Allen Park — The Detroit Lions held their first offseason practice open to the media on Thursday. Here are some observations from the OTA session.
■ It was a good day for second-year tight end Michael Roberts, as he hauled in multiple touchdown receptions. The 6-foot-5 weapon showed off his leaping ability, going up and extending for one score during a red zone drill. He also went up and came down with a second one over safety Rolan Milligan, and netted a third grab in the end zone by securing a bobbled ball over his shoulder against Miles Killebrew.
The Lions primarily worked Roberts as a blocker his rookie season, but Thursday was a reminder of the pass-catching option he can be, particularly in confined space around the goal line.
■ Killebrew struggled a bit in coverage, surrendering another touchdown to Luke Willson and also getting beat handily down the seam by Levine Toilolo, who dropped the would-be touchdown.
■ Glover Quin was the only Lions player not in attendance. It was noted a couple weeks back that he was attending to a family matter. Franchise-tagged defensive end Ziggy Ansah was on the field, but his participation was limited. Kerry Hyder and Anthony Zettel handled most of the first-team work at defensive end.
■ Guard Joe Dahl and safety Tavon Wilson were in red, no-contact jerseys. Wilson battled through a shoulder injury in 2017, which required offseason surgery. Dahl spent eight weeks on injured reserve with a lower leg injury. It’s not known whether his issue stems from that injury or he suffered something unrelated earlier this offseason.
■ As you might expect with a new coach, the Lions have incorporated several new drills into the practice routine. One that caught my eye appeared to focus on open-field angles, for both the offensive and defensive players.
The offensive player would take a short pass in the flat, with his back turned to defense, while the defender would start 20 yards off the line of scrimmage and begin pursuit from a dead stop as soon as the pass was caught.
■ Jake Rudock had the better day of the two quarterbacks vying to be Matthew Stafford’s backup. During a seven-on-seven drill, working from the 20-yard line, Rudock zipped in three consecutive touchdown passes to Jace Billingsley, Andy Jones and tight end Hakeem Valles. Neither Rudock or Matt Cassel were particularly sharp in 11-on-11 work.
■ Marvin Jones and Darius Slay had a nice little battle on back-to-back snaps. The cornerback broke up a fade just short of the goal line on the first, and Jones easily beat the All-Pro cornerback on a slant on the next, only to drop the open pass in the end zone.
■ It was tough to glean much from one day of watching Matt Patricia’s defense, other than to say the number of substitutions was a bit overwhelming, both up front and in the secondary.
Newcomer Devon Kennard, who figures to have one of the more versatile roles in the defense, spent a good chunk of his reps lined up close to the line of scrimmage.