Detroit Lions Training Camp Observations Ft. Jared Goff, Aidan Hutchinson, & Amon-Ra St. Brown

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Hutchinson jumped out of the gate with a sack and a tackle for loss on the first team series of practice, beating tight ends Brock Wright and Sam LaPorta with power and agility. Charles Harris also likely would have had a sack after a slick outside move on Taylor Decker. Romeo Okwara also got in on the fun later in the day, dispatching the Lions’ third-string offensive tackles for his own sack. On the opposite side, James Houston was also primed for a big play but was egregiously held.

But it wasn’t only sacks and tackles for loss. Isaiah Buggs, Brodric Martin, and Benito Jones all knocked down passes at the line of scrimmage, while Will Harris and Malcolm Rodriguez registered pass breakups in coverage.

When asked specifically about the rookie Martin, Sudfeld commented, “Yeah, I’m a tall guy and I felt like I was looking up to him like a big brother. So, yeah, he’s a big boy, but I’ve got to find (passing) angles.”

Expanding roles
The Lions started shuffling around their linebackers on Wednesday, and most notably, Jack Campbell was getting more snaps with the first team. Overall he looked comfortable and showed his range when dropping into coverage—something that was evident during the play where Kennedy was injured.

Derrick Barnes was on the other end of the Campbell snaps, shifting back to the twos when the rookie moved up. Barnes once again had a pretty solid day, but his biggest gaffe came in the final practice session when he slipped/fell in coverage and gave up a big play.

“The worry is not if I’m going to start, if I’m going to play,” Barnes confessed after practice. “The worry is getting better and continuing to help myself grow and find happiness and comfort in myself. Competing, doing the best I can to let everything come by itself. I try so hard not to focus on that (starting/not starting) because when I do, I can tell the difference in my game. It takes away a little bit of my happiness when I do that because I’m focusing on the wrong thing.”

We also saw an expansion of duties with UDFA rookie Trevor Nowaske who was lining up off-the-ball and on the edge.

“Yeah, they’re using me all over,” Nowaske told Pride of Detroit after practice. “The more you can do, right?”

Injury replacements at nickel
With Gardner-Johnson and Branch not practicing the Lions went back to last year’s two-deep at nickel, starting Will Harris and leaning on Chase Lucas with the second team. As mentioned earlier, Harris got a pass breakup late in practice, while Lucas got a would-be sack for the second day in a row.

With Harris shifting inside, the Lions have utilized a CB4 rotation on the second team opposite Starling Thomas. Jarren Williams and Steven Gilmore got time there on Tuesday and Khalil Dorsey was first up on Wednesday.

We also saw a shift at the fourth safety spot opposite Ifeatu Melifonwu, with Saivion Smith taking over reps after Brady Breeze was in that role earlier in camp.

Offense subdued
For the majority of the day, the offense was unable to push the defense deep down the field, leading to Jared Goff and Nate Sudfeld settling for short to intermediate passes. For the most part, the primary beneficiaries were Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond each catching a few passes underneath the defense, while LaPorta and James Mitchell found space over the middle and in the flats.

The only offensive skill player who seemed to make any noise downfield was Amon-Ra St. Brown—and most of that impact was in his yards after the catch. Two times, on a quick out and a curl, St. Brown was able to find his blockers and get behind them for solid gains. His best reception came on a 25-yard bullet from Goff, easily the most impressive offensive play of the day.
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