Camp observations: Jones looking like Stafford's top target
Latrobe, Pa. — Here are some notes and observations from Tuesday's joint training camp practice, featuring the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers.
▪ Talk about overwhelming. The Steelers camp setup is at the beautiful St. Vincent College campus.The teams had a trio of fields at their disposal and all three were put to use, often simultaneously. Observers needed to have their head on a swivel to catch as much action as possible.
▪ In case you missed our full story, Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown dominated his matchup with cornerback Darius Slay.
▪ For the Lions offense, wide receiver Marvin Jones stood out. He was clearly Matthew Stafford's favorite target during the practice, and that's quickly becoming a trend. All offseason, I've held firm to the belief that Golden Tate would lead the Lions in targets, but Jones is looking more and more like he'll be the 1A to Tate's 1B in the passing game.
▪ Eric Ebron still isn't practicing for the Lions and neither were wide receivers TJ Jones and Andre Caldwell. Jones was walking with a limp and Caldwell appeared to have a cast on his hand. Ebron continued to show minimal side effects from his leg injury suffered Saturday. The tight end got animated on the sideline when teammate Cole Wick caught a touchdown pass near the end of the practice.
▪ Safety Rafael Bush was also absent, attending the birth of his child.
▪ For the Steelers, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was given an excused day off.
▪ During one-on-one, pass-rush work, the Lions offensive line held its own. Riley Reiff pushed his man wide and Larry Warford stonewalled defensive end Stephen Tuitt. Guard Laken Tomlinson continued his inconsistent camp, losing badly to defensive end Cameron Heyward, but winning a second rep against an unidentified defender (couldn't see jersey number).
Something unique about the way Pittsburgh runs the drill, instead of working with a stationary tackling dummy, they have a motorized version run by remote control to simulate a QB moving around the pocket. Detroit should definitely invest in one of these.
▪ Defensively, Ziggy Ansah looked unstoppable. Tyrunn Walker also continued his strong camp, easily besting Steelers guard Ramon Foster twice.
▪ The teams also worked two-man pass rush. Haloti Ngata and Devin Taylor perfectly executed a stunt, while Ansah just whipped around the edge working in tandem with Walker. Rookie defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson and defensive end Brandon Copeland also ran a nice stunt with Robinson getting strong push, allowing Copeland to loop around and come free up the gut.
▪ Despite the fear of skirmishes coming into these practices, the practice ran very smoothly. There was some pointed trash talk during some early special teams drills, with Alex Carter walking away while Steelers rookie Sean Davis gave the Lions cornerback an earful. Theo Riddick got into a brief tiff with a Steelers player before it quickly dissipated.
▪ Johnson Bademosi is a special teams beast. While many of his teammates struggled to contain their Steelers counterparts in a gunner drill, Bademosi dominated a couple reps.
▪ The practice concluded with full-team scrimmage work. I focused on the offense and the first-team unit put together a long, methodical touchdown drive. Marvin Jones had three grabs and Stafford was impressively able to pick up a poorly handled shotgun snap and find Tate for a long gain on an out route. Wick's four-yard touchdown, on third-and-goal, was the capper.
▪ Backup QB Dan Orlovsky also successfully led the second unit down the field, competing passes to running back Dwayne Washington and receivers Andre Roberts, Jeremy Kerley and Jay Lee. The drive also featured a big gain on the ground from George Winn, running through a hole opened by Graham Glasgow and Geoff Schwartz.