Jim Caldwell says the varied practice times will help the Lions prepare for different game time starts. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
Allen Park — The Lions are the last NFL team to start training camp this year, and new coach Jim Caldwell said there are benefits to the late start.
Training camp begins Monday at 3:30 p.m., but rookies have been in town since last Tuesday, and the extra days on the field will have them better prepared to hit the ground running.
“The idea is to try to saturate them with information, get them out on the field and watch them operate within that realm after we’ve tried to implement all of the installations and see how they react to it,” Caldwell said.
Veterans who missed time during the offseason program could also report last week, which helped the team determine how healthy they were.
All of the quarterbacks reported early, too.
“We had an opportunity to get them some good work and give them a chance to get out in front of the team, just in terms of the installation of the offense and making certain that they have a grasp of it,” Caldwell said of the quarterbacks.
The extra days off also eliminates a couple practices where the players would risk injury. Center Dominic Raiola said the coaches gave the players expectations before they took a month off, so the extra couple days won’t make much difference.
“He always says, ‘Get your work done and I’ll take care of you guys,’” Raiola said. It doesn’t mean he’s throwing us a bone. We’re still going to come in and work just as hard. But I think a lot of it has been installed, and we’re going to come in and we’re going to hit the ground running.”
In addition to starting camp late this year, the Lions will also start practice at varied times over the next few weeks, which Caldwell said will help players prepare for different game times. The Lions will have three night practices at 7:30 p.m., and others will start between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.