Jeff Okudah expected to start, but on first day with pads he lines up with reserves

Lions open season on Sept. 13 against Bears

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.’’

 

Lions GM Bob Quinn preps for an NFL draft unlike any other due to COVID-19

No one knows for certain if there will be an NFL season in the fall, but Detroit Lions GM Bob Quinn is thinking positive.

“I do think there will be a season, but I haven’t been told that. I’m like you guys, I’m hoping that this pandemic gets cleared up as soon as possible and we can get back to life as normal,’’ Quinn said on a Zoom call with the Detroit media on Friday. “That’s including our home lives, our family lives, as well as our professional lives. If I had to guess, yes, but I don’t know. I don’t know. That’s something that we are waiting for the League to tell us about as we get further down the road.”

The three-day NFL draft will go on as scheduled starting on Thursday, April 23. The Lions have the No. 3 pick and eight others. However, it’s a virtual draft of sorts — no big stage and no awkward handshakes with Roger Goodell. The NFL commissioner will be working from his home office, same with Bob Quinn and the other NFL GMs.
Quinn says he is set up with a TV, three monitors, two laptops, a “draft phone” and his home phone. He also has two cell phones and a printer

“We can’t obviously replicate our draft board in my office here, so all the draft boards, needs boards, all of those things will be emailed, printed, they’ll probably be screen-shared on some platform that we’re still evaluating on which one we want to use next week – but we have two good options that we narrowed it down to,’’ Quinn said.

He also mentioned they will have backups on everything for his office and coach Matt Patricia’s too. Quinn has worked from home for a month and said everything is working out well.

The Lions will participate in the NFL’s mock draft on Monday to make sure all systems are a go.

Following the draft the Lions will hold three weeks of virtual workouts starting on April 27. Beyond that, everything is up in the air for the NFL and daily life. Quinn will wait for word from the League.

“I personally, and as an organization, we haven’t had a lot of dialogue with the League about the season or anything like that,’’ Quinn said. “The latest dialogue that we’ve really been concentrating on is like, how this draft is going to work, No. 1 and how the start of the virtual offseason program is going to work. So, we’ve had no communication about the season whatsoever.”

Life has changed so much with the COVID-19 pandemic that there is some talk the NFL could start the season without fans.

“I can’t really put into words how different it would be. It’s something that we would probably have to talk at length with our players about how to handle it, how to handle it without the atmosphere and the energy level. You’re going to have to bring that energy yourself,’’ Quinn said. “Just to be honest, I haven’t put a lot of thought into that.’’