The Detroit Lions took the field for the second of three minicamp practices on Wednesday afternoon. With just about a week left to go before players break until training camp, opportunities are running thin to make a lasting impression with the coaching staff.
Here are my biggest takeaways from Wednesday’s shorter, slower-paced practice.
Not in attendance:
- DE Josh Paschal
- DT John Penisini
Nothing new here. Paschal, as head coach Dan Campbell revealed on Wednesday, is dealing with a lower-body injury, and the Lions appear to be keeping it safe with him. Campbell also said that he would be meeting with Penisini this week and that his absence is excused.
The following players were at practice but not practicing:
- TE James Mitchell
- TE Derrick Deese
- WR Jameson Williams
- WR DJ Chark
- EDGE Romeo Okwara
- LB Natrez Patrick
- CB/S Ifeatu Melifonwu
- CB Jerry Jacobs
- S DeShon Elliott
The only significant change here was the addition of Chark, who spent the entire practice mentally engaged with the receiver group. He seemed to be in good spirits, so this appears to likely be a rest day for him. Remember that he is coming off a broken ankle.
The following players were limited in participation:
- OT Taylor Decker
- TE T.J. Hockenson
- CB Jeff Okudah
Nothing new here to report. All of these players are going through positional drills, but are being held out of most team drills after walkthroughs.
Starting with the second team
Not sure if it means anything significant, but when the Lions opened it up to team drills, they started with the second-team offense (led by quarterback Tim Boyle) and the second-team defense. Given how many young players the Lions have on their second team right now—including just about every drafted rookie—it may have simply been a chance to get them more playing time.
Another strong day for Aidan Hutchinson
The Lions’ second overall pick started with the second-team defense and made an immediate impact, nearly picking off a screen pass. He got his mitts on it, causing the incompletion, but he was clearly frustrated he didn’t come down with what would have been a difficult interception.
When the ones took the field, Hutchinson stayed out there for the majority of snaps. In about seven or eight plays, he beat Matt Nelson twice, once earning a “sack” (or at the very least drawing a holding penalty) and the other forcing a pressure that earned him cheers from the coaching section.
Hutchinson is getting closer and closer to earning his way as a full-time starter, and we’re barely into June.
Another high pressure drill
On Tuesday, the Lions attempted to run 81-yard drives in 29 seconds for some late-pressure situations. Wednesday, the Lions continued their focus on late-game, high-pressure scenarios in two different settings.
The first: 10 seconds left from the defense’s 18-yard line. Basically, you’re giving the offense one shot to win the game.
For the first-team offense, Jared Goff tried to thread a pass in between several defenders to Amon-Ra St. Brown. Brown got both hands on it, but he was blanketed by at least three defenders, and he couldn’t come to the ground with control. Detroit’s defense countered the play by lining up at least six defenders on the goal line before the snap.
The second-team offense scored on their one attempt, with Boyle finding Trinity Benson for the toe-tapping post route in between AJ Parker and JuJu Hughes.
The second scenario: 10 seconds left from the 25-yard line, but with one timeout in your pocket
Both offenses scored in this scenario. First, Goff hit St. Brown for 13 yards on an out-route. With four seconds left, 12 yards to go, and eight defenders waiting on the goal line, Goff eventually found D’Andre Swift leaking out of the backfield for the score. Julian Okwara—one of the defenders waiting on the goal line—appeared to give up the edge to Swift.
The second-team defense started with a very similar 13-yard gain to Tom Kennedy. Then Boyle went right back to Kennedy who split Mike Hughes and Brady Breeze for the score. Kennedy drop-kicked the ball a good 30 yards in celebration.
Other random notes:
- Mike Hughes got a lot of first-team nickelback looks over AJ Parker on Wednesday. Parker said after practice he’s approaching this year no different than his rookie season: he knows he has to fight for a job despite what happened last year.
“This is the NFL, man,” Parker said. “Your job is really never safe, so it’s always about getting better and working.”
- Kick return candidates in order of reps taken: Godwin Igwebuike, Kalif Raymond, D’Andre Swift, Craig Reynolds, Kalil Pimpleton, Greg Bell
- Just because I haven’t reported much on the second-team offensive line, here’s what the lineup was on Wednesday, from left to right: Dan Skipper, Kevin Jarvis, Evan Brown, Tommy Kraemer, Obinna Eze
UPDATE: I missed it during practice, but according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free press, Jonah Jackson sat out team drills and appeared to have an arm heavily wrapped. Per Birkett, it was Logan Stenberg who jumped in to replace him with the first-team offense, which explains why he wasn’t with the twos.
- Kerby Joseph had a rough day, which should be expected for a rookie safety who only had one year of starting experience in college. After a failed two-point conversion from the offense, both Aaron Glenn and Aubrey Pleasant came rushing down towards Joseph to offer a coaching point on a mistake he had made.
- Today was the best day I’ve seen out of Austin Bryant this offseason. Though he’s mainly working with the third-team defense, he tallied a sack during 11-on-11s, and then on the very next play, he was a part of a defensive front that was so disruptive on a run play that they accidentally sent the running back flying backward before reaching the line of scrimmage.
- With Chark out, the first-team offense definitely looked a little less lethal, with Amani Oruwariye and Tracy Walker looking excellent in coverage all day.
- That being said, Quintez Cephus and Trinity Benson continue to tear up the second-team defense.
- Another day, another good showing from rookie cornerback Chase Lucas. He’s holding his own against the speedy Kalil Pimpleton, and on Wednesday he had a perfect pass defense on a pass intended for Corey Sutton. Repping with the third-team defense, Lucas has a long way to go to work his way into any defensive playing time this year, but if he can continue to stack days, we know this coaching staff won’t be afraid to play him.
- Good kicker note: Austin Seibert made “in-game” kicks of 43 and 53 yards.