Detroit Lions to open preseason with joint practices against New York Giants

Detroit Free Press

PHOENIX — It won’t take the Detroit Lions long to see how they stack up against one of the NFC’s top playoff contenders in 2023.

Lions coach Dan Campbell said at the NFL’s annual spring meeting Monday that the Lions will hold joint practices with the New York Giants in the first week of the preseason this summer.

The Giants went 9-7-1 in the regular season last year and won a road playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings before falling to the eventual NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles. The Lions beat the Giants in the regular season, 31-18.

Campbell said the Lions and Giants scheduled their joint practices before the NFL made a recommendation last week that teams wait until later in the preseason to hold joint practices for health and safety reasons.

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“I know what they said,” Campbell said. “Ours is going to be the first preseason game. We had already set it up with the Giants before we talked about all this, but I think you just go about it like any other practice, man. You be smart with what you’re doing and they’re going to suggest what they’re going to suggest, and we listen to it. But it’s not like we don’t have our players’ best interests at heart and we’re reading our own data and we’re trying to figure out the best way to help our guys in recovery and all that. But at the same time, there’s a balance. You want to get really good work and maybe not have to play some of the starters.”

The Lions did not take part in joint practices in Campbell’s first season with the team in 2021, and visited the Indianapolis Colts for two joint workouts last summer before the second preseason game.

Most starters on both teams sat out that week’s game, though the Lions played many starters in their other two exhibition contests.

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NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said in a conference call Friday the league’s health and safety committee recommends joint practices take place before Week 2 or 3 of the preseason.

“Fewer starters year over year are participating in preseason games and we’ve seen that there’s a benefit the beginning of the regular season from an injury perspective to players who reach game intensities at some point in the preseason, and joint practices have proven to be a really useful tool for that,” said Jeff Miller, the league’s executive vice president of communications and health and safety initiatives. “The data also seems to show that the further back you move the joint practices towards the preseason, the lower the injury rate during those joint practices and the more beneficial impact they have.”

Campbell and Giants coach Brian Daboll have been good friends since spending the 2011 season together with the Miami Dolphins.

Daboll shared a funny story last season of his interview with Campbell in 2011, when he said Campbell was sweating and out of breath while demonstrating blocking technique on chairs.

Asked at the NFL combine to share his best Daboll story, Campbell joked that the reigning NFL Coach of the Year has “hobbit feet” that he used to show off by wearing sandals around the facility.

“He’s the best,” Campbell said. “Very, very bright. Look, I’m not shocked, to be honest with you. I thought what he did with that team knowing where they were at from a talent level, they shorten those games, they play pretty good defense. Wink (Martindale) ran a real good scheme (on defense), but I thought that their ability to put the ball in the hands of (Saquon) Barkley, they get to a certain point in the game, you’re not getting that ball back. And that’s really a credit to knowing what he had on the roster. I thought they used all three phases. That’s the best Daniel Jones has played, just from afar that I’ve seen. I think he’s been around a lot of really good coaches and he’s learned. It was impressive, man. I think they got a winner over there in him.”

The Lions previously hosted the Giants for joint practices in 2018, in Matt Patricia’s first year as head coach.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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