Lions camp observations: O-line struggles early, gels late
Napa, Calif. — Here are some notes and observations from Tuesday's joint practice between the Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders.
♦During individual drills, the Lions looked completely outmatched in the trenches. The offensive linemen, from the starters on down, lost the majority of their matchups against the Raiders defenders, while the Lions defenders rarely found their way around the talented Raiders offensive front.
Lions rookie Frank Ragnow had a rare welcome-to-the-NFL moment when he was essentially tossed aside by Raiders defensive end Mario Edwards.
But a funny thing happened when the teams shifted to full-team scrimmaging. It became impossible to track both units, running simultaneously on separate fields, but Detroit's offensive line played with far more cohesion in the team setting, allowing only limited pressure to reach quarterback Matthew Stafford.
♦Running back Theo Riddick returned to practice after sitting out Monday. Defensive end Cam Johnson, Linebacker Chad Meredith and safety Stefan McClure remain out.
♦Prior to working against the Raiders, the Lions ran a handful of intra-team individual drills. Working on run blocking against the edge rusher, tight end Luke Willson delivered a devastating block to defensive end Alex Barrett that drew loud praise from coach Matt Patricia.
♦Patricia is an active coach, bouncing around to a number of drills each practice and critiquing the technique of a variety of position groups. He was especially involved with the defensive backs on Tuesday when they were working on their hand usage and hip turns early in the session.
♦In one-on-one work between the receivers and defensive backs, TJ Jones drew some "oohs" from the crowd when he badly juked former teammate Reysean Pringle on a route. Teo Redding had a pair of grabs, working against third-year corner Antonio Hamilton.
For the Lions defense, DeShawn Shead gave up a crowd-pleasing deep completion to start the drill. Teez Tabor and Quandre Diggs had pass-breakups, with the latter's coming against Jordy Nelson. When Diggs and Nelson matched up again, the receiver came away with a measure of revenge, catching a post pattern. Covering Amari Cooper, Darius Slay got a hand on one throw, but the receiver stayed focused and made the tough, contested grab.
♦Jarrad Davis is as physical as they come on the Lions defense, but he got a taste of his own medicine, getting bowled over by Raiders running backs Marshawn Lynch and Chris Warren III on separate plays.
♦The biggest hit from a Lions player came when the teams were working on kickoffs. Linebacker Freddie Bishop blew up receiver Griff Whalen coming down to cover a kick.
♦There were no big skirmishes between the teams, with coaches being quick to the whistle, but there were a handful of post-play shoves. Lions cornerback Nevin Lawson started one dust-up, tacking Raiders returner Dwayne Harris out of bounds. Lawson drew a flag for the unnecessary hit.
♦Detroit's defense did generate some turnovers, including what Raiders reporters were calling Derek Carr's first interception of training camp. That came courtesy of Slay, who had excellent position as Carr rolled away from pressure and forced the throw.
Tabor also came away with a pick, stepping in front of an E.J. Manuel pass.
♦Matthew Stafford also tossed an interception, putting a ball slightly behind tight end Michael Roberts that was snatched away by Raiders LB Emmanuel Lamur during a 7-on-7 drill.
♦Stafford's deep ball wasn't crisp as he misfired on multiple deep passes when his man had a step. But he didn't miss on a thrd-and-long in the two-minute drill, rolling out of the pocket and finding Willson wide open inside the 5-yard line.
♦The second-team offense also executed well in the 2-minute drill with Matt Cassel connecting twice with Roberts, including an impressive, twisting grab down the seam by the second-year tight end.
♦In goal line work to end the practice, the Raiders stuffed LeGarrette Blount just short of the goal line on back-to-back attempts from the 2. Kerryon Johnson was hauled down well short on his first, but the officials signaled the rookie broke the plane on a second attempt off right guard.