Allen Park — Here are some notes and observations from Wednesday’s mandatory minicamp practice, the second of the three-day offseason event.
▶ At the University of Alabama last season, Jahmyr Gibbs lined up as a receiver nearly 20% of the time. If his usage during these early stages of the offseason program are indicative of the Lions’ plans for the first-round pick, his snaps out wide and in the slot could be significantly higher.
Regardless of how his playing time ends up being distributed, we’re already seeing flashes of the problems he can cause opposing defenses. During a full-team period early in practice he made a impressive catch outside of his frame, fully extending to pull in the throw across the middle of the field.
As if that wasn’t impressive enough, he maintained his footing and slammed on the jets, blowing past every defender for what would have been a long touchdown grab.
“I don’t even know what route he ran, (he) caught it and I was like, ‘No one is catching this guy,'” guard Jonah Jackson said. “That’s exciting to see.”
▶ Outside of that snap, the first-team defense countered with multiple big plays. Safety Kerby Joseph was able to close on an underthrown corner pattern for Kalif Raymond and snag an interception, linebacker Alex Anzalone blanketed a fade to Gibbs in the back corner of the end zone, knocking away the pass, and cornerback Will Harris got home for a sack on a nickel blitz on a simulated third-down snap in the red zone.
▶ The second-team offense took over and quarterback Nate Sudfeld immediately connected with second-year receiver Jameson Williams on back-to-back explosive gains. The backup quarterback continued his downfield attack, hooking up with Tom Kennedy on a corner pattern to the 6-yard line.
The defense tightened in the tight red area, with undrafted rookie Starling Thomas V physically breaking up a pass for Williams, before defensive tackle Brodric Martin batted down a throw at the line of scrimmage.
The series culminated with Sudfeld firing a tight window throw to Marvin Jones in the back of the end zone, with Thomas in coverage. Jones got his feet down as he was falling out of bounds, but the ball appeared to be moving as the receiver hit the ground. Not surprisingly, both units declared victory on the play.
▶ The third-team offense, led by rookie Adrian Martinez, was a disaster. The dual-threat QB continues to hold on to the ball far too long, paired with some ill-advised ducks into the deep parts of the secondary, resulting in a pick for safety Brandon Joseph (and nearly a second).
Making matters worse, the offensive line with that group had no answer to the pass rush. James Houston, Julian Okwara and rookie Zach Morton were wreaking havoc throughout the series and each got into the backfield for would-be sacks.
▶ Working a pair of situations, the offense was given the ball at the 10- and 24-yard lines, with 10 seconds to score a touchdown in each scenarios.
The first-team was kept out of the end zone on both, with Joseph nearly coming up with a second interception when Goff didn’t see the safety sitting in an underneath zone on a slant intended for Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Then, after picking up a defensive pass interference on the first snap from the 24-yard scenario, the first group still couldn’t get in with two cracks from the 1-yard line. Tight end Brock Wright dropped a well-placed low ball just across the goal line and undrafted rookie cornerback Steven Gilmore made an impressive pass breakup on a hitch intended for St. Brown.
The second unit mustered one score when Sudfeld found Williams running along the back line.
▶ C.J. Gardner-Johnson was absent from practice with a reported illness. Return man Maurice Alexander also sat out with what appeared to be a hand injury.
▶ The Lions continues to be highly cautious with starting offensive linemen Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker, holding them out of nearly every team segment outside of walkthroughs.
▶ Thomas, the speedy rookie cornerback, capped the practice, and a strong individual day, with a leaping interception.