on Wednesday, Detroit Lions He took a step back in his training camp regiment. After two spirited, padded drills, the Lions lasted over an hour, which was basically just an extended rehearsal.
But on Thursday, he recovered the intensity with the longest exercise he’s ever held in camp. The pads came back on, and the practice lasted about 2.5 hours. In fact, they had to shorten the final drill, as they were running against the maximum time allotted for each practice by the NFLPA (150 minutes).
Dan Campbell got the juice early, starting practice with another one-on-one tackle drill, then following him up with a competitive one with pass safety and WR/CB coverage drills with RB/TE versus LB/S . together.
About halfway through practice, when Austin Bryant and Dan Skipper were locked in during a full-team rep, emotions boiled over. Bryant threw a late punch, which led to an entire team fight. Notably, Logan Stenberg came in and the helmets were literally rolling. While you like to see the intensity, it was a little dangerous to see some players go on the field. Thankfully no one was hurt, and Penny Sewell and the others cleared up the brawl in less than a minute.
But during the next set of team practice, it was Amani Oruvariye and Amon-Ra St. That scuffle didn’t spread to the rest of the team.
After a few plays, in pure St. Brown fashion, he beat AJ Parker cleanly for a big advantage, slamming the ball across the field in celebration.
Now, let’s get into the more in-depth notes from Thursday’s exercise.
It was mostly good news on the injury front as D’Andre Swift and Taylor Decker returned to practice on Wednesday after days of maintenance. They both appeared to be perfect partners, so no problem there.
Quintage Cephus was not fit, but he was out with the team and was doing fine without any noticeable straps or supports. Remember Dan Campbell suggested that Cepheus avoided serious injury After getting help off the field on Tuesday.
Defensive tackles Levi Onwuzurike and center Ryan McCollum were sidelined, and the Lions did not provide an update on either (there was no pre-practice press conference). McCullum has been out for the past few days, while Onwuzurike has been out since Monday’s pile-up, but Campbell indicated on Wednesday that his injury did not appear to be serious.
It’s also worth noting that rookie tight end James Mitchell got his first 11-on-11 look at this exercise, but more on that later.
end of game scenario
Throughout the camp, the Lions run a situational drill at the end of practice to prepare the team for game-like situations. During all these exercises, the defense has won. On Thursday, the incident retaliated.
landscape: Six points down, 31 seconds with at least two timeouts, starts on the opponent’s 41-yard line. Here’s what the first team did:
- Jared Goff scrambled up to 13 yards in the middle (timeout).
- Aidan Hutchinson sacked Goff (beating Halapolivati Vaitai) for a 7-yard loss (timeout)
- Goff delivers a 35-yard touchdown to DJ Chark on a diving catch
The second team’s offense was not nearly as successful, though David Blow bowled a pretty deep ball under pressure and off his back foot, but a touchdown pass slipped through the hands of Trinity Benson. The drive ended after James Houston took a holding penalty and Eric Banks chased it down with a sack.
Today was a particularly fast day for Jared Goff, who really seems to be in command of the offense. His throws were crisp on time, and there was little chuckle in the pocket—which is usually his kryptonite. He engaged with several deep balls during both face-off and team practice, and his day was punctuated with two big red-zone plays. The first was a zone-read substitute that he placed for a 10-yard touchdown and ran to the middle (and later the goal post dunk that nearly knocked him to the ground). The second was the aforementioned deep shot for Chark.
For backup work, David Blow had his day with the other team, and he made some impressive throws throughout the day, including a perfectly established, 20-yard out route into the arms of Calif Raymond, just one over the rookie safety. The move was Kerby Joseph. Raymond dove for the ball, but the ball came loose when it hit the ground.
One day was not as good for Tim Boyle, when he was knocked out at the end of practice by his own offensive lineman, who feared a brief injury. Boyle got up and finished the exercise, but it looked like he was walking awkwardly afterwards.
D’Andre Swift looks unseen in the passing game. During red-zone team practice, he beat Alex Enzalon well for a 10-to-15-yard pickup just below the goal line. He was also run over by Malcolm Rodriguez in a one-on-one coverage drill. But where Swift impressed me the most on Thursday was the pass protection. Linebacker Sean Dion was his absolutely fearless rep against Hamilton, earning some high praise from Deuce Staley in the process.
Godwin Igwebuic and Jermer Jefferson could make it out for roster spots this year. And while Jefferson is certainly closing the gap with some Noticeable Year 2 Improvements, Igwebuike defeated him in a one-on-one special teams practice. Jefferson was trying to get by Igwebuick to tackle the returner, but Igwebuike completely stoked him. Jefferson is starting to look a lot more comfortable on special teams, but there’s a reason why IgweBuick was third in the special teams snap last year.
As mentioned, Mitchell saw his first action in full-team practice on Thursday. He would have to work to rise above the third-team offense, but he scored during a red-zone drill on a play where he sneaked off the line and found himself open for an easy score. If he keeps making plays like this in his least number of chances, he’ll be right there in the TE2 contest.
Shane Zilstra stands out for me. During the face-off, he slammed Tracy Walker for an easy grab, and that translated to a full team-drill when he hit a touchdown with Mike Hughes in coverage.
Devin Funches had one of the most impressive catches of the day, “mossing” safety Brady Breeze during a face-off. However, if he wants to make the team, he has to step up his special teams game as his intensity during those drills was easily unmatched.
Calif Raymond may be having a better day than anyone else on the field. His dominance of one-on-one drills reminded me of last year when Bobby Price claimed that Raymond was the toughest receiver to defend on the team. Obviously, the core the Lions receive has gotten better since then, but their versatility still stands out, especially in one-on-one exercises.
Josh Reynolds has a strong camp, too, and he’s a lot more physical than he looks. Amani Oruvariye had good coverage during one play, but Reynolds’ subtle push-off gave him plenty of room at the top of his path for an easy catch.
Many ol/dl exercises were done with eye-shots, but I got to see about a dozen reps during a set. In those drills, Tommy Kramer and Darin Paulo won both of their two fights.
During team practice, the defensive line lit up once again, and it was all the standouts we’ve seen in camp. Charles Harris remains a monster, and Hutchinson was shining today — especially when he slipped in.
Of Hutchinson after practice, Waitai said, “He has some twitch, I like it.” “It makes me think. Just can’t sit down. He has a really good Bull Rush, he has a really good one – he has a lot of cool stuff.”
Elsewhere, Bryant continues to make a really solid case for himself on this roster. Working mostly with two, he continues at his two-sacks-per-practice pace, and has added a pass to his statesheet today.
Anthony Pittman has got a lot going on the sidelines—even with the first team in some sub-package. You can tell that the situation is fairly new to him, but he is getting along.
“It will take a minute,” Campbell said earlier this week, “but he still has the physical attributes to be able to do it, and he’s got some length, and he’s got speed. That’s it. Very explosive, so we like the fact for the guy you’re looking for, that guy, let’s see if he can play all the linebacker spots.
The more I watch Malcolm Rodriguez play, the more confident I am that he will see some significant time on defense this year, despite most of it still with third-team defenses. He totally blew Justin Jackson in a one-on-one pass rushing drill, then had impressive reps back-to-back during team drills. First, he shot the gut for a run stop around the line of scrimmage, and then he was in full coverage for the dump-off to run back on the next play. That said, Swift blew him away in one-on-one drills, so there’s plenty of room for the rookie linebacker to grow.
Derrick Barnes got most of the first-team reps on Thursday, and his performance went up and down. His most impressive play may have come on special teams, where he stopped Chris Board—one of the team’s best specials.
“That’s the area where I’m trying to step up my game,” Barnes said after practice. “It’s important to be able to do both.”
Because the Lions wide receivers had such an impressive day, it was a tough day for Detroit’s starting outside cornerbacks—who were mostly Amani Oruvarie and Will Harris—during practice. Each of them still scored a few wins, but the offense had an overall lead.
Nickel Corner Spot remains the most lucrative position fight. A relatively interesting note from Thursday: Mike Hughes and Chase Lucas were with the first teams during the opening walkthrough, and AJ Parker was on the far field with the second team’s defense. Parker still got plenty of full-team practice with the first team, but he’s starting to sprinkle Lucas in there too, and for good reason. They witnessed at least two close breakups during their face-to-face practice on Thursday.
However, when the Lions worked on two-versus-twos (WR combo), they also had a valuable learning experience. On the snap, Lucas was lined up over Raymond and Harris was lined up over Benson. Raymond essentially chose Harris, but Lucas followed Raymond. This frees Benson for a wide-open catch. Later, Lucas and Harris have a heated conversation.
Hughes, on the other hand, gets a lot of time outside.
DeShon Elliott’s strong day, who had a near breakup on Zilstra and one of the better special teams reps against tight end Garrett Griffin. However, he was the closest defender of Chark’s bomb.
Brady Breeze may have a tough road ahead of the roster, but he certainly turns heads with his physicality. He lit Benson all over a crosser that could pull a helmet-to-helmet flag, and the representatives of his special teams were the most physical.
Ifetu Melifonvu showed some good patience on an interception during 7-on-7 drills, read the quarterback and stepped in front of Benson for the pick.
“Nothing came to me right away, and then I read the quarterback through his eyes,” Melifonvu explained. “(I) retreated and then the excavator came right behind me and I stopped it.”
Austin Seibert was perfect for 4-for-4, hitting 43, 45, 50 and 53 during practice (almost). Riley Patterson went 3-for-4, missing his effort from 50 yards.
The Lions worked on kickoff today, and gave reserve returners a long look. Unfortunately, Kalil Pimpleton stumbled during one of his reps and Josh Johnson muffed the latter’s kick. Eventually, the Lions went back to what are clearly their top two choices: Igwebuik and Benson.