Allen Park — Here are some notes and observations from Saturday’s Detroit Lions training camp practice.
► The Lions ditched full pads for the first time in a few days for what coach Matt Patricia called a more up-tempo practice. There was a clear focus on situational football, particularly some two-minute drill work.
The first setup saw the offense taking over at their own 42-yard line with 1:23 on the clock, no timeouts and needing a TD.
The first-team offense wasn’t efficient, but got the job done, driving 58 yards in eight plays, capped by quarterback Matthew Stafford finding Marvin Jones in the back of the end zone from a yard out with fewer than 10 seconds remaining.
The biggest plays from the series came on a 12-yard slant to Kenny Golladay to convert a third down, followed by a long pass to running back Kerryon Johnson, down to the 1, setting up Jones’ score.
You could make a pretty strong case Stafford would have been sacked on the pass to Johnson as a pair of blitzing defensive backs quickly converged on the quarterback in the pocket, but since the coaches didn’t blow it dead, we’ll chalk it up as a win for the offense.
The second-team unit didn’t need nearly as much time. Backup quarterback Chase Daniel sliced through the defense in three plays, dropping a beautiful back-shoulder ball to rookie Quintez Cephus down the right sideline before connecting with Jamal Agnew across the middle for a 20-yard score.
The only criticism might be the group scored too quickly, leaving 33 seconds on the clock. A lot of offenses are capable of responding with that much time to work with.
The third-team offense, led by David Blough, faced a different scenario, needing only a field goal. They were given the ball with 1:14 remaining at their own 33 and managed to get to the opposing 33 after a 20-yard completion to Tom Kennedy.
Strangely, the 50-yard kick wasn’t actually attempted.
► Outside the two-minute segment, the first-team offense was sluggish as the receivers struggled to get open and Stafford forced multiple throws that should have been intercepted.
Early in practice, Stafford fired one directly into the arms of linebacker Jahlani Tavai, but the pass squirted through his grasp into the waiting hands of Jones. Later, Stafford had a throw undercut by cornerback Darryl Roberts, who also let the ball hit the ground. Stafford also had a pass batted down at the line by Jarrad Davis.
► Roberts got a lot of run with the first-team defense on Saturday with injuries holding Jeff Okudah and Desmond Trufant out of full-team activity.
► While Roberts and Tavai failed to convert on their opportunities, linebacker Christian Jones had no such issue, coming up with one of the day’s best plays. Defending converted fullback Jason Cabinda in a one-on-one coverage drill, Jones came down with a spectacular leaping, one-handed interception on a deep pass.
It was one of the few stops the linebackers got in the drill, working against the backs operating out of the slot. Ty Johnson was particularly sharp, besting Davis and Anthony Pittman on crossers before beating Jalen Reeves-Maybin on a perfectly delivered deep ball from Matthew Stafford. Just as impressive as the pass was Johnson’s ability to get both feet in bounds so tight to the sideline.
► Early in practice, the Lions ran a drill designed to help both wide receivers and defensive backs track a deep ball while running stride-for-stride with another player. Even though the drill largely removed any physicality between players, honing the eye discipline and angles that come with those plays should be helpful in a game situation.
► Wide receiver Marvin Hall, after exiting Friday’s practice with an injury, was back fully participating a day later.
► Earlier this week, T.J. Hockenson talked about putting an emphasis on having more fun this season and we saw some signs of that attitude. After making a contested touchdown grab against cornerback Amani Oruwariye, the second-year tight end emphatically spiked the ball.
Then, after Hockenson hauled in another touchdown later in practice — a catch and run delivered from Daniel — the tight end made a point to celebrate the score by posing for camera man in the back of the end zone, presumably capturing footage for the team’s official website.