Lions coach Matt Patricia highlights the value of joint practices ahead of first session with the Patriots. Justin Rogers, The Detroit News
Here are some notes and observations from the Monday's joint practice between the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots.
► It might seem like a strange item to lead with, given the spectacle of the joint practices with the defending champs, but second-year fullback Nick Bawden continues to open eyes with his potential, not just as a blocker, but also a pass catcher.
Bawden has shown good quickness out of the backfield and linebackers have struggled to stick with him on routes, even in one-on-one drills. That success has carried over into team portions, especially red-zone work.
With the evolution of the NFL into a pass-first league, the fullback position has been de-emphasized and eliminated from many rosters. It's not surprising, those still playing the position often offer more versatility than a generation ago.
Take San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk for example. He lines up not just in the backfield, but in line, in the slot and even out wide. Bawden said he's studied Juszczyk, and many of the league's other top players at the position, and is willing to fill a similar role if that's how the Lions envision utilizing him.
Given some of the pass-catching ability he's showing, it's something for offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to consider.
► The Lions were down another starter on Monday as linebacker Jarrad Davis was sidelined by an unknown injury. He joins a growing group of defensive players on the shelf, including Damon Harrison, Trey Flowers, Da'Shawn Hand, Teez Tabor and rookie Austin Bryant.
Two other defenders left practice with injuries. Linebacker Garrett Dooley and undrafted rookie Kevin Strong, two young players who have seen reps with the first-team defense during camp.
► Before we dive much further into these observations, it should be noted how much is going on at once. Often, there are four different groups working at the same time across two fields, so the easiest thing to do is to focus on one or two at a time. No matter how much you try, a lot of what happens during these day is lost on a single observer.
► The Lions were running through a number of different gunner combinations, looking for the right pairings heading into the preseason. Lined up outside the formation on punt coverage, it's a position that requires good speed and the ability to elude or shed blocks, often double teams.
A few guys really struggled with their reps, including wide receivers Tom Kennedy and Travis Fulgham, as well as cornerback Amani Oruwaye. On the flip side, wide receiver Chris Lacy plowed through a Patriots blocker, putting the player on his backside.
► It was an up-and-down for rookie running back Ty Johnson. In one-on-one receiving drills, he had one throw knocked away and dropped a second. He also fumbled a handoff during full-team work. Yet, when given daylight, the rare speed is evident. He got the left edge on one carry that would have resulted in a nice gain.
► Linebacker Jahlani Tavai continued to be a step slow with his man-to-man coverage assignments. He got beat soundly by running backs Brandon Bolden and Sony Michel in one-on-one drills and tight end Stephen Anderson during seven-on-sevens.
► Kenny Golladay didn't finish the practice, but he made one of the day's best catches. Running a route from the slot, he came up with a diving grab near the sideline while working against Patriots cornerback Jason McCorty.
► How did Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers go undrafted? Local reports of his impressive start to camp weren't exaggerated. The converted quarterback ran smooth routes and showed good hands, having success working with New England's first-team offense.
► Linebacker Steve Longa continues to make progress with his return to action. Currently on the physically unable to perform list, he was working on the side with a trainer on some football movements, particularly the back pedal and hip turns that come with dropping into coverage.
► During warmups, Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski sent one wide into the crowd, where the ball hit and destroyed an electronic display for Bubly water, which was at the facility giving out free samples.
► Lions safety Tavon Wilson continued his strong offseason with a pair of pass breakups, including a leaping deflection of a Tom Brady deep ball.
► The teams ran a two-minute drill, with each squad given 1:45, down three, starting at their own 30-yard line. The Lions' first-team offense ran an inefficient drive that included several throws to the middle of the field as the clock ticked away. Still, they managed to work into the red zone before stalling, settling for a 36-yard field goal and a tie.
The Patriots, led by Brady, moved downfield with much more precision. But once they got inside the 10, the drive petered out. Brady threw the ball away on first and second down before missing Meyers wide on third.
Detroit's second-team offense was a disaster, with backup quarterback Tom Savage nearly getting picked on the first play and eating a sack on second down, making it third-and-27.
► David Fales wasn't able to close the gap on Savage, and maybe fell further behind in the backup QB competition. Fales threw back-to-back interceptions during seven-on-seven work.