TC Notes and Observations, 31 July

Participation Report to follow. These are comments from beat-writers at practice.

  • Refs on hand for the first time this training camp.
  • Andrew Donnal getting some LT work. Has mostly been RT in camp.
  • Nick Bawden is currently long snapping (struggling)
  • Jarrad Davis is working Kerryon Johnson in Blocking drills. (working = beating)
  • Jalen Reeves Maybjn got one over on Zenner before Davis smoked Mark Thompson.
  • Kerryon with a great route on Jarrad Davjs for a pass downfield.
  • Ty Johnson follows suit on Miles Killebrew.
  • Nick Bawden with a smooth route on Jahlani Tavai, beating him downfield for a long pass.
  • Jarrad Davis with a near pick in coverage on Zenner.
  • Stafford with a 50 yard bomb for Jones. Jones had Tabor beat, but had to come back to the ball and wasnt able to haul it in. My angle I couldn’t see if it was dropped or knocked away.
  • We’re only 40 minutes into practice and I have 4 positive marks for Teez Tabor. Great practice for him so far. (different observer)
  • Amani Oruwariye good deep coverage on Travis Fulgham.
  • C.J. Moore with a slick pass breakup. Continues to make a case for the roster.
  • Andy Jones with a tough catch on Andre Chachere draws cheers from the crowd.
  • Romeo Okwara taking place in full team drills for a first time in a few days.
  • Kennard in pads, but no team drills. Everyone that was on NFI/PUP is still out.
  • Tracy Walker with a pick off a bad decision throw by Stafford.
  • Andy Jones with the worst drop of camp so far. Awful drop, hate to see that.
  • Jesse James is making plays out here.
  • Andy Jones makes up for his bad drop with a nice catch and run a play later.
  • Kenny Golladay with a nice deep touchdown with Teez Tabor trailing.
  • Kerryon with a nice attempt at a one handed catch in the end zone but pass was too tall.
  • Jarrad Davis came up limping on one rep. Didn’t look all that serious and didn’t go to locker room, but he’s not in the final team drills.
  • Miles Killebrew getting some time with the ones.
  • Danny Amendola with a nice touchdown after breaking free from Melvin.
  • It’s officially hill time. The entire team is at the base of the hill. First time they’ve used it as an entire team drill.
  • After practice, Da’Shawn Hand was very boisterous and playful with the media today, if you like reading into moods. Hopefully that means he dodged an injury bullet the other day, and he won’t miss too many days of TC work, even though he’s wearing a monster brace on his elbow.
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Participation Report, per Eric Schlitt,

PUP/NFI list (no changes):

NT Damon Harrison (NFI)
CB Darius Slay (NFI)
NT Darius Kilgo (NFI)
EDGE Trey Flowers (PUP)
LB Steve Longa (PUP)
WR Tommylee Lewis (PUP)

Nothing has changed here from previous days reports. Coach Matt Patricia said in his morning press conference that all the players in this section “are working really hard” to get back on the field.

“Were trying to do everything right by the player so they can compete at a high level,” Patricia said, “certainly we are trying to get everybody out there as fast as we can every single day. But, we also understand this is kinda a long haul and we don’t want to rush something into a situation where somebody may not be ready to go, especially in the contact phase we are in.”

Still not participating on Wednesday

DL Da’Shawn Hand (brace on arm)
DE Jonathan Wynn
JACK Austin Bryant
LB Christian Jones
EDGE Malik Carney

Okwara returns to full participation and Kennard looks close.

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From Jeremy Reisman, PoD:

This offseason, turnovers was a big focus for the Detroit Lions, as it tends to be every year. Detroit forced just 14 turnovers last season, and that mark stood for the second fewest in the league.
The team responded by adding a few playmakers on defense this year: Trey Flowers, Mike Daniels, Andrew Adams and Justin Coleman, among others. And during Wednesday’s training camp practice, the playmaking ability of the Lions defense was on full display.

Here are my observations from Day 6 of Lions camp:

Participation notes:

The only big change from Tuesday’s practice was that cornerback Marcus Cooper was not in pads today, while Devon Kennard was. Unfortunately, Kennard didn’t do much at practice anyways, but he’s clearly trending in the right direction.

Additionally, Romeo Okwara finally moved from limited participation to a full participant, taking over as the starting down end on defense while Trey Flowers remains on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Here are the players who did not participate nor wear full pads on Wednesday:

Christian Jones
Malik Carney
Jonathan Wynn
Da’Shawn Hand
Austin Bryant
Mike Daniels
Marcus Cooper
Tommylee Lewis (PUP)
Steve Longa (PUP)
Trey Flowers (PUP)
Darius Slay (NFI)
Darius Kilgo (NFI)
Damon Harrison Sr. (NFI)

If you’re looking for signs of optimism, Da’Shawn Hand was in a cheery mood leaving the field, chatting it up with the media.

Finally, it looked like Jarrad Davis got a little dinged up towards the end of practice. It didn’t seem major and I didn’t see him spend time with trainers. However, he was held out of the final 11-on-11 drills.

Defense dominates (Teez Tabor mandatory update)

Let’s start right there with the defensive domination. They won just about every single 11-on-11 drill, especially in the secondary. Teez Tabor had at least three pass breakups in the first 40 minutes of practice. He had a pass deflection on Marvin Jones early, punched a ball out of Jones’ arms in a one-on-one drill, and had good coverage on a deep ball to Marvin in 11-on-11s. That being said, Kenny Golladay did get the best of Tabor on a red zone fade for a 20-yard touchdown.

Elsewhere, Tracy Walker had himself a day. He dominated reps against Andy Jones in one-on-ones. He had a pick six in seven-on-sevens while in coverage against T.J. Hockenson. Though, to be fair, the pass from Matthew Stafford was well behind Hockenson. He also had a pass breakup on Logan Thomas.

Twice during practice, the Lions did a single 11-on-11 rep, loser does pushups. Each time the defense won the play with ease, and it was like that all day long.

It is worth noting that much of the day was spent in third-and-long situations, but it didn’t seem to matter whether it was team drills, third-down drills, or seven-on-sevens, the Lions DBs were dominant.

Offensive line update

For the first time all camp, the Lions had the same first-string lineup in consecutive days. It was the Taylor Decker, Kenny Wiggins, Frank Ragnow, Graham Glasgow, Rick Wagner show on Wednesday.

However, there was a notable shakeup for the second team offense. Luke Bowanko, who has been repping as the No. 2 center for almost all of camp, slid over to left guard. Joe Dahl, who has played just about every this summer, took Bowanko’s spot at center.

RBs vs. LBs

The Lions ran two consecutive drills that pitted their running backs against their linebackers. First, the running backs were tasked with pass protection one-on-one—a drill that heavily favors the linebackers. As Hamza Baccouche noted on Tuesday, this is a drill that Kerryon Johnson has struggled with, and Wednesday was no exception, as Jalen Reeves-Maybin blew by Johnson on a rep.

Surprisingly, Ty Johnson looked decent at this drill, suggesting that maybe he could be a younger, faster Theo Riddick clone. Of course, no one repped better on offense than Nick Bawden, but that was to be expected from the fullback.

What’s interesting is that immediately after that drill, the tables turned. The linebackers were then in one-on-one with the running backs in coverage drills—a drill that heavily favors the running backs. Kerryon Johnson decleated Jarrad Davis with a big juke on the very first rep, but Davis bounced back with a nice, physical play against Zach Zenner.

As expected, Jalen Reeves-Maybin remains Detroit’s best coverage linebacker.

Perhaps the most discouraging sign was a rough rep from Jahlani Tavai, who let Nick Bawden slide by him easily. You can’t let a fullback get by you in those drills, even if they’re heavily slanted in the offense’s favor.

Drill of the Day (DOUBLE)
Because there was no drill of the day on Tuesday, you get two today.

First, the Lions worked on an intense goal-line tackling drill. Two players—one ball carrier, one defender—would line up on the 3-yard line and the 1-yard line respectively. At the whistle, the defender would simply try to stop the rusher from crossing the goal line. Jarrad Davis’ physicality was evident to anyone watching (or listening).

Additionally, it was HILL DAY! At the end of practice, the Lions passed over their normal sprints to head to the hill at the back of the practice field. Just about every single player not injured went through the drill, in two separate lines: one for the steep side of the hill, one for the flatter side. The team spent around seven to 10 minutes there, before finishing up with stretches.

Odds and ends

Not a particularly strong day from Stafford. After the aforementioned poor throw on the pick six, he followed it up with a bad overthrow to Danny Amendola, who had a good step or two on his defender.

Speaking of Amendola, he was just about the only player the Lions couldn’t cover on Wednesday. He’s easily been the most consistent receiver on the team, and is clearly the best route runner.

Rough day for Dee Virgin, who caught two flags during one session of one-on-one drills from the referees who were out in Allen Park for the first time this training camp.

A couple of good plays from Chris Lacy to finish practice. First, he elevated over two defenders to make a leaping catch, but just barely landed out of bounds. The very next play, he scored on a pick play that left him wide open.

The Lions were shut down in just about every third-and-long situation on Wednesday. The lone exception: A perfectly laid pass from Tom Savage to Deontez Alexander on a crossing route that would’ve gone for at least 30 yards.

One player did not get enough of the hill during practice. Rookie tight end Isaac Nauta spent at least five minutes after practicing running up and down the hill on his own.

Lastly, Nick Bawden was seen early in practice getting some long snapping in. Because I was told if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything, let’s just say you don’t want Don Muhlbach to suffer any sort of injury this year.

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Slay, Harrison still not practicing - yet (From Kyle Meinke, MLive)

Both players reported to camp with the rest of the veterans last Wednesday, but have been relegated to conditioning work in the first week of practice. Slay has been especially active in recent days, including running long sprints under the supervision of a trainer and working with the heavy ropes. Harrison has done less on the field during practice.

As established veterans, the missed practice time isn’t a huge deal, and has had the added benefit of giving younger players a longer burn with the first and second teams. But at some point the Lions need Slay and Harrison back so this defense – expected to be the strength of the team – can begin gelling before the regular season opens Sept. 8 in Arizona.

“You can see them out there," Patricia said. “They are working really hard with the training staff, the strength staff, whether it’s a situation where either they’re working through something from an injury standpoint, or even just overall wanting to develop a little bit more from any aspect of the physical part of the game to be ready to practice.”

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From Birkett, DetFreeP:

They might as well have been taunting him.

When second-year safety Tracy Walker showed up at the Detroit Lions’ Allen Park practice facility one day this summer to watch film, he saw workers building a small conditioning hill behind one of the outdoor fields.

“I was watching them put in the work on it and I was like, ‘That’s tough,’” Walker said Wednesday. “I knew eventually we were going to run it.”

“Eventually” came Wednesday, when the Lions ended practice with a four-minute-or-so conditioning run up the hill.

Players ran the hill about six times in small groups, covering two “trails” with one slightly more steep than the other.

The hill is only about 15 feet high, but it’s still quite the workout — especially after a two-plus-hour practice.

“Honestly, I don’t even want to look at that hill no more right now,” Walker said.

Several Lions have used the hill in the past week as part of their rehab work, including Trey Flowers and Steve Longa on Wednesday. But the post-practice run was the first time the Lions have used the hill, publicly at least, on a larger scale.

Matt Patricia gathered players around his ATV to talk briefly before the run, and Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford even came over in her golf cart for a closer look.

Players who didn’t run the hill, those sitting out Wednesday’s practice and some others with previous knee injuries, spent the workout doing abdominal work like planking and crunches in front of the hill.

And while the run clearly took a toll on several players, Danny Amendola, Justin Coleman, Zach Zenner and Ty Johnson were repeatedly among the first up the hill in their groups.

“I mean, it’s running up a hill,” Amendola said, when asked how tough it was. “Just like anything else, it’s hard. That’s why we do it and I feel like it helps us with our conditioning.”

Of conditioning work in general, Amendola said the goal is to “put it in the bank” for later in the season with expectations that it pays off come November and December.

That’s how the New England Patriots, who have a similar hill behind Gillette Stadium, have always operated, and that’s what Patricia is trying to do in Detroit.

One player, rookie tight end Isaac Nauta, even ran the hill a few extra times after his teammates were done and stretching Wednesday.

“Yeah, got to, man," Nauta said. “You got to get a little extra work in. It’s all about conditioning so just trying to get as much extra work and be in the best shape possible, that’s all it is.”

Wednesday was Day 6 of training camp, and the Lions’ fourth straight practice (with an off day in between) in full pads.

Here are some more observations from practice:

• Romeo Okwara returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday, but the Lions still were without several players, including Christian Jones, Da’Shawn Hand, Mike Daniels, Austin Bryant and Marcus Cooper. Hand stopped to sign autographs for a group of fans after practice, and he used his left arm at times to hold a shirt or pennant or whatever he was signing. But the second-year defensive tackle also was very careful not to hug any of the fans with his arm, which remains swollen and in a bulky elbow brace.

Hand made some small talk with reporters on his way off the field, but he once again declined to answer questions about his injury or timetable for return.

• Walker had a good day Wednesday, intercepting a Matthew Stafford pass in a 7-on-7 drill midway through practice and breaking up a pass to Logan Thomas one period later. Walker is clearly the team’s starting safety opposite Quandre Diggs and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a breakout year.

• Walker made a nice play on his interception, undercutting T.J. Hockenson for what would have been a pick-six had it been a game. But Stafford threw the ball behind his rookie tight end, and the veteran quarterback has been a tad inconsistent the last few days.

This strikes me as more due to working out the kinks in a new offense than any major concern, but Stafford wasn’t particularly sharp with his deep passes Wednesday, and coming off a season when he struggled with his accuracy downfield, that needs to change. On Wednesday, Stafford missed deep throws to Amendola and Brandon Powell in one-on-one work, was out of rhythm with Kenny Golladay on a back-shoulder fade in the same drill, and threw incomplete on two “push-up” plays (where the losing side, offense or defense, has to do push-ups based on the last rep).

• Patricia told reporters before practice that he wanted to put his players in a few surprise situations Wednesday, and he had to be pleased with how his defense responded to those “push-up” plays.

On the first one, Stafford threw well wide of an unidentified receiver in the back of the end zone. On the second, the coverage was sticky enough that Stafford scrambled to his right to buy extra time. He finally found Hockenson sneaking open in the back of the end zone, but Jarrad Davis made a nice play to get his hand on the ball for a pass breakup.

• In one-on-one work between running backs and linebackers, Davis overpowered Kerryon Johnson in their first rep of a blocking drill, sending him flying backwards with two hands to the body. Davis got the better of Mark Thompson in the same drill (and again when the two squared off in a goal-line one-on-one drill where the ball carrier has 1 yard to get and the defender has to keep him out of the end zone), but Johnson sailed past him with ease when the drill was flipped and linebackers were asked to cover running backs one-on-one.

• I don’t know for sure if this was new, but I didn’t notice it in previous practices this summer: Johnson practiced with a wrap on his left knee Wednesday. He missed six games with a sprained MCL in the same knee last year that brought an early end to his season.

• From the long-snapping-isn’t-as-easy-as-it-looks department, fullback Nick Bawden tried his hand at the position early in practice, and if the half-dozen or so snaps I watched are any indication, the Lions are in deep trouble if they need him to be their emergency replacement for Don Muhlbach. Muhlbach stood over Bawden giving him tips, but Bawden had neither the velocity nor the accuracy for the job.

• A couple more individual notes from the one-on-one receiver-defensive back work: Teez Tabor made a nice play to punch a ball away from Marvin Jones on an in-breaking route, Brandon Powell got several yards of separation from Jamal Agnew with an inside fake on a deep route, and Chris Lacy made a nice toe-tapping grab on the sideline against Amani Oruwariye.

• Undrafted rookie defensive lineman Kevin Strong continues to impress in one-on-one pass-rush drills. Strong, who first caught my eye Sunday, has a big-time motor and never gives up on a rush. He made a nice move to disengage from Graham Glasgow in his first one-on-one rep Wednesday, and got the better of Micah St. Andrew later in the drill as well.

• A few more notes from the period: Davis said he spent some time this offseason working on his pass-rush moves and he’s still doing so in camp. Rick Wagner got the better of him in their matchup Wednesday, but Davis showed good bend in a second rep against Andrew Donnal, even though it wouldn’t have ended in a sack. There weren’t many true first-team matchups Wednesday because of the injuries the Lions have on their defensive line, but Taylor Decker walled off Romeo Okwara on his rush and Kenny Wiggins kept A’Shawn Robinson away from the quarterback, though Robinson still showed some power with his second effort.

From Kyle Meinke, MLive:

ALLEN PARK – Nobody expected the Detroit Lions to take Tracy Walker in the third round of last year’s draft. Not the experts. Not fans. Not even Tracy Walker himself.

“It definitely was a surprise,” Walker said with a laugh on draft night. “I didn’t expect it. I expected to be fifth round, to be honest with you.”

That’s what everyone expected, at best. Look, Walker was a nice player at Louisiana-Lafayette. But there wasn’t a major national draft analyst in the country who had Walker going on the first two days of the draft. Yet when the NFL Network cameras panned into the Lions’ draft room after the pick, you would have just thought they landed a star. There were fists pumps and hugs and yelling and everything. It was just a strange sight, to see the Lions taking a guy no one had heard of, yet celebrating like they had just won the draft.

“Yeah, we were excited about the pick,” general manager Bob Quinn later said. Now it’s easy to see why.

Walker developed quickly as a rookie last season. So quickly, he began stealing snaps from Glover Quin down the stretch. And then the Lions cut Quin this offseason, making Walker the obvious candidate to start alongside Quandre Diggs in Year 2.

He’s looked the part throughout the offseason too. He’s practiced well. He’s fast, and he’s smart, a pretty good combination for a safety. But more than anything, he’s long, and that should make him a ball hawk in time. Like on Wednesday, when he turned in perhaps the most disruptive practice of his young career.

Walker broke up Matthew Stafford passes intended for Logan Thomas and Andy Jones, plus intercepted another that was intended for T.J. Hockenson. I don’t have to tell you how good that Stafford-to-Hockenson connection has been in camp either, and this pick came in seven-on-sevens no less, a drill that strongly favors the offense.

But Walker sniffed out the route, jumped it, and an off-target pass by Stafford landed right in those long arms of his. It was at least his second pick of the week.

“I would say it’s from a little more than (just) film study,” Walker said. “I would say it’s actual reps, going through the motions and just practicing.”

Yeah, it’s those things. Playing behind Glover Quin for a season is as good of a football education as you’re going to get, and Walker is a smarter player for it. But I’m reminded of what Quin once said in the locker room last season: If he had Walker’s rangy frame, he would have intercepted 10 passes every year.

This guy looks born to play the position, and it’s a big reason why Walker could be poised for a breakout season as he steps into a starting role.

“When they see I’m out there competing and giving my all, I feel they understand if 47 is out there, (they’ve) got to be out here on (their) Ps and Qs,” Walker said. He later added, “I feel like everybody is physically gifted when you get to the NFL, but it’s the mental aspect where you have to slow it down.

"Y’all asked me previously before if the game is starting to slow down. Well, with me breaking down film, understanding the mistakes, learning, making the proper corrections, then bringing it out here and translating it from the film, that’s where I got better. That’s where I’ve seen a lot of improvement.”

Tracy, we’re all seeing it.

Here are some more observations from practice:

– Walker wasn’t the only defensive back with a nice day. Teez Tabor forced at least four incompletions that I saw, one of which came against Kenny Golladay and the other three Marvin Jones. One of those plays to Jones was a deep ball, too, which has been Tabor’s weakness because of his long speed. But he’s made some nice adjustments in recent days, and has been hanging step-for-step with Jones. Here, Tabor looked back for the ball at the right moment and was able to make a physical play that did not draw a flag from the officials. Later he broke up a pass that was intended for Jones in the end zone. So, yeah. Tabor looks like he’s been able to carry over that momentum he built during a nice spring. He certainly looks like he’s on the right side of the roster bubble to me, and if he can earn the trust of coaches downfield, perhaps even give Rashaan Melvin a run for the starting job opposite Darius Slay.

– Some of you are probably wondering if the defense was able to make so many plays, Matthew Stafford must not have been so great. And he wasn’t. Stafford’s been inconsistent in camp, and the last couple days have probably been his worst. The Walker interception is a good example. That occurred in seven-on-sevens, which means there’s no pass rush. Give Walker credit for recognizing the route and jumping it, but Stafford also threw behind Hockenson on the play, which allowed the ball to be picked. And Stafford had an even worse pass on Tuesday, failing to see Jahlani Tavai lingering over the middle of the field and throwing the ball right into him for another pick. Again, credit to the defender for making the play (and it was a great play by Tavai to deflect the ball to himself) but a better throw never allows that to happen. It’s important to remember the Lions are installing a new offense, and that’s tougher on a quarterback than anybody else. But Stafford hasn’t exactly been sharp, and that’s especially true downfield, where he struggled last year too.

– A day after Kerryon Johnson got whooped in blitz-pickup drills, Detroit again opened practice by pitting the running backs against linebackers and safeties in the drill. Kerryon Johnson led it off again too. And again, he was beat by Jarrad Davis. Rather easily, actually. And after some colorful language from a coach, Johnson was asked to go again. This time, he handled Davis. Johnson also beat Tre Lamar, but lost reps against Jalen Reeves-Maybin and even Miles Killebrew. Now it must be said this drill heavily favors the defense. Still, not exactly what you’re looking for in your No. 1 back.

– For what it’s worth, Kerryon Johnson practiced with a wrap on his left knee. That’s the same knee that cost him six games as a rookie because of injury.

– C.J. Anderson has been the best running back in those blitz-pickup drills, by the way. But do you know who has surprised me the most? Ty Johnson. He’s just a little guy, and a rookie at that, but he’s really held his own. He also had some nice reps in one-on-one pass-catching drills against the linebackers, including beating some really good coverage from Miles Killebrew as he turned upfield. He also left Reeves-Maybin in his dust for an easy catch. Not bad for a guy who caught 29 passes in his career at Maryland.

– Romeo Okwara returned to practice, but the Lions remained short handed in the front seven. Christian Jones, Da’Shawn Hand, Mike Daniels and Austin Bryant all sat out practice, along with guys like Trey Flowers (physically unable to perform list) and Snacks Harrison (non-football injury list). Hand was still sporting that big brace on his left arm, too. I’m not sure if it’s an elbow or bicep issue, but whatever it is seems like it’s going to hold out Hand for the foreseeable future.

– Matt Patricia said he was eager to see which bench guy would step up in the wake of all those injuries on the defensive line. So far, it’s been Kevin Strong more than anyone else. The UDFA out of Texas-San Antonio has won a bunch of one-on-one reps, and even handed Graham Glasgow with his first loss of camp on Wednesday (according to my notes anyway).

From Eric Schlitt,

The Detroit Lions completed the sixth day of their 2019 training camp, and it didn’t take long before second-year safety Tracy Walker was making a ton of noise on the field.

Walker looks incredibly calm and confident

In a 7-on-7 drill, the offense was put into situations where they were asked to convert on third and long. T.J. Hockenson split out in the slot and ran an out route towards the sidelines. Matthew Stafford had an angle and let it rip, but Walker saw it coming, undercut the route and would’ve been dancing in the end zone if this were a game.

“I was playing man coverage and I just undercut T.J. (Hockenson)”, Walker said post-practice. “He ran his route and I read his route perfectly and made a great play on the ball.”

Walker would go on to have at least two more pass breakups in coverage situations, getting the better of Logan Thomas and Andy Jones. In goal line drills he used his strength to stand up C.J. Anderson, keeping him out of the endzone.

When asked how making plays on the field, like he did today, impact his confidence levels, Walker said, “Honestly, it definitely lets me know where I’m at right now. I still think I gotta improve. It still lets me know that I can be better.”

The game appears to be slowing down for Walker and when asked about it he confirmed that on Wednesday, “I definitely would say it is. I am getting more calm back there.”

I’ve been a Walker champion for quite some time now, and this year, I’m doubling down my efforts. We have yet to see how high his ceiling can reach, and this season, he’s going to shock people.

More notes on defense

Overall, the defense was very aggressive today. In addition to the Walker pick, the rest of the back-seven made multiple plays that would have resulted in pass breakups (PBU) or turnovers. In my notes, I had PBU’s for Walker (2), Teez Tabor, Quandre Diggs, Andre Chachere, and two for C.J. Moore.

Teez Tabor shined once again. After losing easily to Marvin Jones in one-on-one drills on Sunday. He improved and broke even with him on Tuesday. Now on Wednesday, Tabor was making plays on the ball and even dislodging it with a Charles Tillman-like punchout, forcing a fumble.

The other top corner-wide receiver matchup was Rashaan Melvin versus Kenny Golladay, and this has been a battle that the offense has continued to win. It likely speaks more about the emergence of Golladay, but Melvin needs to settle in or Tabor could end up as a starter.

The Lions ran a handful of one play training sessions, where the team was put in a situation that they had only one chance to convert, thus amping up the pressure to deliver.

It was fourth and goal from the five-yard line, the offense went empty and ran Hockenson across the back of the end zone. The defense dropped into a zone and when Hockenson traveled into Davis’ coverage area, Stafford tried to hit the rookie tight end but Davis made a brilliant diving PBU.

In one-on-one drills, linebackers and defensive backs (standing 1 -yard deep in the endzone) squared up against the running backs (at the 5-yard line) colliding to see who could outmuscle the other for the touchdown or tackle short of the end zone. Davis easily stood up C.J. Anderson and Mark Thompson in his reps.

Later in another team drill, Davis went down and looked a bit gimpy when getting up. He stayed on the field and did drills, but I didn’t see him take any more team reps. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise stellar day and it’s worth monitoring to see if this potential injury carries over.


If you were still one of the fans concerned about the Lions releasing Theo Riddick, the pass-catching efforts from Kerryon Johnson and Ty Johnson should help calm your nerves.

In one-on-one matchups with linebackers, Kerryon Johnson beat both Jarrad Davis and Jalen Reeves-Maybin, while Ty Johnson beat Miles Killebrew twice. Ty Johnson is incredibly smooth in his routes and made a brilliant catch in one rep despite solid coverage from Killebrew.

When the drill flipped and the running backs were asked to pass block the blitzing linebackers (a drill that heavily favors the defense), Ty Johnson twice picked up a rushing Tre Lamar, in one of only a few reps clearly won by the offense. Anderson and Nick Bawden also did well here, while Mark Thompson struggled after doing well in past practices.

Bawden also did well in run blocking stints during 11-on-11s, often clearing holes for Kerryon Johnson.

I mentioned earlier that Tabor had another solid day, he was only obviously beat once, and it took Kenny Golladay to do it.

Post-practice, Golladay mentioned that he did spend some time working on routes over the summer in California with Stafford — we previously only knew about Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola doing this — and spoke highly of new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, smiling and saying, “Coach Bev sets you up for success.”

After alternating guards every other day in the first week of training camp, the Lions have held steady with their starters through both days this week. From left to right: Taylor Decker – Kenny Wiggins – Frank Ragnow – Graham Glasgow – Rick Wagner.

The only change among the offensive lineman came at the second level, where Joe Dahl shifted inside to center and Luke Bowanko took over at left guard. Bowanko has had a nice camp and this exposure to guard is surely going to help his cause for the 53-man roster. Both Dahl and Oday Aboushi should be on notice.

Special teams

After working on kick returns yesterday, the Lions shifted back to punting situations today. The usual punt return crew — Jamal Agnew, Amendola, Brandon Powell and Diggs — were back to field punts today, but the coaches spent a lot of time working on situational punting.

Sam Martin was asked to punt in a traditional fashion, looking to gain as much ground as possible, but he also worked on angled punts, coffin corners, and dropping punts inside the 5-yard line.

One notable play from this session came on a ball Martin dropped inside the 5-yard line. It was not fielded by a gunner and when it hit the ground, it ricocheted back towards the 10-yard line where Agnew was waiting. Agnew fielded the ball and sprinted up the field in very heads up play.

Bawden tried his hand at long snapping today, and despite getting expert advice from the goat Don Muhlbach, the results were not ideal. Respect Bawden for the effort, but this was a nice lesson in why Muhlbach is such a valuable player.


The Lions ended practice today by running sprints up the new hill they created for endurance training. Running in groups, players ran up the hill roughly six times (maybe more) as the pace between intervals increased with each lap. The drill was run by strength and conditioning coach Harold Nash.

As the team went through their normal cool down stretch period, some players split off into drills, but Isaac Nauta went back to the hill for more laps. After his laps, he made his way over to the jug machine to work on his catching skill set.

“The hard way is the right way,” Nauta said post-practice, “so I’m just trying to do as much extra as I can.”

He went on to talk about how the veteran players in the tight end room have helped him with the on-field knowledge. “I’ve learned a lot of great things from all of them. Iron sharpens iron, so, I just want to feed and learn as much as I can off of those guys. I’ve heard a lot of great things. Jesse (James) has helped me a lot in the passing game. JC’s (Jerome Cunningham) helped me a lot in the run game. Logan (Thomas), being a former quarterback, he is awesome with coverages and seeing that aspect of the game. So, everybody’s got a lot of positives that I’ve been able to learn from.”

Nauta has gotten off to a great start in the second week of training camp and the extra work is already paying off.

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From Twentyman and O’Hara,

One-play period: Twice on Wednesday the horn that shuffles players between drills went extra long, which signifies that head coach Matt Patricia wants to see a special one-play goal-line offense vs. defense drill with the ball on the 1-yard line. Push-ups on the line for the loser. Twice the Lions did this during Wednesday’s practice. The offense won the first time and the defense the second after linebacker Jarrad Davis broke up a pass intended for tight end T.J. Hockenson in the back of the end zone. – Tim Twentyman

Walker double: Being around the ball made it a good day for second-year safety Tracy Walker. He had an interception and long return for a touchdown, then later batted away a pass meant for tight end Logan Thomas. Walker had good position, which allowed him to make the play. –Mike O’Hara

Hill day: The Lions built two hills with varying slopes north of the east practice field at their Allen Park training facility. Until Wednesday, they’d been used by players rehabbing during practice. At the end of Wednesday’s practice, however, the whole team went over and spent a period running the hills. Walker said after practice that the hills are a great conditioning method, but he also said he didn’t want to look at them for the rest of the day. – Tim Twentyman

Handy Andy: Wide receiver Andy Jones continues to make plays. He made a lunging sideline catch under tight coverage. There’s a battle for roster sports at wide receiver, and Jones obviously is in contention. His strong play on special teams is a bonus. – Mike O’Hara

Good from 60: Matt Prater and the specialists spend a lot of practice on their own working on kicking, punting and snapping. Prater especially likes to work on the south end of the east field, where the Lions have installed skinny goal posts that are about half as wide as regular goal posts. I watched Prater set the ball at the 50-yard line and boot one right through the middle of those goal posts with plenty of room to spare. Prater seems to be in midseason form. – Tim Twentyman

Snap judgment: Long snapper Don Muhlbach is in a class by himself, and that holds true as he prepares for his 16th season. He made his second Pro Bowl last year at the age of 37. Fullback Nick Bawden took several snaps in a drill Wednesday, with Muhlbach lined up to Bawden’s left to simulate a blocker. Muhlbach’s job is not in jeopardy, but the drill showed the difference between Muhlbach and everybody else. That’s no knock on Bawden. Muhlbach has a rare skill… – Mike O’Hara

Third and long: The Lions worked a number of 3rd and long situations during practice. Patricia said before practice there were some coaching points and philosophies they wanted to work on. The Lions ranked 17th in the NFL last season on third down plays from 2-6 yards, converting 48.1 percent of time. They were 27th from 7-10 yards (27.3 percent) and 14th from 11-plus yards (14.6). – Tim Twentyman

From Chris Burke,

  1. Pads on again, intensity way up the past couple days. One highlight today was a goal-line tackling drill: offensive players lining up at the 5, trying to get through a LB/DB into the end zone. It’s been physical this week.

  2. Another Jalen-Reeves Maybin mention here. This time, because he worked over the RBs during 1-on-1 drills – beat Zenner, Kerryon Johnson and Ty Johnson with a variety of moves. Probably been one of the better defenders in camp so far.

  3. David Fales has been taking reps with the No. 2 offense, Tom Savage down to the 3s. Best throw from Fales was an out-and-up to Ty Johnson up the seam. Still think the backup job is Savage’s to lose.

  4. D-line is still banged up but it makes a difference to have A’Shawn Robinson back. He looks just as tough to move as he was much of last year. Also beat Wiggins on a 1-on-1 rep. Even without Harrison or Daniels out there, I haven’t seen him play much (or at all?) at nose.

  5. Travis Fulgham has stacked together back-to-back good days. He was a beast in 1-on-1s – used a great sluggo route for a long TD, then drew a PI flag off a sharp, stutter-step release. Definitely seems to be settling in, especially compared to the spring.

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From Justin Rogers, DetNews:

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

  • A week after we acknowledged the installation of a conditioning hill on the peripheral of the practice field, the sod finally rooted enough to handle the workload of dozens of cleated football players racing up it.

The entire roster, outside the players sitting out with injury, ran six reps up the hill at the end of practice. Asking around about how challenging it was in the minutes after practice, several players got wide-eyed or uttered a simple exclamation, but most see the potential long-term benefit the strenuous cardio can have toward building up their endurance.

For what it’s worth, rookie tight end Isaac Nauta ran a few extra rounds up the hill after practice.

  • The running backs worked another round of one-on-one blitz pickups against the linebacker and safeties, and for the second day in a row, Kerryon Johnson struggled. He got overwhelmed by Jarrad Davis, blown past by Jalen Reeves-Maybin and outmuscled by Miles Killebrew. The only matchup Johnson won was his rematch with Davis.

The defense, as you might expect, dominated the drill. Reeves-Maybin was particularly sharp, getting wins against Ty Johnson and Zach Zenner in addition to the rep vs. Kerryon Johnson.

For the second day in a row, C.J. Anderson was the team’s best blocking back in the drill.

  • The script was flipped when the same linebackers and safeties were asked to cover the backs on routes. Johnson beat Davis on a wheel route and got by Reeves-Maybin running an angle route. The most surprising catch came with fullback Nick Bawden got a step on Jahlani Tavai on a deep post pattern and backup quarterback David Fales dropped a dime over the defender’s reach for the long hookup.

Bawden had a second catch against Tavai, impressive in a different way. The linebacker knocked the fullback to the ground with a jam near the line, but Bawden was able to get back to his feet and get enough separation to catch a short pass across the middle.

  • The Lions ran a handful of one-and-done, fourth-and-goal situations between practice segments. On the first, cornerback Teez Tabor blanketed Kenny Golladay across the middle and Stafford’s pass was too wide for the receiver to even have a shot.

  • On the next, Davis broke up a throw to tight end T.J. Hockenson in the back of the end zone. The offense finally converted on its third try when Stafford rolled to his right after his initial reads weren’t open and found Danny Amendola in the back of the end zone.

  • I don’t know who the Lions’ backup long snapper would be if Don Muhlbach ever suffered an in-game injury, but it probably won’t be Bawden. At least not anytime soon. Bawden was getting in some practice reps early in the day, with Muhlbach standing nearby to offer pointers.

Only a small percentage of Bawden’s efforts were on target, with several bouncing to the punter. And those in the vicinity lacked the necessary zip.

The takeaway: Long snapping is way harder than it looks.

  • Lions ran what some might consider a version of an Oklahoma drill today, pitting a ball carrier against a defender head-to-head at the goal line. The players started two yards apart, running in place. On the whistle, the defender was charged with keeping the ball carrier out of the end zone.

Learning how to use proper leverage to stop an opponent in their tracks to keep the ball out of the end zone is an invaluable skill for any defensive player.

  • In one-on-one pass rush drills, most of the matchups went about as expected. Then there was Kevin Strong, the undrafted defensive lineman out of UTSA, who came up with a surprising win against starter Graham Glasgow, getting by the interior lineman on a late rip inside.

  • The Lions worked a short segment focusing on third-and-short runs. Anderson showed nice vision on a cutback, earning a fresh set of downs, while Bawden delivered a stellar block in the lane on Tavai to spring Johnson for another conversion.

  • Matt Prater’s leg is doing just fine, in case you were wondering. Using a stand to simulate Sam Martin’s hold, the veteran kicker drilled a 60-yard bomb through the narrow set of uprights.

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Sorry I’m late with this thread, no excuse.

I watched a YouTube video with Kerryon giving Ty high praises. He might be the steal of the draft!

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- Jones had Tabor beat, but had to come back for the ball.
- Golladay nice deep touchdown with Tabor trailing.
- Defence dominates . (Teez Tabor mandatory update).
- Teez Tabor with three pass breakups early.
– He certainly looks like he’s on the right side of the roster bubble.

Okay… For a third year second rounder, you’d damn well better hope so.

Tabor has apparently made significant strides this year, but occasionally he still gets beat deep so one might assume if he is our CB2 that they’d have to give him Safety help. Problem is, I dunno that Melvin has been much better. Maybe Ford or somebody steps up, but it’s concerning. The good news is, if our pass rush is much better (as it’s supposed to be) then maybe getting beat deep will be less of a problem cuz the QB won’t have time to wait before delivering the ball.

LG and CB2 are our biggest question marks. This season will hinge on the performance we get out of them.

Is it me or has this been a problem with Stafford his whole career?

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Stafford is somewhat inconsistent, there are times when he puts the ball right where it needs to be and other times when he doesn’t. Too high, too low, too far out in front, too far behind, like that. BUT - he’s money in crunch time, his focus goes up another notch when the game is on the line.


Which explains some of the injuries to our receivers over the years.

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That is just you.

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I’ve been complaining about his accuracy and touch since about 2012.

This is why Lombardi failed when he tried to use him like Brees (who is hella accurate)

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