On Wednesday, the Detroit Lions will head down to Indianapolis(ish) for a couplet of joint practices with the Colts. It’s a unique opportunity for the Lions to not only face off against a good NFL team a few times throughout the week, but as Lions coach Dan Campbell said on Monday, he has already collaborated with Colts coach Frank Reich to set up specific situations both teams would like to practice throughout the week.
“It’s structured between Frank and myself,” Campbell said. “Man, we’ll get all the looks we need to get, all the situations, it’ll just be good. And they’re a good team over there, they know how to win, it’s a winning program.”
That means the Lions and Colts can essentially manipulate any kind of matchup they please. If they want a rookie to go against a top-tier veteran, they’ll make it happen. If they want a roster bubble player to line up over another player on the other team just as hungry, it’s simple.
So that brings us to today’s Question of the Day:
What are the best potential one-on-one matchups for Colts/Lions joint practices?
My answer: I love strength vs. strength (literally), so two potential matchups jump to mind. Obviously, left guard Quenton Nelson is one of the best interior linemen in the game. Having second-year defensive tackle Alim McNeill potentially line up over him would be can’t-miss football. One-on-ones between the two? Even better.
Flipping the sides of the ball, there’s a similar premier matchup between Colts defensive lineman DeForest Buckner and pretty much anyone on the Lions’ offensive line. Last week, the Lions' first-team offensive line looked pretty darn good, but the Falcons' pass rush won’t be very good this year. Buckner—who can play pretty much anywhere on the line—has tallied 36 sacks in the past four years combined, ninth most over that time period. He will be a handful.
Finally, I want to see how the Lions’ receiving corps will hold up against a new set of defensive backs. Specifically, DJ Chark vs. Stephon Gilmore figures to be a pretty fun matchup. While Gilmore is nearly 32 years old now, he’s still playing very well and has reportedly been giving the Colts fits all camp.
What are you hoping to see at joint practices this week?