Lions camp observations: Amon-Ra St. Brown stands out in one-on-one reps as injuries pile up

Detroit News

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

► The injury bug started biting a bit harder on the second consecutive day in pads. For starters, the Lions began the day without defensive tackle Michael Brockers, cornerback Quinton Dunbar, linebacker Derrick Barnes, offensive lineman Tyrell Crosby, linebacker Reggie Gilbert and cornerback Alex Brown.

But the session would claim several others before it was said and done. Multiple Lions left the practice field with various ailments. Defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike was limited to individual drills, linebacker Julian Okwara strained a muscle on his side/hip and running backs D’Andre Swift, Jermar Jefferson and Dedrick Mills all exited, with only Jefferson able to return to the field.

Additionally, defensive tackle John Penisini and cornerback Jerry Jacobs went to the locker room with issues that sidelined them the rest of the day, while wide receiver Kalif Raymond came up badly limping after doing some extra work after practice.

► A couple Detroit Tigers players were in attendance with outfielders Akil Baddoo and Derek Hill taking in the day’s activities. The duo lingered and chatted with some Lions players after practice before taking turns catching balls off the JUGS machine.

► Another visitor was Luther Bradley, a first-round draft pick for the Lions in 1978 and uncle of general manager Brad Holmes.

► Austin Bryant, who missed the first few practices while on the physically unable to perform list, didn’t escape the 40 up-downs defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn made each defensive player complete on the first day of training camp. Like waiver claim Bruce Hector, Bryant completed the pre-practice workout surrounded by teammates shouting encouragement.

► Obviously it’s not possible to accurately measure energy, but the Lions seemed to be laboring through Wednesday’s session. Maybe it was the mounting injuries or being in pads for a second straight day, but much of the roster looked to be dragging. Fans were in attendance, but it was easy to forget since they rarely made a sound and more than half had already departed before the end of the practice.

More: ‘He’s doing fine’: Daily battles helping Lions rookie Penei Sewell adapt at right tackle

► The Lions incorporated a live tackle segment, working skill players against defenders, one-on-one, in space. Amon-Ra St. Brown got the first rep and made the surprisingly effective decision to hurdle the unidentified defender who tried to go low. Based on yesterday, and coach Dan Campbell’s comments, that defender was almost certainty cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu, who got into a scrap with St. Brown a day earlier.

For the most part, the offensive players had the majority of the success in the drill, with Jefferson showing some quick feet on his two reps. The best tackle technique belonged to Jacobs, who got low and dropped tight end Alize Mack, despite giving up 46 pounds in the matchup.

► In one-on-one, pass-catching reps, cornerback Jeff Okudah and St. Brown had a nice series of matchups. St. Brown impressively caught all three balls, although the first, a crosser, essentially resulted in no gain. On the second, the rookie receiver had an outstanding release, getting the second-year cornerback off balance before breaking toward the sideline.

It wasn’t all bad for Okudah, who essentially ran Victor Bolden’s route for him on a deep pass, forcing the receiver to commit offensive pass interference to prevent a possible interception.

► Another receiver who quietly stood out in the head-to-head matchups was undrafted rookie Javon McKinley, who bested cornerback Mike Ford on a deep ball before getting the necessary separation on safety Tracy Walker to haul in an out-breaking route near the sideline.

► Melifonwu netted an interception in the segment, establishing inside position on Tyrell Williams when the receiver tried to break his route toward the sideline while running a corner pattern.

► In full-team work, it was another rough day for the offense. Or maybe it was a great day for the defense. Sometimes, it’s admittedly tough to tell.

Unlike the earlier practices, the Lions opted to pit their first-team offense against their second-team defense, and vice versa. Regardless, the defensive tackles feasted, with Nick Williams and Da’Shawn Hand both getting consistent penetration and wreaking havoc in the backfield. Hand will be one to watch this year if he can finally manage to stay healthy.

Rookie nose tackle Alim McNeill also had a textbook shed-and-stop on a run play for no gain.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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