ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- It wasn’t always pretty Friday afternoon for the Detroit Lions. From the weather outside -- thunderstorms and a downpour forced the first training-camp practice of the year indoors and away from most fans -- to some of the play itself, it was clear the Lions were still working their way into things.
That’s to be expected, as Detroit has been off for six weeks and is still installing a new offense. The Lions also couldn’t be in pads yet, either, so it was more like a spring workout than a full-on training camp practice.
Still, there are things to be gleaned from Detroit’s first official practice of the 2016 season, starting with the team’s new slot receiver and including the fact that team owner Martha Ford and her daughter, vice chairman Sheila Ford Hamp, were in attendance.
1. Anquan Boldin looks good: Yes, there was no hitting. And yes, Boldin has officially been on the Lions for less than 48 hours. Still, the 35-year-old slid in as if he had been with Detroit for a while already. He worked with the first unit -- Marvin Jones and Golden Tate -- for a good portion of practice taking reps out of the slot. He made some nice catches and appeared to fit right in with the group. Coach Jim Caldwell said Friday the team never actually worked Boldin out, just had him visit. But he felt confident Boldin would have something left because of the “body of work” he has shown in the past and because Caldwell had worked with him before in Baltimore. So far, so good there, one day in.
2. As expected, Taylor Decker is at left tackle: Caldwell indicated as much Thursday in his pre-training camp news conference and followed through with it during Friday's session. Again, not too much can be picked up during a non-padded practice, but the Lions are giving Decker, their top pick in this year's draft, every chance to win the left-tackle job. Caldwell did say Decker mentioned the increased speed to him Friday, so that should be something to pay attention to with him as pads come on and camp progresses.
3. The receivers beat the corners badly Friday: The one-on-one drill toward the beginning of practice went particularly in the offense's favor, as it took 24 reps for a defensive back to beat a wide receiver in the drill by either shutting him down or not allowing him to catch the pass (there were two "ties" among those 24). Some of that had to do with the Lions corners not being allowed to press the receivers, essentially giving them freer short routes, but it was still an impressive showing by the receiver group as a whole. Darius Slay broke up a pass for Tate on rep No. 25, the first defensive-back win of the practice. Slay had a good day overall, breaking up a couple of passes between that drill and more team drills later on.
4. Jon Bostic got some surprise reps: Looking for an under-the-radar player to make some moves? Bostic might be your guy. With DeAndre Levy on the non-football injury list, his Will linebacker spot opened up. This would have seemed like a spot, particularly in nickel, for Josh Bynes to slide into. Instead, it was Bostic, wearing Stephen Tulloch’s old No. 55 jersey, who lined up next to Tahir Whitehead for first-team reps. It’s still Levy’s job whenever he returns, but Bostic made a clear impression early enough to pick up some work with the first team. The Lions traded with New England for Bostic earlier this offseason -- general manager Bob Quinn’s first trade in his new job.
5. Some good and bad on opening day: Matthew Stafford might have had the play of the day Friday during 11-on-11s. While moving left at a bit of a run, Stafford unleashed a strong pass to the right side, around 15 yards downfield, that hit Jeremy Kerley in stride for a long completion. It was one of the best offensive plays of the day. Safety Isaiah Johnson had an impressive breakup on a Jake Rudock pass that was intended for Jace Billingsley. Johnson should have intercepted it, though, so he ended up doing pushups off on the side when he came off the field. ... In the oddities department, an errant thrown football hit defensive lineman Kerry Hyder in the stomach during a special-teams drill, knocking him to the ground. It was an unusual sight for a few minutes, but he seemed fine. ... The first turnover of the season came on the first drill, when Billingsley fumbled a punt return that was recovered by the defense. … Other than Levy, Don Carey (NFI), Brandon Pettigrew, Corey Fuller and Corey Robinson (all on the physically unable to perform list), the Lions were fully stocked for their first practice. Robinson was spotted doing work on the side hitting bags. ... The first day also saw the first skirmish of camp, as newly signed defensive lineman Quanterus Smith got into a short shoving match with offensive tackle Luke Marquardt late in practice. It was broken up before it got past the pushing-and-shoving stage.