Lions camp observations: Michael Roberts toughs it out
Allen Park — Here are some notes and observations from Monday's Detroit Lions' training camp practice.
■ For the second consecutive day, the Lions practiced in pads and repeated several of the same drills they conducted during their first padded session on Sunday.
While working on run blocking, the three tight ends projected to be in the team's rotation looked strong, with Luke Willson, Michael Roberts and Levine Toilolo each winning their pair of reps.
Willson has really sound technique with his hand placement and leverage, allowing him to stymie Kerry Hyder and Jalen Reeves-Maybin, two very different body types, on a pair of snaps.
Hyder bounced back with a better rep against Hakeem Valles, cleanly shedding the block as the running back working the drill cut his run inside.
■ To this point, Roberts has had such a strong offseason, but his momentum was derailed a bit on Monday when he came up limping after running a physical one-on-one route against safety Miles Killebrew.
Roberts toughed it out the rest of the day, but wasn't at his best. The low point came when he had the ball popped free by cornerback DeShawn Shead after turning upfield on a short reception. Ball security was an issue for Roberts last year, but this is the first time I recall him putting one on the ground this year.
■ Wide receiver Brandon Powell continues to be an intriguing player. His quickness out of his breaks is impressive, but he's had a little more trouble getting consistent separation on downfield routes. On one down the seam, Powell had the ball poked away by cornerback Mike Ford before he came back later, in full-team work, to beat Jamal Agnew for a long, vertical touchdown.
Powell has also been working on punt return, something he did at Florida. That should be something fun to watch during the preseason.
■ Golden Tate came up with the best catch of the day, hauling in a one-handed grab down the sideline while working against rangy cornerback Teez Tabor.
Willson also made a nice catch in one-on-ones, managing to get both feet down while falling out of bounds on an intermediate out route.
■ In individual pass-rush work, the starting offensive line had a strong day. Rookie Frank Ragnow made easy work of defensive tackle Christian Ringo and later put nose tackle Sylvester Williams into the ground.
Linebacker Freddie Bishop, a former Western Michigan standout, had one of the more impressive defensive reps, easily bending around the edge against offensive tackle Corey Robinson.
■ The Lions incorporated a new drill on Monday that had offensive players catching a short throw coming back toward the line and immediately taking a hit from a coach swinging a pad into their hip before turning upfield, where two defenders would converge to deliver more contact.
■ Rookie running back Kerryon Johnson had a couple nice moments in full-team work, first doing a good job identifying and picking up a blitz, and later taking a handoff and running through an arm tackle before hopping over a downed defender in his run lane.
But nothing was more impressive than his last touch of the morning. In a live goal-line situation, Johnson took a handoff going left only to see his lane quickly close. Instead of plowing into traffic, he completely reversed field and outran a couple defenders to the pylon on the right side for a score.
■ The first-team offense struggled through their red zone segment. Quarterback Matthew Stafford tried to force a pass into Kenny Golladay, but Darius Slay's coverage was tight and the ball bounced off the cornerback's helmet.
On the next snap, Quandre Diggs blanketed Marvin Jones, forcing Stafford to throw the ball away. And Stafford would have been lit up on the following play, when linebacker Jarrad Davis came through untouched on a blitz.
With the ball moved to the shadow of the goal line for a pair of run plays, LeGarrette Blount found his way into the end zone on the first, running behind Taylor Decker and Ragnow. But on a second attempt, the big back was stuffed up the gut.
■ Rookie defensive tackle Da'Shawn Hand didn't finish practice. About halfway through, he required a wrap with ice around his right knee.