Detroit Lions: Training Camp Observations

Aug 2, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate (15) takes to the field during training camp at the Lions training facility. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 2, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate (15) takes to the field during training camp at the Lions training facility. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

Notes and observations from the Detroit Lions’ training camp practice on Monday, August 1st as several players stood out during the session.

It’s still early in training camp season, but the Detroit Lions first open practice gave us some insight into how players are progressing or falling behind. Some players are getting lots of preseason hype, and deservedly so, while others are being written off too soon.

Keep in mind that this update is a current look at where the players are now and they still have over a month to change their impact on the Lions roster.

Here’s a look at what I saw on Monday:


Matthew Stafford looked smooth dropping in passes all over the field. He is off to a solid camp. Dan Orlovsky had some beautiful throws as well as some fluttering soft passes. Jake Rudock is still learning and is clearly behind. He looked to have hesitation after completing his drop backs, which isn’t good for an offense that is utilizing quicker passes this season.

Running backs

There was not a lot to learn here as Ameer Abdullah was still wearing a non-contact red jersey and Theo Riddick was not in pads and watched from the sidelines. The only other back that stood out on the day was fullback Mike Burton. Burton showed pop in position drills, regularly knocking linebackers back. Burton was also used to fill gaps when the offensive line practiced their zone blocking plays.

Wide receivers

There was a clear separation of wide receiver levels on Monday. Starters, Golden Tate and Marvin Jones both looked to be on the same page as Stafford and clicked often throughout the day. The biggest thing I took away from this practice was that Anquan Boldin is the clear third receiver.

The hype around him is warranted as he caught everything that was thrown his way. Not only was he catching everything, he also showed the ability to separate from the defensive backs on his underneath routes. Additionally, when he made his catches, you could hear the pop from across the field as he aggressively attacked the ball.

After the top three, TJ Jones showed he has the inside edge as the fourth receiver. In the tweet above, Jones completed this play by making a diving catch in the end zone.

As of right now, if I had to pick a player for the fifth wide receiver spot it would be between undrafted free agents Quinshad Davis and Jay Lee. Both receivers made some great plays at practice.

Davis showed that while he’s not quick off the line, he has a bit of shake to his game to help him gain separation.

Jay Lee used his speed and a sweet double move to make two fantastic plays. He may have a slight edge on Davis right now because his ability to stretch the field is something the Lions could use in their offense.

Veterans Jeremy Kerley and Andre Roberts both showed good speed but didn’t get the separation the rookies showed. It was a rough day for Jace Billlingsley who dropped more than one catch at practice. Ryan Spadola and Andre Caldwell didn’t stand out.

Tight Ends

Eric Ebron continues to play well, he made a spectacular play running down the middle where he went up high to make the catch. Cole Wick was solid and looked taller than his listed  6’5″. Conversely, Matthew Mulligan looked shorted than his 6’4″ listing although he had a wide frame that he utilizes in the blocking game.

Offensive Line

The offensive line did drills on the near sideline at camp but moved to the far side of the field early on in practice making it difficult to observe. They returned for the 11 on 11 plays and looked like they are still working on their chemistry.

During the day, one of the things that stood out was how much taller Taylor Decker and Graham Glasgow are compared to the others. It was easy to pick Decker out among the first stringers and Glasgow looked more like a tackle than interior lineman, especially when standing next to other guards and centers.

During the drills, Joe Dahl looked smooth when playing in space. Coming from Washington State’s system this should be no surprise as this is commonplace. I bring this up because if the Lions have designed plays to bring on a sixth offensive lineman, that lineman will be asked to play more in space.

Defensive Line 

The defensive line worked away from my position at camp most of the day but during the 11 on 11’s they seemed to win a lot of battles. There were reports that Laken Tomlinson and Stefan Charles got into a scuffle at practice, I missed it, but the local beat writers wrote about it. Overall, the defensive tackles look very quick and strong and should be a great position battle to watch as camp progresses.


Like the defensive lineman, the linebackers were not part of my viewing rotation at Monday’s practice. No one stood out good or bad from this group. One thing worth noting, before practice, Bob Quinn made a roster move, releasing recently signed Dominique Tovell and signing Raphael Kirby. This is something that I talked about happening more often under Bob Quinn and how he utilizes the bottom of the roster as spots for players to have camp tryout. You can read that article here.


Like with the wide receivers, there is a clear separation between the starting three and everyone else. Darius Slay is proving he is worth his new deal and looks like and all-pro. Quandre Diggs continues to play well and Nevin Lawson has taken the number two corner spot opposite Slay.

The other corners struggled both in drills that favor the offense and in 11 on 11’s. Someone from this group needs to step up and while lots of these players are getting opportunities, none of them stood out positively at Monday’s practice.


Glover Quin is locked in at the free safety spot and Rafael Bush took every snap with the starters at strong safety. This confirms what most thought, that this is Bush’s job to lose at this point. When Bush was rested, it was Tavon Wilson taking his place. When the defense went into a big nickel set (three safeties) it was Quin, Bush and Wilson taking the field.

Miles Killebrew is running third right now behind Bush and Wilson. He’s still playing catch up with the speed of the NFL game and has a large learning curve to overcome from his college days at Southern Utah. Killebrew has a ton of potential but if you haven’t already done it, it’s time to temper your expectations on how much he will contribute as a rookie.

Special Teams

Not Much went on with the special teamers today. Matt Prater showed he can throw the ball accurately on 40 yard passes. This may not seem like much but if Jim Caldwell dials up a trick play that requires him to pass, he can do it. Sam Martin has a monster leg, but that’s nothing new, I expect him to be on the short list to get a new contract soon.

Next: Detroit Lions: Who Should Get the Next Contract Extension?

Long snappers Don Muhlbach and Jimmy Landes seemed to just be going through the motions in practice. Muhlbach looks bigger and stronger while Landes looks smaller and lighter on his feet. Landes still needs to get more consistent as he had another snap fall short of Sam Martin today.