TC Day 1 Notes and Observations

From Twentyman,

Off and running: The Lions are expected to be explosive with all the skill position weapons they have back. Some familiar faces made a couple big plays during the Lions’ first padded practice Monday. Wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. split two defenders for a long touchdown from quarterback Matthew Stafford in a 7-on-7 period. Later on, wide receiver Kenny Golladay went up over cornerback Justin Coleman and safety Tracy Walker for a touchdown in the back of the end zone from Stafford in a team red-zone period.

It’s good to see two of Detroit’s top receiving weapons on the outside getting into the end zone on the first day of practice. Stafford looked very sharp on both throws, and really all throughout practice.

Back in the mix: Head coach Matt Patricia has ditched the ATV and the walking boot from last season and was back in the mix in practice. Patricia really seemed to be in his element during pass rush drills between the offensive and defensive linemen, critiquing technique and showing guys what he wanted to see.

Training wheels: Just like the Lions did with first-round pick T.J. Hockenson a year ago early on in camp, the Lions eased this year’s No. 3 overall pick, cornerback Jeff Okudah, into the mix. He was playing mostly with the second-team defense during the first day of padded practice. The same thing happened with Hockenson last year playing behind the veteran Jesse James early on. Desmond Trufant and Amani Oruwariye got a lot of the first-team reps Monday. But just like we saw with Hockenson last year, Okudah is likely to quickly start getting more and more reps with the first-team.

Cross training: There was a lot of cross-training going on along the offensive line during Monday’s practice. That’s to be expected as coaches try to find their best combinations upfront. For example, Tyrell Crosby played right tackle and right guard during portions of practice. Rookie third-round pick Jonah Jackson played with the first-team offense at right guard, and also played some center with the reserve units. Kenny Wiggins played both guard and center.

First O-line group: I expect the Lions to mix and match upfront throughout camp, especially early on, but the first o-line on the field with Stafford in the first team drill was Taylor Decker (left tackle), Joe Dahl (left guard), Frank Ragnow (center), Wiggins (right guard) and Halapoulivaati Vaitai (right tackle). Jackson subbed in at right guard as well.

Pass-rush standouts: A few names that stood out to me watching offensive and defensive line pass rush drills were: Defensive tackle Nick Williams, Dahl and Decker. Rookie edge rusher Julian Okwara had a nice rep against Crosby, showing some quickness off the edge.

Run it out: We can expect mistakes early in camp. There were a number of false starts on the offense Monday. The penalty for a false start is a run around the field. Golladay and Jones jumped on the same play and had to run. A fumbled snap between Wiggins and backup quarterback David Blough resulted in a run for those guys as well.


Several reporters noted that Kenny Golladay said he tested positive for COVID during his first week back. Had some mild symptoms like fever, nothing major, was over it in a couple days.


From Justin Rogers, DetNews:

► The Lions conducted their first official practice of the offseason and the session, which was open to local media, didn’t feel all that different from normal outside of some of the protocols required to enter the outdoor field. For myself and a small group of reporters that cover the team daily, that includes daily COVID testing, a separate, socially distant bleacher, and monitoring chips that alert us when when were too close to other reporters and/or Lions staffers.

► The abbreviated practice ran approximately one hour and 15 minutes and included individual drills, head-to-head segments pitting position groups against each other, an Oklahoma drill variant the team has run in the past, special teams work, 7-on-7s and full-team scrimmage without tackling.

► In a head-to-head segment with the running backs blocking blitzing linebackers, fourth-year veteran Jalen Reeves-Maybin stood out, using his hands to easily get the best of Ty Johnson and rookie fullback Luke Sellers.

Reeves-Maybin also had a nice gap fill to stop a running play in full-team work. Not to read too much into things, but he also might be a bit bigger than a year ago.

Kerryon Johnson also looked good in the two reps I saw, slowing up rushes from veteran linebackers Elijah Lee and Jarrad Davis.

► Over in the pass-rush segment, free-agent addition Nick Williams showed tremendous burst working against multiple interior lineman, although he might have got away with jumping early on one snap. He also seemed to suffer a minor ankle injury during the day, but shook it off.

► Other than Williams, the offensive linemen won the majority of their reps. New right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai stonewalled defensive end Romeo Okwara twice. Center Frank Ragnow did the same with nose tackle Danny Shelton. And Joe Dahl got the best of Da’Shawn Hand on the first rep and managed to reestablish his anchor and slow a powerful bull rush on the replay.

► The Lions were putting multiple offensive linemen through cross-training on Monday. Kenny Wiggins and rookie Jonah Jackson both saw time at center, while Tyrell Crosby got some work at guard.

► Speaking of Jackson, he got the first crack as the team’s first-team right guard, while getting in at center with the second unit. During full-team drills, he did go to the ground a couple times. It’s unclear if it was an equipment issue or his feet were getting tangled.

► Marvin Jones made the catch of the day during the first rep on seven-on-sevens, fully extending for a diving one-handed grab on a deep ball down the middle.

► Runner-up to Jones was Victor Boldin, who reached around a defender for an underthrown ball from quarterback Chase Daniel for a touchdown in the back corner of the end zone.

► First-round draft pick Jeff Okudah spent most of the afternoon with the second-team defense, ceding first-team work to Amani Oruwariye. Okudah had a couple reps in one-on-one, playing sticky coverage on a deep ball on the first. But when matched against Kenny Golladay, Detroit’s No. 1 receiver spun the rookie into the ground, breaking an in-cutting route back toward the sideline.

► Rookie running back Jason Huntley, at 195 pounds, predictably struggled with some of his blocking assignments, but flashed lightning quickness in the open field, bursting through a hole on a cutback in a full-team segment.

Running back Jonathan Williams, signed in the morning, didn’t look out of place at all. His bigger frame was suited for some of the blocking work and he showed good vision and strength when running the ball in team segments.

► Matthew Stafford was mostly sharp. His best throw came during a red-zone segment, when he feathered a ball over the head of cornerback Justin Coleman to Golladay in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.

Stafford’s next throw wasn’t great. It easily could have been a communication error, but the quarterback put a ball right into the waiting arms of Desmond Trufant at the goal line. Unfortunately, the veteran cornerback couldn’t hold on to the fastball.

► Not much to report on the punter competition between Jack Fox and undrafted rookie Arryn Sippos, but during field goal work at the end of practice, Matt Prater’s two misses both came while Sippos was holding.

► Coach Matt Patricia ditched the ATV and was walking around unencumbered between the two fields after last season’s leg surgery.

► The only two players not practicing were defensive tackle Kevin Strong and offensive lineman Beau Benzschawel.

T.J. Hockenson says as an offense they’re focused on finishing games this year. They’re calling it “Dagger Time” - Matthew Stafford came up with the phrase to emphasize closing out games when it matters.

I like it.


With Caldwell we closed games when they mattered, the problem was we didn’t open the dang game like it mattered. Now under Patricia its the exact opposite.

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Huntley looked tiny … like 150lb frame tiny. I have no idea how someone like him can play in the NFL.
Kerryon also looks pretty awkward with the giant knee brace. He’s kind of bow-legged, and looks like an injury waiting to happen.

The other RB’s seemed to move well, and handle their assignments for the most part.

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These two tidbits both please and disturb me. You can read between the lines…

Justin Rogers said Huntley was 195 lbs. I ain’t saying whether that’s true or not, but they did say he’s as fast and quick as hell. Doesn’t have the sand in his pants to pass pro against a blitzer though. OTOH, they’d be better off using that speed against a slower LB out in the open somewhere. JMO.

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I love that our newly acquired rb came in and did well!

If Huntley struggles, having this new guy may pay off depth wise!

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Nothing on Swift?

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The have finally gotten back to work on the fields in Allen Park and are getting training camp going once again as they push toward the 2020 season.

As usual, the biggest stories to watch thus far is the work of the the team’s offense and defense as they get set to tackle a 2020 season unlike many other in history. During practice, there were more than a few interesting observations as things got going in a much bigger way.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest stories after the first day of training camp in pads is now in the books.

Matthew Stafford Starts Camp Hot

The Lions need Stafford to have a big season, and remain healthy. Obviously, getting Stafford off to a strong start with his top targets is great to see. Both of his big ticket wideouts made plays that ended up catching attention which is excellent. Most expect the team to have a top 5 wideout group in the NFL this season, and when the team lost Stafford in 2019, it was the end of their year. Getting him off to a solid start is huge, and it’s good to see him looking healthy, making plays and looking ready to take on the league in 2020.

Lions Rookies Starting Slow

Detroit’s rookie class is being counted on for big things, but the Lions might not be wanting to rush things at all. Few of the team’s rookie players were generating first team reps on the first day of padded practice. Cornerback Jeff Okudah was working with the reserves on defense, and D’Andre Swift was seeing similar things play out on the offensive side of the ball. Guard Jonah Jackson, however, was getting a long look up front, which makes sense considering the team wants to get him in the mix early and could be depending on him to play a big role. The others will play a big role too, but it’s nice to see they’re not rushing things with everybody else early on.

Lions’ Kerryon Johnson Sporting Knee Brace

The good news as it relates to the team? Detroit is healthy to start the season, but it’s clear they want to keep things that way. Johnson, who’s been injured with knee ailments the last few seasons at running back, was seen in a knee brace during camp on the first day. Obviously, the good news is safety first for the team and they are trying to keep Johnson in the mix even while doing so safely. It’s a big season for Johnson, and the hope is he can stay healthy and be a big reason the Lions manage to have a new look rushing attack which does damage this season on the field.

Young Detroit Defenders Could Emerge

Detroit drafted one of the hidden gems of the 2020 class in edge rusher Julian Okwara and early on, it looks as if both he as well as linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin could potentially be in line to have significant roles for the 2020 season. Detroit needs all the help they can get on the defensive side of the ball after not adding much in free agency at the spot. At cornerback, an Amani Oruwariye emergence could be excellent for depth’s sake moving forward. Getting some youngsters to step up and step in would be a significant development for the season.

T.J. Hockenson’s Injury Provided Upside

While the Lions lost Hockenson late last year to an ankle injury that was challenging to get over, it allowed Hockenson the time to buff up in other noticeable ways ahead of the season. Now, Hockenson is looking large and in charge and the reason might have everything to do with the fact that he suffered the ankle injury which allowed him time to be able to lift weights and get much stronger. If the injury helped Hockenson to become an overall stronger, better player, it would be huge news for the Lions and their offense, indeed.

Kenny Golladay Details Coronavirus Experience

The Lions, at one point, had 8 players on the COVID/Reserve list, one of which was Golladay. They’ve gotten much healthier in the last few weeks. Fortunately for the wideout and the team, the symptoms Golladay had weren’t all that severe. He had a fever, but beyond that, was able to be over the coronavirus scare and come off the list. Now, he’s completely healthy and ready to go. It’s a virus that impacts everyone differently, and for Golladay, the best news is that it didn’t seem to be all that tough to get over for him in the end.

As training camp practice ramps up and going, stay tuned to Lions on Heavy for all the latest updates and breaking news.

Huntley may have bulked up his chest and shoulders to get to 185, but he’ll never be able to block or play rb with those tiny legs and lower half. It was an odd draft pick … maybe he can return a punt or something?


ALLEN PARK – The Detroit Lions said they didn’t know what they were going to do with Taylor Decker when they took the Ohio State left tackle 16th overall in the 2016 draft. But sure enough, there he was with the starters at left tackle on Day 1. And that still hasn’t changed.

Same for Jarrad Davis at linebacker in 2017, by the way, and Frank Ragnow at left guard in 2018. And wouldn’t you know it, T.J. Hockenson got the bulk of the reps first-team snaps at tight end when Detroit took him eighth overall last year.

Every Bob Quinn first-round pick has started immediately when coming to Detroit.

Until now.

Jeff Okudah, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, worked mostly with the reserve units on Monday as Detroit practiced in pads for the first time this season. Amani Oruwariye started in his place opposite Desmond Trufant.

Make no mistake, Detroit still expects Okudah to start when the season opens on Sept. 13 against the Chicago Bears. Don’t look now, but that’s already less than a month away, and Okudah just spent his first padded practice covering the end of Detroit’s bench. But cornerback is notoriously difficult on rookies, and the club is determined to take things slowly with its prized prospect.

It’s easy to see why, too. Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones made Okudah take some reps against the first team during one-on-ones, and Golladay immediately juked him so badly that Okudah wound up spinning into the ground. Golladay caught the pass from Matthew Stafford uncontested and turned upfield.

“His head is probably spinning,” Golladay said after practice. “He’s got a lot going on. Me and Marv just tried to tell him, like, ‘Just come up here and get some work with us. Don’t hang around the back. Just come up and get some work with the competition you’ll be seeing on Sunday, you know?’

“We really just want to help him by any way we can, help him get ready for when Sunday comes.”

Other observations from practice:

– Okudah is clearly a long ways from being ready for Sundays, although facing guys like Golladay and Jones will surely expedite his development. Golladay, who is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and just led the league in touchdown catches, is one of the game’s brightest young receivers. He looked like it at practice, too, dusting Okudah during their one-on-one, then skying high for a touchdown catch along the back line of the end zone during red-zone drills. Justin Coleman and Tracy Walker braced him in pretty good coverage, too. But what are you going to do? Golladay is 6-foot-4 and can jump through the gym.

– Jones sometimes gets overlooked in the receiver conversation because Golladay has gotten so good so quickly, but he was explosive last year too and just might have had the play of the day on Monday. He opened seven-on-sevens by spearing a ball with one hand about 40 yards downfield, leading to some hooting and hollering from teammates.

– As you might expect by now, Matthew Stafford obviously some really good moments in practice. He connected with Golladay for that red-zone touchdown, plus spun Okudah into the dirt during one-on-ones. Stafford hit Jones deep in seven-on-sevens, and much like last year, had really good chemistry with Danny Amendola out of the slot, including hooking up for a deep ball during one-on-ones. Will Harris was in coverage, but Stafford put the ball where only Amendola could get to it, and the veteran receiver laid out for it. But Stafford wasn’t perfect either, missing deep a couple times to Jones and Golladay and throwing a would-be pick through the hands of Desmond Trufant at the goal line, although Trufant couldn’t hold onto the ball.

– Okudah wasn’t the only rookie working with the reserve units. In fact, only Jonah Jackson got consistent run with the ones. The third-round pick took all the reps at right guard, where he’s among the candidates to replace Graham Glasgow. It’ll be interesting to see whether Jackson is back with the ones on Tuesday, or if the Lions cycle through other contenders like rookie Logan Stenberg, or veterans Kenny Wiggins and Oday Aboushi.

– Yes, that means D’Andre Swift also worked mostly with the reserves. Anticipation is building for what that guy is capable of, and he should have a big role in the offense right away. But right now Kerryon Johnson remains the No. 1 back.

– Speaking of running backs, my goodness is Jason Huntley fast. Don’t worry if you don’t know the name, he’s a fifth-round pick out of New Mexico State. Not many people know that name yet. But he should battle Jamal Agnew for the return jobs immediately, and you can’t help but wonder what kind of subpackages Darrell Bevell could cook up for a guy like that, including as a pass-catcher. Let’s just hope he doesn’t have to block anybody for a while, because that was more of an adventure on Monday.

– Danny Amendola, Tom Kennedy, Marvin Hall and Victor Boldin got most of the reps at punt returner.

– Reporters had to take multiple COVID tests in the days leading up to camp to gain clearance to practice. I took three tests starting last Wednesday, then another on Monday morning before taking the field. Reporters were given chips made by Kinexon that tracked our movements, and would blink if we were standing within 6 feet of someone else. We also had to wear masks. But other than that, there really wasn’t much different about this practice despite the pandemic that has ravaged the country. Practice had the same tempo as previous years, including many of the same drills in the same order. Detroit started with individual work before moving into head-to-head segments that pitted position groups against each other. There was a variation of the Oklahoma drill, special teams work, seven-on-sevens, full-team work without tackling, then another special-teams period. Practice went about 72 minutes. I suspect we’ll see Detroit go a little longer when it retakes the field on Tuesday.

– I had Jalen Reeves-Maybin on the wrong side of the roster bubble in my first 53-man projection, although he certainly looked like he belonged today. He was especially good during blitz drills on the far field, easily running through protections from running back Ty Johnson and rookie fullback Luke Sellers.

– On the other practice field, the two lines clashed in one of my favorite camp drills. You’ve got 300-pound superathletes colliding into one another without the usual help you see during team work. The offensive line had the upper hand today, with new right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai really standing out while twice stoning defensive end Romeo Okwara. Center Frank Ragnow dispatched of nose tackle Danny Shelton easily, while Joe Dahl held off Da’Shawn Hand.

– Nick Williams was the lone standout I saw on defense during those drills, winning both his reps. Detroit signed Williams this offseason and hopes he can take a big jump now that he’s in a system that better suits him. He spent the last four years in Chicago.

– The Lions concluded practice by giving Matt Prater a few cracks with the field-goal unit. He split the uprights on his first two attempts, but pushed his last two wide left. Wide , wide left, although keep in mind he uses those skinny posts during camp.

– Defensive tackle Kevin Strong and offensive lineman Beau Benzschawel did not practice. Everyone else was accounted for.

I hope to see Huntley in the mix soon…

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About Okudah, I ain’t too worried just yet. Playing the outside CB in this league ain’t easy, The way I look at it, the Lions have Oruwariye out there so the Lions don’t need to throw the rookie into the fire on Day 1. I think he’ll do okay, probably have his ups and down like every rookie does, even a top 3 pick.

About Huntley, I don’t understand why you’d ask him to pass block when you can use his speed as an advantage, either as a runner or a receiver. But the kid has to show the hands to catch it and keep it without coughing it up. And with no PS games, the Lions are going to have give him some hard shots to make sure he can take the hit and keep the ball.

About Swift, I ain’t too worried there either, he’ll be fine. I’m more worried about KeJo and that big brace he’s got on his right knee. Maybe it’s just a precaution, I hope so. But they need him for more than 9 games, y’know? I think they brought in that new Williams RB to take some hits in camp instead of KeJo or Swift, with the idea of both of them being good to go against the Bears.

It could be that Huntley has so much to learn to play RB that they don’t want to overload the kid too soon. Their MO has been usually to ask a rookie to learn one position at a time.

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It’s settled. Okudah is a bust. Bruce Pickens the sequel


If he can handle punts (I’m confident in his KR chops) and be a threat on jet sweeps and some occasional use in the screen game I’ll take that. Him filling the McKissic role entirely might be too much to ask so soon. Plus Swift should get his number called on many of those plays anyhow.

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Some of the practice reports from the Lions beat-writers are behind a paywall, you gotta pay to read it. Which I won’t do, so if anybody subscribes to the DetFreeP, MLive, or TheAthletic, then by all means let us know what they said. I managed to get the MLive report today, no idea if I can get it again tomorrow. I’m seeing this more and more across the Internet, several websites that used to be free are not free anymore. C’est la vie.

Yeah, I’ve noticed that both the Freep and News have certain articles designated as “subscriber only.”

It’s been free and advertiser supported for so long that paying for access is an anathema.