With only three open practices remaining in the Detroit Lions' training camp (including today), I’m feeling the pressure to perform. Will I make the cut?
Speaking of cuts, I see that safety Ricardo Silva was claimed by Carolina. This will be the first season in ages that NFL teams will be lining up for Lions castoffs.
It’s unfortunate that the Lions won’t be holding their Coach’s Kickoff event at Ford Field. The calendar didn’t set up well for it, I guess. I wonder why they don’t hold this family event at the mother ship—Ford Field—where such a large crowd can be comfortably accommodated.
I spent some time dusting and cleaning my depth chart. Man, these Lions cuts will be the toughest ever! Here are a couple of dates to keep in mind:
By 4 p.m. on August 27, the Lions have to cut the roster from 90 to 75 players.
By 6 p.m. on August 31, the Lions have to cut the roster from 75 to 53 players.
Prior to that, I’ll review the players for practice squad eligibility. Some will have to make the roster or pack their bags for good.
Your Sunday Training Camp Report
It’s the back half of Family Weekend in Allen Park. On Saturday, the Lions hosted over 6,000 fans—a Lions training camp record.
Another huge crowd was on hand, and the Lions Youth Football “Heads Up” coaches were on hand to teach kids proper tackling techniques.
There was a cloudless sky, temperaturess in the low 60s and a brisk 15-20 mph wind out of the North. Perfect football weather!
I want to give a shout-out to Kevin, who graciously relinquished his perch in the bleachers for my benefit. I had a great day with a rabid, knowledgeable Lions fan. Thanks!
The Lions got MLB Carmen Messina back yesterday, but S Louis Delmas was down for a second day with his bum knee. Still out are CB Chris Greenwood, CB Jonte Green, S Amari Spievey, DE Israel Idonije, DE Willie Young, WR Mike Thomas and DE Jason Jones.
Today it was WR Calvin Johnson, K David Akers and RB Reggie Bush getting a “Delmas” day off. RB Mike Thomas and DE Willie Young returned to practice along with S Louis Delmas.
Warm-Ups: The Hammie Report
I know when I’m being teased. C’mon, Fairley! Get with the program! Yeah, DT Nick Fairley looks over to the crowd for the hecklers. I’d heckle Fairley, but I can’t outrun him.
CB Chris Houston got some hamstring stretching in with a trainer on the sidelines. Extra points!
MLB Stephen Tulloch is doing his own thing, and it’s a good thing too. He’s getting some extra hip flexor work that looks more self-abusive than stretching those hammies.
Position Drills: The Linebackers
It was a long distance from my bleacher perch, but I was able to catch what the LBs were doing. So much depends on lateral agility that drills are specifically focused on it.
The LBs worked a series of “W” drills where they got into their ‘peddles then transitioned into run support, back and forth three times before a pass was whistled at them.
Next, they took turns getting into a four-point stance. An assistant rolled a tennis ball to one direction and the player had to swat it back as if it were a hockey puck. Another ball was rolled in the opposite direction, and the player had to mirror the ball.
Now, I have to tell you that this is tough to do without taking a crossover step. Talk about the need for happy feet!
No single LB stood out as being supremely agile.
Finally, the LBs worked on some schematic coverage stuff, such as rotating the zones as plays developed to one side of the field or the other.
Four-on-Zero Skeleton Drill
The QBs rotated through the TEs and RBs throwing seam routes to the tight ends and out-routes to the running backs. All timing routes.
We got a heavy dose of seven-on-sevens today. The quarterbacks took three reps each before rotating out. The receivers and backs rotated out after every rep.
QB Matt Stafford got off to a slow start with a pass broken up by S Glover Quin and an incompletion to RB Joique Bell. He atoned by hitting TE Brandon Pettigrew in stride on a seam route, beating the overmatched Delmas.
Stafford’s next three reps featured a horrible overthrow to RB Theo Riddick. He settled down with a nice outlet pass to RB Mikel Leshoure, who got a step on MLB Carmen Messina. For a finale, Stafford threw a strike to WR Ryan Broyles. Broyles had CB Darius Slay draped all over him. Great toss and grab!
QB Shaun Hill had six pretty good reps. He was victimized by dropped passes by Bell and WR Michael Spurlock, though. Hill did hook up with TE Michael Williams and threw a beautiful deep ball to Spurlock, who caught it in stride over CB Domonique Johnson.
What? Johnson burned?
Hill’s other two passes were caught by Riddick, who beat OLB Ashlee Palmer and MLB Tulloch.
QB Kellen Moore seems to have cemented his position as the No. 3 QB. He threw a strike to TE Matt Veldman followed by another to Riddick. LB Jon Morgan broke up his third attempt intended for Veldman.
QB Thad Lewis hit Riddick on a crossing pattern, beating CB Ross Weaver before a busted route and a terrible overthrow ended the period.
Full Team Drill: Second and Six
The defense really stiffened. The coverage was so solid on the first rep that Stafford had to run right for a minimal gain. Next, the entire front-seven came on an effective blitz that caused Stafford to throw the ball away.
It was good to see DE Willie Young back in action today. He manned the LDE position while Ziggy Ansah came off the right edge. A very nice looking speed-rushing tandem considering RDEs Izzy Idonije and Jason Jones are still sidelined.
The first-team O-line consisted of LT Riley Reiff, LG Rob Sims, C Dom Raiola, RG Jake Scott and RT Corey Hilliard.
A player who stood out in this, and later drills was OT LaAdrian Waddle. He looked so athletic that when I rushed home and booted up my PC, I went directly to his draft analysis film footage on several sites.
Waddle in no fashion resembles that player we see on film. He appears 20-25 pounds lighter, and his various techniques at both tackle positions is vastly improved.
I had thought that Waddle would have to kick inside to RG, where his lack of range would be less noticeable. Man, what a nice surprise to see him standing up those big Lions DEs.
This segment didn’t end without misfortune. RB Theo Riddick was stepped on and limped directly to the trainer’s bench. His right foot was iced, and he was done for the day.
Special Teams: Kickoff Return and Return Coverage Period
K David Akers was taking a “Delmas,” day so it was up to K Havard Rugland and P Sam Martin to fill the void. Yes, you read that correctly—Sam Martin was kicking, not punting.
They were kicking into the teeth of a stiff wind, but both managed to get the ball to the goal line. Each kicked one low “knuckler” that won’t please special teams coach John Bonamego one bit.
Full Team Period: First and 10 From the 15 Yard Line
Move the chains, baby! Well, not if S Louis Delmas has anything to say about it! Delmas was a terror for the defense, breaking up a pass and being a general nuisance. He was public nuisance No. 1 in his most effective period this year. I hope he’s surrounded by friends in the locker room later.
Special Teams: Punt Block Drill
It was P Blake Clingan who would be the sacrificial lamb, kicking a volleyball-sized Nerf ball while an assortment of defenders took a free shot at his completely exposed appendage.
No! Not that appendage, smarty! His kicking appendage!
Clingan survived the experience shaken, but not stirred.
Special Teams: Kickoff Coverage
Coach Bonamego has this boom-box device strapped to his back, loudspeakers that amplify his commands. None of the magic words were heard by we bleacher creatures, and I must say that this is in stark contrast to his bombastic predecessor, Danny Crossman.
I’m actually buying into Bonamego’s style, as well as what he’s getting out of his players.
Seven-on-Seven: Two-Minute Drill
80 yards from pay dirt and it would be Shaun Hill at the helm. Once again, the defense initially rose to the occasion. Passes defended by slot CB Bill Bentley and MLB Tulloch set the tone.
Hill, however, picked away at the defense with a series of short completions that were well distributed to his weapons. When TE Tony Scheffler found a void in the seam, Hill connected with him for a TD with 47 seconds remaining.
Hill showed us his latest dance move…to be named later. There’s no description that translates into English.
Next up was QB Kellen Moore, who didn’t fare so well. Two straight completions to TE Joseph Fauria moved the chains, but Moore had the next two passes defended by CB Darius Slay and MLB Carmen Messina.
On fourth down, Moore went to the well once too often and was intercepted by Messina, who jumped Fauria’s route.
Messina had his best day as a pro and finished with a flourish.
Then it was QB Thaddeus Lewis at the controls. He spread the ball around nicely before being burgled by S Tyrell Johnson on what was a telegraphed pass to the flat.
It was at this time that we noticed a solitary turkey buzzard circling the field. It’s probably Lewis’ blood that drew its attention.
Kellen Moore came back for another go at the two-minute drill. But it was one and done for Moore as LB Brandon Hepburn stepped in front of his first pass for a no-brainer.
The horn brought a merciful end to the carnage.
The 2013 Randy Award Update
Vote early! Vote often! I’ll keep posting the poll during training camp and the preseason. The results will be announced on September 1.
Havard “Kickalicious” Rugland leads the voting by a wide margin while RB Steven Miller and TE Joseph Fauria are running neck-and-neck for the runner-up. WR Cody Wilson has been eliminated due to a lack of support.
Now, it’s a three-way race. Let the fans be heard!
Plans for Tomorrow
Ho hum, I have another day off. I love this day-camp gig! The next open practice session will be held on Tuesday morning, and weather permitting, I’ll be there. Sore hammies and all.