Allen Park — The Detroit Lions were a top-10 team in the red zone last season, converting 56.5 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line into touchdowns. But it’s difficult to erase the memory of the team’s 20-15 loss to the Steelers, when they came up empty on five red-zone attempts.
Two of those drives stalled out at Pittsburgh's 1-yard line and were indicative of some of the Lions’ larger issues in short-yardage situations. First-year coach Matt Patricia wasn’t here for those, and generally has no interest in talking about the past, but the team’s practice routine points to an emphasis being placed on goal-line scenarios.
During the first two training camp practices, even before stretching, the Lions have run full-team drills at the goal line.
At this point — while being conducted at half speed with no pads — the focus is primarily on the mental end, making sure players know their assignments once things are running full bore.
“What happens as the ball gets closer toward the goal line — from a defensive perspective — the anxiety goes up, just the nervousness and obviously wanting to compete to not let them score,” Patricia said. “From an offensive standpoint, your adrenaline goes up and you’re trying to look for matches, and mismatches, and try to find some advantages in the defense. But everything happens so fast down there, because of the shorter space, that in that situation, you know, you have to execute at a high level.
“You want to start at day one and it’s a good opportunity to do it without pads. I know that kind of sounds backwards but that way you can really concentrate on the cerebral part of it, and then when you can get pads on then you can really push into the physical part.”
The Lions are slated to conduct their first padded practice on Sunday.