In the Detroit Lions, about half of the team attended the first of four practice sessions in the last week of Organized Team Activities on Monday morning. The Lions coaching staff sent most of the veterans home for the rest of June as the squad prepares for a training camp in late July.
With around 45 players involved, it was a much slower training session, with more emphasis on individual and positional exercises than on the 11v11 competitive exercise. Here is an abridged version of the observation from Monday’s public training session ahead of the training camp.
Remember that OTAs are voluntary and for the past week the Lions have been making excuses for most of their veterans to take a closer look and train more intimately with younger players. Here’s a look at players who: They were not in practice:
- Jamaal Williams
- Jason Cabinda
Somewhat surprisingly, D’Andre Swift was still around.
- DJ Chark
- Josh Reynolds
- Amon-Ra St. Brown
Jameson Williams was in training but was sidelined. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had to shut down St. Brown from the building.
Derrick Deese and James Mitchell practiced but not exercised.
- Evan Brown
- Matt Nelson
- Taylor Decker
- Dan Skipper
- Halapoulivaati Vaitai
- Jonah Jackson
Despite how important he is to the team, the Lions have decided to keep Penei Sewell for an extra week of work.
- Ali McNeill
- Michael Brockers
- Levi Onwuzurike
- Bruce Hector
- Josh Paschal
- Eric Banks
- Jashon Cornell
- Romeo Okwara
- Julian Okwara
- Charles Harris
In fact, the only defenders attending the game were Demetrius Taylor, John Cominsky and Aidan Hutchinson (also James Houston). It’s definitely surprising that both Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike didn’t hang around, but with Levi they may decide to be too careful about his back. Josh Paschal is likely to have been arrested with an injury.
- Austin Bryant
- Alex Anzalone
- Jarrad Davis
- Chris Board
- Shaun Dion Hamilton
- Josh Woods
Natrez Patrick was in training but not in training.
- Mike Hughes
- Amani Oruwarije
- Bobby Price
- Mark Gilbert
- AJ Parker
Jeff Okudah was still excluded from team exercises but did a lot of individual exercises. Ifeatu Melifonwu and Jerry Jacobs were also present but did not exercise. The absence of AJ Parker should definitely be considered a surprise.
- DeShon Elliott
- Tracy Walker
- Will Harris
- JuJu Hughes
- CJ Moore
There are no surprises here.
Glowing intelligence of the novices
Lions linebacker coach Kelvin Sheppard has raved all season long with sixth round picked Malcolm Rodriguez being one of the smartest young players he has ever faced. Rodriguez showed this cleverness early in the practice, almost instantly recognizing the screen pass and dropping Godwin Igwebuike behind the fight line.
“There are things I can do with Malcolm and to be honest you may have to limit yourself to the third year player,” Sheppard said before training. “I noticed it right away at the beginner training camp when I was able to take command of the training camp.”
The second type of draft that still tightens the mind on the pitch is Chase Lucas from the seventh round. Detroit continues to work hard on pre-snap movement from a defensive point of view, communicating task changes as the attack moves at a rapid pace. Not only is Lucas the fastest recognizing this change in assignment, he’s also the loudest in the group, showing no fear in shouting out assignments to the rest of the defense.
“You see, Lucas, great short distance speed, great agility, has some position flexibility and is very loud,” Lions defense coach Aubrey Pleasant said on Monday. “He’s the leader there.”
Pleasant also explained that corner nickel is now Lucas’s “home”. Considering AJ Parker and Mike Hughes are ahead of him in the depth chart, it seems unlikely he will be able to make up for that by the end of training camp, but the early returns are still positive.
Defense enters the red zone
The infraction scored only one goal in six red zone snaps. The relationship was especially impressive as Brady Breeze had a very good reputation for beating Kalil Pimpleton and knocking him to the ground as the quarterback came out of his pocket. His game later won Aubrey Pleasant’s grip.
The best game during this part of training came from a defensive attack from Demetrius Taylor who continues to use his early chances. He deflected a line pass, then caught the ball in the air and intercepted it.
The only setback in defense was Anthony Pittman, who had a hard day in relationships on Monday. Shane Zylstra’s tight end, who stood out from the rest of the tight ends, beat him flawlessly on the break-in track.
Application in competition
To complete training, the Lions placed a blocking dummy on the cart and slowly drove it along the goal line. Quarterback David Blough and Tim Boyle took turns trying to hit the blocking dummy as it flew left to right and then right to left. Blough defeated Boyle six (from about 14 passes) to four.
Then it is time for non-quarterback playmakers to try this exercise. Bobby Price, who had a surprisingly strong hand, was beaten by the more modest Tom Kennedy. Kennedy only hooked up to the dummy twice but had an impressive punt after winning.
Lions beat writer join
I won’t spoil the results, but both Erik Schlitt and I were ready for a “beat writer” combo after training which was more like a skill contest. Your only spoiler: me and Erik both entered the final event with a tie for the lead.
The drills included 17-yard field goals, Jugs punch, longest punt, quarterback accuracy, 55-yard green spatter, and a three-point competition.