Joint practices are unique because coaches can collaborate to create any kind of situation they’d like, whereas games just unfold the way they unfold. If the Lions really want to see how their first-team defensive line matches up with talented interior offensive linemen like Quenton Nelson and Ryan Kelly in goal-line situations, they can (and did). If they want their cornerbacks to get extended reps against young, promising receivers like Michael Pittman Jr and Alex Pierce, they can get as much work as they need during practices.
Day 1 of joint practices heavily favored the Colts, especially when it came to the Lions' defense matching up against the Colts' defense. But Day 2 may have been more telling, as the Lions fought back and showed they are capable of contending with a team that could very well make the playoffs this year.
It also showed that Lions players respond to adjustments from the coaching staff. Before Thursday’s practice opened up, we heard coach Dan Campbell say he wanted the Lions' defensive backs to be more aggressive at the point of catch, and lo and behold, this happened:
And this happened:
As for the offense, while it was a bit more inconsistent than it has been against their own defense, there were probably more positives than negatives throughout the two practices.
To break down all of my observations from Indiana, I jumped on the mic for about 20 minutes to share what I saw, what I learned, and what it may mean for the Lions’ 2022 season. Check it out.