It’s a bright, cool Monday morning at the Detroit Lions training camp. There is a 10 mph wind blowing out of the North. Beautiful!
I arrived later than I usually do only to find almost nobody in line. How very odd. There might have been 200 fans at practice today. You autograph hounds missed a glorious opportunity.
The Lions practiced on the West field today. The ground was saturated and there was a heavy dew on the grass.
The team went through warmups at the opposite end of the field. No “Hammie” report today.
The Shawn Jefferson Show
I located myself as far up the rail as possible. During warmups, receivers coach Shawn Jefferson entertained us rail-birds with some coaching stories.
Jefferson is a very engaging guy who has a passion for his calling. I asked him if he had a “come to Jesus meeting” with Derrick Williams. He gave me the Mike Singletary look and politely said, “No comment on that.”
Thereafter, I became a better listener.
Calvin Johnson Stops By to Say Hello
Calvin dressed but didn’t practice. As his receiver corps gathered in front of us, he came over to the rail and shook hands with us. As he shook my hand he said “Man, I see you here every day.” I told him that I wished I could play corner. He laughed.
I asked him about the shoulder and ankle dings. “They’re doing OK, man.”
His coach (Jefferson) handed Calvin a clipboard. I told him to carry it high and tight with both hands (laughs).
Kickoffs and Kick Coverage
The team spent a huge chunk of this practice working on kickoffs and coverage; about 40 minutes total.
One thing that was very noticeable was the number of players who slipped on the dew-covered turf. I was a little concerned about muscle strains.
One-on-One Passing and RB Blitz Pickups
These drills were run simultaneously. Stafford, Hill and Stanton passed to the receivers and tight ends. Robinson worked with the RBs.
This passing drill was all quick timing routes where the ball was delivered prior to the receiver’s break. Nate Hughes and Rashied Davis looked very smooth. Tony Scheffler, Brandon Pettigrew and the tight ends as a whole looked very solid.
Tim Toone looked fast but choppy in his breaks. Derrick Williams dropped two balls that were on target.
Shaun Hill looked much sharper today than he has in previous camp sessions. Stanton sailed a couple of deep shots. Stafford was Stafford.
Meanwhile, the running backs faced off against blitzing fullbacks. The bigger backs could man-up against the bigger fullbacks. The smaller backs had to redirect the blitzers.
It’s kind of funny watching Jahvid Best blocking the big boys. Kind of scary too.
Seven on Seven Passing and Coverage
Head coach Jim Schwartz took particular interest in the linebackers, so I focused there as well. Schwartz took a knee next to the center snap and made notes. So did I.
Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy were switching off between MLB and ROLB. Justin Durant stayed in his LOLB position. All three seemed to be struggling in their drops today. It was like a disease.
I don’t know what Schwartz was evaluating. On the whole, the exercise looked rather awkward.
The second team LBs looked better, actually. LOLB Bobby Carpenter, MLB Dejuan Fulghum and ROLB Doug Hogue looked very good getting to their assigned zones.
Fulghum and Hogue have improved a lot in camp. Carpenter came into camp looking good and hasn’t disappointed.
Hogue moved into the middle and was joined by LOLB Isaiah Ekejiuba and ROLB Fulghum. Talk about strangers in a strange land. All looked very much out of place.
Finally, it was LOLB Caleb Campbell, MLB Cobrani Mixon and ROLB Doug Hogue getting a look from the head coach.
Full Squad: First and Ten Plays
I should have called this the Kris Kocurek thermonuclear catastrophe. After the run defense meltdown in the exhibition opener, defensive line coach Kris Kocurek went off on the first and second team D-linemen after every running play.
He raged. He ranted. He screamed expletives. He coached his ass off.
I think that Kocurek has one of the best jobs in the NFL. Look at what he has been given to work with. He’s usually pretty cool during drills.
Today, it seemed like Kocurek was fighting for his job. Literally. When Avril, Suh, Williams and Vandenbosch came over to the sideline, all took a knee except KVB. There was a lot of head shaking going on.
Poor Suh and Avril. After jumping the snap count both were given hell by Kocurek. “See the f***ing ball!” bellowed Kocurek, over and over.
Willie Young was not exempt from Kocurek’s wrath after a minor breakdown in technique. Even Keyunta Dawson got lit up.
Drama aside, I thought that rookie RT Johnny Culbreath looked very solid today. Rock solid, in fact.
It was at about this time that I noticed CBs Chris Houston and Eric Wright on the sidelines. Both were ambulatory but obviously done for the day. Wright had an ice pack taped to his groin area. I’m not sure what Houston’s problem is. Appears to be a leg though.
Yesterday, I wrote an article calling for WR Derrick Williams’ head. I thought that I would see him rebound in camp today. Instead, Williams dropped pass after pass. It was the worst practice that I’ve ever seen from him.
The rookies, as a whole, seem to be acclimating to the rigors of the NFL. Hogue, Culbreath and the UDFAs are starting to come on.
At the rate players are getting injured, the growth of these young players might become a high priority.
Mike Sudds is a syndicated Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Mike is also an analyst and correspondent for DraftTek.com.