Happy Friday, Lions fans! I’m back with another look at our Leos here in sub-tropical Allen Park. The only thing missing is a couple of coconut palms and a margarita. There’s another big crowd on hand.
Once again, the Lions practiced on the West field—without consulting me. That’s OK, because today I’m scoping out the defensive back-seven who will be doing position drills on the East field before the heavy lifting begins.
My hammies feel better today, but my hips are a little stiff. Bear with me, though, as I press on through the pain.
Warmup Segment: Your Daily Hammy Report
Once again, FS Louis Delmas, MLB Stephen Tulloch and RB Mikel LeShoure were on hand but didn’t participate. SS Erik Coleman participated on a limited basis, and rookie DB Chris Greenwood was dressed but didn’t practice.
During a later segment, DB Don Carey pulled up lame with a hammy. I told him to walk it out. Carey said, “Thanks, brother!”
Segment One: Field Goal Unit
No hurry today, special teams coach Danny Crossman ran a pretty normal drill, and both Jason Hanson and Ben Graham were perfect from 37 yards.
In the meanwhile, the DBs and LBs not on the FG units were playing a little pitch and catch.
Segment Two: Position Drills
As promised, I watched coach Tim Walton’s DBs and coach Matt Burke’s LBs exclusively today. The linebackers did their agility drills and worked the sled.
The DBs worked the type of drills commonly seen at the NFL combine. Backpedal, breakdown (as in coverage) and catch a pass drilled into the numbers.
Two reps where the DB has to break in either direction. Chris Houston was the closest thing to a poster child for proper breakdown technique: Low backpedal, then throw the arm back violently in the direction you need to turn. This arm action “flips” the hips so that a 180-degree turn is made in one stride.
Technically speaking, this is a very average group.
The DBs worked a “jam” drill against a sled. Punch and sidestep. Repeat three times. Breakdown and run downfield where you must adjust to a poorly thrown (purposely) ball.
Again, it was an average performance at best.
Next, the DBs did a “mirror” drill. One DB would play the role of WR. The other would have to breakdown in both directions in order to stay with the receiver. Houston, Alphonso Smith and Jacob Lacey looked pretty good here. The rest? Not so much.
Next, the defensive backs and linebackers worked as a unit on pre-snap adjustments and assignments as the second team cycled through some common offensive pre-snap movement schemes. More of a walkthrough at game speed to get the back-seven on the same page.
The next drill was equally vanilla, as the back-seven worked on zone-coverage schemes. They must have done it right because Matt Burke didn’t raise his voice once. More on Burke later.
Segment Three: One-on-One drill
Today, I honed my skills as your camp scout by noting every one-on-one matchup. Which side of the formation the receivers and defensive backs were matched up on and who won the battle.
I won’t bore you with all 30 plays, but I wanted to see which DBs performed best on the right or left side of the formation. My observations will be faithfully recorded daily, so we will have some meaningful data by the end of camp on the receivers and defensive backs.
CB Jacob Lacey had a tough day on either side but covered closer as a RCB. He was beaten by WR Maurice Stovall twice but recovered on a third attempt to make a nice breakup.
CB Bill Bentley was schooled by WRs Nate Burleson and Calvin Johnson. Welcome to the NFL, rookie!
CB Justin Miller and SS Amari Spievey made some nice plays for the defense. Both were a pleasant surprise.
WR Titus Young won every matchup and worked from the left side of the offense exclusively. Likewise for WR Lance Long.
WR Dominique Curry, who looks like Megatron light, had a busy and productive day.
WR Ryan Broyles didn’t participate. I wonder why?
CB Jonte Green worked at RCB only and didn’t win any of his matchups.
Segment Four: Seven-on-Seven Drills
The first-team LBs were Justin Durant (SAM), Ashlee Palmer (MIKE) and DeAndre Levy (WILL). They worked well as a unit in the absence of MLB Steven Tulloch. Playing with the twos were Tahir Whitehead (SAM), Travis Lewis (MIKE) and Doug Hogue (WILL).
I watched the linebackers closely today at the expense of some other stuff, but I think you’ll agree that players like Hogue, Whitehead and Lewis bear close scrutiny.
I came away from this drill wondering when Doug Hogue is going to show up. Thus far, Whitehead—a rookie—is making a bigger splash. Travis Lewis chipped in with some strong play and had a nice pass breakup.
Third-team Lbs were Slade Norris (SAM), Carmen Messina (MIKE) and Hogue at WILL.
Offensively, the Lions moved RB Joique Bell to the perimeter on several occasions. WR Patrick Edwards proved to have the wheels to stretch the defense. Nice stuff.
Segment Five: Full-Squad Drills
DTs Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh were teamed up for every first-team snap. Suh played RDT when they were paired up. Tons of push from the big guys. DE Willie Young played LDE while Kyle Vanden Bosch remained at RDE.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan was standing close by. He turned to us and asked, “Warm enough for you guys?” We all said yes.
Nate Burleson rotated out and came over. I said “Hey, Nate! You gotta get us fans going, man! We’re a little flat over here. Sore hammies and stiff hips.”
Nate replied, “You gotta warm up man! Look, I’m gonna take one to the house. What do you guys want to see me do?” Someone said, “Do the Ikky Shuffle, Nate!”
Burleson did a little bit for us before he went back in and promptly caught a Stafford TD. No Ikky Shuffle unless you count the one he did for us behind the coaches backs.
Segment Six: Special Teams Kick Coverage
Once again, there’s not much to learn on a day without wind and the “Jugs” machine doing the booting. With players shuffling in and out, this segment resembles a Chinese fire drill.
Segment Seven: Full-Squad, Red-Zone Drills
The red zone works both ways, and the Lions started with 1st-and-10 from their own 10-yard line. The offense went through their repertoire of plays designed to move the chains and get out of jail so to say.
The defense held sway yesterday, but the offense was the better unit today by far. Linebackers coach Matt Burke had seen enough and screamed “Get your noses on that (expletive) ball!”
Anyway, this segment was the Ryan Broyles show. Broyles looked very solid in tight spots. Screens and quick hitters look like Broyles’ forte.
My eye was drawn to Riley Reiff playing LT. Reiff looked like a seismograph out there. A flat line of solid pass blocking punctuated by a blip where he allows KVB a clean shot at the QB. Rookies!
Jason Fox looked very good at LT. I feel more comfortable about him with every passing day. Let’s hope that his acute case of Stafforditis has run it’s course.
Dom Raiola sat this one out while the coaches gave the snaps to Dan Gerberry and Dylan Gandy. Both looked fine.
There were some nice plays made by both squads. Another seam route connection from Stafford to TE Tony Scheffler. SS Erik Coleman made a nice pass breakup in limited action. CB Bill Bentley making a nice INT. CB Jacob Lacey making another against QB R.J. Archer. RB Keiland Williams running strong. The usual Calvin Johnson abuse of DBs in the end zone. TE Brandon Pettigrew looking very consistent.
Wrap Up and Tomorrow’s Plan
After practice, the team huddled up around head coach Jim Schwartz. Well, most of the team, that is. Off to the side, the WRs were running gassers. This is a sure sign of one very unhappy coach Jefferson. I expect that this unit will have a great day tomorrow.
I’m always open to suggestions as to who you want a detailed report on. Want some skinny on your “pet cat?” I’ll be your huckleberry.
Tomorrow, we'll take a look at the early leaders for my much-coveted Randy Phillips UDFA Camp Stud Award. The winner receives an all-expense-paid trip to the practice squad. Safety Ricardo Silva was the first recipient of this prestigious honor.
Have a great weekend and check back tomorrow for another training camp report.