The Detroit Lions completed their first full week of practice on Saturday afternoon. Here are notes from Saturday’s session
· The practice was a ‘mock game’ where the emphasis was on scrimmages. There wasn’t much positional work, instead the team played in pads and the offense went at the defense for 4 simulated quarters (the first, second and third teams would work individual drives).
· In all, both groups had their moments. The starting offense was able to produce two touchdowns but also came away without points twice (one time after failing to get into the end zone on fourth and one).
· Matthew Stafford looked sharp, making several crisp throws while showing off some accuracy in the short and intermediate game. He hit Calvin Johnson for one touchdown pass and tossed the other to Eric Ebron.
· The toss to Ebron came inside the red zone with the tight end working the middle of the field. The brilliance of the throw was the quarterback’s presence in the pocket. He felt the pressure perfectly and masterfully maneuvered through the traffic, stepping up and delivering the strike to Ebron.
· Speaking of Ebron, the tight end had a strong day. He was Stafford’s favorite target at times and made several catches on the day.
· It wasn’t all perfect for the first team, however. The offensive line didn’t fair particularly well, getting called for some penalties, failing to support the run game much and allowing a batted pass.
· The batted pass came as Tyrunn Walker pushed Manny Rameriz back into Stafford’s face and got his arm in the passing line, batting the pass with his forearm.
· The starting offensive line consisted of Rameriz at left guard and Cornelius Lucas at right tackle.
· Rookie Laken Tomlinson played with the second unit today and looked strong. He showed poise, power and technique and it seems like only a matter of time before he is permanently running with the ones.
· Most of the offseason hype at running back has gone to rookie Ameer Abdullah, who flashed his speed on a few occasions on Saturday. However, on this day, Theo Riddick looked the best out of the backs. He took a few handoffs showing that he had patience to setup his blocks as well as the vision and lateral movement to quickly find the open space. He continues to look comfortable in the receiving game and made a solid sideline catch to extend a drive for Stafford, adjusting to a ball that the quarterback put in a safe place – behind him – since he was being covered closely.
· Outside of a few flashes, the defense generally kept the running game in check. They look as if they should maintain their status as one of the league’s better run defenses, even if they fall a bit from last year’s difficult-to-replicate numbers.
· The two backup quarterbacks – Dan Orlovsky and Kellen Moore – didn’t look as sharp as Stafford but Orlovsky looked particularly lost. On his last two drives, he combined to throw four incompletions (with no completions) – including an easy toss in the backfield – and conceded two “sacks” (there is no contact with the quarterbacks and the officials would blow a play dead when a sack was deemed inevitable).
· One quick note on the fact that the Lions were the last time to start camp. The players are deeply appreciative of that fact and several of them openly expresse gradidute to Caldwell. The players have talked about a sense of urgency and seriousness around the team as a result, claiming that they are more focused as well as fresh due to the bit of extra time away.
· Golden Tate: “I don’t think we’ve had any bad days. We understand that coach took care of us by letting us come in late, so we want to reward him and our fans and ourselves by working hard every day and getting better, and we are.”