ALLEN PARK, Mich. – With one practice remaining, the Detroit Lions are almost done with their offseason program, getting ready to take off for a few weeks and putting in the final touches of installation before doing it all over again when training camp starts in July.
With that in mind, here are some thoughts and observations from Day 2 of Lions minicamp Wednesday.
1. Adairius Barnes had a really good day: Watching the one-on-on-one matchups between the receivers and cornerbacks is a must during training camp but the placement on the field during some open practices has made it difficult to see this offseason. Not on Wednesday. Barnes had a good showing throughout, providing good coverage on two deep passes (one to Jace Billingsley, another to Ryan Spadola). He was a surprise player making the team last season and stuck for most of the year. He’s in a tough battle to win a cornerback job this year, but Wednesday was a good showing at a position with one or two spots open.
2. Overall the secondary seemed better: I’ve mentioned a couple of times this spring Matthew Stafford has looked sharp at points and a little off in others – predictable for spring ball. Much of the same Wednesday, but overall the secondary seemed to be in better positions throughout the day. Beyond Barnes’ day, Quandre Diggs had a nice interception in the end zone on a deep ball from Stafford intended for Marvin Jones in 7-on-7. Nevin Lawson also had a nice pass breakup of a Stafford pass to Jones in 11-on-11, and Lawson and Diggs combined on double coverage on a deep ball to Golden Tate in an 11-on-11 period that was perfect defense. That players not named Darius Slay are the ones being noticed, that’s a potentially good sign for Detroit’s secondary.
3. Marvin Jones, though, has the speed: Not that there was much question about this, but the veteran receiver showed Wednesday how he can blow by cornerbacks when necessary. In the individual corners-vs.-receivers drill, Jones ran right by Johnson Bademosi for what would have been a touchdown – but Stafford appeared to overthrow him by a step. In a real game, that probably would have been completed for a touchdown. Undrafted free agent receiver Michael Rector also showed some speed, beating Des Lawrence on a deep ball from Jake Rudock.
4. Joe Dahl might be the leader: He caught most of the first-team reps at left tackle I saw Wednesday – something that has been a bit of a theme since Taylor Decker went down with injury. Like Jim Caldwell says – and he’s right – it’s tough to glean much from linemen before pads go on in training camp, but it’s clear the Lions are giving Dahl ample opportunity to get comfortable at the spot and possibly win the job.
5. Rookie Brad Kaaya had a rough day: The rookie was all over the place Wednesday, missing on throws and taking too long to make decisions on other passes. He’s still picking up the offense and trying to get things completely down, but he had a bad incompletion to rookie Dontez Ford and another ball where he missed the receiver by a few yards. He also threw another pass behind Ford –although Ford really should have caught it because he got hands on it – and was the victim of drops from other receivers. In what was a rough capper on his practice, he threw an interception on a half-speed drill run to help set up a Hail Mary, too. Rudock, at this point, looks to be pretty far ahead of him heading into training camp.
This and that
By my count, 11 Lions players didn’t participate Wednesday: Running backs Mike James and Theo Riddick, wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, offensive linemen T.J. Lang, Decker and Corey Robinson, defensive linemen Armonty Bryant and Jeremiah Valoaga, linebackers Tahir Whitehead and Antwoine Williams and safety Don Carey. The two surprises there were Williams and Abbrederis, both of whom practiced Tuesday. I didn’t see Williams, Abbrederis or Robinson at practice at all. They could have been on the sidelines, but they were not visible to me. … Fewer players took returner reps Wednesday – Dwayne Washington, TJ Jones and Keshawn Martin. Abbrederis had been in that group, typically. Not likely to read anything into that, yet. ... During one period where starters weren’t getting much work, Slay and Diggs spent time on the side working on getting off the line of scrimmage together. This is the type of side work that often pays off in-season. ... For the second straight day, rookie Teez Tabor got some work with the first unit when Slay came out after a couple reps. Will be interesting to see if that continues into training camp.