Lions camp observations: Tight ends making noise

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Here are some notes and observations from Friday's Detroit Lions training camp practice. 

► T.J. Hockenson isn't the only tight end off to a good start at camp. After a disappointing year of production from the position group a year ago, it feels like the entire room is making a strong impression in the early going. 

Lions tight end Isaac Nauta readies for a reception during drills.

Starting with Hockenson, the first-round pick, he continued to showcase his receiving skills in the red zone, pulling down a trio of touchdown passes. He beat fellow rookie Jahlani Tavai in the back corner for the second day in a row, made a twisting grab on a pass behind him before tumbling across the goal line, and easily beat cornerback Teez Tabor on a post route for a longer touchdown. 

Logan Thomas also continued to showcase excellent hands, something he's put on display throughout the offseason. He fully extended to pluck a pass out of the air, over safety Quandre Diggs in the back of the end zone. Later in the session, Thomas managed to haul in a Matthew Stafford fastball with his fingertips for a second score.

Finally, rookie Isaac Nauta also put some good route running on film. Working in a seven-on-seven with a number of other third-teamers, he looked to be a step faster than the defenders in the group, easily collecting two touchdowns. He carried that into full-team work later in the day, slicing between safeties Will Harris and Andrew Adams on a post for a 20-yard touchdown reception. 

► The Lions were without the services of linebacker Devon Kennard on Friday. He spent part of the day indoors, presumably working with trainers, before coming out later to work on the ropes. He implied his injury wasn't serious when he was walking off the field after practice. 

Fellow linebacker Christian Jones exited the practice around the mid-point. It's unclear what happened, but he was walking with a slight limp as he headed inside the team's facility. 

► Defensive end Trey Flowers, who is on the physically unable to perform list, was seen running sprints on the side. He also did some work with trainers on the team's new conditioning hill. 

► The Lions haven't done any one-on-one wide receiver against defensive back work the first two days of camp, opting instead to run two-on-three and three-on-four drills, with the defense having the man advantage.

This strikes me as a better use of practice time, allowing both sides to work on route combinations. And having an extra defensive back on the field also helps the receivers and quarterbacks work on adjusting routes to counter coverage looks. 

► Cornerback Rashaan Melvin stood out a couple times, showing good footwork to stick with receivers on a handful of routes. His best play came when he was in Kenny Golladay's back pocket on a deep back-shoulder throw that was underthrown by Stafford, putting the cornerback in position to make an easy interception. 

► The Lions continued to tinker with offensive line combinations, giving both Joe Dahl and Oday Aboushi reps with the first-team offense. Additionally, fullback Nick Bawden got some work with the top offensive grouping. 

► Wide receiver Tom Kennedy, who has had some drop issues this offseason, had one of his better days of practice. He's flashed the ability to get separation, and was at his best when he got by cornerback Mike Ford on a deep corner route and hauled in an over-the-shoulder touchdown grab. 

► It's doubtful anyone is more eager to put on the pads than Jarrad Davis. The linebacker gave wide receiver Andy Jones a preview, putting a shoulder into the his chest and knocking him to the ground on a route across the middle. 

► There was a second interception for the defense when safety C.J. Moore broke up a pass in the back of the end zone and Charles Washington collected the deflection. There were also a couple near interceptions, including a dropped opportunity by rookie cornerback Amani Orwariye, who established inside position against his assignment on a throw to the back of the end zone.