Camp observations: TJ Jones, Martin building case for final WR spot
Allen Park — Here are some notes and observations from the Detroit Lions’ fourth training camp practice.
■ The end of practice was interrupted by a sudden and violent thunderstorm that sent the team scrambling indoors where they closed out the session.
■ Prior to heading inside, the Lions worked the receivers one-on-one against the defensive backs deep in the red zone. TJ Jones continued his strong camp, catching a touchdown on a drag route while defended by Quandre Diggs and drawing a pass interference flag running a fade against Nevin Lawson. Jones also found his way into the end zone on a 5-yard slant that beat zone coverage in 11-on-11 red zone work.
Another name on the peripheral of that competition for the final receiving roster spot, Keshawn Martin, has also looked sharp. He beat undrafted rookie Des Lawrence on a fade into the back corner then spun rookie cornerback Josh Thornton like a top, feigning outside before sharply breaking the route back inside along the back line.
Other than the pass interference against Jones, Lawson’s aggressive coverage held up well in the drill. He denied fades to both Golden Tate and rookie Kenny Golladay, who holds a significant size advantage. Tate got revenge a few minutes later, in full-team work, running by Lawson for a 20-yard touchdown catch down the right sideline.
■ Safety Tavon Wilson was back on the practice field in a limited capacity and in a no-contact jersey. The starting strong safety was wearing a compression sleeve on his injured arm and was held out of team drills. Replacing him in the lineup was Miles Killebrew.
■ Tight end Eric Ebron and defensive end Cornelius Washington remain sidelined. Also sitting were receiver Ryan Spadola and running back Mike James.
■ Cyrus Kouandjio and Greg Robinson continued to rotate the first-team left tackle reps. That competition could go deep into the preseason before the Lions settle on who will replace the injured Taylor Decker. Robinson had a big run block, opening a huge lane with left guard Graham Glasgow, allowing running back Theo Riddick to waltz into the end zone from 10 yards out.
■ Defensive tackle Jordan Hill, in the mix for a roster spot, especially with Khyri Thornton suspended to start the year, blew up a running play that would have resulted in Ameer Abdullah losing yardage.
■ In one-on-one pass rush drills, Anthony Zettel continued to impress. He blew by Kouandjio with a slick spin move, then got around Robinson along the outside for a second consecutive day. The coaches also tested Zettel against tight end Cole Wick, with the defensive end easily winning the matchup.
■ Undrafted rookie center Leo Koloamatangi also impressed in the drill, stonewalling defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson and keeping position and leverage on Thornton during a second rep.
■ Rick Wagner only ran one rep Tuesday and Wednesday, but he looked dominant on both. He had no problem keeping Kerry Hyder Jr. in check on Wednesday.
■ Laken Tomlinson, the former first-round pick, struggled. He lost individual matchups against Akeem Spence and rookie Jeremiah Ledbetter.
■ Rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis made one of his nicest plays from these early camp practices, quickly reading a run play and filling his gap with authority. Abdullah would have been lucky to get back to the line of scrimmage.
■ It wasn’t all bad for Abdullah, who flashed his burst on a run around the right edge for a 15-yard touchdown run.
■ Diggs, fighting to maintain his job as the team’s starting nickelback, didn’t hurt his cause with an impressive interception during a full-team portion. On a red-zone slant intended for Tate, Diggs maintained inside position, deflected the throw and managed to corral the tipped ball.
■ Backup quarterback Jake Rudock showed some athleticism and creativity when the pocket collapsed on a snap near the goal line. Rudock stepped up and shoveled a nifty pass to running back Zach Zenner, slicing across the middle for a score.