ALLEN PARK >> For the first two days of camp, the Lions have started practice with goal-line drills. Typically stretching comes first, but that has taken a back seat to the drills to start the day’s practice.
“Goal line is one of those really tricky things in the NFL to practice right now because it’s such a critical play. Obviously, the ball could be one yard line, or two inch line, but it doesn’t really matter,’’ coach Matt Patricia said on Saturday.
Patricia has made it clear he won’t talk about last season. But if he did he might note how the Lions had so much trouble running the ball for short yardage including on the goal line.
“It doesn’t come up that often in the game anymore. You are lucky if you get 12 reps on the season. I think maybe the high in the last 14 years we might have had 18-19 and even a little further back on that a lot of teams ran bigger goal line type personal, but it’s something that you can’t wait too late to get into,’’ the new coach explained.
It gets the offense and defense in the right mindset, sets a tone for the rest of the two-and-a-half hour practice.
“It’s very important when we’re down there we have to put up points effectively and efficiently and defense have their backs against the wall they have to stop it,’’ wide receiver Kenny Golladay said. “Just that competition right there that’s going to make us pretty good.’’
In Saturday’s goal-line drills running back Dwayne Washington ran in for three touchdowns while linebacker Jarrad Davis made a one-handed interception on a ball intended for Levine Toilolo.
“ I always feel it’s just good to get into the goal line situations offensively and defensively because there is a lot of situational stuff that comes up there and formation identification and different possibilities, and in such a critical situation of the game you have to perform at a high level. We really need to build that sort of awareness and intelligence here through the course of the next four weeks,’’ Patricia said.
The coach said he’ll add more plays as the camp progresses to make the guys feel comfortable.
“What happens as the ball gets closer towards the goal line from a defensive perspective the anxiety goes up, just the nervousness and obviously wanting to compete to not let them score,’’ Patricia said. “From an offensive standpoint your adrenaline goes up and you’re trying to look for matches, and mismatches, and try to find some advantages in the defense. But everything happens so fast down there, because of the shorter space, that in that situation, you know, you have to execute at a high level. So, it just, you want to start at day one and it’s a good opportunity to do it without pads.’’
Sunday will provide more insight into the goal-line plays because it’s the first day the Lions will be in pads.