Allen Park — After two weeks of training camp, it’s time to switch it up.
The Detroit Lions will begin joint practices with the New York Giants this week, giving each team a fresh look and setting up the first preseason game of the year. Lions head coach Dan Campbell said he’s looking forward to breaking out of the “rut” and learning more about his team.
“It’s what you think it’s going to be, as far as the intensity goes up and the level of competition,” Campbell said. “It’s different — it’s a fresh look at somebody else, and I love that, because camp — you’ve got to be careful. You get into the same routine, the rut, the mundane and you don’t really ever go. You’re just spinning your wheels, so this will be good for us.”
For the team’s starters, it’ll be some of the best and most important work they get all offseason. It’s presumed the first-string players won’t be much involved in preseason games, so having the ability to rep with high intensity will go a long way in preparing guys for the regular season.
Detroit will hold joint practices with the Giants on Tuesday and Wednesday and play a preseason game at Ford Field on Friday (7 p.m.). The following week, the Lions will welcome in the Jacksonville Jaguars for joint practices on Aug. 16 and 17 ahead of another preseason matchup at Ford Field on Aug. 19 (1 p.m.)
“It’s something different, which I think is great for our guys. … You start figuring each other our a little bit, which is awesome because you have to keep tinkering with it, well, to be able to now, to get a different opponent, you get a totally different look and now I’ve got to adjust quickly,” Campbell said.
“I think those are invaluable and a lot of it is there’s going to be a few players that — this is their game. I mean this is really their game reps. That was kind of part of the allure for me too, is man, we can really load up our guys with great looks, a lot of volume, intensity, and then they may sit in the games.”
Joint practices can paint a clearer picture of where a team is at, how they adapt and which players are able to perform under pressure.
“Just like every day, you pick up on new stuff the more experience you get, so having a new team come in, a new defense, is always beneficial,” tight end Brock Wright said.
The Lions’ defense got a reality check when going to Indianapolis for joint practices last year. Amid all the “Hard Knocks” buzz, Detroit’s defense showed its true colors over a handful of days against the Colts — which, in the end, turned out to be a fair representative of how the Lions’ offense would look through the first seven games of 2022.
Lions defensive lineman John Cominsky said the experience can be exceptional for younger players who don’t have a ton of pro reps.
“It’s just a little bit more intense, so it’s just another step closer to a game-like situation,” Comsinky said. “(I tell the young guys), don’t be starstruck by the moment. It’s gonna feel a little different, a little bit more excitement. You have another team and everybody’s excited about the situation. Guys might be coming in early, getting taped a little earlier, so that can create some nerves with the young guys.
“So it’s just stick to your routine, be yourself, and come out and play hard. That’s it.”
In addition to getting reps against different players, joint practices also present the opportunity for a player to study his film as he would during the regular season, Comsinky said.
“You start to get familiar with your own players, especially if you’re here for a couple years with the same guys, you know what their tendencies are, so you start playing to those tendencies” he said.
“So you bring in some fresh guys, guys that play the game a little bit differently. … You have to study the film and change your game a little bit, so it makes it more like the season.”