I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at the Lions training camp today. Would the players be in shorts or pads? What exotic new drills would be unveiled, and how would I explain them?
Please, football gods, let no Lion get injured today.
It feels like a crisp autumn morning. The only thing missing were brightly colored leaves and a pumpkin patch. I grabbed a coffee at the concession stand just to keep my hands warm.
Here come the players! Let’s go!
WR Calvin Johnson did not practice but was moving about OK. He along with RB Maurice Morris and Jeff Backus were given the task of carrying the clipboards.
Randy Phillips, Titus Young and Alphonso Smith were dressed but didn’t practice. TE Brandon Pettigrew was not on the field.
The Hammie Report
You know what? I’m a little stiff in the hips this morning. It’s affecting my transition as I shift my old arse in my chair. It hasn’t affected my breaking down in coverage, of the Lions, that is.
So, who did I bust during stretching exercises?
Well, FS Louis Delmas either looked tight or plain lazy. Ruh Roh, there’s DE Willie Young looking like he’d rather be hitting a sled.
Last, but not least, I see CB Nathan Vasher stretching anything other than his left hamstring. I know that you are old, Vasher, but...c’mon, man?!
Individual Position Drills
My eye is invariably drawn to the receivers. I don’t envy coach Shawn Jefferson for the several tough cuts that the Lions have to make from this unit. We can safely assume that Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Titus Young, Stefan Logan and Derrick Williams (in spite of my deeply ingrained bias) will make the roster.
Then there’s Rashied Davis (Scott Linehan’s pet cat), Maurice Stovall and UDFA Demario Ballard, who look to be fighting it out for the sixth WR roster spot. All are performing very well, and I am hard pressed to name the winner here.
Finally, we have the camp bodies who are collecting paychecks and film footage. Dominique Barnes (released and re-signed), Tim Toone, Marcus Harris and Nate Hughes look like goners.
Likewise, RB coach Sam Gash has some equally distressing cuts to make. Jahvid Best is the only lock at running back. With only three more roster spots left for two RBs and a FB, some brutal choices are looming.
At RB, Lions fans are split between either Aaron Brown or Maurice Morris. Morris is recovering from a broken hand and hasn’t practiced. Then, the Lions picked up Jerome Harrison and Mike Bell to compete for the spot vacated by injured Mikel LeShoure.
Bell and Harrison have both looked good in practice. UDFA Ian Johnson has sparkled in camp. Will it be enough to beat out Bell and Harrison?
In a curious move, the Lions signed FB Collin Mooney. Mooney is the son-in-law of none other than Matt Millen. He joins incumbent Jerome Felton and second-year pro Matt Clapp in a dog fight for one FB roster spot.
I know, I’m supposed to be reporting what I see in drills. I can’t help being curious as I watch these players compete for a job though. My bad?
Kickoffs and Coverage Drill
The Lions special teams du jour was kick coverage and block pickups. Last week, coach Danny Crossman drilled his players in coverage. He wanted to maintain lane integrity all the way to the opponent’s 40-yard line before closing on the ball. The discipline of the coverage unit was perfect.
Today, Crossman worked the kick receiving unit on setting their blocks at the 35-yard line and reading the coverage players as they broke on the ball. I think it went rather well.
Full Squad Segment—1st-and-10 Scenarios
Today’s practice was like watching walk-throughs at game speed. No significant contact whatsoever.
The first team offense and defense played very few snaps. The overwhelming majority of plays were run by the second and third stringers.
This was good since the Lions were working some new players into the mix. Some of them didn’t have name patches on their jerseys yet.
Safety Michael Johnson and offensive tackle Kirk Chambers joined the recently acquired running backs Jerome Harrison and Mike Bell.
All were put through their paces but little of value was learned due to the walk-through nature of the practice.
OT Tony Ugoh was a no-show at practice. It wasn’t until later that I learned that he is considering retirement. Reports are conflicting and very well may change as I write this.
The first team players seemed to appreciate the chance to relax a bit today while watching the rest of the players taking practice snaps. Calvin Johnson was mentoring Demario Ballard on the sidelines.
DT Quinn Pitcock put in a strong performance today. Offensive tackles Corey Hilliard and Johnny Culbreath split time at LT.
It will be interesting to see how the LB and CB units shake out in the roster squeeze to come.
The first exhibition game will give us all, including coaches, a better idea about who will win a job and who is on the bubble. I think.
Mike Sudds is a syndicated Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Mike is also an analyst and correspondent for DraftTek.com.