Absence list grows at Lions' second practice

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Linebackers coach Bill Sheridan, left, and linebacker Stephen Tulloch walk off the field at the end of practice Wednesday in Allen Park. Tulloch was limited in Wednesday's practice, recovering from knee surgery.

Allen Park — The Lions continued organized team activities Wednesday, but two of their top draft picks and two projected starters did not participate.

Running back Joique Bell and offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle did not practice Wednesday as they continue to recover from surgeries last January.

While Waddle and Bell were on the field watching practice, rookies Ameer Abdullah and Alex Carter had excused absences. Abdullah, a second-round running back, is participating in the NFL Player Association's Rookie Premiere, which begins Thursday, and Carter, a third-round cornerback, still has school obligations at Stanford.

Bell, who sits atop the running back depth chart, underwent minor procedures for injuries to his Achilles tendon and knee. Waddle, the presumed starting right tackle, had surgery after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in a December game.

"They're coming along well," coach Jim Caldwell said of the players recovering from surgeries, including linebacker Stephen Tulloch. "All of them are progressing. They're all making good positive progress. No one is behind schedule at this point."

Because the players are practicing in shorts, hitting is at a minimum, but the Lions did show some intensity. During one team portion, linebacker Travis Lewis and left tackle Riley Reiff got into a brief skirmish, though teammates quickly broke it up.

In addition to the players who sat, many others were limited. Tulloch (knee), right guard Larry Warford (undisclosed), linebacker DeAndre Levy (undisclosed) and tight end Joseph Fauria (ankle) sat out team drills on Wednesday. Caldwell said some players are dealing with nagging injuries, which led to their limited participation.

The Lions hold their third OTA of the week on Thursday, but it's closed to the media. They have three more OTAs next week and four the following week.

Here are some other observations from Wednesday:

*First-round pick Laken Tomlinson will have to earn the starting left guard job, which should come as little surprise. Veteran Manny Ramirez played next to the starters on Wednesday and likely will remain a staple on the first team until training camp, and Tomlinson will have to take the job from him.

*Eric Ebron had at least three drops Wednesday, so he still has to improve his pass catching ability. The second-year tight end flashed his freakish athleticism as usual, even creating separation on a deep route against cornerback Darius Slay, but Ebron still has to work on finishing plays.

*Meanwhile, Brandon Pettigrew showed some good hands with a couple contested catches. He'll remain the top tight end option until Ebron becomes more consistent.

*Sixth-round cornerback Quandre Diggs spent a lot of time with the first-team defense as the top nickel option. He'll have plenty of competition for that spot (Carter, Josh Wilson, Nevin Lawson and Bill Bentley), but earning as many reps as he did Wednesday is a good sign.

*Second-year defensive tackle Caraun Reid also played a lot next to Haloti Ngata. Reid will likely end up behind Tyrunn Walker and possibly fourth-rounder Gabe Wright on the depth chart, but the Lions want to see how he's developing.

*Calvin Johnson made a deep route look easy in a one-on-one against Rashean Mathis, creating separation at the second level for an easy touchdown from Matthew Stafford. On the next play, Golden Tate ran a similar route, but Slay broke up a slightly underthrown ball.

*With Warford out, the Lions worked Taylor Boggs at right guard. With five appearances the last two years for the Bears, Boggs actually has a lot more experience than other backup options.