With one preseason game out of the way, the Lions move on with four days of training camp this week. Three of those sessions will be held with the New York Giants, the Lions’ opponent for their preseason game on Friday night at Ford Field.
The Lions lost at the Oakland Raiders, 16-10, late on Friday. A few rookies stood out, a few veterans did not play and no one apparently was seriously injured. So actually it was a win-win-win situation.
Here are five things to look for this week:
1. The Lions’ practices against the Giants on Wednesday and Thursday at 9 a.m. are open to fans. Tuesday’s joint session is for season ticket holders only. If you’ve never been to Lions training camp, it’s a great opportunity to see what the team goes through each day in practice. The intensity level should pick up with the Giants in town. Of course, there’s face painting, games for kids and food trucks for adults. (I’d highly recommend ice cream from the Treat Dreams truck which makes occasional visits.)
2. Rookie running back Kerryon Johnson provided the highlights in Oakland and looked every bit like Bob Quinn got a deal by drafting him in the second round. However, pump the brakes a bit. “He’s got a long way to go. I was excited to see him have a couple big plays and show off some of his is natural ability, but from an overall standpoint, we’ve a long way to go there,’’ coach Matt Patricia said during a conference call on Saturday night.
3. Matthew Stafford, Theo Riddick and T.J. Lang did not play on Friday. All are veterans who are locks to make the team. Makes sense that Patricia didn’t want them to get injured when the benefit to them would be so small. However, running back Dwayne Washington was also sidelined. As far as we know he is not injured and he certainly needs to have good showings in preseason games to lock up a spot on the 53-man roster. Patricia was not exactly crystal clear when asked about Washington’s absence in a conference call on Saturday night: “The guys that were out that played, played. And the ones that didn’t, did not.’’ Got that? Ameer Abdullah had a good showing with four carries for 16 yards including a one-yard touchdown run. “I think with Ameer, (we saw) some pretty good short space quickness and some opportunity to kind of get some penetration into the defense too, which was really good,’’ Patricia said.
4. Going against the Giants during practice should give the Lions more of a chance to work on their pass rush which was a weak point against the Raiders. Ziggy Ansah, who is back at practice, did not play but that was not the only problem. It’s too early to panic. These guys are still learning, but it’s certainly an area that needs attention. Patricia agrees. “It doesn’t really matter what we’re running from a scheme standpoint, we want to still see the fundamentals and the basics of what we’re trying to do,’’ the coach said after the game. “So, whether it’s the run game or the pass game, we have to do both of those with good technique up front. And we’ll go back and take a look at that and we’ll coach it up, and obviously try to improve it all the way across the board. I’d say both sides really have to be better.”
5. Generally Patricia does not heap too much praise on any of his players. The coach is more down the middle. But he seems to love the coverage play of linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin. “I think Jalen, really through training camp, has had an outstanding training camp. He does a lot for us, not only defensively, but also special teams wise. He had a really good game (Friday)night as far as that is concerned and just continues to improve. Got a long way to go, some of those situations where you may have seen him in the coverage part of it with the running backs. It’s just something that in those situations with the clock, the time, and the two-minute part of it, maybe was just circumstantial there. I think he’s trying to get better and I think he’s trying to improve,’’ Patricia said. “We obviously in some of those cases got to have some different run fits and different pass coverages that we have in that we just have to tighten up some of our techniques and things like that.”
EXTRA POINT: First-round pick Frank Ragnow proved he’s the real deal.