Detroit — Here are some notes and observations from the Detroit Lions’ training camp practice Saturday at Ford Field:
►The Lions were down more than a dozen players for the afternoon session at the home stadium, including four wide receivers.
Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, Quintez Cephus and Damion Ratley were all held out from participating. Coach Dan Campbell clarified that it was individual issues, not a COVID-related outbreak at the position, which caused the absences.
Williams is dealing with a minor groin issue, while Perriman suffered a hip injury coming down hard trying to make a catch on Friday. As for Cephus, Campbell said he “bumped his head.” It’s unclear whether the second-year man out of Wisconsin is in concussion protocol.
Also sidelined were offensive tackle Tyrell Crosby (hamstring), defensive tackles Nick Williams (COVID), John Penisini and Michael Brockers, cornerbacks Quinton Dunbar, Corn Elder and Alex Brown, guard Tommy Kraemer and linebackers Derrick Barnes and Jalen Reeves-Maybin.
Reeves-Maybin remains on the COVID/reserve list, but he’s rejoined the team and was on the sideline in uniform on Saturday, suggesting he’s close to returning.
►NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was in attendance for the practice and spent a good deal of time talking with Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp before going into the stands and taking selfies with several fans.
►Campbell briefly spoke to the crowd before things got under way, and in typical fashion, he provided some entertaining and colorful commentary about the value of having homefield advantage.
“I want you to envision right now that we’re in the backyard, because Ford Field is our backyard,” Campbell said. “And we’ve got our firepit in the backyard. And so, we’ve got a beer, we’ve got our hot dogs, we’ve got our wine. Kids got the marshmallows ready to go.
“Let me tell you something, we’re going to bring the firewood and we’re going to light the flame,” Campbell continued. “And you guys know, at some point late in the night and you really want to see the show and see how high we can get this thing to burn, you’ll douse it in gasoline and that’s what we need from you.”
►The Lions used the practice at Ford Field to help new players, coaches and rookies get acclimated to a game day routine. After stretching and warmups, the team moved into a seven-on-seven period, where cornerback Jeff Okudah quickly showed the coverage skills that have been netting him a steady stream of praise the first week of camp, breaking up a crossing pattern intended for Victor Bolden.
►The best pass in that seven-on-seven segment belonged to David Blough, who squeezed a tight-window touchdown throw to tight end Charlie Taumoepeau in the back corner of the end zone.
►Moving into a full-team scrimmage, the first team offense drove the length of the field for a touchdown against the second-team defense. Quarterback Jared Goff was sharp during the series, connecting on five of his six throws, with four of those completions going to tight ends.
Darren Fells had a big gainer across the middle when Goff fit it in between the coverage of linebacker Jahlani Tavai and safety C.J. Moore. And on second-and-1 from the 6-yard line, Goff ran play-action before finding T.J. Hockenson wide open in the back of the end zone.
►The second-team offense, led by Tim Boyle, started off well with a pair of quick completions against the top defensive group before penalties derailed their possession. The offensive line was hit with a false start and a pair of holdings on back-to-back plays, killing the possession’s momentum.
The first-team defense got strong play out of Da’Shawn Hand and Romeo Okwara, who each found their way into the backfield for stops. Okwara was a menace for the offensive tackles all day and probably ends up with two or three sacks if he had been allowed to hit the quarterback.
►The field-goal kickers struggled from distance, with both Randy Bullock and Matthew Wright missing their attempts from 50 and 54 yards.
►Later in the practice, the top units got paired up against each other and it was the offense coming out on top. This time, Goff worked the ball to rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown for a long gain down the left sideline before connecting with him a second time on an 8-yard slant for a touchdown on third down.
►The second-team offense also managed to find the end zone, overcoming a third-and-16 when Boyle found receiver Chad Hansen for back-to-back completions, including a short hitch to convert fourth-and-2.
Boyle finished the series with a 5-yard touchdown pass to slot receiver Tom Kennedy.
►The Lions closed out the practice with 2-minute drive work. The situation was the offense started at their own 27-yard line with 1:33 remaining, holding two timeouts and needing a touchdown.
The first-team offense quickly found themselves in the hole, facing fourth-and-5 from their own 32 after cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu broke up Goff’s third-down pass, but the quarterback rebounded by finding St. Brown to reset the chains.
Still running tight on time, the offense caught a break when Melifonwu was flagged for a defensive pass interference on a deep ball intended for Kennedy. That set up first-and-goal from the 5-yard line with 21 second remaining. From there, Goff needed just one play to find Hockenson in the end zone for a second time.
►During that series, offensive Taylor Decker and defensive end Robert McCray got into a post-whistle shoving match, which ended with the latter being sent to the locker room.
►The second-team offense failed with their two-minute drive. Again, Boyle got off to a quick start, only to see a sack (Hand) put his group behind the chains and force them to eat their timeouts.
Despite working out of the initial hole, Boyle faced having to throw a Hail Mary from the 36-yard line, which ended up incomplete.