Allen Park — Here are some notes and observations from Wednesday’s training camp practice.
► There was a new, noticeable piece of practice equipment being worn by many of the roster’s players during the first training camp practice. Any player who would be engaged in collisions during these non-padded practices, including all offensive and defensive linemen, linebackers and tight ends, had a “Guardian Cap” on over top their helmet.
The soft, waffle-pattern padded caps are designed to limit concussions during practices and are being required by the league this offseason. Developed in 2010, players around the NFL have been wearing them on the practice field voluntarily the past few years, prior to the NFL making them mandatory for select positions this year.
► Rookie defensive end Aidan Hutchinson spent a lot more time working with the first-team defense than he did during the early portions of the offseason program, rotating with Julian Okwara opposite Charles Harris.
Continuing to work with the top defensive unit were free-agent additions Chris Board and DeShon Elliott, who both spent the past few seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. The linebacker and safety are tracking toward starting jobs, although Board easily could find himself in a rotation with second-year linebacker Derrick Barnes, similar to the setup the team had last season with Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Barnes.
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► After being handled cautiously throughout his rehab for a torn Achilles tendon the past several months, cornerback Jeff Okudah was thrust into the starting lineup in his return to competitive drills. The team didn’t do too much 11-on-11 work, but Okudah seemed to be moving well in the limited reps, although he did get caught yanking receiver Josh Reynolds down by his jersey on one route breaking toward the sideline.
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► Romeo Okwara is still weeks away from being cleared from his own Achilles tear, but he was on the sideline for the duration of this practice. Still listed at 255 pounds on the roster, the team’s 2020 sack leader appears to have slimmed down, which would make sense given how much he’s been limited from working out his lower half.
With the team focusing on attacking up front as part of a schematic shift, playing with less weight on the frame could end up being beneficial for Okwara, once he’s medically cleared to return.
► Newcomer Isaiah Buggs, the defensive tackle who signed with the Lions last week to fill the void created by John Penisini’s abrupt retirement, saw some action with the second-team defensive unit.
The Alabama product was a sixth-round draft pick in 2019, playing sparingly as a rotational piece for the Pittsburgh Steelers the past two seasons.
► After experimenting with a position change during the early portions of the offseason program, Ifeatu Melifonwu is now listed as a safety on the team’s official roster. He took reps as the deep man with the second-team defense. Longtime safety Will Harris, meanwhile, continues to get most of his work as an outside cornerback.
► John Cominsky, the defensive lineman the Lions were awarded off waivers in late May after seven other teams put in a claim, looks as if he’s quickly getting more comfortable with his role within Detroit’s defense. Deceptively athletic for his size, the 6-foot-5, 285-pounder did an excellent job reading and reacting to a screen pass, netting praise from his position coach.