August 7, 2014 at 1:00 am

Lions camp observations: Defense is star of show at Ford Field practice

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Detroit — If there are winners and losers for each day of training camp, the Lions defense definitely won Wednesday night at Ford Field.

The defense forced several turnovers, particularly on the second team, and was the more physical than the offense in front of an announced crowd of 4,488.

“The defense was able to get the ball and turn it over a few times, which we’re really working at to try and make certain that we do get our hands on some footballs,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “So we got a couple interceptions, we got some fumble recoveries, but the other side of that is the fact that we probably had a few too many offensively. But I think it all balanced out.”

The Lions ranked 30th in the NFL last season with a minus-12 turnover differential, and being on the positive side this season would help them avoid another losing season.

Here are some other observations from Wednesday’s practice:

* The defense would’ve had an even better night if Bill Bentley didn’t drop two interceptions, one of which Golden Tate caught off the bounce.

* Ashlee Palmer had one of the interceptions off Dan Orlovsky, and the linebacker continued to work primarily with the first-team defense.

* Safety Isa Abdul-Quddus and cornerback Cassius Vaughn also had interceptions off Orlovsky.

* Cornerback Jonte Green had a perfectly-timed pass break-up on a ball from Kellen Moore to Quintin Payton. Green continues to play well, and he could be the No. 4 cornerback by the time camp breaks.

* On the final play of practice, cornerback Aaron Hester broke up a pass from Moore to Patrick Edwards in the end zone and popped Edwards’ helmet off in the process.

* On a play at the offense's 2, Ndamukong Suh grabbed Mikel Leshoure in the end zone for what would've been a safety.

* Among the good plays by the offense was a long catch and run by Joique Bell, who was free after a nice block by tight end Brandon Pettigrew on defensive end Jason Jones.

* Running back Theo Riddick caught a touchdown from Matthew Stafford on a wheel route behind Stephen Tulloch.

* Wide receiver Ryan Broyles had his best day of camp so far, catching a couple touchdown passes in traffic. The first was a bullet from Orlovsky, who struggled.

* Offensive guard Larry Warford left practice briefly to have both of his ankles taped, but returned immediately.

* Corey Hilliard earned first-team reps at right tackle, but LaAdrian Waddle looked much better in one-on-ones, blocking well against Andre Fluellen and Kyle Van Noy.

* Rookie defensive tackle Caraun Reid used his power well to push right through Garrett Reynolds in a one-on-one.

* Running back George Winn popped another defensive player, running over safety Don Carey, who was able to make the tackle.

* In the ongoing kicker battle, seventh-round pick Nate Freese won the day, going 5-for-5 with a long of 47 yards. Giorgio Tavecchio went 4-for-5, hitting the right upright on the 47-yarder.

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Tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria square off in a one-on-one drill. / Daniel Mears / Detroit News