From Eric Schlitt, Lionswire.com: (Note this notes just appeared)
The fans are no longer present along the sidelines of Allen park but the Detroit Lions continue to get meaningful training camp reps ahead of joint practices — and Week 2 preseason game — with the Houston Texans later in the week.
Here’s what we saw during the Lions fourteenth day of training camp.
Joe Dahl continues to start at LG
Dahl and the Lions agreed to a 2-year contract extension just ahead of last weeks game with the New England Patriots and despite taking second-team reps in the game, he has opened this weeks training camp with the starters.
This isn’t a big leap for Dahl after spending much of the offseason rotating at left guard with incumbent starter Kenny Wiggins. So far, Dahl hasn’t looked out-of-place, with his offseason strength and conditioning training paying off in his anchor.
In Sunday’s offensive line vs defensive line/linebacker pass block/rush drills, Dahl was the only offensive lineman to earn positive marks on every rep.
Wiggins has shifted to the second team and outside to right tackle, replacing injured Tyrell Crosby. There is little clarity surrounding what injury is ailing Crosby as he self-reported that he was in concussion protocol post-Week 1 game, but Coach Matt Patricia was vaguer: “Crosby has an injury right now that I’m not going to comment on, just kind of the general rule for evaluation and the process there and just kind of leave that one.”
With Crosby out and Wiggins on the outside, it was undrafted free agent guard Beau Benzschawel stepping into the left guard spot on the second line.
David Fales is holding off Josh Johnson … for now
Josh Johnson is obviously still learning the offense, so I don’t put too much stock his timing being off. Early in practice, he threw a ball that would’ve been great for Danny Amendola but it went to Kenny Golladay and was picked off by Rashaan Melvin. A few plays later he perfectly placed a ball that Golladay would’ve been able to high-point for a touchdown, but it was too tall for Amendola. He also threw at least one more interception — to Andrew Adams — but there may have been more. That being said, those are all expected bumps for a reserve quarterback on his second day.
What was encouraging was his ability to keep the play alive with his mobility in the pocket and in play-action. When he was on the move he looked sharp and made much stronger connections as the day wore on. More bumps are expected, but he looks like a comfortable vet who is still getting his feet wet in an offense. He spent about 20-minutes after camp working on throwing to receivers before talking to the media.
Meanwhile, Fales went 8 for 8 in the first team drill and played as well as I have seen him in camp. Maybe he is feeling the pressure or maybe he is finally getting comfortable, but either way, he was making positive throws all day.
WR Chris Lacy fills in for Marvin Jones with the ones
Marvin Jones missed his second practice in a row yesterday, and while some veterans are getting rest days, the schedule he is following suggests a potential injury, as I discussed in Day 14’s participation report.
In his absence, Chris Lacy has taken over with the ones. He looks to have built a strong chemistry with Fales and the two connected on several big plays in practice.
With Kearse landing on injured reserve, Lacy is making his case for replacing him on the 53-man roster.
Like Lacy, wide receiver Travis Fulgham showed solid chemistry with Fales. On a “first down wins the game” situational play, Fulgham shook a now released Marcus Cooper with a slant at the line and turned it into a 40 yard YAC gain.
Then Fulgham did it again with Johnson at quarterback.
On the next rep, the defense deployed Darius Slay on the rookie and when Johnson tried Fulgham again, the rookie made his third impressive grab, but the savvy vet corner used a “punch up” technique — popular among Patricia coached defensive backs — to dislodge the ball. Hard to fault the rookie too much on this one and overall this was a terrific series for Fulgham.
Last season I begged the Lions to deploy running backs Kerryon Johnson and Theo Riddick in the backfield at the same time but it didn’t happen. Now this season, don’t be surprised to actually see Ty Johnson replace Riddick in this scenario.
In wide receiver blocking drill vs defensive backs, Amani Oruwariye easily beat Lacy and Andy Jones — who is arguably the best blocking receiver on the roster — but then got steamrolled by Kenny Golladay. The Golladay block would’ve made the highlight reel, but overall Oruwariye had an above-average showing in the drill. He also added an impressive pass breakup to his resume later in practice.
Rookies are still going to make mistakes and on one play we got a two for one. Tight end Isaac Nauta nearly snatched safety Will Harris’ soul in a one-on-one drill with a step-cut that left him in his dust. Despite Harris’ miscalculation and Nauta running free, when the ball arrived the usually sure-handed Nauta showed a lapse in concentration and dropped it.
In an offensive line vs defensive line pass blocking/rushing drill, Kevin Strong embarrassed Luke Bowanko in what has become a regular thing for the UDFA rookie defensive lineman. His combination of first-step quickness and power in his initial pass-rushing move is lethal when they work in unison. This is why he keeps showing up in conversations about the 53-man roster.
Fred Jones got the start at nose tackle with no Damon Harrison or John Atkins practicing yesterday, which could be a reward for registering the teams only sack in Week 1.
PJ Johnson didn’t get the start at nose tackle but arguably made the best play of the day from this position, blowing up a short distance play for what would have been a tackle-for-loss (TFL) and a did cause a fumble.
Jahlani Tavai also got in on the TFL game, registering one in the same set of scenario 11-on-11s.
One final eyebrow-raiser
Despite UDFA rookie linebacker Tre Lamar being waived-injured earlier in the day, he was present for practice with a wrap on his left leg. His presence was a bit unusual — I had never seen it before today — because technically he’s in NFL purgatory while he waits to see if he is claimed off of waivers.
Because of his release-injury designation, if he clears waivers he will revert back to the Lions roster and could be placed on injured reserve, essentially redshirting the season. If his presence at practice is any indication, they may be keeping him around town for just this reason.
As I noted in his release article, this isn’t an unusual move for the Lions to redshirt a player, as they took the same approach last season with then-rookie linebacker Garret Dooley, “allowing him a year to rehab with the team, as well as, being able to learn the Lions’ complex defensive system.”
FYI: no practice today, and probably nothing tomorrow according to what Dave Birkett said. So, Wednesday will likely be the next notes and observations day. At some point the Lions will go black ops on us with no reporters allowed. Dunno when that’ll be though.