Lions' Dan Campbell looks forward to joint practices with Colts; Detroit cuts 2
Allen Park — The NFL might have reduced the preseason slate from four games to three to expand the regular season starting last year, but Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell believes the team's upcoming set of joint practices with the Indianapolis Colts this week can offset that change, providing an extended opportunity to evaluate his roster in a controlled environment.
"It feels like you’re getting two games in a week, two games in two days," Campbell said about the back-to-back practices on Wednesday and Thursday, leading into the team's preseason game Saturday. "You won’t have all those reps, but yet we’re going to get over 30 reps with our starters against very good competition, full pads and it’s structured between (Colts coach) Frank (Reich, the former Lions quarterback) and myself. Man, we’ll get all the looks we need to get, all the situations, it’ll just be good."
Campbell and Reich never have played together, or even coached together, but they've formed a close bond as they worked their way up through the ranks to their current positions, the first head-coaching job for each. In fact, it was Reich who edged out Campbell for the Indianapolis in 2018 after the franchise's first choice, former Patriots coordinator and current Raiders coach Josh McDaniels, spurned the Colts late in the search process.
Well before that, when Campbell was trying to turn an interim tag into a full-time coaching job with the Miami Dolphins following the 2015 season, Reich was one of the first coaches he called for advice.
"We talked for a long time, and I just knew from afar that I had a lot of respect for what he did, what they ran, and then we just kind of talked through over the years," Campbell explained.
Joint practices aren't scheduled by the NFL. They come together through an agreement between coaches and general managers and often are set up through a request to the NFL's schedule makers to put a specific opponent on the preseason schedule.
One focus for Campbell, and presumably Reich, is to make sure their rosters keep their emotions in check during the highly competitive work this week, which can quickly get heated as dozens of players are fighting for jobs and roles.
That's a lesson Campbell had to learn during his playing days, when tempers often would flare and occasionally get out of control during joint sessions with another team.
"I remember we were going to practice against the Texans," Campbell said. "I remember coach (Bill) Parcells stood up in front of the room and was like, ‘No fighting, anybody fights, you’re done.’ And everybody believed it, so we didn’t have one fight and got great work. So, we just have to make an emphasis of that. I know (the Colts) will, we will. We’re not out there to fight, but we’re going to compete and have good work. So, I would say most of the experiences I’ve had have been really good, really good.”
The Lions waived two players on Tuesday to trim their roster to the league-mandated limit of 85 players. Injured safety Brady Breeze and injured wide receiver Josh Johnson were waived by the team with injury settlements.
Breeze was preparing to enter his second season in Detroit. He played four games with the Lions last season — 14 snaps on defense and 72 on special teams — and five with the Tennessee Titans in his rookie year. Johnson, meanwhile, signed with Detroit as an undrafted free agent out of Tulsa this past April.
The next important day for cuts is Aug. 23, when each team must get their roster to 80 players. The deadline for reducing the roster to 53 players is Aug. 30.
Staff writer Nolan Bianchi contributed