I thought the practices were closed from now on and the beat-writers wouldn’t be allowed in. Wrong again, he practices were closed but the beat-writers were there and have filed some reports. Which I will dutifully provide, free of charge:
From Jeremy Reisman, PoD:
I thought the practices were closed and there wouldn’t be any further notes snd obsefvations. Not so, I guess:
For the first time this training camp, the Detroit Lions took the field with no crowd in the stands. But as the team practiced for the first time since their preseason opener, Pride of Detroit was on hand to witness everything—new backup quarterback and all.
Here’s our training camp Day 12 observations:
Unsurprisingly, the Lions were a little more beat up after their preseason game on Thursday. Gone were Jermaine Kearse and Darius Kilgo, both placed on reserve-injured earlier in the day.
Here’s a breakdown of everyone else:
Tom Savage (concussion protocol, not at practice)
Damon Harrison Sr.
Obviously, Savage, Crosby and Lamar are all new names to this section.
And before you panic about that last name, don’t worry:
When the Lions hit the practice field today, quarterback Matthew Stafford won’t be doing much today other than some light individual drills. It’s not injury-related. Previously scheduled day off for the veteran quarterback.
That being said, the “veteran day off” thing is abnormal for Stafford. Of course, being short handed at quarterback, there’s no reason to push the best one you’ve got.
Dressed but not full participation
Marvin Jones Jr.
Marcus Cooper was dressed for the first time in a week or two, but did not participate in team drills. Jamal Agnew and Mark Thompson did not do team nor individual drills, but stayed active on the bikes. Trey Flowers was taken off the PUP on Saturday, but did not do much in his first day back. It’s unclear what was going on with Marvin Jones, but the Lions receiver did not go through individuals or team drills on Saturday.
Offensive line shakeup
With Tyrell Crosby out, it sent a domino effect down the Lions offensive line. Here’s what the top two units looked like.
LT: Taylor Decker
LG: Joe Dahl
C: Frank Ragnow
RG: Graham Glasgow
RT: Rick Wagner
This was the first time we’ve seen an entire practice with Dahl and Glasgow at the guard positions. Typically the pairings have been Kenny Wiggins with Glasgow and Dahl with Oday Aboushi. This could be a sign that Dahl is a serious contender for the starting left guard job, but there’s a different explanation that becomes apparent with the second team lineup:
LT: Andrew Donnal
LG: Beau Benzschawel
C: Luke Bowanko
RG: Oday Aboushi
RT: Kenny Wiggins
Wiggins took over the vacant tackle spot left from Crosby’s absence, which can’t be a good sign of the team’s confidence in their third-string tackles Ryan Pope and Matt Nelson. Taking Wiggins out of the guard position not only bumps Dahl to the starting unit, but gives Wisconsin UDFA Beau Benzschawel a shot with the second-team offense.
Of course, after the Lions’ nine-sack performance on Thursday night, a shakeup on the offensive line was due anyways.
Let’s talk backup quarterbacks
With Matthew Stafford sidelined, it was the David Fales show for most of the day, and the results were not very encouraging. As we’ve seen all camp, Fales was slow reading defenses, held onto the ball too long and took unnecessary sacks.
His accuracy, too, left a lot to be desired. During one-on-one drills, Fales was so inaccurate that it appeared some receivers were frustrated after not getting the ball where they needed it to be.
As for Josh Johnson, he didn’t get a ton of reps. That’s understandable, of course, as he needs to be eased into the offense. What I did see was another strong-armed quarterback during warmups. However, when it came to 11-on-11s, he barely threw the ball down field. I charted him going 4-for-7 during the final few sets of full-team drills, but he only threw one ball more than 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. He gets a big incomplete from me. Though it is notable that he was one of the last players to leave the practice field, getting in a bunch of extra passes before heading inside.
We’ve talked plenty about T.J. Hockenson’s dominance as a receiver this training camp, and Saturday was another display of that, hauling in at least two more scores and a couple extra contested grabs. But Hockenson’s blocking skills were evident.
During one-on-one blocking drills—a drill that heavily favors the defense—Hockenson easily kept Devon Kennard at bay (Kennard would later get his revenge against Jesse James). And then in full 11-on-11s, Hockenson helped seal the edge on one of those classic Kerryon Johnson carries off the left edge. The run likely would have gone for 15-20 yards.
Odds and ends
Pretty solid day for wide receiver Jonathan Duhart. He had the catch of the day with a sideline toe tapper that got the offense going wild. He also ran a crisp route in one-on-ones that left newbie Jonathan Alston in the dust.
Amani Oruwariye had the lone interception on the day. Every day it seems he has at least one or two plays in which he gets his hands on the ball. Now he needs to string those reps together and be a little more consistent.
Christian Jones is back to being a full participant in camp and had a nice sack during team drills.
As much as I bagged on Fales, he did throw a very impressive back-shoulder pass to Tom Kennedy with Andre Chachere in tight coverage.
Another day, another Kevin Strong tackle for loss.
With Jamal Agnew sidelined for the day, Ty Johnson was the first to take kick return reps. However, he remained out of the group in punt return. Brandon Powell, Tommylee Lewis, Danny Amendola and Quandre Diggs were the four in the rotation there.