Camp observations: Lions put through end-game paces
Allen Park — Here are some notes and observations from the final Detroit Lions’ training camp practice open to the media Thursday.
■ The coaching staff had players on their toes during some end-game situational work with heavy substitution patterns. After each snap, up to seven players were rushing off the field on both sides of the ball. The defensive-back rotations were especially aggressive, as the back seven worked on protecting the sidelines from clock-stopping catches where the receivers would get out of bounds.
At the end of the segment, the offense was put in situations where they had one play and needed a touchdown. On the first, from the 13, quarterback Matthew Stafford was picked by cornerback Quandre Diggs. On the next, from the nine, Stafford connected with rookie Kenny Golladay on a comeback route.
The second-team offense also turned the ball over when a safety blitz forced backup quarterback Jake Rudock to rush his throw from the 16-yard line. The pass was easily intercepted by rookie corner Teez Tabor.
■ To end the practice, the ball was spotted at midfield and the offense was given 46 seconds to score a touchdown and convert a two-point conversion.
The top unit accomplished the feat when Stafford connected on a deep ball to Marvin Jones, over Nevin Lawson, and the quarterback took advantage of a miscommunication in the secondary to polish off the drive with a short touchdown throw to tight end Darren Fells. Running back Theo Riddick punched it in on an inside run to convert the two-point conversion, drawing a fist pump from Stafford.
The second-team offense spent too much time going backward, with Rudock getting “sacked” on the opening play by a combination of pressure from Jordan Hill and Alex Barrett. The group also had a false start.
Still, Rudock managed to get the group in position to have a shot with a fourth-down conversion to Jace Billingsley and a pair of completions to tight end Robert Tonyan. But with four seconds remaining, and the ball at the 20, Rudock took a stab at the end zone for Keshawn Martin, only to have it broken up by D.J. Hayden.
■ In one-on-one pass-rush drills, A’Shawn Robinson got some work rushing from the outside. It’s not unusual for the Lions to move their tackles out wide, but we haven’t seen it much with Robinson. He was matched up against Greg Robinson and won both reps, first getting off his block with an impressive spin move and on the second, getting the edge with some speed, drawing a loud reaction from his linemates.
Other defensive linemen with good wins included Hill and Armonty Bryant. Hill flashed violent hands to work his way around guard Joe Dahl, while Bryant blasted past tackle Cyrus Kouandjio with a rip move inside.
It wasn’t a great day for Anthony Zettel, who rushed from both the inside and outside, but routinely got too wide as he tried to utilize his speed. His teammates are starting to adjust to his improved burst and he’ll have to continue to develop his other rush moves.