The Detroit Lions and the Indianapolis Colts hold their second co-practice leading up to their first preseason game at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday. Daniel Mears / The Detroit News
Indianapolis — Here are some notes and observations from the Detroit Lions’ 11th training-camp practice Friday, the second joint session with the Indianapolis Colts.
■ Each practice is an undeniably small sample size but if any conclusions could be drawn from Friday, it’s that the Lions will be in trouble if they lose any more of their offensive lineman to a long-term injury.
The second unit struggled mightily to contain the Colts’ average pass rushers, both in team and individual drills. In full-team work, quarterback Jake Rudock was under duress far more often than he needed to be. In individual work, the interior linemen had a brutal day. Guard Joe Dahl was blown by twice in one-on-one reps and tossed to the ground when attempting to halt a stunt in a two-on-two setting.
On the whole, the Detroit linemen struggled with their technique in two-on-two pass-rush work. The Indianapolis rushers routinely won the matchups with twists and stunts, taking advantage of poor spacing and badly timed assignment switches between the blockers.
Maybe things will improve when the Lions get back some of their injured depth, namely tackles Corey Robinson and Cornelius Lucas, who both have plenty of experience in the scheme.
■ On the opposite field, the Lions defensive line wasn’t much better. The Colts offensive line played with superior technique, regularly getting their hands in the chest of their rushers and stymieing momentum.
At least there were some flashes from Detroit’s defenders. Anthony Zettel shined, particularly working in tandem in a two-on-two setting, coming off the ball quickly and showing savvy to penetrate the backfield.
■ The Lions offense opened up the practice with a perfectly executed deep pass. Quarterback Matthew Stafford took the snap and sold a play-action handoff to Ameer Abdullah, freezing the linebackers and safeties as Marvin Jones streaked down the center of the field, getting significant separation from cornerback Vontae Davis. Stafford delivered a well-placed ball, resulting in a long touchdown.
That’s a play the Lions used to run every so often to Calvin Johnson to start a drive. It could be a nice trend-setter, capable of keeping opposing defenses honest, if they could work the call into Jones on occasion.
■ Rookie cornerback Jamal Agnew made a pair of standout plays, coming up with an interception in seven-on-sevens and nearly completing a highlight reel pick in full-team work.
The Colts looked to test Agnew deep, but the cornerback had good coverage and safety help over the top. As the ball descended from its arc, Agnew turned and located and made a leaping stab, fully extending and getting two hands on the pass. He wasn’t able to bring it back to his body, but it was a textbook breakup.
■ The Lions mixed Zach Zenner into the first-team offense a bit with Theo Riddick sitting out team drills. The Lions remain high on the third-year running back after his strong close to the 2016 campaign.
■ In the battle for receiving jobs, Jace Billingsley had a much quieter day, while Jared Abbrederis ran a trio of precise routes to easily best Colts cornerbacks in one-on-one drills. TJ Jones arguably made the catch of the day, hauling in a deep pass from Stafford down the sideline with one hand.
■ Brandon Copeland took first-team reps at strong side linebacker for the second day in a row. Greg Robinson once again handled all the first-team work at left tackle.
■ Quarterback Brad Kaaya continues to struggle with consistency. He was intercepted by safety Tyvis Powell during a seven-on-seven rep.