ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The play appeared to be blown dead -- it's sometimes tough to tell when quarterbacks can't be hit -- but what happened in the seconds when it was unclear what was happening were some of the most impressive of camp.
It illustrated two things.
First, Stafford has complete comfort in Jones at this point. He likely doesn't make that throw to many other receivers on the roster and it showed just how good Jones' awareness and hands are. He put his hands up at the last possible second -- good trackers of the ball do that -- to throw off the defensive back and make the catch.
Second, the window Stafford threw the ball into was minuscule, even by NFL standards. The only way that pass was going to be completed was if he threw it in a small spot just over Lawson's shoulder. He did. It was complete. It was a heck of a play -- whether or not it counted.
It was a continuation of what has become a strong rapport between Stafford and Jones, who impresses every day he's at training camp. I can't think of a day when Jones had a bad day of practice.
Some other observations:
1. The Lions are getting thin at key spots: Josh Bynes sat out practice Monday, leaving the Lions without their top three options at Will linebacker. DeAndre Levy is “close” to returning, in his words, but he's still on the non-football injury list. Jon Bostic had surgery Monday and is out for the foreseeable future. That meant Kyle Van Noy was taking snaps alongside Tahir Whitehead with the first-team defense and fifth-round pick Antwione Williams as the third linebacker in base defense. It also showed how fast a team can go from potentially having some strength at a position to plugging holes with players out of position. The other spot to watch is offensive tackle, where top backup Michael Ola limped off the field after suffering an injury during practice. The team's depth at tackle is now Cornelius Lucas, Corey Robinson and Luke Marquardt.
2. The offensive line looked better: This was one of the better days for the offensive line in individual drills against defensive linemen. The interior of the line won three straight reps against first-teamers, with Larry Warford, Travis Swanson and Laken Tomlinson all winning reps in a row. Both Warford and Tomlinson, in my view, won both of their reps Monday. That's a continuation of what has been a strong camp for Warford and a positive for Tomlinson, who has definitely struggled at times. Meanwhile, the education of Taylor Decker continues. Ezekiel Ansah crushed Decker on a rep, took down the hanging blue bag with force and then slid on the ground after, almost like a Slip-N'-Slide since the grass was so wet from a downpour earlier in practice. Decker also lost the last rep of the drill as Brandon Copeland completely pushed Decker back into the bag.
3. It poured hard for about 10 minutes: The Lions kept going outside, though, and actually worked in full-team goal-line during the heavy rains. The drill included Lawson's best play of the day -- a pass breakup on a Matthew Stafford pass in the end zone intended for Golden Tate. Tate wanted pass interference on the play but wasn't getting it. This was also the period where Ola got hurt. Khyri Thornton made another impression in the drill as well, as the defensive tackle broke through the line and hit George Winn hard. Had it been more full-speed, he would have knocked him completely down.
4. This and that: Reserve tight end Adam Fuehne got some first-team run early in practice alongside Cole Wick. Could be a case of Detroit trying to see what it has in the 6-foot-7 undrafted free agent. Same with fourth-round pick Miles Killebrew at safety. He briefly got some first-team action as well. ... Besides Bynes and Ebron, the Lions were without offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz and linebackers Zaviar Gooden and Bostic. Don Carey also left practice with an injury, but it's not clear what happened or if he returned to the field because it happened fairly late in the day. ... The hit of the day came from Tahir Whitehead, who laid out Theo Riddick early in practice. ... The punt return competition seems to be wide open still with Ameer Abdullah, Jeremy Kerley, Andre Roberts, Jace Billingsley, Golden Tate and TJ Jones all lining up there.