Lions minicamp observations: Spotlight on second-year CBs

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Here are some notes and observations from the first day of the Detroit Lions' mandatory minicamp.

■ The Lions secondary is probably the team's deepest unit, and after re-signing Nevin Lawson and Tavon Wilson this offseason, plus adding free agent DeShawn Shead to the mix, it was reasonable to wonder how the moves would impact playing time for second-year cornerbacks Teez Tabor and Jamal Agnew. 

Cornerback Jamal Agnew, shown here during camp last season, was tested Tuesday during the Lions' minicamp in Allen Park.

While roles and rotations are months away from being decided, Detroit is showing a commitment to giving last year's draft picks every chance to stake their claim, working both extensively with the first-team defense on Tuesday. 

Agnew drew the daunting assignment of covering Golden Tate much of the day, and as you might expect, the veteran receiver won most of the battles. As for Tabor, he was a bit more consistent in coverage and came away with an interception off quarterback Matthew Stafford during seven-on-seven work. 

■ Matt Cassel was the primary recipient of the second-team quarterback work. The veteran struggled in the early portions of practice — including a throw directly into a paddle held by a coach to simulate a hand in the passing lane — but got in a groove later in the session. 

Wide receiver Jace Billingsley readies for a reception.

■ While we're prohibited from describing specifics, the Lions appear to be tinkering with the versatility wide receiver Jace Billingsley displayed in college. As a senior at Eastern Oregon he carried the ball 125 times and caught 59 passes. He's shown intriguing elusiveness in space during the past two preseasons.  

■ For the second time this offseason, tight end Michael Roberts has looked sharp as a receiving option. It's obviously very early in the process, but he continues to strike me as a strong candidate for a breakout season. 

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■ Overall, too many balls hit the ground on Tuesday. Kenny Golladay fumbled an early catch across the middle and there were several drops on the day. On the flip side, undrafted rookie Teo Redding made a nice, full-extension catch near the sideline and appeared to get both feet in bounds. 

Wide receiver Teo Redding pulls in an over-the-shoulder reception.

■ During one portion of practice, approximately two-thirds of the roster, including every non-injured wide receiver and running back, worked on tackling. It was unusual seeing  Tate and Marvin Jones working on wrapping up, but it's always good to be prepared, whether it's making a stop on an turnover or getting pressed into special teams duties because of an injury. 

■ Punter Sam Martin looks back to form after a disappointing 2017 season. He's routinely been booting the ball 50-plus yards with excellent hang time.

Still, I can't help but want to see more of undrafted backup Ryan Santoso, who at 6-foot-5, 258 pounds, looks more like a linebacker than a kicker. For the record, Santoso can also throw a perfect spiral 50 yards with relative ease.