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Observations from Lions 2021 rookie mini-camp

Just like the air after a thunderstorm, the ambiance surrounding Allen Park felt clear and recent following a change in regime for the Detroit Lions. Sure, it’s solely the primary day the media has been let in to look at soccer actions in 2021, however the adjustments had been noticeable and lots.

The primary notable change was that the media was allowed on the premises to look at. This chance was phased out in the course of the Bob Quinn/Matt Patricia period. Coach Dan Campbell not solely welcomed the media in, however he laid out the format for the day: Walkthroughs, particular person drills, particular groups drills, and wrapping up the day with 7 on 7’s.

There was additionally a heavy contingent of Lions’ workers nicely past the 21 coaches. GM Brad Holmes was current, as was staff president Rod Wooden, particular assistant Chris Spielman, assistant GM Ray Agnew, senior personnel govt John Dorsey, and director of participant personnel Lance Newmark, to call a couple of. There have been so many workers members current that they clearly outnumbered the 32 gamers taking part.

Filling within the gaps

With new NFL guidelines in place, groups are restricted to the variety of gamers they’ll have in attendance for mini-camp—for instance, they’ll solely have 5 try-out gamers—and meaning they had been going to be quick at some positions.

The obvious was that there was no quarterback current. Campbell talked about at his morning press convention that with restricted spots, he didn’t wish to waste a spot on a participant who wasn’t going to get a shot on the roster, because the staff was very pleased with the three they at present have on the roster: Jared Goff, Tim Boyle, and David Blough.

Happily, the Lions have some coaches who had been former quarterbacks on the school and/or pro-level they leaned them in sure conditions. Quarterbacks coach Mark Brunell and extensive receivers coach Antwaan Randle El had been known as on a couple of instances, nevertheless it was offensive high quality management coach Tanner Engstrand, a former quarterback at San Diego State, who was the first thrower—and he can nonetheless sling it.

The Lions additionally solely had three offensive linemen (no tackles) and the 2 defensive linemen they drafted—Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill—current, making trench work very gentle. At instances they wanted to drag in workers for simulated drills, asking WCF Minority teaching assistant Deon’Tae Pannell to play left deal with and offensive high quality management coach Steve Oliver at proper deal with.

As linemen aren’t used a lot on particular groups, the linemen spent nearly all of their time getting one-on-one teaching from their place coaches. Onwuzurike and McNeill bought quite a lot of consideration from line of defense coach Todd Wash, whereas offensive line coach Hank Fraley put Drake Jackson, Tommy Kraemer, and Evan Heim by means of place drills, getting them reps in any respect three inside positions. Kraemer and Heim bought seems at heart, however Jackson’s expertise and fast palms made him a standout throughout these drills.

Drills had been aggressive and technical, but additionally enjoyable

With no pads and a restricted roster, the teaching workers was restricted in what it may accomplish, however they discovered a pleasant steadiness between studying what they’ve in a participant whereas additionally retaining gamers secure and motivated.

Throughout drills, coaches had been very meticulous and intense, constantly pushing approach and kind, however they weren’t over-the-top or unfavourable, and had been usually seen praising gamers for good execution or displaying enchancment.

Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn walked with a goal between place teams and appeared to be learning every participant and their efficiency. He took his time watching every participant intently, whereas not stepping on the place coach’s toes. When Glenn did inject himself, it was to supply reward and encouragement.

At one level throughout linebacker drills, Derrick Barnes, Anthony Pittman, and Tavante Beckett had been taking path from linebackers coach Mark Deleone, whereas being flanked by Glenn on one aspect and Spielman on the opposite. That’s some critical strain on these younger males, however on the identical time, all of the yelling was optimistic and inspiring—a far cry from what we have now seen on the Lions follow discipline over the previous couple of years.

After drills, however earlier than 7-on-7’s would shut the day, coaches threw in one other wrinkle into the schedule, asking gamers to compete in some distinctive video games. The aim right here was to amp up the depth, whereas additionally staying unfastened earlier than the ultimate culminating session.

Basically the staff break up up into two teams. The ability gamers confronted off in a pace and agility drill, whereas the large males performed a recreation that centered on energy.

Within the WR vs DB drill, it appeared the coaches requested for somebody to step up and problem a participant on the opposite aspect of the ball and UDFA CB Jerry Jacobs stepped proper up and challenged WR Amon-Ra St. Brown. The bravado was spectacular, however St. Brown bought the perfect of him, which drew an enormous celebration from the offensive gamers. It didn’t get any higher for the protection because the competitors went on, because the offense received each drill I noticed.

The offensive and defensive linemen took turns pairing up in twos in a volleyball-style competitors. The variation being that they had been throwing a medication ball backwards and forwards over 55-gallon waste receptacles, and one bounce was allowed. One other enjoyable aggressive recreation that had smiles throughout.

Participant observations

Whereas practices allowed coaches to determine helpful data in a participant’s skills, this model of format doesn’t provide as a lot data for an observer on the sidelines. Due to this, there’s not rather a lot that we realized about gamers immediately.

Let’s go fast hearth on some fast observations:

  • RB Jermar Jefferson seemed faster than anticipated
  • RB Rakeem Boyd was not working towards
  • WR St. Brown was as technical in his routes as was marketed
  • WR Tom Kennedy’s quickness goes to maintain him within the combine
  • WR Johnathan Adams caught a landing and seemed sharp in particular groups drills
  • WR Javon McKinley ended the day with a landing of his personal
  • With no pads, it’s troublesome to glean something from the linemen
  • LB Barnes was fluid in his actions and noticed motion in any respect 4 linebacker spots
  • LB Anthony Pittman, like Barnes, discovered himself quite a lot of alternatives on this scheme and could possibly be in a greater spot to stay than beforehand thought
  • You don’t see many corners the scale of Ifeatu Melifonwu that may transfer like him
  • Regardless of being on a try-out, S Alijah Holder was operating with the starters
  • Attempt-out participant S Nick Pickett had an interception that might have gone for six

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