ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Stefan Charles and Laken Tomlinson got into it during a rep in the offensive line versus defensive line individual drills for the Detroit Lions on Monday afternoon. Then, in the heat of a practice, they got into it a bit more.
Charles and Tomlinson stared each other down. Then, they started shoving each other and it appeared at least one punch was thrown before teammates on both the offensive and defensive line jumped in to break it up. It isn’t exactly what Jim Caldwell wants to see -- the fighting portion of it, at least -- but the intensity appears to be a good thing.
“It shows that the guys are not backing down but at the end of the day, it’s not wanted out here,” Lions defensive end Wallace Gilberry said. “Coach doesn’t approve of it, so it’s not acceptable because at the end of the day, we’re all teammates.
“We don’t want to punch somebody and break our hand or anything. But tension gets high. It’s football. It’s a contact sport. But we gotta control that.”
It feels like there has been more intensity this season in early practices under Caldwell with the Lions. Besides the Charles-Tomlinson dust-up Monday, Luke Marquardt and Quanterus Smith got into a quick shoving argument on the first day of practice and it feels like there have been more near dust-ups this camp than in Caldwell’s prior camps.
Caldwell, of course, would prefer his team walk a line where competitiveness is good and being combative -- not so much.
“Obviously, I think there’s a difference between being combative and competitive,” Caldwell said. “We love to be competitive but there’s a difference being combative. Combative, it ends up being a little bit heavier hitting than you’d like in a situation.
“It’s not necessarily the heavy-hitting but it sort of takes it to another realm. The competition part of it, I think, is healthy.”
The kerfuffle was the highlight of Day 4 of training camp for the Lions leading into the team’s first off day Tuesday. Here’s what else stood out.
1. The offensive line was better Monday -- at least marginally: The defensive line was still dominant throughout most of the day, both in team and individual settings, but there were some flashes of improvement from the offensive line. Riley Reiff, in his one rep against Ezekiel Ansah, won the individual matchup and Geoff Schwartz had a good day running with the second unit in individual work. But the defensive line, from the top of the group to the bottom, has been outplaying the offensive line so far in camp. Right guard Larry Warford said the offensive line is working on techniques now, which might explain the defensive line dominance.
2. Anquan Boldin catches everything: The receiver still has incredibly good hands after dropping three of 107 targets last season according to ESPN Stats and Information. He hasn’t been able to get real good separation so far early in camp, but it hasn’t mattered. If quarterback Matthew Stafford gets it close to Boldin, he’s been coming down with the ball -- even in tight windows or if he has to go to the ground. It’s early, but this could be a good signing for Bob Quinn.
3. Quandre Diggs will grow from this camp: This ties into what I wrote earlier about Boldin, because the person often on Boldin is second-year pro Diggs. And Boldin’s hands and what he’s been doing are not an indictment on what Diggs has done. On many, many plays, Diggs has been right on top of Boldin. Boldin has just been able to catch the ball. But Diggs will make a bunch of those plays. He’s had a pretty good camp thus far, even if it might not appear that way if you were to solely look at receptions. He’s played on the outside some with the second and third units to grab some versatility, but he’s Detroit’s main nickelback.
4. It’s early, but the Lions receivers have a chance to be pretty good: There’s no Calvin Johnson, but the addition of Boldin might make this group deeper than it has been in the past. Marvin Jones has shown good speed on deeper routes throughout training camp and hardly ever has to adjust to where Stafford places the ball. Golden Tate, again, showed his speed and recovery. In a one-on-one rep against Johnson Bademosi, Tate stumbled, recovered and still beat Bademosi down the field. Then, Tate bobbled the ball but still caught it. It was a great play by Tate. The younger receivers, particularly Jay Lee and Quinshad Davis, have both made impressions early as well. Davis seems to catch almost everything and Lee’s size and hands have also been quite good.
5. This and that: Theo Riddick sat out for the second straight day and was walking with a noticeable limp. He declined to speak after practice and Caldwell said Riddick was coming along. Ryan Spadola also sat out practice, while offensive tackle Corey Robinson was taken off PUP and practiced Monday. ... Don Carey, who is on the non-football injury list, did some work on the side Monday, so he could be nearing a return as well. ... The Lions worked on two fields during some 11-on-11 drills Monday, the first time I’ve seen them do that this camp.