Lions OTA notebook for May 30th: Hooker, Badgley, rookies and more

USA Today

The Detroit Lions opened their OTA session to the media on a sunny Thursday, May 30th, at the team’s training facility in Allen Park. It was a good chance to catch the team in action in the voluntary portion of the offseason practices.

Most of the team was in attendance, with a few notable exceptions. With no pads on and no tackling allowed, it wasn’t the most intense afternoon of football. But it was indeed an eventful practice that saw a second-year quarterback show real progress, a first-round rookie making a huge play, and a kicker proving he’s got plenty of leg for the job.

All that and more in today’s Lions OTA notebook.

[affiliatewidget_smgtolocal]

Hendon Hooker’s big day

Detroit Lions quarterback Hendon Hooker (2) practices during OTAs at Detroit Lions headquarters and training facility in Allen Park on Thursday, May 30, 2024.

Hendon Hooker got a lot of reps at quarterback on Thursday, including quite a few sets with the first-team offense. It was my first extended look at Hooker throwing this year as he steps into the backup QB role behind Jared Goff.

After practice, Hooker stated he was trying to “turn his brain off” and “play loose” like he did more in college. It’s an important preface to the notes on his passing performance, which was full of plenty of hits but also more than a few misses. Hooker is clearly at his best when he’s throwing the ball instead of aiming it.

A great example of this was in a drill where the QBs had to immediately turn to the side and gun the ball into a target, simulating a quick swing pass. Hooker had one set of three where he missed the target net entirely with two throws and clanked the third (technically the first attempt of the set) off the frame. In his next set of reps, a calmer Hooker was money on two of the three throws, though the miss once again missed everything.

(sidenote: third-stringer Nate Sudfeld was the only QB to hit all three attempts in a set, which earned him a huge ovation from assistant coach JT Barrett)

In team drills, Hooker had some impressive throws. He hit WR Daurice Fountain in stride on a crossing route between layers of the defense. Hooker and Maurice Alexander connected several times on slants and shorter out routes. Perhaps No. 2’s best throw was a rope to rookie RB Sione Vaki on a wheel route that would have been an easy touchdown if the play didn’t stop. There were at least two instances where Hooker smartly checked down under a rush and made nice throws after resetting his feet.

Alas, there were some misses from Hooker too. He bounced one in front of a diving Fountain on a comeback route. A short sideline route to tight end James Mitchell had a little too much mustard on it for Mitchell to handle right at his facemask. One good sign: on the very next rep between the two, Hooker hit Mitchell in stride on an in-breaking route.

Hooker is maturing well, noting after practice that he’s a lot stronger physically than before his torn ACL that cost him his rookie season. The learning process is indeed progressing, and Hooker quickly dismissed any notion that he might be unhappy with starter Jared Goff’s recent contract extension.

RB drills

Detroit Lions running back Jermar Jefferson (28) practices during OTAs at Detroit Lions headquarters and training facility in Allen Park on Thursday, May 30, 2024.

During the open filming portion of practice, the running back positional drills were right in front of me. With no Jahmyr Gibbs, everyone got a couple more reps than usual in the ladder drills and receiving work.

There is such an obvious difference between David Montgomery and everyone else. His economy of movement, consistent pad level and foot placement are all outstanding. He deliberately went last in every drill and shined in every single rep.

Craig Reynolds went first in every drill and looked pretty solid. His reverse spin out of the ladder drill caught RB coach Scottie Montgomery off-guard on one rep and earned No. 13 a lot of praise.

Everyone else is chasing that top trio of Montgomery, Gibbs and Reynolds. Rookie Sione Vaki continues to catch the ball very cleanly, though his heavy feet lumbered through the ladder drill. Jermar Jefferson was subject to constant coaching about getting better pad level in every drill. Jake Funk and Zonovan Knight both had their issues with precision footwork, with Knight nearly wrecking the plastic ladder at one point. Jump cuts are not Jake Funk’s friend.

Personnel notes

Detroit Lions cornerback Morice Norris (39) talks to safety Kerby Joseph (31) after practice during OTAs at Detroit Lions headquarters and training facility in Allen Park on Thursday, May 30, 2024.

There was only one player in uniform who did not participate in the OTAs today, and that was third-year EDGE James Houston. He ran and did exercises off to the side with trainers but did not get into the action. Kerby Joseph was in his No. 31 jersey and some of the brightest sunglasses you’ll ever see but–as he told us earlier this offseason–will not participate until at least training camp as he recovers from surgery.

Among the missing from the voluntary OTA session (not a complete list):

Alex Anzalone

Taylor Decker

Frank Ragnow

Jahmyr Gibbs

Kevin Zeitler

DJ Reader

We’re not permitted to get too deep into specifics, but second-year OL Colby Sorsdal took reps at every OL spot except center throughout the day. Second-round rookie CB Ennis Rakestraw spent the early part of drills working on the second field away from the starters and top reserves. Second-year DT Brodric Martin was with Rakestraw on the second field, too. Michael Niese took all the first-team center reps.

Highlight of the day

Detroit Lions cornerback Terrion Arnold (0) walks off the field after practice during OTAs at Detroit Lions headquarters and training facility in Allen Park on Thursday, May 30, 2024.

There were three contenders here for the most impressive play:

–Jameson Williams roasting the combination of Kindle Vildor and Ifeatu Melifonwu on a deep post route and catching a strike from Goff in stride. “Jamo” pulled away from both DBs while the ball was in the air.

–First-round rookie Terrion Arnold snagging an interception off Jared Goff and taking it to the house. Goff was a half-count late and Arnold read it the whole way, decisively darting into the path and making a statement-type of play.

–Badgley’s 61-yard field goal.

Secret stars

Detroit Lions wide receiver Daurice Fountain (12) practices during OTAs at Detroit Lions headquarters and training facility in Allen Park on Thursday, May 30, 2024.

There were a few depth players who stepped up with good performances. Among them that caught my eyes:

–WR Daurice Fountain. No. 12 was a prime target for Hooker when the second-ream offense was in. Fountain used his length to snare a high ball on a crosser and then showed some real balance by quickly turning it upfield after a difficult catch. Fountain also looked very crisp in shaking Melifonwu on an out route from the slot.

–CB Morice Norris had two pass breakups that I saw, the second of which robbed WR Maurice Alexander on a deep out route where the receiver didn’t expect No. 39 to close that quickly. Hooker’s throw was on the money but Norris made a fantastic burst and closed with a plan to get a hand in between Alexander’s as the wideout tried to secure the catch. Alexander deserves an honorable mention in this category, too; he and Hooker hooked up several times and were clearly in sync.

–EDGE Mitchell Agude took advantage of James Houston’s absence with some nice pass rush wins. I didn’t focus a lot on the lines during drills, but in team play Agude had clean wins against the left tackle, beating Colby Sorsdal with an inside rip and going around and under Dan Skipper with a nice dip move.

–TE Parker Hesse doesn’t look super athletic, but he continues to catch everything thrown his way. Once he gets moving, he’s got some “rolling sack of hammers” YAC ability that impresses. He outshined James Mitchell on this day with both route running and transition from receiver to runner.

Articles You May Like

Netflix releases trailer, premiere date for ‘Receiver’ featuring Amon-Ra St. Brown
Chris Spielman reveals the Brad Holmes ‘villain’ story
POLL: Which NFL team is most likely to go worst-to-first in 2024?
Lions’ Terrion Arnold had good reason for pedestrian 40-yard dash time
Lions waive veteran cornerback with injury status

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *