Allen Park — After a two-year hiatus largely stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Detroit Lions will conduct joint training camp practices for the first time since 2019, when they travel to Indianapolis to work with the Colts ahead of the teams’ Aug. 20 preseason game.
It’s a change of intensity, because you’re going against another opponent,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “Sometimes, even as intense as you try to make your own practices, just to be able to go against a different opponent just levels (up) the stakes, levels (up) the intensity. You need that, their bodies need that, the competition, just to raise the stakes a little bit goes a long way for your guys.”
The Colts figure to provide a good test for the young Lions. Coach Frank Reich’s group has finished with a winning record three of the past four seasons and are looking to return to the postseason after falling just short in 2021.
With an eye on that goal, the Colts made an upgrade at quarterback this offseason, trading Carson Wentz to Washington and acquiring longtime Falcons starter Matt Ryan.
This will mark the second time in the last five years the Lions have traveled to Indianapolis to share a practice field with the Colts. The two sides also conducted joint sessions in 2017, ahead of Jim Caldwell’s final season as Detroit’s head coach.
It was under Caldwell and former general manager Bob Quinn that the Lions began to participate in joint practices. The majority of those sessions have been on the road, starting in 2016, when the team traveled to Latrobe, Pa., to work out with the Steelers.
That was followed up by the practices with the Colts in 2017, and two sets in 2018, Matt Patricia’s first year as coach. That year, the Lions traveled to Napa, Calif., to practice with the Raiders, prior to hosting the New York Giants.
In 2019, the Lions again held two sets of joint practices, first with the Texans in Houston, before welcoming the New England Patriots to the team’s Allen Park training facility.
The league banned joint practices in 2020 due to the pandemic, and even though they resumed last offseason, Campbell acknowledged he struck out when he tried to set something up, after getting a late start on the process during his first season leading the franchise.
The Lions will play the Colts in the second week of the three-game preseason slate after opening at home against the Atlanta Falcons. The Lions wrap their exhibition schedule on Aug. 28 in Pittsburgh, leading into the regular-season opener at home against the Eagles on Sept. 11.