That Detroit Lions closed minicamp on Thursday with a shortened session. Head coach Dan Campbell, however, gave us a few new exercises that we had not seen until then, including some two-minute exercises to finish the exercise.
For much of the team, Thursday was their last practice before a month’s break. Campbell said he expects about 50 players for the final sessions of organized team activities next week, but the main group for this group is to be first, second and third year players.
So let’s summarize Thursday’s event, probably the last exercise available to the media, until training camp in late July.
The only two players who did not practice at all on Thursday were Austin Bryant and Jalen Reeves-Maybin. Both, however, were on the sidelines in streetwear, Campbell said earlier in the week no player’s injury was considered serious.
Before training, Campbell noticed it Jeff Okudah and Damion Ratley “bumped noggins” during review Wednesdayand in fact both had heavy bandages on their foreheads on Thursday. Okudah practiced without a helmet during positional exercises, but spent the rest of the exercise running on the sidelines. Ratley was essentially a full participant.
Partial participants in Thursday’s practice included rookie linebacker Derrick Barnes – who has been sitting seven-on-seven all week – and Tracy Walker – who, like Okudah, participated in positional exercises without a helmet but did not do much else while practicing.
With the beaten secondary here were the starters for the defense of the first team:
CB: Amani Oruwariye
CB: Quinton Dunbar
NCB: Mike Ford
S: Will Harris
S: Dean Marlowe
Amon-Ra St. Brown
I focused on the wide receivers in the early part of the exercise as they worked with quarterbacks in the red zone. Amon-Ra St. Brown stands out twice during these exercises, once for his route, another for his hands. It obviously goes without a defender here, it’s hard to know how effective his route would have been, but he’s so suddenly out of his breaks that it’s easy to see how he creates separation at the top of his routes. He also had a nice chin on a fade route that shows his underrated ability to point a ball high.
Running back dropsies
Not necessarily a big deal, but certainly remarkable: during a receiving exercise, three straight rumors dropped the ball: Mike Warren, D’Andre Swift and then Dedrick Mills.
The Lions ran a special team exercise that I had never seen before. Basically, they had two players barring down the field and simulating cannon shooters, and it would be up to the returnee to level them in a one-on-two exercise. The Lions mingled through several recurring events, including: Caliph Raymond, Victor Bolden, Tom Kennedy, Jermar Jefferson, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Dedrick Mills, D’Angelo Amos, Sage Surratt and D’Andre Swift.
Three special reps stood out and attracted a reaction from the rest of the team who watched:
- Tom Kennedy chuckled inside before showing his speed and beating both defenders from outside and taking that “distance”
- St. Brown was captured by – by all people – the 39-year-old Don Muhlbach, who captured the joy of many spectators.
- Victor Bolden then had a third chance at scoring, but a last ditch challenge made sure that he didnt.
Also – and I hate to sound like a broken record here – but this was another occurrence where Jared Goff and TJ Hockenson continued to build their chemistry. During almost the entire special team session, Goff and Hockenson chatted side by side before sending the ball back and forth.
Two minute practice (seven against seven)
The Lions ran a two-minute practice for the first time this offseason (at least in front of the media). Here was the scenario: own 25-yard line, 1:48 left, 2 timeouts, down 24-20.
The first team offense scored relatively easily. Here is the distribution of the pieces:
- First-and-10: Fast forward to Hockenson, broken up by Dean Marlowe.
- Second-and-10: Amani Oruwariye rejects a pass, but Tyrell Williams still catches it in 15 yards (inbound).
- First-and-10: Hockenson takes up and easily 20 yards.
- First-and-10: Goff finds D’Andre Swift, who beats Jahlani Tavai a step or two on a crosser. He takes up about 10 yards, but is “tackled” on the court. Time out.
- First-and-10: Goff finds Hockenson for a toe-screwed route in 12 yards.
- First-and-goal: Dishes for Breshad Perriman. Incomplete (not close).
- Other and goals: Pass thrown when a receiver falls down and Jahlani Tavai is all over Swift’s angular route.
- Third and goal: Hockenson beats Alex Anzalone for a fairly easy touchdown.
The other team was not so successful. Caliph Raymond compensated for an early fall (with Corn Elder in close range) by creating yards of space with a digging path on the next game. After lump play from tight ends Brock Wright and Jake Hausmann, Tim Boyle was close to hitting stroke distance. However, rookie cornerback AJ Parker went ahead of Damion Ratley for a read interception that ended practice.
(Note: The third-team offense (David Blough) was not allowed to run the two-minute practice.)