The Detroit Lions held their annual scrimmage practice at Ford Field on Saturday morning, and the energy in the building was palpable. According to the team, an estimated 18,000 people showed up to the Lions’ home field, which was the most at this event since 2015—the year after Detroit’s most recent 11-win season.
In general, the day favored the offense, but the practice was also heavily skewed to help out that side of the ball. Several drives started at midfield or closer, and the first-team offense regularly went up against backups and potential practice squad players.
That being said, several players on both sides of the ball had impressive performances. Here are the six that stood out most to me.
Without question, Chark was the biggest star of the day. I had him down for four catches, 76 yards, and two touchdowns during the scrimmage. He continues to be a big-play machine, looking especially impressive when it comes to contested catches. Coverage on a few of his receptions on Saturday were decent, but Chark’s concentration and ball skills have been on display all camp.
“I’ll just say it’s god-given because it’s something I’ve always had a knack for,” Chark said of his ball-tracking skills. “Running, being able to use my speed to locate the ball, I also think it’s a lot of hand-eye coordination that goes into it. I do a lot of things to just work on my hand-eye coordination. And being able to adjust with speed. Speed up or slow down and body control. So I think all those things go into it.”
Chark ended the practice with a phenomenal 33-yard diving touchdown grab to win the day for the offense during a two-minute drill.
By my very unofficial count, Jared Goff was 13 of 17 passing for 171 yards, 4 TDs and 0 picks in today’s scrimmage. DJ Chark caught two of those TDs (3, 33 yards), while Josh Reynolds (12 yards) and Amon-Ra St. Brown (18 yards) added one apiece
— kyle meinke (@kmeinke) August 6, 2022
That’s a pretty impressive stat line, though it requires a couple of caveats. For one, the Lions’ first-team offense frequently lined up against the second and third-team defenses. Secondly, the high number of touchdowns is a result of good field position. Two of those touchdowns came on drives that started on the opponent’s 25-yard line, one started at the 50-yard line, but that final throw to Chark was on a drive that started from his own 27-yard line.
That being said, there is something to be said about Goff’s confidence, particularly as it relates to pushing the ball downfield. He has more trust in himself and more trust in his teammates than I saw at any point last season.
Bryant continues to be a disruptive menace on defense. I had Bryant down for a tackle for loss, a sack, and at least one more pressure. Many of his plays came against the first-team offense, too. With Julian Okwara, Romeo Okwara, and Josh Paschal all missing time right now, no one is taking more advantage than Bryant.
Hutchinson didn’t have a monster day but I had two notes that show exactly what the Lions thought they were getting in their second overall pick.
On the first, the Lions ran a screen and Hutchinson got upfield so quickly, that he nearly stopped the play in its tracks. Eventually, he recognized the screen and was able to hustle downfield and make the tackle on the running back well before the first down.
Then, during the first-team two-minute drill, Hutchinson knifed into the backfield, causing an off-target throw from Goff. He should be a huge weapon for the Lions during end-of-half defensive drives.
The biggest surprise performance of the day came from Banks—a midseason addition from last year. Banks, too, is seeing an increase in playing time due to injuries of his teammates, and on Saturday he was everywhere. He met Jermar Jefferson in the backfield for a 5-yard loss. He both forced an incompletion and drew a holding penalty on Penei Sewell later in practice. And he had an outright sack against the first-team offense.
This was a breakout performance from Banks, and if he can continue this momentum into the next week of practice and throughout the preseason, there could be a spot on the practice squad (or more) for him.
You may remember last year’s Family Fest was a foreboding sign for the Lions’ kicking situation. Let me jog your memory for our 2021 observations post.
The kickers were once again a mess from distance. Randy Bullock missed both 50- and 54-yard field goals wide left, while Matthew Wright missed from 50-yards to the right and fell short on his 54-yard attempt.
Well, Austin Seibert is here to make those memories a thing of the past. Seibert was a perfect 6-for-6, with makes from (approximately) 41, 41, 44, 50, 54, and 62. That 62-yarder bounced off the crossbar and in.
Seibert clearly has a stronger leg than Riley Patterson, but he had struggled earlier in camp with consistency. That said, he was the much better kicker on Saturday, as Patterson’s lack of strength—he missed from 54 and was well short from 61—proved to be an issue with long-distance kicks.