Lions camp observations: Backup QBs labor through Matthew Stafford's off day

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Lions quarterbacks Tom Savage, Matthew Stafford and David Fales.

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

►Among the players not participating in practice was quarterback Matthew Stafford. Coach Matt Patricia informed The News this was a pre-planned day off for the 10-year veteran prior to the team's upcoming joint practices in the sweltering Houston heat. 

With Stafford sitting out, and primary backup Tom Savage shelved by a concussion, David Fales and Saturday-morning-signing Josh Johnson split the quarterbacking reps. Needless to say, the offense struggled in Stafford's absence. 

Fales, much he did in Thursday's preseason opener, struggled to consistently connect with his targets. He also continued with some camp trends of holding on to the ball too long or bailing from the pocket too quickly. If it had been a live-tackling environment, there would have been more than a few sacks. 

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Wide receiver Danny Amendola got visibly frustrated on multiple occasions, shouting loud enough to be heard from the opposite end of the field. 

As for Johnson, he seemed surprisingly comfortable, given it was his first day and he was thrust into a heavy workload, but that's probably part of the package when you sign a guy who has played for a dozen other teams during his career. 

Johnson did show some rust on intermediate and longer throws, but had a clean, crisp throwing motion combined with better poise in the pocket than Fales. 

►The key players who have been out with injury remained out of commission, with Jarrad Davis, Teez Tabor, Da'Shawn Hand and Austin Bryant all sidelined. Defensive tackle Mike Daniels also continued to be a non-participant. 

New injuries included offensive tackle Tyrell Crosby, cornerback Jamal Agnew, linebacker Tre Lamar and running back Mark Thompson. 

Wide receiver Marvin Jones was out on the field early, but didn't participate in any of the competitive portions of practice. 

►Joe Dahl received first-team reps at left guard, alongside the rest of the projected starting unit. The second group saw Kenny Wiggins at right tackle, to help compensate for Crosby's absence, and undrafted rookie Beau Benzschawel at left guard. 

►In one-on-one routes run by the tight ends, the defenders got their hands on several passes. Tracy Walker knocked one away intended for Jesse James, Jalen Reeves-Maybin batted down a throw intended for Logan Thomas, and Andrew Adams also broke up a pass for James. 

T.J. Hockenson, working against cornerback Rashaan Melvin, wasn't able to get much separation, but still managed to make the catch down the seam on a tight-window throw where the corner didn't get his head around. 

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►Melvin did a better job on a deep ball to Kenny Golladay, staying stride for stride and netting a breakup. 

►Darius Slay was slow to get up after a one-on-one rep, but after a brief conversation with a trainer, returned to action and finished the practice. 

►For the second time in the past few days, wide receiver Brandon Powell seemed to be tweak something with his left leg. He fought through the pain, but it's something that could impact him going forward, given the important of quickness and change-of-direction to his skill set.

►Hockenson came up with a nice, leaping grab in the end zone over cornerback Amani Oruwariye. (Although Fales would have been sacked by Devon Kennard on the play.)

►On the next play, Oruwariye didn't have to leave his feet to pick off a poorly placed fade intended for Kenny Golladay.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers