Lions camp observations: Intensity dialed to the max for evening practice

Detroit News

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

► A day earlier, Lions coach Dan Campbell previewed Tuesday’s practice — a rare night session at the team’s facility — saying, “It’s going to be our last really good Detroit vs. Detroit practice we’re going to have for camp.”

That was a rare understatement from Campbell.

Outside of the joint work with the Indianapolis Colts, this was likely the most intense practice of the offseason, even giving those two days from last week a run for their money.

From the players to the coaches, the energy was off the charts, leading to some excellent competitive periods as the team ratchets up preparation for the preseason finale and closes in on final roster cuts.

► No one embodied the evening’s intensity more than defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant, who was all over his position group from the jump.

After Saivion Smith committed an early penalty, Pleasant yanked the cornerback from the lineup and chewed him out for the mistake. Smith tried to talk back, not once but twice, further drawing his coach’s ire.

Smith wasn’t the only one who was aggressively corrected by Pleasant. On another snap, the coach wasn’t happy with his nickelback’s lack of aggression on a run fit. Other times, it was every defensive back within earshot getting the business.

Pleasant does a good job knowing how to reach each individual in his room, and he’s universally loved by his players, but this day was about delivering some tough love. It’s reasonable to suggest the results were there as the group picked up its performance as practice progressed.

► Projected starters Amani Oruwariye and Jeff Okudah were the two players who largely managed to stay on Pleasant’s good side on Tuesday. Oruwariye was in good position to defend several passes and Okudah, while not perfect, had one of his better practices with tight coverage more often than not and a pass breakup in the end zone.

► Okudah also delivered a solid hit to T.J. Hockenson while the tight end was trying to turn upfield after a short catch. After staying down for several seconds, Hockenson got up holding his side, but he may have just had the wind knocked out of him as he returned to action a few snaps later.

► There was minimal change on the injury front as Levi Onwuzurike, Ifeatu Melifonwu and Julian Okwara remained sidelined. Eric Banks, who left Saturday’s game, was also out.

Safety C.J. Moore, who has been down since the first joint session in Indianapolis, showed up Tuesday night with a walking boot on his right foot. If the special teams standout is out for multiple weeks, it could have a ripple effect on roster decisions.

► There was a massive emphasis on situational work, with the first scenario having the offense take over at the opposing 24-yard line with 22 seconds needing a touchdown. Quarterback Jared Goff used 10 seconds on a short throw across the middle to DJ Chark before hitting Hockenson down the seam for a catch-and-run.

The tight end was met at the 2-yard line by safety DeShon Elliott. Both sides declared victory, but the coaching staff offered no clear indication. I’m giving it to the defense.

► Starting at their own 47, needing a TD with 40 seconds to go, defensive lineman John Cominsky helped force a turnover on downs, pressuring backup quarterback David Blough into a rushed throw on first down and combining with Jarrad Davis on a sack on third down.

► A Tim Boyle-led full-team segment got off to a rocky start when the quarterback heaved a deep pass on third-and-long well beyond his intended target and nearly saw the ball intercepted by rookie safety Kerby Joseph.

But Boyle settled down, finding Tom Kennedy at the goal line after running back Justin Jackson did an excellent job to pick up a blitzing linebacker to provide the necessary time. On the next snap, Trinity Benson shook the coverage of Bobby Price pre-snap, reversing his direction in motion and coming wide open in the flat for the score.

► Rookie defensive tackle Demetrius Taylor was a menace early in that series of plays, recording a tackle for loss and pressuring Boyle into a throwaway a couple snaps later.

► Multiple linebackers flashed during the night session, with Alex Anzalone making multiple run stops near the line of scrimmage, as well as batting down a Goff pass on a blitz. Josh Woods also came up with a pair of stops in the backfield, Derrick Barnes continued to successfully fill his run gaps, and Anthony Pittman and Chris Board were all over their coverage assignments, allowing almost no yards after the catch if they allowed the reception at all.

► The lengthy, grueling practice was best summed up by guard Jonah Jackson throwing up shortly before the end of the day.

► In some one-on-one special team blocking drills, Price, Board and Brock Wright all stood out. All three should play key roles with those units this year.

Another player who surprised in special teams work was Quintez Cephus. He’s seen very little action with those units his first two seasons, but with the receiver depth chart loaded with contributors, he could need to show more there to solidify his spot on the roster.

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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