Lions’ Matt Patricia cautions not to read into rookies’ practice roles

Detroit News

Allen Park — As the Detroit Lions took the practice field for the first time on Monday, it’s always interesting to see where new players, especially rookies, are lining up out the gate. 

Cornerback Jeff Okudah, who was taken with the No. 3 pick in April’s draft, spent much of the morning working with the second-team defense, while the vacant right guard spot was plugged by third-round selection Jonah Jackson. 

But Lions coach Matt Patricia warned reporters not to put too much stock into how the depth chart might appear during these early practices. For example, with Jackson, Patricia said they’ve been working a rotation through the early stages of training camp, which included some walkthroughs that weren’t open to the media. 

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“Some of those other guys have actually been in there,” Patricia said. “It’s just how the rotation has been going and some of the different looks that we’ve had that Jonah was out there today.”

The Lions have a number of different options to fill the void created by Graham Glasgow’s departure. Throughout the next few weeks, Jackson will compete against Kenny Wiggins, Oday Aboushi and fellow rookie Logan Stenberg. 

And even though Patricia downplayed Jackson’s practice role on Monday, he offered some high praise for the rookie out of Ohio State, while also acknowledging there’s a lot of work ahead. 

“He’s a guy that’s very mature,” Patricia said. “He studies extremely hard. Nothing really phases him. Even just the move from Rutgers to Ohio State, it’s something where he’s handled transition before. So for him, this is just another transition into a new team and trying to learn everybody really quick. I think he’s done a really good job with that stuff. 

“Certainly, there’s a lot to work on from the practice today, fundamentals and techniques, the speed and size of some of the guys that were out there, some of that was moving pretty quick for him.”

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As for Okudah, the expectation for most is he’ll be a Week 1 starter. But Patricia is going to make the rookie earn the job and he likes the way the competition is shaping up in the back end of the defense. 

“Really, honestly, Amani (Oruwariye) has been out there working really hard, too,” Patricia said about the second-year corner who worked with the first-team defense on Monday.

“Justin Coleman, obviously (Desmond) Trufant, actually we have a lot of great guys, talented players out there that are going to compete and we’ll see how it shakes out. Jeff is working really hard. He’s trying to do everything we want him to. He’s learning our system, which is great, and competing.”

The Lions open the season in less than a month, hosting Chicago at Ford Field on Sept. 13.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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