A beautiful morning with a 10-15 mph wind out of the East. The crowds haven’t diminished during the second week of camp, and I suppose that coming off a 10-6 season will do that.
The big news of the day was starting free safety Louis Delmas’ knee surgery this morning. As of this writing, the Lions haven’t disclosed the nature of his surgery or how long Delmas will be shelved.
Statistically, the Lions defense suffers dearly when Delmas is out of the lineup. I, for one, consider this a major blow to a defensive secondary that has received too little help from the front seven in the past.
Who’s going to step it up?
The Head Coach Goes Ballistic
This is the first practice that I can remember where head coach Jim Schwartz stopped practice not once, but twice to address the team.
On the first occasion, he called the entire team together, where they took a knee. The coach was clearly displeased, and I’m glad that the kids in the crowd couldn’t hear his tirade.
On the second occasion, Schwartz stopped a full-squad period to address the defense’s effort or lack thereof. “Look, I know it’s non-contact, and I know that I’m moving you guys around and all that stuff. But you have to get after it a lot harder than you are! I’m sick of this (expletive) day after day! Now, let’s go!”
The Head Coach Focuses on Special Teams
In another first, Schwartz watched the long snappers, holders and place kickers with great intensity during the position drills. As the length of each field-goal attempt was increased from 37 to 47 to 52 yards, Schwartz looked on in sullen silence.
His mood wasn’t improved after Jason Hanson missed two attempts from 52 yards.
Preseason Game Preparation
The Lions ran through some basic offense in an 11-on-0 walk-through. Later, the Lions worked on some zone-blitz packages during the full-squad practice period.
Schwartz said that the team would do very little in the way of game prep for Cleveland.
Today, the Lions played a 2-5 back seven scheme, moving various DBs into the nickel position. CBs Alphonso Smith, Jacob Lacey, Bill Bentley, Justin Miller and Drew Coleman cycled through snaps. LBs Doug Hogue and Travis Lewis also worked at the nickel.
WR Titus Young continues his outstanding play, and CB Bill Bentley continues to outperform the competition on the right edge as well as the nickel.
It was comforting to see CB Chris Houston taking on a full load today. DE Kyle Vanden Bosch rested today, and WR Ryan Broyles held coach Jefferson’s clipboard.
At safety, it was Amari Spievey and Erik Coleman taking first-team snaps. Sean Jones and John Wendling took the second-team snaps. This looks like the crew that will make the roster—by default.
Quarterbacks Matt Stafford and Shaun Hill took turns running a two-minute drill. Neither looked particularly sharp today.
Rookie Riley Reiff shared first-team snaps at LT with Jeff Backus. Reiff was beaten by an inside move from DE Willie Young but held his own when redirecting the speed rush.
Veteran tackle Jason Fox shared first-team snaps with Gosder Cherilus. Both looked pretty good today.
The defense ran some blitzes from the right side. All of the players mentioned as nickel backs earlier took a shot at the QB. In a non-contact environment, it’s impossible to judge the effectiveness of the blitz.
Kickoff Returns and Kick Coverage
For once, special teams coach Danny Crossman didn’t have to harangue the coverage team about lane discipline.
RB Stefan Logan and WR Patrick Edwards handled the return duties. Jason Hanson consistently booted his kickoffs into the end zone in the crosswind.
Wrap Up and Tomorrow’s Plan
The team as a whole looked flat, or deflated by the Delmas news today. Jim Schwartz’s unprecedented interruptions in practice periods was a little disconcerting as well.
Every training camp sees a day like this, where the team seems to “hit the wall.” I suspect that there will be some spirited discussion in team meetings after lunch.
OK, guys, that’s it for today. I’m feeling a little flat myself after watching anything but a well-oiled Lions machine on the field today.
I’ll be back tomorrow with another training camp report—weather permitting.