From Kyle Meinke, MLive:
ALLEN PARK – The Detroit Lions decided to shake up their offensive line on the second day of minicamp.
Joe Dahl was working with the starting unit at left guard, and Oday Aboushi was at right guard. Graham Glasgow, who has worked exclusively as the first-team right guard during practices open to reporters this offseason, was at right guard on the second team.
What exactly this means is unclear because coach Matt Patricia spoke before practice. But it likely doesn’t mean much. The Lions are trying to cross-train their offensive linemen to play multiple positions to give them options in the event of injury.
“We evaluate a lot of players at a lot of different positions,” Patricia said during the first round of OTAs. " It’s just a great opportunity for us to get a look at all different sort of combinations of players that we have. Ultimately, the offensive line, I may have mentioned before—that’s the one group I would say, as a group and whole, that’s really difficult from that standpoint that you’ve got five guys that have to see the game through the same sets of eyes. So, there’s a lot of repetition, a lot of situations where you’re trying to put them in that sort of communication stressor so that they work through all of that."
Detroit seems especially interested in figuring out what exactly it has in Dahl. He was a fifth-round pick in Bob Quinn’s first draft class back in 2016, but has played sparingly over the years. He does play multiple positions, though. He was an excellent offensive tackle at Washington State, and has played mostly guard in his Lions career. On the first day of minicamp, he was the backup center. On the second day, he was in the starting lineup at right guard. And let’s not forget his moonlighting as a fullback last season. Now that’s versatility.
The second unit, from left to right, was Tyrell Crosby, Kenny Wiggins, Leo Koloamatangi, Glasgow and Andrew Donnal.
With so many pieces moving around Wednesday, it was interesting to note one guy who remained in place: Frank Ragnow. He played his rookie season exclusively at left guard, but has practiced this year exclusively as the first-team center. Patricia has tried to downplay that alignment, saying he’s just trying to cross-train the young offensive lineman. But the longer he stays in place at center, while so many others are moving around, the more clear it becomes center is his new position.
Here are a few more observations from Day 2 of minicamp:
– After spending much of Day 1 working on third downs, the Lions spent much of Day 2 working specifically on third-and-long situations. That could have something to do with installing the offensive scheme, sure, but it’s mostly about making players more aware of situational football. That has been a focus ever since Patricia took over in Detroit, but has really heightened now that he’s had a year-plus to implement the basics of his system. “The No. 1 thing we’ll try to teach as we go through the different phases of the game is awareness," Patricia said. "What are the different types of plays or areas of the field that are attacked in these situations? So generally it’s a big awareness thing. … It’s a lot of technique work that we have to get down. There’s just a difference when the timing of the play is third down, if it’s third-and-short versus third-and-longer. What’s the marriage of rush and coverage right there? How long does the play take? What’s the technique of the players that are in coverage? What’s the technique of the guys that are in the rush? The timing of the offensive play affects that. What’s the rhythm of the quarterback? What’s the rhythm of the route? What are the different plays? There will be a lot of conversation here throughout the league – popular plays in shorter down-and-distances, with third downs being a lot of picks and rubs, then you can get into some different avenues there. There’s just so much coaching that’s involved. The same is true in the longer situations. They all have little different points of emphasis that regardless of the play or the scheme, that need to be understood before you really master the situation.”
– Patricia made those comments before practice, and indeed Detroit spent much of the day working out of third-and-long sets. The No. 1 offense actually fared pretty well against the long chains, too. Receiver Chris Lacy, running with the ones because of injuries to Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, was especially good. He caught a deep pass from Matthew Stafford over Rashaan Melvin during 7-on-7s that would have certainly scored in a live situation. Later, he beat Teez Tabor deep. And Tabor, remember, has been having a really good offseason. I can’t remember him getting beat like this by anybody else. Lacy is going to be an intriguing name to watch in that battle for a reserve job behind Golladay, Jones and Danny Amendola.
– It really wasn’t a great day for Tabor. Not only was he beat deep by Lacy, but rookie Travis Fulgham blew past him too during seven-on-sevens (although the pass fell incomplete). There’s a lot to like about Tabor’s development this offseason. He’s impressed coaches with his renewed commitment to learning the finer points of the position, and has spent his time away from the team working with the likes of Chad Ochocinco in Florida. He’s practiced well all offseason. But the speed issues aren’t going away anytime soon either, and today, it cost him.
– You know who had an impressive day for the defense? Jamal Agnew. He’s kind of the forgotten man on that side of the ball. He was an All-Pro as a rookie, of course, but that was as a punt returner. He was good enough last year to win the starting nickel job out of camp, but sustained a knee injury in Week 5 that cost him most of the rest of the season. Now the Lions have handed Justin Coleman more money than anyone pays nickel in the game, which has clouded Agnew’s future on defense. But Agnew has gotten a lot of time with the first team this offfseason while Coleman nurses an injury, and made the most of the opportunity Wednesday. His best play came right in front of the bleachers where Detroit pens in the media, as Agnew read Brandon Powell perfectly, turned his head at the right time and was able to swat away the ball.
– You know who wasn’t very good for the offense? The backup quarterbacks. Tom Savage threw an interception for the second straight day, this time throwing the ball directly to safety Andrew Adams on a rollout. And if there were a single offensive player within at least 10 yards of that pass, I didn’t see him. Ugly. He wasn’t done yet, either, later throwing the ball directly into Tavon Wilson’s chest. (Wilson dropped the ball.) Connor Cook wasn’t exactly sharp either, though, throwing behind his receivers a few times. He did feather a beauty to tight end T.J. Hockenson at one point, though.
– Jamal Agnew, Ty Johnson and Brandon Powell were the primary players dropping back at kick returner. It’s impossible to say anything about where that competition stands when there’s no hitting, although it’s worth noting Powell did put one ball on the ground. Agnew averaged 28.0 yards on his eight kickoff returns last year, which ranked 11th in the league. Johnson averaged 27.2 yards on 14 returns last year at the University of Maryland, which ranked 11th in the country. Both players have exceptional speed, and it’ll be interesting to see how that battle unfolds. Given Detroit’s depth at running back, special teams just might be Johnson’s best path to the 53-man roster.
– There were a few notable visitors at minicamp, including owner Martha Firestone Ford herself. Her daughter, Sheila Ford Hamp, and team president Rod Wood also took in practice. So did Michigan offensive line coach Ed Warriner.
– The Lions usually wrap up practice with wind sprints. On Wednesday, they decided to have some fun instead by pitting the offense against the defense in a field-goal competition. It was impossible for reporters to see much at all because of how far we were from the players, but it looked like Jarrad Davis made one kick and the offense had to do pushups for losin