Minicamp Report (Mandatory) 8 June

From Twentyman and O’Hara:

Watchful eye: After stretching and going through a special teams period early in practice, the players split into individual positional work. Waiting for the linebackers at their part of the field was former four-time Pro Bowl linebacker and special assistant to the chairman and president & CEO Chris Spielman, who kept a close eye on the group throughout the individual period. – Tim Twentyman

Two for the D: The defense generally had the upper hand in the seven-on-seven drills at the end of practice. On two straight plays, the defense kept the receiver out of the end zone – first on a catch over the middle, then on a catch on a cut to the left sideline on the next play. – Mike O’Hara

One for Harris: Like Mike said, It was an impressive goal line 7-on-7 period for the defense to end practice. Third-year safety Will Harris picked off quarterback Jared Goff in the back of the end zone on the first rep and returned it 100-plus yards for a defensive score. The first-team defense won their first three reps forcing incomplete passes on all three. The second team forced an incompletion on their first rep. It wasn’t until the fifth rep that the offense was able to find the end zone. – Tim Twentyman

Balling out: The offensive linemen used a big ball on a pass-protection drill. In fact, it was a heavy medicine ball that they held at arm’s length while backpedaling the way they would against a pass rush. It looked exhausting. – Mike O’Hara

Impressive day: One position group I’ll have a pretty close eye on this week is wide receiver. There’s expected to be a lot of competition in that room for playing time and roster spots.

The receiver who impressed me the most Tuesday was second-year pass catcher Quintez Cephus. He was terrific in the 1-on-1 period against the cornerbacks, showing a quick twitch and ability to separate. He made a diving toe-tap catch in the corner of the end zone from quarterback Tim Boyle to end a mid-practice 7-on-7 period. The offense ran through some two-point conversion plays at the end of practice and Cephus made a grab in the end zone in that period as well. Cephus had a really solid day to start minicamp. – Tim Twentyman

Me: Justin Rogers liked what he saw of him too: Last week, after OTAs, I noted how much Victor Boldin was standing out. He still had a good practice, but man, Quintez Cephus was the guy that kept catching my eye all day today. Really strong practice for the second-year receiver.

Coaching point: Every detail, big or small, means something to head coach Dan Campbell. That includes winning reps in practice, which he stressed in his press conference Tuesday.

“Every time you’re put in that situation, you’re trying to win,” he said. “That’s what we’re really trying to inject into these guys. You have to find a way to win on both sides of the ball.” – Mike O’Hara

Practice report: Rookie linebacker Derrick Barnes and cornerback Jerry Jacobs didn’t take part in practice Tuesday. Barnes looks to be working through an undisclosed injury as he was spotted with trainers off to the side. I also didn’t see defensive end Austin Bryant anywhere. – Tim Twentyman


From Jeremy Reisman:

The Detroit Lions took the field on Tuesday for their first of three minicamp practices. All but one of Detroit’s 89 players were accounted for, with the one exception being edge defender Austin Bryant.

Given that for most of these players, this week of practices will be their last until training camp in late July, Tuesday’s session was important to make a good impression upon the energetic coaching staff.

There were a lot of chances for the media to evaluate play, as the Lions mixed in individual work, one-on-ones in the passing game, and a couple sets of red zone seven-on-sevens. With about 90 minutes of practice available to the public, here’s a look at five players that stood out to me on Tuesday.

Quintez Cephus

Last week, it was Victor Bolden who stood out among the Lions wide receivers reserves, and Bolden got a nice shoutout by Dan Campbell on Tuesday.

But on the field, it was Quintez Cephus who emerged as a big playmaker to start the week. Though he had an early drop on a hot and high pass from Goff during individual drills, he shined during both one-on-ones and seven-on-sevens.

Though he mostly worked with the second team, he cleanly beat Bobby Prices on a route to the back pylon during goal line drills, and Tim Boyle dropped a perfect pass in. Later, he made a diving catch in the end zone, and then he made it a trifecta by creating a step or two of separation opposite Quinton Dunbar and hauling in another score.

Red-zone defense

Cephus may have looked good in seven-on-sevens, but not much can be said for the rest of the offense.


During the final set of goal line seven-on-sevens, it took Jared Goff five attempts to even complete a pass against the defense. Granted, the shortened field gives a slight advantage to the defense, I was impressed by the Lions secondary’s ability to pass off receivers in zone or jam the wideouts effectively in man coverage.

During this period, we also saw the defense’s first interception in front of media this offseason. After his initial read was covered, Goff tried to fire the ball to a receiver in the back of the endzone, but he didn’t see the backside defender. That man, Will Harris, picked off the ball and was off to the races. Of note on that play, Jeff Okudah had completely blown up Goff’s initial read, earning himself heavy praise of defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant from the sideline.

Quick note on Okudah: Last year, many of us praised Okudah’s composure. Whether he was getting beat or knocking down a pass, he would remain focused and not let his emotions show. I can say with certain that version of Jeff Okudah is dead, for better or for worse. He is now one of the loudest players on the defense, even when he’s on the sidelines cheering on his teammates.

Eventually the offense settled in, and Tyrell Williams actually had two clean beats on Okudah. On the first, he failed to find the ball and it fell incomplete. The second, he tight-roped the back of the endzone for a wide open touchdown to close the session.

T.J. Hockenson

When doing one-on-ones against linebackers, Hockenson looked like he was playing in another league. The only thing that stopped him from having a perfect session was when he slipped during one rep. Compared to the rest of the tight ends… there is no comparison. Hockenson is more athletic, more smooth in his routes, and simply more of a mismatch against linebackers. It’s clear he and Goff have developed a chemistry, too.

However, it wasn’t all a great day from Hockenson. During seven-on-sevens he had two critical drops that likely would have resulted in touchdowns. He arguably had a third one, but Tracy Walker was also all over him and may have gotten a true breakup.

Julian Okwara

During those one-on-ones between linebackers and tight ends, Julian Okwara was a surprise standout. He looked like a natural backpedaling and cleanly broke up a pass. He was one of the few defenders during the five-minute session to get his hands on a ball.

Okwara won’t be asked to drop into coverage all that much in this defense, but it’s nice to see he has the athletic traits to potentially do it if called upon.

D’Andre Swift/Jamaal Williams

If these two don’t combine for at least 60 catches this year, they’re not being used correctly. Again, the Lions’ top running back duo dominated in the receiving game. During one-on-ones, Williams did rookie linebacker Tavante Beckett so dirty that the entire crowd of players and coaches erupted.

Swift, too, looked unguardable. During one of the first seven-on-seven reps, he cleanly beat Dean Marlowe for an easy score.


Thanks, for both posts.


Thanks! Good to see the defense have some success and the offense face some adversity. Will help both sides.


60 catches? Combined???

In 2020… Ekeler, Kelly, Jackson, and Ballage combined to play 41 games in LA… and they combined for 116 catches.

In 2019…Ekeler and Gordon combined for 134 catches… even though Gordon held out for 4 games. Ekeler had 92 catches himself.

In 2020… Kamara had 83 catches. Murray chipped in 23 grabs.

In 2019… Kamara had 81 rec, and Murray got 34.

In 2017… Gurley had 64 catches in 15 games.
In 2018… Gurley had 59 catches in 14 games.

In 2016… Lynn was OC in Buffalo and McCoy had 50 catches in a season where Buffalo ranked #32 in passing attempts (only 474 attempts).

Swift should have 60 catches himself if healthy.
They should combine for 100+ catches in a 17 game season.


What’s Cephus about?

How long have you been waiting to spring that one on us?


Interesting, thank you for sharing! Very interesting indeed, on a lot of fronts.

Is this Okudah being himself? It has been said that you do your best work when you’re free to be yourself and someone like MCDC is definitely himself, so leading by example there.

Patty was quite different last year, he’d probably offer to give Okudah 15 bucks for a ZJ since he was slobbing all over other players, so Okudah shut his mouth.

I’m half joking on the Patricia piece but you can see how atmosphere can change a culture.

Say what you will about MCDC but no matter what it is he don’t GAF. He gonna be himself and inspire.

I think Okudah observations may be early evidence.

This might go to show more of the extent of the fraud that was Patricia.


What positions are out there for 7 on 7 drill? Is it same I find on google for 7 on 7 youth football?

Mostly curious as to how much pads rush and if it’s passing only, 2 hand touch, etc.

I don’t like hearing about a lot of drops…

Since late April of 2020.


Usually no pass rush in 7 on 7 but they may give an artificial countdown of ~3 seconds so Goff knows he has to make a throw or get rid of it in a certain window.

Positions are usually
O: QB, RB, 3 WR + 1 TE, and 1 OL hand off.
D: 4 DB, 3 LB or 5 DB 1 LB, and 1 DL Depending.


Thank you!!

2 hand touch? No rushing?

Hard to get excited about football in shorts but damnit this is what we get in June hahaha.

Seems if Goff is making the right throws in the drill that’s the biggest thing we want to see.

I guess it indicates what he’ll do with a clean pocket?

Right about the time Okudah was last himself, huh…

El Jefe ‘bout to rise up!

1 Like

I can help translate for those folks that may not be as blessed lingually as @CuriousHusker.

That means “The Jefe.”


From Jeff Risdon (not El Jefe):

The first day of Detroit Lions mandatory minicamp was a hot one at the team’s training facility in Allen Park. The first-team defense turned up the heat on the offense, too.

Not that the starting offensive skill players didn’t have some moments, because they did indeed. But for the bulk of practice, the starting LBs and DBs got the better of the first-team QBs, RBs, WRs and TEs in drills. It was especially obvious in a red zone drill that concluded the session close enough to those of us in the media that we could hear the coaches talking.

The best example was an interception by safety Will Harris in the back of the end zone. Quarterback Jared Goff stared down the target, outside WR Tyrell Williams on a crosser along the back line. Williams got free from CB Jeff Okudah too late over the middle and Harris barely had to move–other than leaping up–to snag the pass. Harris turned on the jets and took it all the way to the other end zone to the immense joy of the defensive personnel.

The biggest winner of the offense was RB D’Andre Swift. No. 32 was basically uncoverable in the drills where RBs worked against LBs. He won every rep, one of which toasted Alex Anzalone despite the follically gifted LB being in good phase in coverage until Swift pulled away to snag a nice over-the-top throw from Goff. Anzalone just threw up his hands after the rep, knowing that his best effort just got bested by Swift.

Okudah had a great day. He did get beaten for a TD by Williams, but there’s some context needed. It was the first rep where LB Romeo Okwara was in for coverage. The play featured Williams slanting inside to where Okudah expected help. But the safety got sucked up by the RB circling. Okwara didn’t get any depth to his drop and left an open lane for Goff to sizzle it into Williams and in front of Okudah. If Okwara drops even two steps, the throwing lane isn’t there. So while Okudah’s coverage wasn’t great, the TD wasn’t just on him. It’s a sign that the primary pass-rushing LBs (Okwara and Trey Flowers, who struggled badly in a similar drill last Thursday) should be focused almost exclusively on rushing the passer. Okwara looked unnatural and uncomfortable in space, which is to be expected.

Mike Ford had some nice reps as the slot corner, including a nice break-up on a low throw to Breshad Perriman. Ford took the majority of the first-team reps in the slot over newcomer Corn Elder, who did little to stand out in either direction. Ford’s speed showed in the WR vs. CB drill that was going on concurrent with the LB vs. RB drill, too.

Some other quick notes:

Rookie RB Jermar Jefferson had a much better day as a receiver. He put two balls on the ground on Thursday but balanced those out with a couple of nice catches on Tuesday, including one off the shoetops where he had to adjust on the fly to a terrible throw from Tim Boyle.

New RB Mike Warren looked good in the open field and made a nice over-the-shoulder catch on a well-placed ball from David Blough. He’s wearing No. 46.

Undrafted rookie LB Tavante Beckett continues to look impressive in coverage drills. He won three of the four reps against RBs, including a win against Jamaal Williams where Beckett was probably guilty of a hold but still was in good position regardless.

It’s easy to spot UDFA wideout Javon McKinley. He’s the only player wearing long sweatpants, even on a hot and humid day. He and Blough hooked up successfully in the red zone drill, cleanly beating UDFA CB A.J. Parker on a slant.

Another UDFA wideout, Sage Surratt, made a nice catch in team drills. He was also sharp in an earlier drill where the receivers had to release around a blocking pad on out routes. Surratt and Victor Bolden both earned plusses in my notebook for the drill, while Geronimo Allison and Williams both earned minuses. It’s not an easy drill for leggy receivers, and that’s part of why Surratt’s performance impressed in it.

Quintez Cephus earned coaching praise on a couple of reps for his route detail. He had a great catch in the corner of the far end zone that got the offensive players rollicking.

On the QBs:

Goff continues to defuse concerns over his arm strength. It’s not Stafford-like, but few have the rocket launcher of the longtime Lions QB. Goff can zip it into tight coverage when required, though he’s definitely less eager to try it than his predecessor. Keep in mind there is no pass rush, not even simulated, as of yet.

It was the second practice in a row where Blough emphatically outplayed Boyle in the (possible) battle for the No. 2 spot. And it wasn’t so much that Blough looked great, either…

No news on the offensive and defensive lines, other than OT Tyrell Crosby showed up and looked fit. The lines are not yet allowed to compete against one another, so they worked on opposite sides of opposite fields in their position groups.


Glad to hear this. I think people are sleeping on Cephus.


It sure will be nice if you are right! A few sleepers is exactly what this roster needs, and I think our hope is it’s a staff of sleeper whisperers, or maybe gem crafters, ha.

Would be a nice change of pace, that’s for sure…

1 Like

Great to hear. I’d like to see Swift be the “hot hand” and go for a combined 1500+ yards rushing/receiving in 2021.

1 Like

Here is a more descriptive version of today’s red zone.

Goff struggled to find a rhythm when minicamp opened on Tuesday, especially during red-zone work late in the practice. He opened one series by feathering an ill-advised pass into a pack of players in the end zone. Safety Will Harris picked it off easily.

Goff’s next attempt was a pretty good one, dropping an accurate pass over the shoulder to Breshad Perriman in the end zone, but Perriman couldn’t make the tough catch in tight coverage with cornerback Mike Ford. On the next play, T.J. Hockenson dropped one of his two passes on the day.

1 Like