ALLEN PARK, Mich. – It didn’t have quite the electricity of Wednesday night’s full-padded practice, but the Detroit Lions were in shells, shorts and helmets on Thursday – and that meant there would be some hitting going on.
More players were on the ground than Lions coach Jim Caldwell would probably have liked, but the biggest hit of the day came from wide receiver Ryan Broyles, who hit cornerback Josh Wilson and then stood over him for a second.
After practice, Broyles insisted he wasn’t trash-talking, but was apologizing.
“I don’t think I’ve laid a guy out like that for a while, man,” Broyles said. “It wasn’t my intentions going into it, to be honest. It just happened.”
Here are some of the things that caught my eye during the fourth day of training camp:
1. Corey Robinson impresses during individual drills: Robinson, a seventh-round pick, is in a competition for a roster spot at offensive tackle with Michael Williams and Xavier Proctor. Robinson made major strides Thursday afternoon. He dominated during his one-on-one session by stonewalling defensive ends Phillip Hunt once and Larry Webster twice during individual offensive lineman vs. defensive lineman sessions rushing toward a bag that is supposed to represent the quarterback. The No. 4 tackle spot is a competition that is far from over, but Robinson stood out Thursday. The No. 4 tackle spot is an underrated position of importance with the Lions, as the No. 4 tackle has ended up starting games for Detroit the previous two seasons.
2. Ameer Abdullah has another nice day: With Joique Bell still out, George Winn and Abdullah handled a lot of the first-team carries – and Abdullah again looked strong and decisive with his cuts. Because the Lions don’t want to fully take guys to the ground, it’s tough to tell exactly how he would have fared, but his instincts are definitely there and definitely strong. He also had the most impressive return of the day during the special-teams period, finding a hole and cutting right through it. Even with somewhat limited contact, it likely would have been a big return. Plays like that in practice could help Abdullah win the returner job by the start of the regular season.
3. Josh Bynes picks up some first-team reps: With DeAndre Levy sidelined Thursday, Bynes often lined up next to Stephen Tulloch and Tahir Whitehead in drills. Considering the packed nature of the linebacker position, any first-team reps should be noted. Bynes is also a strong special-teams contributor and had a role in the defense last season after he was signed following Tulloch’s knee injury, so he seems on a good path again. Bynes didn’t do anything that really stood out Thursday, but the fact that he received first-team reps could be significant.
4. The offensive line has a good individual day: There were some issues during team drills – at least a couple of potential sacks of Matthew Stafford if quarterbacks were allowed to be hit – but during the aforementioned individual drills against the defensive line, the offensive line stood out. By my count, the starting group of offensive linemen won all but three of their reps against potential defensive starters. Particularly impressive was Larry Warford, who continually stood up his opponent during the drill. I’ll be charting this as much as possible throughout camp.
5. Tyrunn Walker will be one to watch: In a somewhat wide-open competition at defensive tackle, both Walker and Caraun Reid have taken a lot of first-team reps with Haloti Ngata out because of a strained hamstring. It feels more and more likely that one of those two players will end up lining up next to Ngata, and I was impressed by Walker on Thursday. He had good burst in the individual drills and really seemed to manhandle the players he was facing. Most of those were second-teamers during the individual period, but the speed is clearly there.
6. Darryl Tapp is having a good camp: Didn’t notice him quite as much Thursday as the past two days, but the veteran defensive end is making a lot of plays with Jason Jones still on the physically unable to perform list. Tapp got into the backfield a lot Wednesday night and always seems to be getting some sort of pressure. He was also quite good in the individual line drill Wednesday night. While he is still likely a rotational end, he is the vocal leader of the defensive line group and if he’s making plays, that can only help.