On Thursday, the Detroit Lions pushed training camp to the limit… literally. Practice ran right up against the allowed maximum of time, clocking in just short of 2.5 hours. And with tempers and emotions flaring up in the middle of practice—to the point where a couple scuffles broke out—it was a tense, competitive day. Mix in an emphasis on red zone drills and one-on-one competition, and there were highlights galore from Allen Park.
Thankfully, the Lions social media team was also putting in some extra work. All evening, they were posting highlight after highlight of practice, and there was an abundance of eye-popping plays, some I even missed watching live.
So let’s look over some of the best highlights the Lions had to offer, and I’ll supplement the videos with my own commentary to fill in the gaps of the plays and share my perspective on what I saw from my angle.
Note: These are not all of the highlights the Lions posted. Go to their Twitter page to see all of them.
Jared Goff read option TD
As I noted in my observations piece, this was a read option play. You can barely notice Jamaal Williams pretending to carry the ball in the video above. You can see Penei Sewell and Aidan Hutchinson locked in on the edge there, too. Hutchinson does a good job not giving up any ground, but he can’t get a hand free until it’s too late.
Demetrius Taylor big TFL
This is just another example of the kind of dominant camp Demetrius Taylor is having against the reserves. This is technically the third-team offense he’s going up again, but what you don’t see is his explosive first step, blowing past undrafted rookie guard Kevin Jarvis.
DJ Chark TD No. 1
This one likely goes down as a sack, if we’re being honest, as Jared Goff had to scramble when his first couple of reads were all covered. However, this play is a good showcase of the kind of weapon the Lions could have in Chark. The deep speed is nice, but having a big red-zone target can be just as valuable.
The camera doesn’t pick up a subtle push-off from Chark, but you can see Amani Oruwariye complain about it. However, there was an official right there who did not throw his flag, so he got away with it.
Goff dime to Amon-Ra St. Brown
One of Goff’s best throws of the day, and it happened right in front of me. That window is a lot tighter than it looks, as Tracy Walker nearly got a hand on it. Instead, Goff hit Amon-Ra St. Brown right in stride and allowed him to pick up some serious yards after the catch.
Also, check out that pass rush from Aidan Hutchinson, who slips inside Halapoulivaati Vaitai with ease.
Malcolm Rodriguez run stuff
This was also a note I made in my camp observations. This is just an expert read from the rookie linebacker. Rodriguez keeps his eyes in the backfield, switches gaps, and meets the ball carrier right at the line of scrimmage. You can see linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard going crazy in the background.
It’s worth noting, again, this is the third-team offense Rodriguez is going up again, so perhaps the breaks on the hype train need to pumped a little bit.
Also, props to new receiver Maurice Alexander (#15), who flies into the picture to wall off safety JuJu Hughes (33). That sort of effort won’t go unnoticed from the coaching staff.
James Mitchell touchdown
This was a pretty easy score for Mitchell, who slipped out of the line unnoticed. Hard to know who was at fault there, but Josh Woods was the closest linebacker to Mitchell.
Devin Funchess handing out Mosses
Perhaps the best catch of the day. This was simply one-on-one drills, which heavily favor the offense. And while Funchess didn’t create any separation from safety Brady Breeze, that is one hell of a catch.
Hard Knocks caught an angle of it, too, and it looks even more impressive from that video:
Chase Lucas PBU
During these one-on-ones, rookie nickelback Chase Lucas picked up two pass breakup. Tom Kennedy is typically one of the tougher assignments during these drills, due to his short-area twitchiness. But Lucas does a great job using a little (but not excessive) physical contact to keep him close, while showing some serious change-of-direction speed.
What you don’t see (or hear) in this clip is Lucas screaming loud enough to be heard a field away.
Josh Reynolds deep ball
When I said that “Josh Reynolds continues to have a strong camp” in my observations from Thursday, this was the exact play I was thinking about. Reynolds break at the top of his route creates at least three steps of separation from Oruwariye, leaving him to pick up some YAC, even though he has to slow down a tad for the ball to arrive.
Here’s Ifeatu Melifonwu explaining what happened on this interception:
“We were in the red zone. I was the free safety and I’m really supposed to just help on anything in-breaking. Basically, nothing came immediate. I think Kalif Raymond turned, nothing came immediate to me and then I just read the quarterback off his eyes. (I) drifted back and then the dig came right behind me and I snagged it.”
That’s an impressive fingertip grab from Melifonwu, showcasing some ball skills that I wasn’t sure he had.
Sometimes you don’t really appreciate a play until you see the replay of it. From where I was standing, this looked like a fairly typical toe-tap touchdown. Upon replay, you can see that T.J. Hockenson was only in bounds because his forearm just barely landed inside the white paint. Hard to blame Oruwariye for this one.
Also, nice job by Goff stepping up with a screaming Anthony Pittman (getting first-team work) coming off the edge.
Easily the best play of camp thus far. This came in a high-pressure situation: down six points, with less than 20 seconds to go from the opponent’s 35-yard line. Of course, you’d like to see tighter defense than this, but Goff placed this away from the deep-middle safety (Walker) and put enough on it to go over DeShon Elliott’s head.
The star of this play is Chark, whose fingertip diving catch is insanely impressive. But he also cradles it in before hitting the ground to ensure it doesn’t bounce loose.