Don’t read much into the fact that cornerback Jeff Okudah, the Lions first-round draft pick, lined up with the reserves in the team’s first padded practice on Monday.
In the most uncommon of training camps, it’s not an uncommon move by coach Matt Patricia.
“The rookies, we’re trying to take it slow with. There’s a lot of information that they have to learn and certainly being on the field for the first time in an NFL practice with pads on,’’ Patricia said on Monday via Zoom. “There’s just a lot coming at those guys from different directions.’’
Okudah, the third overall pick, was not drafted to sit on the bench. With Patricia, though, he’ll have to earn it and compete for the role.
“Always, you know how I am with the whole starters thing. I don’t know who our starters are in Day One of pads,’’ Patricia said. “I’m pretty sure Matthew Stafford is good, the rest of that stuff we’ll figure out.’’
Patricia noted that cornerback Amani Oruwariye has been working hard, Justin Coleman too and obviously Desmond Trufant who signed as a free agent after Darius Slay left.
“We’ll see how it shakes out,’’ Patricia said.
So far the coach, entering his third season with the Lions, seems happy with Okudah in the early goings.
“Jeff is working really hard, he’s trying to do everything. He’s learning our system which is great and competing. We’ll rotate that as we go through with different looks and different packages,’’ Patricia said.
Overall he seemed happy with the first padded practice.
“It was a really competitive day which was very pleasing for me. We talked yesterday that we’re four weeks out from yesterday before our first game. I do feel a little bit like ‘Oh man, we’ve got to go, we’ve got to get all this stuff in, we’ve got to get rolling.’
“We wake up this morning and we’re going out for a 90-minute practice because that’s all we’re allowed to do. So you’re just trying to scheme it and put it together so it moves as fast as possible. I thought the team really answered that bell,’’ Patricia said.
The Lions open their season on Sept. 13 at home against the Chicago Bears. All NFL preseason games have been eliminated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That makes every minute on the field crucial.
“I could be out there for another six hours just working on fundamentals — pad level, hand placement and footwork,’’ Patricia said. “I’m excited just to see guys trying to do it right. The key will be to go out tomorrow and improve on what we did today.’’