After an extended weekend, the Detroit Lions are back on the practice field for the second week of organized team activities (OTAs). The Lions already have completed four of the team’s allotted 10 practices, but only one of those has been available for the media to watch. On Thursday, the press—including Pride of Detroit—will be in attendance for Practice No. 5.
Here are 10 things we’ll be looking for.
Last week, we saw both running back David Montgomery and linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez leave practice early and not return. Neither player showed up in the photo gallery of the next practice (Wednesday), so their status going forward is unclear. With a Dan Campbell presser scheduled and practice ahead, we should know more about both statuses by the end of the week.
MORE JAHMYR GIBBS
If Montgomery remains out, it’s quite possible Gibbs already assumes reps with the first-team offense. Gibbs was all over the photo gallery of Wednesday’s practice and appeared to be with the starters in many of those photos. It’s a good opportunity for him to already develop some chemistry with Goff, and that should be a pleasure to see in person.
Focusing on football with Jameson Williams
Last week, the Jameson Williams news was all about his first public reaction to his suspension and social media conduct. With that now out of the way, it’s time to put that behind us and watch the kid play some football. Last week, his most notable play was a drop on a deep ball. But after an impressive catch on Wednesday, hopefully, he has more highlights on the way with the media in attendance.
Any rookies jump into the starting lineup?
One of my biggest notes from last week’s practice was how the Lions were making every rookie earn their spot with the first-string offense. Even Detroit’s first-round picks—who will almost certainly be Week 1 starters—were repping with the second and third-string teams. The Lions have done this with every rookie since coach Dan Campbell, but it didn’t last long with guys like Aidan Hutchinson and Penei Sewell. Is it possible both Gibbs, Jack Campbell and maybe even Sam LaPorta have already worked their way into significant first-team reps?
Last week, the Lions didn’t attempt any field goals during practice. But following the trade for Riley Patterson, the Lions now have three kickers on the roster and appear prepared to have a serious competition on their hands. It would be wise to narrow that number down to two by training camp so that everyone is getting enough reps to make an educated decision. So it’s possible over the next couple weeks of OTAs and minicamp that the Lions ramp up the competition now and make their first kicker cut before July.
Alim McNeill’s transformation
It was quite obvious in person that McNeill had gone through a significant body transformation when we last saw him, but now that we know the specifics of his accomplishment—losing 13 percent of his body fat(!!!)—I want to take a closer look at how that has affected his movement. Is he noticeably more flexible? Quicker? Explosive? Is he accomplishing his goal of becoming a more effective pass rusher? Obviously, without pads, it’ll be hard to draw too many conclusions from his play, but I’m more interested by how he’s moving than anything.
Lions practices under Campbell have been known for their competitive nature, and one way he has done that is a focus on one-on-one drills. Those can be high-intensity reps, but they’re also very informative and entertaining from a spectator's perspective. We didn’t get any of those last week, but I would be thrilled to see how the new defensive backs match up against the Lions’ receiving corps. Plus, I just can’t wait to see the amount of trash talking in a theoretical rep between Amon-Ra St. Brown and C.J. Gardner-Johnson. Even if they just line those two up against each other in a “tackling” special teams drills (not actual tackling), some sparks could fly.
Will any UDFAs stand out?
Last week, the only UDFA to truly catch my eye was Eastern Michigan receiver Dylan Drummond. But with a handful of guys like Starling Thomas V, Brandon Joseph, and Mohamed Ibrahim who have legitimate paths to the 53-man roster, my eyes will be peeled this week to see if anyone else is consistently making plays out there.
Will the first-team offense look more in rhythm?
Last week, it wasn’t a particularly great day for the first-string offense. During one situational drill, they failed to move the ball downfield at all on four downs. Things got a little better during 7-on-7s late in practice, but for an offense that is expected to produce top-10 results again this year, it would be nice to see some of that explosiveness return this week.
The Lions’ crowded edge room
I can’t say I paid a ton of attention to the edge defenders last week—although part of that is intentional due to the lack of pads. Still, the Lions have a ton of fascinating storylines at that position. How can Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston build upon promising rookie seasons? Will Romeo Okwara look more like his 10-sack self with nearly two years removed from his torn Achilles? Can Charles Harris return to his 2021 level of production? And is Josh Paschal primed for a Year 2 jump?