Lions camp observations: Offense off to a slow start, particularly the QBs

Detroit News

Allen Park — Here are some notes and observations from the Detroit Lions first training camp practice Thursday.

►The Lions got one player back ahead of practice, activating rookie Javon McKinley from the non-football injury list. The only new absence from the previous day was veteran safety and special teams standout C.J. Moore.

►Claimed off waivers Tuesday afternoon, defensive tackle Bruce Hector joined the Lions for Thursday’s session. Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t able to escape the 40 up-downs coordinator Aaron Glenn had the defensive players perform a day earlier. Surrounded by his new teammates, the 296-pounder labored through them while being cheered on. In fact, most of the players joined him for the final 10 or so.

►The Lions are taking a long look at cornerback Mike Ford at nickel. The fourth-year veteran, who has spent his entire career with Detroit after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2018, offers a different body type for the inside position. If he can adapt to how quickly things develop from the alignment, his speed and length could be a beneficial asset.

Ford appeared in nine games for the Lions last season, playing a career-low 58 defensive snaps. He continues to be an important cog on special teams, earning a new, one-year, $1.2 million deal this offseason.

►Godwin Igwebuike, who made an unexpected conversion from defensive back to running back ahead of camp, was part of the mix fielding kickoffs and punts on the second day of practice. Also new to that group were running backs D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams.

►After cutting Joe Dahl this offseason, the Lions are left to sort out who will serve as the backup center if Frank Ragnow has to exit the lineup. A safe bet is Evan Brown, who saw some action in the role for the Lions last season, but he’s currently on the non-football injury list. With Brown unavailable, guard Jonah Jackson handled some snapping duties with the first-team offense, with Tyrell Crosby slotting in at left guard.

Jackson played some center in college, starting five games at the position for Rutgers in 2017.

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►It wasn’t a great day for the offense, particularly the quarterbacks, in full-team work. Most of the completions came on short throws, with the secondary often taking away the intermediate and deeper options.

When the quarterbacks did test the defense downfield, the results weren’t great. Jared Goff overthrew an early pass intended for T.J. Hockenson that safety Will Harris should have intercepted, while David Blough, working as the No. 2 quarterback, underthrew Quintez Cephus down the sideline after the second-year receiver got a step on the coverage.

►Cornerback Jeff Okudah continues to play tough coverage on the outside. He had a textbook breakup on a deep through to Tyrell Williams, staying with the receiver stride for stride and playing through the hands when the ball arrived.

►Outside linebacker Reggie Gilbert popped multiple times, beating offensive tackle Matt Nelson around the edge for a would-be sack. A couple plays later, Gilbert filled a lane on a run play that likely results in a tackle for a loss.

The Lions added Gilbert in June. The 6-foot-3, 261-pounder started five games for the Tennessee Titans in 2019. His best season was a year earlier, with the Green Bay Packers. He appeared in 16 games, recorded 38 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

►Amon-Ra St. Brown has had a quiet start to camp. On one rep, Goff zipped a throw to him across the middle and rookie receiver wasn’t expecting it, ducking out of the way after getting his head around late.

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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