After going just shells on Monday, the Detroit Lions returned to practice on Tuesday ready to go in full pads. There were some live tackling drills, some intense goal-line drills, and plenty of energy to go around.
Though the practice was a little shorter than normal—falling shy of two hours—there were plenty of observations to be had from the 12th training camp practice of the year.
Let’s get into it.
In case you missed an of our previous observations:
After their regular days off, Taylor Decker and D’Andre Swift were back in action with the pads back on Tuesday. Wide receiver Josh Johnson, too, was back after one day off.
The following players remained sidelined, however: Quintez Cephus, Ifeatu Melifonwu, Julian Okwara, and Levi Onwuzurike.
Before practice coach Dan Campbell noted that with both Okwara and Onwuzurike, their injuries should not threaten any regular season time, but it could be another week or two before they’re ready to go.
In good news, Cephus was out there and moving around, jogging lightly and testing his hops a little bit. When a player is working on the sidelines like that, it’s usually a good sign there a few days from returning in full.
The only new addition to the sidelined players was Trinity Benson, but he, too, was moving around pretty good and got some time at the Jugs machine.
Jared Goff is dialed in
I’ve probably said it a couple times already, but this may have been Jared Goff’s best day at camp. His deep ball was absolutely on point all day. He had at least three completions of 30 air yards or more during team drills. He connected with DJ Chark and Amon-Ra St. Brown a couple times on deep shots, often requiring perfect placement in tight coverage.
After practice, Goff spoke about the chemistry he’s building with his receiving corps, specifically Chark.
“I think he’s coming into his own now and has a lot of confidence and is playing well and is playing fast,” Goff said. “Like you said, that second gear, as a quarterback you almost feel like you can just chuck it out there wherever, and he’s going to go get it. That’s a good feeling.”
At this time last year, we were all concerned about how little the Lions were capable (or even willing) of pushing the ball downfield—and rightfully so, as it turns out. This year, Goff teased the media when asked about how much they’re throwing deep this year.
“No, we don’t do that here. We don’t throw it down the field at all.”
For the first time this camp, the Lions worked on two different short-yardage scenarios, and pretty much went full-on, live tackling for both drills. The first scenario was just a simple third-and-1 drill. Here’s how the first-team performed:
- Jamaal Williams with a fairly easy pickup on the right side.
- Play action pass that led to busted coverage and a wide open T.J. Hockenson for a 25-yard touchdown. Hard to know who was at fault, but Tracy Walker was the closest defender.
- Alim McNeill and Aidan Hutchinson stopped the running back at least 2 yards short of the line of scrimmage.
- A jet sweep to Kalif Raymond that went for a touchdown after Mike Hughes tripped over Kerby Joseph.
- Craig Reynolds broke a tackle from Shaun Dion Hamilton for the first down.
- Josh Woods stopped Jermar Jefferson just short of the first down.
So the first-team offense went 2-of-3 in both situations.
Then they moved down to the goal line for a goal-to-go situation from the 1-yard line. Here’s how the three first-team reps went:
- Jamaal Williams lowers the shoulder for an easy score on the right side—and proceeded to take off his helmet and scream at everybody.
- Jefferson essentially did the same thing.
- A designed rollout, Jared Goff couldn’t find anyone, and a late pass attempt was batted down at the line.
- Jamaal Williams was stopped initially, but spun off the push from the defensive line and walked in.
- Defensive lineman John Cominsky got good penetration, but could not bring down Reynolds before the score.
- A counter run to Jefferson, Jeff Okudah stepped up and hit him and the goal line, but Jefferson crossed the plane.
In all, the first team offense went 4-of-6 on these drills, with the second team converting on 5-of-6.
It was another solid day for the offensive line during one-on-one drills, with Penei Sewell again doing a great job against Aidan Hutchinson, who has yet to really stand out during these drills. Jonah Jackson and Frank Ragnow were the biggest standouts, as they were shutting down the likes of Michael Brockers and Alim McNeill pretty regularly.
That said, I continue to believe the best may be yet to come with Charles Harris. He has got so many tools in his toolbox. He’s violent with his hands. He pulled off a great spin move on Dan Skipper. And a little stutter step pass rush had Obinna Eze frozen in his stance. That performance carried over into team drills, where I credited Harris with a tackle for loss and a good coverage rep that forced Goff to scramble for a minimal gain.
Another defensive lineman who continues to intrigue me is John Cominsky. I had him winning all three of the one-on-one reps that I saw, including an impressive rip move on Darrin Paulo—who has actually been very good during one-on-ones this camp. He also got a pressure during team drills.
With Josh Paschal potentially out for some time to start the year, that could open up an opportunity for Cominsky, who plays a very similar game to Paschal and has in-game experience from his three seasons with the Falcons.
- The Lions successfully pulled off a trick play to kick off team drills. And while team rules prevent me from giving out details of the play, let’s just say it resulted in a huge completion to DJ Chark.
- Another strong day from James Houston, who picked up a tackle for loss during team drills due to strong backside pursuit. He also had a nice inside move on Kendall Lamm during one-on-ones
- Rough day for Austin Seibert, who missed wide right on kicks from 53 and 46 before drilling a 42-yarder. Riley Patterson made all three field goal attempts.
- Jarrad Davis did not look great during one-on-one tackling drills, but he made a few big plays during team drills. He tallied a big tackle-for-loss on Godwin Igwebuike, provided a nice pressure on a blitz up the middle, and when Shaun Dion Hamilton was sent on a blitz during another play, it forced Tim Boyle into an arrant throw right into Davis’ hands for an easy interception.
- Rookie tight end James Mitchell had a bit of a “welcome to the NFL” moment during team drills. Tasked with pass blocking Austin Bryant, Mitchell whiffed completely, ceding a sack to Bryant almost immediately.
- The Lions opened up with one-on-one tackling drills, as they often have this camp. I thought the linebackers had a strong day, with Malcolm Rodriguez, Josh Woods, and Anthony Pittman picking up early wins against running backs.