With training camp winding down, Detroit Lions turning focus to Kansas City Chiefs matchup

Detroit Free Press

Amon-Ra St. Brown started Wednesday’s practice working on the side with trainers, rehabbing the ankle injury he suffered last week.

He ended it on the field with the first-team offense, as the Detroit Lions closed training camp with a light practice that was mostly a jog-through to prepare for their Sept. 7 season opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

“I feel good,” St. Brown told the Free Press. “I’m excited, I’m ready. I mean, I’m just ready for Kansas City. Like this week kind of — I know we’re not playing, but mentally, Carolina’s not even in my head. I’m just, Kansas City. I’m already asking questions. What they like to run, the defense they like to run. What we’re expecting. Shoot, we ran some stuff against K.C. today, so I’m ready.”

The Lions close the preseason Friday against the Carolina Panthers, when they are expected to hold their starters out of action for the third straight week. On Wednesday, they spent the bulk of practice running plays against scout-team looks emulating Kansas City’s offense, defense and special teams.

St. Brown, who had not practiced since rolling his ankle in the Lions’ first joint practice with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Aug. 16, took part only in the team portion of practice Wednesday dedicated to the Chiefs.

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He said he likes where the offense is at as the Lions break camp and is excited to prove how the team stacks up against one of the best teams in the NFL.

“I feel like there is a bunch of hype around us, but then again like I tell everyone, I feel like subconsciously people still think we’re the Lions,” St. Brown said. “Like, ‘Yeah, they have hype, but they still haven’t done anything.’ Like, ‘You have to prove it before I really buy into them.’

“I feel like we just want to go out there and ball and show everyone what type of guys we really have, the work that we put in starting from OTAs till now. We’re tough, we fight. I mean, I can’t wait to show everyone.”

The Lions have scored just 28 points in their two preseason games behind backup quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater, Nate Sudfeld and Adrian Martinez, but St. Brown said the offense is “better than we were last year” and “further along” in its install.

The Lions finished fifth in scoring and fourth in total offense last season. They return one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and revamped their running back room this spring, but have questionable depth at receiver behind St. Brown.

“I guess we’ll see after that first game, or during the first game, but I feel like we’re better than we were last year,” St. Brown said. “I feel like we got more guys that can make more plays. Not saying anything (about) last year. Last year, our offense was top-five. I feel like we’re just even a little better this year, but we got to prove it, we got to show it. But I’m confident, man, in the guys that we have, the coaches. Shoot, the preparation that we’ve put in so far. We’ve still got two more weeks left, but I’m excited for the preparation up to Kansas City.”

St. Brown said he understands why some may take a wait-and-see approach with the Lions, who went 9-8 last year and narrowly missed the playoffs despite beating the Green Bay Packers in their last game.

“I don’t blame them,” he said. “We got to win games. If we win, it’ll take care of everything else.”

Cornerback Chase Lucas is feeling giddy about where the team is, too, with its regular-season opener two weeks away.

“I’m excited, cause we got some guys and they got some guys of course, but I don’t think that they, or the NFL, like there’s hype around us, but they don’t even know what’s about to hit them,” Lucas said. “Honestly, and then we got a 6-7 coach who can body anybody. He’s looking the part and we’re going to fold it in for him.”

‘Special’ Sewell

Lions running backs coach/assistant head coach Scottie Montgomery heaped praise on his offensive line Wednesday, saying the team’s ability to “run it the way that we’re able to run the football and protect the quarterback has really stood out.”

Montgomery, in his first season in Detroit, said he’s been especially impressed by third-year right tackle Penei Sewell.

“I’ve seen a lot of ball, I’ve been around a lot of ball and, not calling one guy out from that group, because all of them deserve it, but late last night, I just went back and looked at the film and when you watch No. 58, he’s special,” Montgomery said. “I mean he could probably play a number of positions outside of the O-line position, skill included. So O-line-wise, definitely have they stood out.”

Asked if Sewell might have a carry for him this year, Montgomery said, “I don’t know who’s getting him on the ground and then if you do try to sub him, I don’t know who can get him to come out, if I do give it to him once.”


Jermar Jefferson did not practice Wednesday one day after he appeared to aggravate the calf injury that kept him out of the Lions’ first preseason game. Jameson Williams (hamstring), and Ifeatu Melifonwu (quad) also remain out with injuries, and Frank Ragnow, Taylor Decker and John Cominsky did not practice. Matt Nelson took first-team reps at right tackle in Decker’s absence, while Sewell moved to left tackle.

Saivion Smith was another player who did not practice because of an injury on Wednesday and the Lions announced in the afternoon he has been waived with an injury settlement.

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

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