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Lions vs. Giants joint practice Day 1 observations: Standouts on offense, defense

A look at the top performers from the Detroit Lions vs. New York Giants first joint practice at training camp.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Lions and New York Giants took the field for the first of two joint practices this week that will culminate in the preseason opener. But considering most of the starters will likely rest on Friday, the most interesting action is happening during the week at Allen Park.

With that in mind, here are my observations from Tuesday’s practice.

Offensive personnel notes

With no Frank Ragnow and Jonah Jackson on Tuesday, the Lions inserted Graham Glasgow at center, keeping Halapoulivaati Vaitai as the starting right guard. At left guard, the Lions split time between Kayode Awosika and Darrin Paulo with the first-team offense.

The rest of the first-team offense is what it has been for most of camp. David Montgomery as the lead back (with some Jahmyr Gibbs mixed in), Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond as the wideouts, and a mixture of Brock Wright and Sam LaPorta at tight end.

The second-team offensive line from left to right was:

  • LT: Matt Nelson
  • LG: Darrin Paulo
  • C: Ross Pierschbacher
  • RG: Colby Sorsdal
  • RT: Germain Ifedi

It’s worth noting that Brad Cecil took some second team reps, but after botching two snap exchanges with Nate Sudfeld, he was pulled.

Offensive standouts during 1-on-1s

After individual drills, the joint part of practice opened up with receiver one-on-ones. On the very first play of the day, Amon-Ra St. Brown set the tone for the practice, beating rookie Deonte Banks on a deep post for a huge gain. St. Brown won every one-on-one rep I saw out of him.

Kalif Raymond continues to also dominate these drills, with clear wins over Giants CBs Nick McCloud and Rodarius Williams.

The chemistry still isn’t there with Jameson Williams, as he failed to pull in any of this three one-on-one reps. That said, he beat Darnay Holmes on one rep, but Holmes made up ground on an underthrow and got to Williams a bit early, yet didn’t draw a flag. It was a pretty quiet day from Williams overall, as I only have him making a couple short catches during team drills.

Offensive standouts during team drills

It was another big day for Dylan Drummond, who has basically been the third best receiver for all of Lions camp, trailing only St. Brown and Raymond. He creates more separation than anyone on the second team, and he’s got very reliable hands. On a crosser route over the middle, Drummond snagged a pass that was a yard or so behind him.

“He’s a good player,” Jared Goff said after practice. “Man, he does everything right, continually shows up. I know he’s good on special teams from what I’ve heard. For me, he’s a guy that continually is exactly where he’s supposed to be on time—he’s fast, he’s sudden, he’s smart, he’s got good hands. How many more adjectives can I say? He’s a good player.”

This was also a breakout practice for Jahmyr Gibbs. During normal 11-on-11s, he shook a Giants linebacker out of his shoes (not literally) after taking a pass. And during red zone drills, he scored two touchdowns. On the first—with the first-team offense—the Lions ran a play-action rollout, and Gibbs was wide open in the flat for an easy score. The second (with the twos), the Lions ran a screen that was both well blocked and fooled the Giants defense. Gibbs exploded downfield for a 16-yard touchdown. There was a flag on that play, but it’s unclear what the call was.

In general, I would say it was a very solid day in terms of pass protection, with Goff having a mostly clean pocket all day. I didn’t make a single note on Kayvon Thibodeaux disrupting in pass protection, but Dexter Williams did get the better of Darrin Paulo for a would-be sack in red zone drills.

That said, the Giants were all over the Lions run game on Tuesday. Whether the Lions were stretching the perimeter or running up the gut, there was little room for Gibbs or David Montgomery on the ground.

Individual notes on offense

  • Marvin Jones Jr. had his best practice of camp, hauling in a couple of impressive, contested catches both during one-on-ones and team drills.
  • Kalif Raymond had what may have been a punt-return touchdown had it been run at full speed. Great block by rookie receiver Antoine Green to spring it.
  • Keep an eye out for recently-signed Trey Quinn. He’s got a little quickness on his releases, and made a few catches on Tuesday.

Defensive personnel notes

Two minor notes to make with the first-team defense. For one, Derrick Barnes got a little more time with the ones, and rookie Jack Campbell slid back with the twos alongside Malcolm Rodriguez. Campbell still got some reps with the first team, but Barnes continues to impress and earn time with the starters.

“Derrick’s playing really fast,” Alex Anzalone said after practice. “He’s put in the work the past few years. To me, he’s becoming a complete player as far as run and coverage.”

Additionally, with Brian Branch becoming more and more of a feature with the starters, it’s moved C.J. Gardner-Johnson to safety and Tracy Walker more with the second-team defense. While you never want to read too much into first-team reps, it’s becoming clear the Lions believe Branch should be on the field more often than not right now.

Ifeatu Melifonwu split time with Saivion Smith alongside Walker with the twos, while James Houston and Julian Okwara split time as the second-team SAM linebacker.

Standouts during 1-on-1s

I paid more attention to the offense on Tuesday, so my notes are thinner on defense, but it was another big day for undrafted rookie Starling Thomas V. I had him with a pass breakup and interception during one-on-ones, and during team drills he got beat on a fade, but came right back and had perfect coverage for a pass breakup on our old pal Kalil Pimpleton.

Standouts during team drills

Aidan Hutchinson was absolutely dominant during practice again. I credited him with two sacks and another pressure. He also chased down Jones on a play-action keeper, displaying his motor and athleticism.

Kerby Joseph also continues to show his ball-hawking skills. I credited him with at least three pass breakups in team drills, including a fantastic play on Parris Campbell that caused a big collision, but thankfully both players got up. He was also phenomenal in red zone drills (more on that later).

The Lions did struggle a bit in two phases of the game: run defense and defending tight end Darren Waller. The Giants used Waller all over the field, and it didn’t seem to matter who was covering—linebacker, defensie back. As for the run defense, the Giants hit the Lions defense with a lot of misdirection and it worked.

Red zone

While I thought most of practice was pretty well-balanced, the Lions clearly won the day during the red zone drills that ended practice. Both teams converged on one field as the Giants took the offense first, followed by the Lions offense.

The Giants first-team offense failed to score once. Notable plays from the Lions defense included:

  • Pass breakup from Jerry Jacobs on Paris Campbell (a questionable flag was thrown on Jacobs).
  • Kerby Joseph and Aidan Hutchinson running down a play-action designed scramble from Daniel Jones for just a couple yards.
  • Joseph again stopping Jones on a QB keeper short of the goal line.
  • Alex Anzalone blowing up a toss play at the line of scrimmage.

The Lions first-team offense scored once with the aforementioned Gibbs catch, but they moved the ball pretty consistently from the 16-yard line in. The second-team struggled a little more, with the botched snap exchanges and Sudfeld overthrowing an open Chase Cota on the final play of practice.

Notable plays:

  • St. Brown made a couple catches, including one that may have been a touchdown if he had avoided a tackle (there wasn’t live tackling on this drill).
  • Jermar Jefferson plowed over a defender on a nice physical run over the middle that got the Lions sideline energized.

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