TC Notes and Observations, 13 Aug

From Justin rogers, Det News:

Allen Park — Here are some notes and observations from Tuesday’s Detroit Lions training camp practice.

  • Matthew Stafford was back at practice on Tuesday following a pair of veteran rest days and had no issues jumping back into the flow of camp. During an early seven-on-seven red zone period, he completed four of his five throws for touchdowns, connecting with three different tight ends, including rookie T.J. Hockenson on back-to-back plays.

Stafford also had success on the single-play red zone reps coach Matt Patricia likes to run between practice segments. Stafford connected with Kenny Golladay for a touchdown over nickelback Justin Coleman on and a second with Hockenson, working against Tracy Walker.

The franchise quarterback also got a couple reps in at receiver. Having Stafford run a route is certainly in the playbook, but this was more about a wildcat look the Lions were using to prepare the defense for the possibility of seeing it during the regular season.

  • Backup quarterback Josh Johnson, practicing for just the third time with the Lions, was given the opportunity to take some second-team reps, ahead of David Fales. Most of Johnson’s throws were close to the line of scrimmage, but he did manage to connect with wide receiver Tommylee Lewis, running a go route against Dee Virgin, for a long touchdown.

  • Meanwhile, Fales continued to struggle. In early route combination work from inside the 5-yard line, he routinely sailed passes over his receivers’ heads. Those accuracy issues carried over into the team segments, with one of his passes getting deflected into the waiting arms of Walker.

  • The sample size is admittedly small, but during this week of practice, Johnson looked better than Fales, and in many ways, he’s been more accurate in full-team work than Tom Savage, Detroit’s presumptive backup before suffering a concussion in the preseason opener.

  • If Johnson goes out to Houston and has a good week of practice, followed by a quality showing in the preseason, it’s worth asking whether he could legitimately jump into contention for Detroit’s backup job. Why not? He reportedly turned down an opportunity with the Ravens to come to Detroit. He must have believe he had a better shot to crack the roster here, and so far, that doesn’t look out of the realm of possibility.

  • New running back Justin Stockton cuts well and has nice acceleration when hitting the hole. He should get some reps late in the game against Houston, which would be something worth watching.

  • It was a good day of practice for rookie cornerback Amani Oruwariye, who got his hands on a number of passes in both individual drills and team work. He also nearly picked one against Fales, but appeared to land out of bounds when coming down with the ball.

  • How depleted is Detroit’s defensive line right now? Fred Jones, a defensive tackle the team signed two weeks ago, is getting first-team reps.

  • Lewis, who recently returned from injury, was involved in the kickoff return rotation along with Jamal Agnew, Brandon Powell and Ty Johnson.

  • Patricia ditched the ATV in favor of a traditional golf cart. The ATV is on its way to Houston, according to the coach.

From Kyle Meinke, MLive:

ALLEN PARK – After resting his arm for almost a week, Matthew Stafford sure looked sharp in his return to Lions practice on Tuesday morning.

Stafford opened the day by throwing four touchdowns on five plays during goal-line drills that pitted the tight ends against linebackers and defensive backs. T.J. Hockenson was on the receiving end of two of those scores, while Logan Thomas and Austin Traylor caught one apiece.

Stafford also connected with Kenny Golladay on a touchdown during a “got-to-have-it” situation in the red zone, where the offense has just one opportunity to score before moving on to another drill. Golladay was blanketed by Justin Coleman on the play, but Stafford stuck the ball into the perfect spot.

He later added yet another score to Hockenson when he threaded a bullet through heavy traffic.

Stafford did not take many chances downfield, but sharply executed what he was asked to do in his first practice in a week. He sat out both workouts over the weekend, plus had regularly scheduled player off days on Friday and Sunday. He did not participate in the exhibition loss against New England on Thursday, nor the walk-through the day before.

Before that, Stafford missed just one practice since 2012, and that was on the day he signed the richest contract in NFL history.

Coach Matt Patricia said the break had been planned for months, designed to give the 31-year-old quarterback a breather between joint practices with New England last week and Houston this week. On Tuesday, Patricia declined to talk specifically about how Stafford’s arm was feeling after the break, or what the team was looking for in his return to the field.

“With everybody having a player day off yesterday, too, I think the big thing for me is just to get everybody going,” Patricia said. “Just got to get moving after a player day off, but they’re still very active with their bodies. We call it active recovery, from that standpoint, that they’re doing something to flush out muscles and making sure they’re staying hydrated and stretching and all the rest of it.

“It’ll be good for everybody to get out there, including Matthew to get out there and just get running around and loosened up and get ready to go before we get on the plane. So just same for everybody today.”

Here are some more observations from practice:

– It was get-away day for the Lions, who will practice with the Texans in Houston on Wednesday morning. They went only about 90 minutes and were without pads.

– Matt Patricia said he was going to use the get-away day to run through some “odd ball” situations in practice, such as the Wildcat. You never know when stuff like that will come up, and with a mobile quarterback no one’s ever seen before coming up in Week 1 (hello, Kyler Murray), well, you can understand why they devoted some practice time to it. I just didn’t expect the first-team offense to be the ones running the Wildcat looks. Team rules prevent me from disclosing the particulars about plays and formations, so I’ll just leave it at that so I don’t get my behind chewed out in Houston.

– Josh Johnson has been in camp for only four days, so I don’t want to jump the gun or anything, but consider me a believer that he could actually win the No. 2 job. Tom Savage was the favorite for the gig, but suffered a brain injury in the loss against New England on Thursday night. Johnson was signed to fortify the numbers at the position, but sure looks like he could be more than a camp body. He alternated with David Fales on the second team today, and looked in control out there, even though it was only his third practice with the Lions. That includes lofting one touchdown pass to Jonathan Duhart in the corner of the end zone, then putting just the right amount of touch on another TD pass to Tommylee Lewis. He did throw a pick to Amani Oruwariye as well, but still looks better than Fales to me. And if the Lions are concerned that Savage’s history of brain injuries could leave them vulnerable behind Stafford at quarterback, I could see Johnson winning the gig.

– Safety Tracy Walker dropped one would-be interception, and even dropped down and gave himself some push-ups for it. He didn’t make the same mistake twice, picking off David Fales just a few minutes later.

– The usual suspects were out, and I wouldn’t expect to see them in Houston. That includes guys like Jarrad Davis, Teez Tabor, Snacks Harrison, Austin Bryant and Da’Shawn Hand. But I did see Hand running on the side with a trainer today. He wore the brace he’s been sporting for weeks on his left arm, but removed it when he was leaving the field. Sure seems like he’s trending in the right direction.

– Receiver Marvin Jones did not participate in team drills for a third straight day, meaning he hasn’t put in a full day of work in a week. Patricia said Jones is just getting some veteran rest.

– One intriguing name to watch this week: Mike Daniels. He said last week he had been cleared to practice with Houston, but still has not even returned to individual drills with the Lions. Based on how Detroit usually handles injuries, I would be surprised to see Daniels participating in one-on-ones or team drills with the Texans, despite what he said last week.

From Twentyman and O’Hara,

Got to have it: Scattered throughout practice the Lions run “got to have it” periods that consist of one play offense vs. defense in tough situations where the offense has to score and the defense has to stop them to win the game. The offense was 2-for-2 in those situations Tuesday. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay had a terrific 7-yard TD grab in the slot over cornerback Justin Coleman in the first rep with four seconds on the clock and the offense trailing by four points. The second period was a two-point play scenario where the offense had to convert to win the game. Quarterback Matthew Stafford hooked up with tight end T.J. Hockenson for a score on that one. – Tim Twentyman

Transportation trade-in: Head coach Matt Patricia has swapped the ATV he’s used recently for a golf cart to motor around the practice field while his injured lower left leg heals. The ATV is on its way to Houston with the rest of the Lions equipment. He has also replaced the heavy cast for a walking boot. “Day to day” is how he described the healing process in response to a question on the time frame for his recovery. – Mike O’Hara

Left guard: There’s still a long way to go before the Lions have to decide who their starting left guard will be, but veteran Joe Dahl has taken an increased amount of the first team reps over the last week or so. – Tim Twentyman

*Tip drill: *Second-year safety Tracy Walker showed his athletic ability and high personal standards when he almost came down with a leaping, one-handed interception. Not satisfied with just the effort, he got down and did pushups for self-punishment. Later in practice Walker got a pick off a deflection. – Mike O’Hara

Odd ball: The Lions worked on a number of “odd ball” periods as Patricia described them on Tuesday. Things that might come up in a game like the Wildcat or gadget plays they might see. – Tim Twentyman

Batted balls: In another fumble drill, two players lined up about five yards apart, with one player near the sideline. A ball was rolled between them, and the player near the sideline batted the ball to the teammate who was inbounds. Turnovers – getting and preventing them – has been a heavy emphasis. – Mike O’Hara

Settling in: Veteran quarterback Josh Johnson was signed late last week after Tom Savage suffered a concussion in the first preseason game. Johnson is still very much in the learning phase of getting the offense down, but there are signs he’s settling in. His best play so far in the open practices took place Tuesday when he threw a gorgeous deep ball hitting wide receiver Brandon Powell right in stride for the touchdown. – Tim Twentyman

Practice tempo: Stafford practiced after getting two days off, and his presence made a noticeable difference on both sides of the ball. The ball comes out quicker, and decisions are made quicker, with a veteran quarterback who has experience with the team. It makes for a faster tempo for the offense and defense. – Mike O’Hara

1 Like

Turnovers and field position is how we will win most of our games this year!


Dig it, Natty. Defense, time of possession, run the ball, play action… and hopefully a high degree of discipline.

1 Like

From Dave Birkett, Det FreeP:

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford returned from a six-day break of heavy throwing and looked crisp, accurate and efficient with his passes during practice Tuesday.

It had been seven days since Stafford last had a normal day of practice, which included two scheduled days off for all players. He did not play in Thursday’s preseason opener against the New England Patriots and missed both regular practices Saturday and Sunday.

Stafford made nice throws in tight windows and completed touchdown passes in full-team drills to Kenny Golladay and T.J. Hockenson. Receiver Travis Fulgham said he saw “no difference” in Stafford after the layoff.

The Lions had a shorter practice that lasted about 90 minutes and ran through several situational scenarios, including having the defense practice against the wildcat and some gadget plays. Stafford lined up as a receiver but didn’t have a pass thrown to him.

Before practice, coach Matt Patricia avoided saying too much specifically about Stafford’s return and how he had responded to the break from heavy throwing as the team prepares for joint practices with the Texans in Houston that start Wednesday.

“With everybody having a player day off yesterday, too, I think the big thing for me is just to get everybody going,” Patricia said. “Just got to get moving after a player day off, but they’re still very active with their bodies. We call it active recovery, from that standpoint, that they’re doing something to flush out muscles and making sure they’re staying hydrated and stretching and all the rest of it.

“It’ll be good for everybody to get out there, including Matthew to get out there and just get running around and loosened up and get ready to go before we get on the plane. So just same for everybody today.”

From Carlos Monarraz, Det Freep: (I added this as a feature that I found while reading the Birkett piece. Doesn’t mean Dahl will or won’t be our starting LG, I expect though that we’ll see him in action on Saturday.)

How Detroit Lions’ Joe Dahl and the O-line is rebounding from allowing 9 sacks

Nine sacks is a lot.

Detroit Lions offensive lineman Joe Dahl knows this as well as anyone.

“Obviously it angers us,” he said of the sacks the Lions gave up in their 31-3 preseason loss to the New England Patriots. “We take pride in what we do and we don’t want a result like that. One of our goals is to not have the quarterback touched at all.

“We weren’t happy with that result. But we’re just going to go back to the board and work on our fundamentals, work on our communication and everything like that.”

Luckily for the Lions, that happens to a strength of Dahl’s. He played well as the second-string left guard against the Patriots, but his calling card had been the versatility he has shown while playing both guard spots and center.

“That’s really very important for us,” coach Matt Patricia said. “Especially when we start to try to piece whoever those five best players are that can play in the game. Then once you get through that then there’s, obviously, only so many backup players that you can bring at the offensive line position.

“So having that sort of flexibility is critical for us. Then on top of that, when you have guys that can move across the board and be out there on the field — just kind of the communication part of it also ties into how important that is.”

One possible factor in the number of sacks the Lions surrendered was the sudden loss of quarterback Tom Savage, who started the game but left after playing 11 snaps when he was thrown to the ground and suffered a concussion. Moving quickly to third-string quarterback David Fales might have had an impact on the communication for the entire offense.

“Yeah, I think there’s a little chemistry difference between everybody,” Dahl said. “And that goes with O-lineman. You get certain things different with everybody that you play next to. But our job is to make it as seamless a transition and we’ve got to do a better job this week, regardless of who’s back there.”

In a game that featured only 41 offensive snaps for the Lions, Dahl played 18 of them, tied for most among Lions guards with Oday Aboushi. While Dahl didn’t stand out, his efficient play went mostly unnoticed in an otherwise terrible overall game for the Lions.

“There were probably some good interior blocks that maybe didn’t get showcased enough because maybe some of the other blocks around it weren’t good enough or the situation that it was,” Patricia said. “There were definitely some positives in there.”

As the Lions prepare for their upcoming joint practices with the Texans in Houston and Saturday’s game, Dahl said he was happy to get some real playing time under his belt but knows there’s a long way to go for the offensive line.

“It was nice to be back out there,” he said. “But I think everybody would agree with this: We all have a lot to work on. We weren’t happy with the result.

“And I know, personally for me, I have a lot to work on; just little things every play. You never get to a point where you feel like you have a perfect play, you know? There’s always little things to nitpick and think that’s what will help us become a better team, if we individually look at ourselves like that.”

I feel like that’s exactly what the goal is. I’m not sure how effectively we can do it with our OL, but I love the strategy, and most of the pieces.

If we don’t fix the OL, we’re going to need a QB too.

1 Like

He needs to lose 50 lbs. Make that demand part of his contract extension.

Does the size of a coach help them win on Sundays?

I see no reason why it would.

Chances are, he doesn’t need surgery or a golf cart if he had dropped 50 to 100 lbs five to ten years ago. He’s in his early forties now? Five to ten years from now he will be having bypass surgery and missing time with the team if he is still alive. So yeah, it helps him win games on Sundays.

That’s a pretty ignorant statement to make. You don’t know what his health history is, what his diet entails, you just look at the size of a man and says, “he fat, he gonna die”.

And no, I am not worried about a 45 year old man dropping dead in 5-10 years. So no, the size of the coach does not affect games on Sunday.

Not really. An actuary would tell you something very similar. It’s about mitigating risk.

And you could get hit by a bus tomorrow, but mitigate that risk of not being a fatty.

An actuary would tell you to not play football, given the risks.

Thanks, actuaries.

No excuse in being that obese when he is being paid that much money and with a full staff waiting on him, including chefs or cooks at the Lions training facility.
If players have to maintain a certain level of fitness, I don’t see why coaches can’t maintain a Pete Carroll level of fitness, or at least try to.

If I’m Martha Ford, and I see one of my C-Level folks with that kind of weight issue and I am paying this person millions per year, I speak with that person and get him some resources and help so he can stay on top of his game for a long time.
It’s the right thing to do for the position, the person, and the team.

Just curious, do you know how he happened to get into the foot situation? Was it because he was a fatty boombalatty?

I hope you don’t run a company in Michigan, because there is a lot of fatties there and you might have to hire one of those digusting people.

I mean, the best people in the world, who do the best jobs in any and every industry are only fit and only thin, athetic, ripped, etc. It is scientifically proven by this bully over here.

Just think what Ben Franklin could have done if he wasn’t such a fatass.