Allen Park — The Lions opened training camp Monday under new coach Jim Caldwell with a fast-paced practice that featured a lot of moving parts.
Caldwell has talked a lot about the desire to run up-tempo practices so the Lions can play fast in games, and that style was on display on the first day of camp.
During team drills, the offense and defense changed personnel nearly every play, which is something that will keep players fresh and help the coaches see the competition on a play-by-play basis. Running back, wide receiver, tight end and linebacker were among the positions where players would rotate regardless of whether the first, second or third unit was on the field.
Another key difference in camp this year was how the Lions used the two outdoor fields at team headquarters in Allen Park. During team drills, the first and second teams were on one field while the third and fourth team were on the other. Caldwell said the concurrent practices help the younger players get more reps.
“One of the things that we try and do is maximize our opportunities,” Caldwell said. “So when we’re out here on the field, oftentimes you’ll have maybe two units standing on the sidelines — sometimes three — waiting for the one unit that’s operating on the field. So we’ll split it up and get a number of plays in.”
While the units were constantly changing on offense and defense, there were some notable lineup choices.
* Veteran Corey Hilliard played right tackle for the first team while second-year LaAdrian Waddle was with the second team. They should rotate in this competition.
* Running back Mikel Leshoure was with the first- and second-team groups in team drills while Theo Riddick was with the third and fourth teams.
* Rookie tight end Eric Ebron was also with the first and second teams, but he struggled a bit with a drop and a couple of unnecessary double-catches. The Lions also showed plays where Ebron and tight end Brandon Pettigrew lined up out wide.
* Rookie linebacker Kyle Van Noy missed most of practice with a thumb injury, but Ashlee Palmer was slotted with the starters from the beginning.
* Wide receiver Kevin Ogletree played spent a significant amount of time with the top two units.
* Former Atlanta Falcons right guard Garrett Reynolds was playing right tackle on the third-team offense. Michael Williams, who’s making the transition from tight end, played left tackle with the second team.
* Cassius Vaughn played left cornerback with the second unit while Chris Greenwood was on the right side.