Max DeMara of Lions 101 will spend part of this week and next visiting and watching the Detroit Lions during their training camp in Allen Park, Michigan. Armed with only a ballpoint pen and an index card, he'll jot down everything interesting and mundane that fans need to know prior to the 2013 season.
Viewing training camp live for the first day, incidentally, is a lot like heading to the first day of school. Butterflies in the stomach, excitement, and goose bumps which resulted either from sheer anticipation or the shockingly balmy 60 degree temperatures early in the morning which have stunningly taken hold in Michigan during the hottest months of the year.
Sitting near the corner of the far end zone, workouts began with a blow of the whistle and yell. From there, players stretched and then filed away into their respective corners. Backup offensive lineman Rodney Austin brought the energy early with a few primal screams, then quickly mocked guard Derek Hardman who muffed a catch as lineman shagged balls. With that, things were off to a running, humorous start.
Early Special Teams Warmups:
-Reggie Bush carries himself differently. The way he walks, acts and moves is smooth. The ball barely moved as he casually shagged balls from a machine. When people say a player "carries himself like a pro," Bush on Friday is likely what they're referring to.
-Steven Miller, a jitterbug, might actually be smaller than Darren Sproles, if that's possible. Standing next to everyone on the field, he looked like a midget, but he did tend to get lost in the pile, then quickly spring free for extra yardage. That's probably the reason the Lions used him plenty on kickoff returns, and he showed well there.
-Havard Rugland's leg isn't impressive as in his videos. He boomed a few kickoffs, but that was it. Sam Martin, however, has a nice leg, blasting several punts deep. Perhaps fans will soon realize why he was drafted in the fifth round.
Wide Receiver Drills:
-Interestingly, the Lions possess both size and lack of size at wide receiver. Of all the wide outs on the field, seemingly half had to duck under bars during drills and the other half barely had to move at all. Up top, the Lions clearly have bodies to create matchup problems, deep and across the middle, their speed and small size could play a role. It's an interesting offensive plan.
-Hands, at least Friday, looked improved. In all the drills receivers ran, only five passes were dropped, and most were from borderline players who's roster spots are not guaranteed. Matt Williams and Michael Spurlock dropped two early, and Mike Thomas and Kris Durham did later, but each of those was the result of a poor pass.
Offensive One-On-One Drills And Red Zone Work:
-Size played a role here, as Detroit's bigger receivers used impressive vertical advantages to their benefit. The best catch of the day was made by Durham, who rainbowed down the left sideline and caught a back shoulder pass in stride over a smaller defensive back.
-Detroit wasn't afraid to run at the right side of the line with Corey Hilliard at right tackle. Most of their running plays during drills went to the right, and most were successful. The Lions also used Miller and Theo Riddick plenty in the backfield to every side. Might they be planning on running with smaller players more in 2013 for a "thunder and lightning" approach?
-Bush, when lined up at wide receiver created an interesting wrinkle which could confuse defenses. Joique Bell remains excellent in the passing game and the Lions' tight ends will end up playing a major role here, with plenty of matchup advantages over linebackers.
-Defensively, Nick Fairley looks much quicker in the middle given his weight loss. Ziggy Ansah, as he learns the game, will be a dominating force. He came off the line quick, but Detroit's offensive line held up well against him.
Numbers To Know:
1, The number of batted passes and fumbles today. Mikel Leshoure dropped the ball, but Bell quickly picked it up.
6-7, Different types of shirts being sold bearing the term "Lionblood" which is Nate Burleson's new clothing line sporting a cool, vintage look.
46, Cornerback Domonique Johnson's jersey number. Johnson showed fantastically early, making a nice batted pass which earned Gunther Cunningham's applause. Then later, he was burned offensively, showcasing how every single snap, even without the starters playing, is meaningful this time of year to someone.
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