Only one Lions rookie took starters reps in first padded practice, and it’s not who you think

Detroit Free Press

The highest-drafted cornerback in 23 years was not on the field Monday when his new team’s starting defense played its first snap in the first padded practice of training camp.

But Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia said not to read too much into that or any other positional rotation the Lions experiment with this summer.

“You know how I am with the whole starters thing,” Patricia said. “Like, I don’t know who our starters are. We had Day One of pads. I’m pretty sure Matthew Stafford (will start at quarterback). I’m good there. The rest of that stuff, we’ll have to figure it out.”

It would be an upset if Jeff Okudah is not in the starting lineup when the Lions open the regular season 27 days from now against the Chicago Bears, but on Monday, the rookie cornerback and No. 3 overall pick worked primarily with the second-team defense.

Desmond Trufant and second-year cornerback Amani Oruwariye played outside cornerback with the first-team defense with Justin Coleman in the slot.

Okudah faces a steep learning curve at a cornerback position that has historically been tough on rookies, but the Lions have said since the draft they expect him to be an immediate contributor.

More: Detroit Lions’ Jeff Okudah could be one of the ‘great ones’: ‘Holy crap, who is this kid?’

“A lot of the rookies we’re trying to take it slow with,” Patricia said. “There’s a lot of information that they have to learn and certainly from a standpoint of being on the field for the first time in an NFL practice with pads on, there’s definitely just a lot coming at those guys from different directions.”

Running back D’Andre Swift, a second-round pick, and linebacker Julian Okwara, a third-round pick, joined Okudah in playing as a reserve Monday. In fact, the only member of the Lions’ nine-man draft class to regularly see time with the starters was guard Jonah Jackson.

A starter at both Ohio State and Rutgers, Jackson is competing with Kenny Wiggins and Oday Aboushi for the right guard spot. Fellow rookie Logan Stenberg worked primarily at left guard with the third-team offense.

Patricia called Jackson “mature” and said he “studies hard,” but as with Okudah, he cautioned not to read anything into the playing rotation.

“It’s kind of just a rotational thing that wound up being the first day of pads,” Patricia said.

More Lions news

The Lions signed running back Jonathan Williams and waived running back Wes Hills before practice Monday. Williams, who started one game for the Indianapolis Colts last season, worked out for the team last week. … Offensive lineman Beau Benzschawel, tight end Matt Sokol and defensive tackle Kevin Strong did not take part in practice Monday. Benzschawel and Sokol were on the field watching part of the workout, but were not in pads. Tight end Isaac Nauta spent the early portion of practice running on the side with trainers.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Lions content. 

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