Lions camp observations: Tracy Walker shines, Goff-Chark connection strong

Detroit News

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

► Inclement weather during the morning forced the team to close practice off to the public, but clearer skies in the afternoon allowed for the session to be conducted outdoors. There was a steady rain at one point, but it only lasted about 15 minutes and wasn’t disruptive to the day’s work.

► Among the players not practicing for the Lions were Levi Onwuzurike, Julian Okwara, Quintez Cephus, D’Andre Swift, Taylor Decker, Ifeatu Melifonwu and rookie receiver Josh Johnson.

Onwuzurike, Okwara and Cephus all are dealing with injuries that have held them out multiple days, while Swift and Decker are on veteran maintenance routines. Melifonwu was a new addition after participating during Saturday’s scrimmage at Ford Field.

More: Lions notebook: Jarrad Davis enjoying return to Detroit, chasing roster spot

► Two former Lions were in attendance on Monday with Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders and former Pro Bowl safety Glover Quin taking in the action. Sanders, a brand ambassador for the team, is a familiar face throughout the year.

Quinn, a Houston native, was the more notable attendee given how his time came to an end with Detroit. He clearly had a tense relationship with former coach Matt Patricia and skipped the voluntary portion of the offseason program his final season before retiring.

► It was a relatively light, non-padded practice with only a handful of competitive segments. I focused in on the running backs and tight ends going head-to-head against the linebackers and safeties in one-on-one receiving drills deep in the red zone.

The star of the segment was Tracy Walker, who won all four of his reps. He opened with a pass breakup against Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson. Walker followed that up with two decisive wins against Devin Funchess, driving the converted receiver into the ground with a jam on the first, leading to a no-throw, before tipping away a back-shoulder ball on the second rep. Walker also knocked a throw away from rookie tight end Derrick Deese Jr.

Another defensive player who had a good showing was the presumptive starting safety opposite Walker, DeShon Elliott. He forced a pair of incompletions, including one working against Hockenson, but also got beat by the star tight end on a throw to the back of the end zone where the Hockenson came down with a toe-tapping catch near the back line.

Among the offensive players, running back Craig Reynolds performed well in the drill, besting the coverage of Alex Anzalone, Josh Woods and Derrick Barnes on three reps. Reynolds, who came out of nowhere as a camp addition last year, has had a productive offseason and put himself firmly in play to be the team’s third running back behind Swift and Jamaal Williams.

Speaking of Williams, route running obviously isn’t his strong suit, but he got the best of Jarrad Davis and Anthony Pittman, running slants both times. The north-south runner impressively won the reps with his footwork off the line, catching both linebackers off-balance before breaking inside.

► The Lions dialed up the tempo during a full-team segment, and quarterback Jared Goff was extremely sharp, dropping a perfect ball to Amon-Ra St. Brown down the sideline, followed by another well-placed throw to Hockenson across the middle.

Goff scored one more downfield connection with DJ Chark, which is quickly becoming a training camp trend. The pass was a touch long, but as he’s done a few times in recent days, the receiver showcased late burst, making a remarkable, full-extension grab by latching on to the nose of the football.

About the only thing that went wrong for Goff during his time on the field was a pass batted down at the line of scrimmage by Michael Brockers.

► The Lions spent the final half hour of practice working through various special-teams drills. It might not seem exciting, but that’s likely going to be the area where the final four or five roster spots are decided.

There’s not much to report from those drills, other than rookie Chase Lucas doing a little work as a return man. That might be short-lived given he was “tackled” by long snapper Scott Daly, who did a great job getting an angle on the first-year cornerback. That led to Lucas being heartily mocked by his teammates and at least one member of the coaching staff.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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