their two-minute drill (which eventually failed). He continues to look like his old self. If he can stay healthy—and, yes, that’s a big if—Hand can revitalize his career in Detroit.
Normally, I save positive observations for my standouts, but the kickers stood out for the wrong reasons on Saturday. Though both Randy Bullock and Matthew Wright were perfect in extra points, they both missed every attempt from 50 yards or longer. Bullock pushed both a 50-yard field goal and a 54-yard field goal wide left. Wright went right on the 50-yard attempt and came up short on the 54-yard attempt.
This shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise, though. Bullock is just 12-of-25 from 50+ yards (48%), while Wright’s career-long—even going back to college—is just 50 yards.
Considering the Lions are coming from Matt Prater, who has converted 75 percent of kicks from 50+ yards, it’s safe to say the Lions won’t be as successful from long distance this year. And if the Lions are smart, they simply won’t try many kicks from beyond 50 yards.