Lions camp observations: D-line still dinged up; Golladay shows precision
Allen Park — Here are some notes and observations from the Detroit Lions' Tuesday training camp practice.
► The Lions got a handful of defensive linemen back on the practice field, but in limited capacities. Devon Kennard, Romeo Okwara, A'Shawn Robinson and Mike Daniels were all in pads, but only Robinson, returning from a four-day absence after tending to a personal matter, took any meaningful snaps.
As for Da'Shawn Hand, who left practice on Sunday and was labeled day-to-day by coach Matt Patricia, he was sporting a large elbow brace on his left arm. In addition to Hand, Austin Bryant, Christian Jones and Jonathan Wynn remained sidelined.
► The team opened practice with a series of head-to-head drills, including the running backs working against the linebackers and defensive backs on blitz pickups.
It was a drill to forget for Kerryon Johnson, who lost matchups against safety Tavon Wilson, rookie linebacker Jahlani Tavai and rookie safety Will Harris. Among the backs likely to make the roster, C.J. Anderson was probably the most consistent, stuffing both Tavai and Harris.
Mark Thompson, a 6-foot-1, 240-pound practice squad candidate, also showed well as a blocker.
► While the backs were working on picking up blitzers, the tight ends were running routes against defensive backs on the second practice field. The best catch was by rookie Isaac Nauta, who got a step on Harris on a deep release and hauled in a fully-extended grab by the fingertips while fading toward the left sideline.
► When the receivers and defensive backs matched up, Kenny Golladay looked sharp. His route running is much more precise than earlier in his career, leading to more consistent separation. Things are looking like they'll continue to trend up in his third season.
Teez Tabor gave up an early catch against Marvin Jones on a slant, but did an excellent job recovering from a nasty juke the receiver made at the line of scrimmage. In a game, Tabor would have been in position to make a quick tackle after a minimal gain. On the next battle between the two, Tabor blanketed Jones on a go route, leading to an incompletion.
► Rookie receiver Travis Fulgham continues to make strides. After dropping a deep, over-the-shoulder grab early in the day, he shook cornerback Mike Ford on a deep post pattern to end the one-on-one segment, then followed it up by hauling in a deep bomb from Matthew Stafford out of play-action, between Tabor and safety Tracy Walker.
► Continuing a trend from last week, linebacker Garret Dooley continues to get extended work with the first- and second-team defenses.
► During full-team drills, Patricia got agitated with the defense. The coach called the entire unit over to the ATV he's using to get around the practice field and gave them a tongue lashing for two to three minutes. Making matters worse, defensive end Mitchell Loewen jumped offside on the very next play.
► Rookie defensive tackle P.J. Johnson worked his way into the backfield a few times on the day, including a would-be sack if the quarterbacks weren't wearing red, no-contact jerseys. Not surprisingly, there's not a lot of consistency to the seventh-round pick's play at this point, but he continues to flash a skill set worthy of development.
► For the first time since the start of camp, David Fales worked ahead of Tom Savage as the second-team quarterback. Based on what we've seen to this point, there's no real reason to believe Savage is in jeopardy of losing the backup competition.
Fales threw an ugly pass intercepted by Walker in the end zone late in practice.
► For the second time this camp, Anderson fumbled a ball while taking part in a ball security drill. He only has four career fumbles, so it's probably nothing to be concerned about.
► Undrafted rookie offensive linemen Beau Benzschawel and Ryan Pope both continued to struggle. Working on tandem blocking drills, both suffered sound defeats on their reps. Dooley zipped by Pope around the edge, essentially untouched, while Benzschawel struggled to pick up defensive end Eric Lee on a stunt.
► The play of the day went to Tavai. On a red zone snap, the linebacker leaped up, deflected and corralled a Stafford pass. And on the interception return, the competitive quarterback attempted to make an ill-advised tackle near the sideline, but bounced off Tavai like a bug on a windshield.