Lions camp observations: T.J. Hockenson shines, Penei Sewell holds his own

Detroit News

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

► The day’s session was unorthodox. Designed to be a lighter routine after the weekend’s preseason game, a large percentage of the roster was held out, with the focus being on players who saw limited or no work against the Steelers.

“It will be clean, crisp, fast,” Lions head coach Dan Campbell said. “We had a number of guys who took a lot of reps and we have injuries, so it’s just the smart thing to do.”

For additional perspective, the team only suited up three inside linebackers (out of seven) and five defensive backs (out of 15). Quarterbacks David Blough and Tim Boyle were also held out.

After the traditional routine of stretching and individual drills to warm up, the Lions finished the day with a lengthy, concentrated set of one-on-one reps pitting pass-catchers against defenders and offensive and defensive linemen in pass-rushing work.

► T.J. Hockenson, wearing a no-contact red jersey after suffering an injury in practice last week, was one of the standouts in the one-on-one pass-catching segment. He hauled in five consecutive red-zone passes before safety Dean Marlowe forced a bad throw with tight coverage on a sixth and final rep. And if we’re being honest, Marlowe probably gets hit with a flag for holding.

Hockenson’s route-running looked crisp, including three touchdowns working against Marlowe. The best came when the tight end got so low changing directions he was able to put his hand on the ground, gaining easy separation coming across the middle.

► Offensive tackle Penei Sewell and defensive end Romeo Okwara had a series of spirited reps working against each other, with the rookie getting the edge in two out of three.

On the first, Okwara immediately got his hand into Sewell’s chest, driving him back a few steps before the right tackle anchored and kept the pocket preserved. Okwara tried to go wide the next time the two squared off, but that was also shut down. It was the third rep, another wide rush, where Okwara was able to bend the edge and penetrate the pocket.

Sewell also had two reps against outside linebacker Rashod Berry, winning both. On one, Berry came with an aggressive spin move, but Sewell was able to keep the rush in front of him with excellent footwork and hand placement.

► Two other injured players were back in the mix Monday with defensive tackle John Penisini and cornerback Corn Elder taking part in the one-on-ones.

Penisini, the hulking nose tackle, flashed some surprising quickness during his reps, beating the blocks of back-of-the-roster offensive linemen Evan Heim and Darrin Paulo.

Elder looked a little more rusty, but managed to force a couple of incompletions on throws to Breshad Perriman and Sage Surratt.

► It was a mixed bag for veteran nickel corner Nickell Robey-Coleman, who gave up a couple of early receptions but rebounded with a pass breakup on a throw to the much-larger Damion Ratley and intercepting a pass intended for the shifty Kalif Raymond.

► Running back D’Andre Swift, who has been nursing a groin injury since the early stages of training camp, also got some work in one-on-ones. He proved to be a handful for Alex Anzalone, the linebacker most frequently tasked with covering him. Swift won all three of those reps.

He also got the best of Jamie Collins on another rep.

► Jared Goff handled every quarterback rep in practice. He wasn’t his sharpest, misfiring wide and long on several throws.

► Bobby Price, the converted safety, is making slow, but steady strides working at cornerback. Three throws his direction ended up on the ground, with his coverage forcing two of those incompletions.

► One of the more unexpected plays from one-on-ones came when running back Jamaal Williams pancaked Collins during a pass protection rep. Collins got his revenge  in coverage, blanketing Williams out of the backfield and forcing a throwaway.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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