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Detroit Lions OTA Week 2 observations: Offense struggles, kickers shine

The Detroit Lions 5th OTA practice was not pretty for the offense, but the team’s kicker battle looks strong.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Lions hit the midway point in their Organized Team Activity practices on Thursday with their fifth of 10 practices. It was a blistering hot day, and a little shorter of a practice than we witnessed last week. So the notebook was a little lighter Thursday, with just one 11-on-11 session and one 7-on-7 session during the entire practice.

Parker Romo takes the early kicker battle lead

The Lions gave us our first look at the kicker battle during a session in the middle of practice. Parker Romo—a recent addition from the XFL—went toe-to-toe with Riley Patterson, whom the Lions traded for last week. Michael Badgley did not kick in practice Thursday.

To add a little spice to the competition, Romo represented the Lions defense and Patterson represented the offense. Loser would have to do planks in the hot sun.

It was a five-kick shootout with the lengths of each kick approximately: 43, 47, 47, 53, and 57.

Romo not only made all five kicks, but they were all near perfect. Patterson pushed a 47-yarder wide left, and his 57-yard attempt was both short and extremely wide left.

Romo wasn’t done, though. He nailed a 61-yard field goal to cap off a simulated end-of-regulation, game-tying drive. They tried to push Romo’s limits afterward, but his 63-yard attempt went wide right—but it was long enough.

Patterson finished the day respectfully, nailing a pair of 53-yard field goals in the same end-of-regulation simulation.

In total, Romo went 6-of-7 with his only miss from 63 yards; Patterson went 5-of-7 with misses from 47 and 57.

Offensive struggles continue

Last Thursday wasn’t a particularly good day for the offense, and they quite possibly looked even worse this week.

The first and second-team offenses were given the following scenario in the only 11-on-11s in practice: down three points, 45 seconds left, starting at their own 38-yard line. Jared Goff went 2-for-5 for about 19 yards. On fourth down, Jared Goff tried to extend the play, but couldn’t get on the same page with his receiver and his pass fell incomplete.

The second team offense nearly went four-and-out had it not been for a desperate dump-off to Sam LaPorta for a 15-yard gain on fourth-and-10. After another three incomplete passes, backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld converted another fourth-and-10 after finding Tom Kennedy on a crosser for a big 23-yard gain.

But back to the starters: obviously there is absolutely no reason to panic this early in the offseason. For one, they aren’t really running the ball, and even if they were, they’ve been missing at least two offensive line starters in each practice we’ve seen. That said, neither quarterback was very impressive today. Goff is clearly lacking chemistry with some of his receivers right now, and the results aren’t very pretty. Meanwhile, Sudfeld was far less accurate than he was last week.

Goff’s relationship with Jameson Williams, in particular, is still very much a work in progress. On one particular rep—with no defense, mind you—Goff threw a pass a few feet in front of Williams’ feet, clearly expecting the young receiver to be somewhere else. Goff frustratingly threw his hands in the air, while Williams had a long chat with a coach (I believe it was offensive coordinator Ben Johnson).

A notable day for Ifeatu Melifonwu

Melifonwu started the day with something I have truly never seen during OTAs: a physical scrum during walkthroughs. Granted the pace was a little faster than a normal walkthrough, but he eventually had to be subdued by Alim McNeill. I could not see who he was tussling with on offense.

That said, with Tracy Walker remaining out of full team drills and C.J. Gardner-Johnson absent, Melifonwu got some safety work with the first-team defense alongside Kerby Joseph. I also saw him take some reps at outside cornerback later in practice. It looks like the Lions are keeping their options open with him moving forward.

To cap off his day, Melifonwu notched a nice pass breakup during 11-on-11s, forcing an incompletion on a pass intended for Amon-Ra St. Brown.

Other notes:

  • During the 11-on-11 fourth-quarter drill, the Lions' defense found some creative ways to generate pressure and they were very aggressive. While I obviously can’t give away specifics, it’s worth noting that Julian Okwara and Josh Paschal were a part of their first-team NASCAR formation, with no John Cominsky at practice.
  • Kerby Joseph picked off Goff during 7-on-7 drills and then had one of the most iconic press conferences after practice. I’ll link to it when the Lions post it, but for now, enjoy this clip:

[You can see the full clip in the middle of this YouTube video]

  • Jalen Reeves-Maybin had a great pass breakup on a pass intended for Sam LaPorta. Reeves-Maybin continues to get significant second-team reps with Malcolm Rodriguez sidelined.
  • The Lions simulated kickoffs today. The returners were: Kalif Raymond, Maurice Alexander, Jahmyr Gibbs, and Jermar Jefferson

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