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Sunday, September 14, 2014

2014 Game 2 - Lions @ Carolina Panthers


Never mind.

The Detroit Lions lost this one to the Carolina Panthers by a score of 7-24. While it's true the Panther's have a great defense, it's also true the Lions needed to be tested by a great defense and also by a road game. They failed the test. Utterly. Never mind that at one point in the 3rd they were ahead 7-6. Once they had the lead they could not build on it nor hang tough and keep the Panthers from scoring.

Part of that failure to build on the lead was due to their rookie kicker, Nate Freese. Prior to taking the lead he failed to convert both field goal attempts. It was quite possibly a career ending day for him, depending on how the coaches handle it. Myself, I might try to see if a way can be found to calm down the ole nerves and get him to do what he is quite capable of doing, that is hitting field goals at pretty much any NFL range. Not sure if it was because he was outside (probably not) or away (probably not) or just nerves (probably so) but missing two field goals under 50 yards in the same game is usually frowned upon so look for the Lions to at least bring in some kickers to evaluate.

That said, Matthew Stafford was only 27 of 48 for 291 yards 1 TD and 1 INT. That's 56.25% which is just as bad as the kicker in NFL terms. Especially since the INT was near the end zone as they were driving, in the lead, and the receiver was well covered. Basically, the play should've never ever been attempted. What makes it even worse, the running game was an anemic 18 attempts for 70 yards, one of which was Stafford for 8 yards. If you want to worry about something, never mind the kicker and special teams, look at the offense as an equal part of the problem.

I'm not saying the game was lost by special teams and the offense, oh no. The defense gets to have their share assigned to them as well. Allowing a partially healed Cam Newton to complete over 64% of his passes for 281 yards and a TD plus allowing another rushing TD despite keeping them to less rushing yards then the Lions had was also disheartening. The Lions also failed to create a single turnover.

Speaking of turnovers, the Lions had a couple, but the reason I'm not harping on anyone about them is because the one was recovered by the Lions and the other two were created by absolutely great defensive plays... where the defenders (as in more then one) would keep the ball carrier from advancing while another defender would have time to wind up and punch the ball, hard, right out of the ball carriers grip. That is nearly impossible to prevent if you are going to try for those extra yards instead of hitting the deck. I suppose if you want to split hairs the ball carrier needs to hold on better, but doing that takes away some speed and power and balance (holding with both arms like that) to the point I'm not sure I would be all that crazy about it happening all the time. I give cudo's to the Panthers on their turnover prowess... and glare at the Lions for failing to do the same.

Another issue with the game is the Lions lost yet another nickel cornerback, possibly for the season, when their 4th round draft pick left the game injured. I think the Lions are fresh out of nickelbacks (not talking the music group here) and since they play in the nickel almost all of the time they are going to have to go shopping for someone on Tuesday. I hope the front office has a good short list.

Finally there's our new coaching staff. They weren't quite a prepared for this game as they were for the Giants. The Panthers were able to turn things around before the 4th quarter got here and stay ahead of the moves the Lions made. That includes the horrible decision to play in cover 2/cover 3 late in the game... the Lions really got gashed then. They couldn't get the kicker to settle down and just play, nor could they keep their star highly paid DTs in the game when they were needed most, in the final quarter. I'm sure there are all kinds of reasons and such, injuries and game plan, never mind the apparent lack of stamina or conditioning or whatever you call it... but if a certain DT wants to make near star QB money he needs to be playing pretty much every snap and creating havoc in my opinion, a lot of havoc, not just a couple times a game.

Okay, I'll try to calm down here enough to make my prediction for next week. After signing a new cornerback and quite possibly a new kicker (but not necessarily) they will have to prepare for the Packers at home. The same Packers who very nearly lost to the Jets today. If some of this mess can be worked on and fixed I think the Lions can give a good game but I'm concerned they will fall short... so I will predict a loss of 24-17.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Game 1 - Detroit Lions vs New York Giants @ Home


Something's missing.

Yeah, I know, about 6 weeks worth of blog entries are missing for one thing. Sometimes life just takes too much time and something has to give, in this case it was writing blog entries. Yet that's not what I'm talking about.

Since it's brought up though, let's do a little catching up. As my previous 4 blog entries indicate, I went to the Lions training camp practices for a couple of days and used that information to update my estimated depth chart as I do every year... prior to game 3 of the preseason. Managed to do the best yet, 49 right.

They kept

QB Moore over G Rodney Austin
WR Ogletree over WR Durham
FB Montell Owens over HB George Winn
CB Lawson over CB Mohammed Seisay

Nailed the rest of it. Not bad for locking it in prior to game 3 in preseason.

Just to steal my thunder though, 2 others in my forum got 50 right (LionHawk and TimT). I'll use that as incentive to do better next year. Then again, I think perhaps they didn't lock in prior to game 3 in preseason, ah heck with it, still need to do better.

The next thing missing is my prediction for the Lions season. I entered it into my contest as 10-6, with that being good enough for 2nd in the division, but not quite enough to make the playoffs... thus ending up drafting 19th overall in the 2015 draft. Since only game 1 is over with there is still plenty of time to beat me out of this prediction as well, which would be fine by me.

Enough catching up, the Lions stomped on the Giants in week 1 with a score of 35-14. Matthew Stafford was 22 of 32 for 346 yards and 2 TDs with no INTs. He even ran in a TD himself. The defense didn't embarrass themselves, nor did special teams. On top of all that the coaching appeared to be top notch. Are they ready for the playoffs after just one week? No. There is still a lot of things they can work on to get better, but they were definitely ready to play week 1, and with new systems on both sides of the ball that's a pretty good feat in and of itself.

No, there was something missing though... I just can't... hmmm... it wasn't Stafford's mechanics, they weren't perfect but they were definitely much improved. It wasn't the game plan, that seemed solid. It wasn't a lack of adjustments in game, that did occur and worked out superbly. It wasn't bad clock management, that too was solid. It wasn't any one thing... ah... that's it... what was missing was the previous coaching staff who couldn't do any of these things correctly. I admit the lack of experience at both OC and DC had me worried. I'm sure that there will be a hiccup here and there still, but as of right now it just plain feels good to have competent leadership running the Lions for a change.

Now, hopefully, they don't do anything to make me eat my words, it took me too long to get around to writing them for that to happen! Still, now the real tests begin. The Panthers now have some film to work with (as do the Lions) and the Panthers have the talent and the coaching to make this road game a tough one. That said, I feel another prediction is in order, so here we go... the Lions win in Carolina beating the Panthers by less then one score (between 1 and 7 points) in a hard fought contest.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Lions Training Camp 2014 - Part IV


Allen Park, Thursday afternoon August 7, 2014

This will be my final installation of my training camp articles relaying the things I saw, some play-by-play, and other tidbits. After the first preseason game (which starts in about an hour) I will go over that and then start on my roster articles. I shall start off with the Quarterbacks.

The QB Coach and all 4 quarterbacks were working on the mechanics of being an NFL QB near the VIP tent which was 50 feet or so to the right of where I was in the stands (5th row, 50 yard line, field closest to their indoor facility). I'm afraid to admit this, but I watched the entire practice at Ford Field last night and never once caught on to the fact that #17 Kellen Moore is a left handed QB. What does this have to do with anything? Well, a lefty throws the ball from a different angle then WRs are used to, and the spiral is exactly the opposite, in other words, the ball is spinning backwards. That makes it harder to catch, for some. Anyway, since at this practice the QBs are much closer to where I am seated I am able to notice how the drill they are working on is stressing good QB mechanics. I also note that #14 Franklin is taller then Moore, as tall and stocky as #9 Stafford, shorter then #8 Orlovsky who has a very thin body frame, and rarely gets in on the team drills, but plays every snap in his positional group drills. I suspect that will make him practice squad material.

I see #62 has on an arm brace, probably for an elbow, #62 is a guard named Darren Keyton. The Centers working with the 4 QBs are #51 Raiola, #64 Swanson (this year's draft pick), #74 Rodney Austin, and #60 Alex Bullard (shows as a guard in the program they just gave me as I entered camp). For some drills they use all 4 centers and all 4 QBs at the same time. This is a new drill I never saw before in the 16 or so years I've been going to camps.

After I noted the QB drills to my right, and the injured players out a ways, the Safeties group move to directly in front of me to work on some drills.
The cameras are 100 yards away in front of me and 100 yards away to my right... so directly in front of me isn't exactly being recorded for later perusal by the coaches, giving some players the opportunity to slack off a bit if they were inclined to do so. I noted that #30 Gomes was just such a player. The drills that stressed coverage or interceptions he was all over, but the tackling drills he merely went through the motions, or so it appeared to me. I shall be curious to see how he does in the games (at tackling). There were very few other players doing this "evasive maneuver" and certainly not as many as I have seen at almost every camp I have ever been to, but if I had to pick one example in the 2014 Lions camp it would be Gomes.

While the DBs were working in front of me 60 or 70 yards away were the QBs, Centers, and WRs. All 4 centers would hike the ball to all 4 QBs at the same time as all 4 WRs would take off and one by one each WR would become a target by one of the QBs. This was a new drill for me, I wish they were closer so I could talk more about it. As it was, I could barely make out what was going on let alone who did well or who did not. I did catch one negative and two flashes of the positive kind... the negative was seeing Durham drop one of the multi-passes, the positives were a great deep route and catch by Ogletree and another excellent catch by Fuller.

Next was the O and D working not on routes or anything but what appeared to be they were working on pre-snap recognition. After that session, I noted Orlo throw a pass and #18 Durham making a great catch, one of those flash types I have mentioned before. I saw Durham make another flash play in the next series too. That would make him pretty even in bad plays and flash plays over the two days I saw. In one of those two series I noted a flash play by TE Fauria who caught another nice pass by Orlo. Orlovsky had a much better practice Thursday then he did Wednesday. Much much better. Though there was one play that was replay worthy, a pass to a WR that got tipped instead of caught, then the defender popped it into the air only to allow #49 Maxwell the TE to make the catch. Nice concentration on his part.

There was a lot of drills going on all over Allen Park Thursday, unfortunately due to the size of the area it was excessively difficult, nye on impossible, to make a lot of it. A few more pics to see just how much area there is to cover there.




Following the practice the fans once again flocked to the fences to get autographs while I prepared for the long drive home. Here you can see just how close the fans get to the players at these practices, just in case you haven't made it to one of them yet.


So there you have it, time to see how these guys do under live bullets, so to speak. For the first time ever (for some of these guys) the Lions will be tackling, getting tackled, sacking and getting sacked... as they take the field and take on the Cleveland Browns. I predict a winning score by the Lions by half time. I have no idea if Moore can maintain that lead until the end of the game or not, but considering the quality of the skilled players on O to help him out, I think they can. I shall predict a meaningless preseason game 1 score of Lions 27 and Browns 20.

Here's to no injuries! Go Lions!!!

Lions Training Camp 2014 - Part III


In continuing from my notes at the Ford Field practice (see the two previous blog entries below) and following another whistle the main practice area added more players from other position groups who were practicing elsewhere and I was able to jot down a few numbers and notes on who was working in the first group (1st string), second group (2nd string) etc. I had already figured out from reading other bloggers articles that the rookies were, to a man, working further down the depth chart. No one was being given a free ride to first string based on the round, or year, they were drafted in. Many coaching staffs do it this way so it wasn't anything unexpected as far as I was concerned.

First thing with this drill I noticed was that #11 Ogeltree was in the slot working with CJ, Tate, Pettigrew, Bell and Hilliard at right tackle. Nothing stood out negative or flashed super positive in this drill as my very next note was the lineup for the 2nd group... which was Waddle at right tackle; Orlovsky at QB, Ross, Broyles and Durham at WR; Lucas at left tackle and Fauria at TE. At RB was Riddick and I think Leshoure. A star by Riddicks name in my notes means he did something in this drill that stood out, unfortunately I hadn't the time to write down what it was. I did have my "up arrow" sign in for Lucas and Fauria meaning that both these dudes look huge compared to their teammates. When I say huge, I don't mean fat. I mean very tall, very solidly built, just giants compared to others on the team next to them. It takes you half a second to realize you want them on your side in a fight, or when collecting money from someone, or whatever it is you are doing. Big big men. I will also add in here that there is no player on the 90 who appears out of shape, fat, overweight, or in any way not svelte. Honed and toned, I felt quite literally like signing up with a gym and exercising more before leaving the building. Now where was I, oh yeah, the 3rd string came up to the line and it was #17 Moore at QB; Reynolds at RT; Thompson at TE; Andrew Peacock, Quintin Payton and Patrick Edwards at WR; #40 Steven Miller at RB. I never did catch if Bush, Fuller and several others were ever substituted in. Like I said, there is a lot going on, too much most of the time to catch it all without that imaginary DVR remote control.

After the whistle another set of plays are run practicing who knows what, this time instead of jotting down who was playing where, or what the situation they were working on was, I just watched to see who did things well, or who blew it... a little "me time" if you will. Anyway, Stafford threw a nice easy uncomplicated simple pass to Calvin Johnson who caught it effortlessly but you'd have thought the pass had won them the national championship the way the crowd went nuts. I just shook my head and chuckled a little, sometimes the simplest of things impress people. I did note that during this drill most of the players stayed the same but the RBs were switched out each snap. After one run through the QB was switched out and Orlovsky was in. I made note that Bentley very nearly picked off a pass right off the bat on a nice angle. #99 (Mosley) then flashed with a great solo "tackle" on RB Miller. When the Lions practice there is no tackling per se, but had Mosley been allowed to, Miller was going to be buried in Ford Field that play. I also had down a flash by Ross on a leaping catch. The next note was that it appeared the 2's and 3's would've missed some tackles were things live, but that may have been due to the no contact thing too. Hard to fly to the ball when you can't actually make contact upon arrival. My notes next contain another up arrow by the number 77, I see that's Lucas again, he must have been huddled up next to his much smaller OL teammates. Right about this time Webster flashed a little something, against Lucas, but Lucas also flashed something, so it was a nice matchup that play.

On the whistle it turns into a field goal drill. #3 Freese is up first. This drill started with getting onto the field FAST and setting up then kicking. As if the clock was at 15 seconds and counting down with no time outs. Freese hit from 37, 42, and 47 with plenty of room to spare. Then #5 and his group rush out to do the same drill, he also nails it from 37, 42 and 47 yards... but hold up... #5 Tavecchio is left footed! He's also shorter, weighs less, and his holder for the entire 2 days of practice was always #2 Butler, and except for the pre-practice time with Muhlbach earlier in the night, his long snapper is always someone else (which explains why Butler and Tavecchio were working with Muhlbach together while Martin and Freese did nothing an hour before, it was their only opportunity to work with Muhlbach). Following that drill Freese is up again in another field goal drill and is good from 44 and then 47 yards with plenty of room to spare. Left footed Tavecchio and Butler set up and he's good from 44 but hits the right upright from 47 and the ball bounces off to the right for a miss. I never once saw Martin hold the ball for Tavecchio which says to me that the Kicker for the Lions this year will not be #5 as I believe Martin is a lock as the Punter making #3 Freese the kicker... after day 2 was over though I realized something else, Freese isn't actually safe. It is very unlikely, in my opinion, that Tavecchio makes the team as the kicker, but Freese is competing against every single right footed kicker who gets cut from the other 31 teams too.

Next drill, no trenches (no OL or DL) and 4 wide (one of which might be a TE or a RB). Stafford to CJ for 20 yards, perfect ball placement. Next play, 2nd or 3rd read, 6 yards to Riddick, also perfect. Next is to Pettigrew for 5 yards, but it's dropped (if you don't like Pettigrew) or it was great defense (if you want the truth). Next snap goes to Leshoure who was the 3rd read for 5 yards, good play. Then one goes to Durham for 10 yards on a come back route. Finally a 20 yard completion to the RB Miller who has good hands. That last might have been Orlovsky or Stafford at QB, not sure when they switched out. Next play Orlo is interecepted by Palmer after popping the ball up, great defensive play. Orlo then hits Leshoure for around 10 yards on a nice pass. The next pass to Ross hits the ground who was in traffic, so while the defense was good, the choice to throw to Ross was not so good. The QB is now Moore, who throws to #82 Jordan Thompson and is defended very well by #50 Lewis. Moore to #41 Riddick is at least 5 yards off target and wasted Riddicks snap. The final play by Moore was broke up by a great play by #36 Green, I missed to the intended target was. No snaps for #14 Franklin in this drill at all, which happens about half the time it seems. Franklin is definitely the #4 QB and has no chance of overtaking Moore... but I am no longer sure either makes the final roster.

Next drill still involves no O or D line, but now it's a redzone drill. #9 to #41 for a TD! (Stafford to Riddick). 39 to #87 (Pettigrew) for 7 yards and maybe with YACs (yards after the catch) was a TD. #9 to #21 (Bush) for only 3 yards. Then, from the 5, Stafford throws off his back foot for the first and only time I saw all practice and hits the crossbar instead of whoever his target was. Way high. Next, another flash play, but the D. Stafford at the 5 to (unsure who) and #33 Greenwood makes a fantastic play to knock the ball down all by himself. #8 Orlovsky takes over and hits #41 Riddick for 5 yards who gets knocked hard to the ground by the defender who couldn't pull up in time. #8 to #12 (Ross) for 4 yards. From the 15 it's #8 to #84 (Broyles) for a TD. Next it's #8 to #32 Winn for 14 yards just short of the TD. New QB, #17 (Moore) to #25 Leshoure for 14 yards. #17 to #40 (Miller) for 2 yards. #17 to #38 (Winn) for negative yards (tackled for a loss). The whistle blows.

Time for some 11 on 11, from the 24 and a long field. The drill appears to be all 3rd downs, from varying to goes. This is a new drill for me, the team would set and re-set at all kinds of 3rd down and distances. Took me awhile just to figure out that this was what they were working on. Anyway, #9 to CJ for 27 yards, 1st down. #9 to #35 Bell but was popped in the air by a great play on D, failed to see who it was though (where's that remote!). #9 to #15 Tate who bobbles it then pulls it in playing against Vaughn I think who almost broke it up. #9 to #35 Bell for a nice gain. #9 to #87 Pettigrew for a nice gain, nice sweet play too. Then another sweet completion from #9 to #10 Fuller. #8 Orlo to #84 Broyles is good for a first down. #8 to #80 Fauria is a first down. #8 to ??? intercepted by #42 Isa Abdul-Quddus but if this was live it's likely Orlo was sacked and never got the throw off. #8 ... whistle, play called dead by officials (who hadn't done that up until that play). #17 Moore throws to #1 Peacock but it's 3 yards out of bounds. #17 to #10 Fuller, even further out of bounds, flag on #42 Isa for a PI, looked uncatchable to me but whatever. #17 to no one, he ran it for a 1st down. #17 to #25 Leshoure, blown dead, it was 2nd or 3rd read and he had dumped it off to Leshoure who played with the 3rd group a lot in this practice. Whistle for a new drill. Still no Franklin time.

It's a 11 on 11 Redzone drill from the 20. #9 to #15 Tate misses wide, I think it was miscommunication more so then a bad throw, but I can't be sure. #9 to #21 Bush for a short gain, nice catch, 2nd down. #9 to #18 Durham for no catch, Durham tripped over his own feet on the drill and stumbled along the route but couldn't recover in time. A 5 yard catch by #80 Fauria then an air ball to no one (someone ran the wrong route I think). A sloppy set of plays really. Now it's #8 to #29 Vaughn who flashed a really good defensive play there (jump ball). #8 handed the ball off on a delay to Leshoure, I think they were trying to surprise the D by running the ball on a pass drill, the D stopped him after an 8 yard gain though. I liked the play. I either missed a play or there was a 10 yard penalty in there somewhere as it was now 1st and goal from the 2. #8 to #84 Broyles for the TD. Back to the 20 yard line, #17 Moore to handoff to #38 Winn, the surprise didn't work this time, only 2 yards. #17 to #49 TE Maxwell, but #86 Payton was out of position and they had to wait for him. Maxwell fumbles, #45 Seisay picks it up for an easy 6. Last play was #17 to (couldn't tell) nicely broke up by #39 Hester in the end zone. I'm going to assume from the lack of execution that this particular set of plays was new that day and they hadn't worked on them until now.

The team huddles up in the middle of the field for a few minutes then breaks up, many of the players head to the sidelines to sign autographs with Bentley in the lead on our side. I watch the mad dash by the crowd for awhile then leave, normally I stay until the brooms come out to clean up but this time I didn't stick around.

Lions Training Camp 2014 - Part II


I only made it to two practices, but in those two practices I saw many things I have never seen before (at a Lion's camp) and I've been going to them since that first year they went to Saginaw, when was that, in 1997 or 98? I noticed one thing different before even leaving home; and that was that the Lions practices were at different locations and at different times lasting different lengths of time each and every day. This year, practices were held at Wayne State, Allen Park and Ford Field. They started as early as 8:30am or as late as 7:30pm, and all hours in-between. Some practices were 1 hour and 10 minutes, some 2 hours and 5 minutes, others an hour and around 45 minutes or so. I knew before even going to Detroit that things were going to be different, I was curious to see just how.

On Wednesday I made my way to Ford Field where I got a great seat a few rows up at the 50 yard line, though I hadn't realized it was on the opposite side from where all the reporters were. No matter, a Lions practice is always scattered all over the field, I was sure to see a lot from this vantage point. I did. Before practice started various players came out on the field to work on their own stretching or whatever (kickers tend to kick, etc). This year Golden Tate came across the field with a football to around the 30 yard line to my right and threw the ball into the audience. I thought he gave a ball away to someone in the stands then the ball came whizzing back out to Tate and he caught it. He proceeded for the next 15 minutes or so to throw the ball into the stands to those seated on my side of the field anywhere from one end zone to the other end zone, and as many as 30 rows up. I was impressed with his accuracy, always hitting the person standing up waving for a pass, and further impressed with most of the fans who were able to throw it back to him fairly close to where he stood at the time. Most impressive of all though was just his interaction with the fans. Various players in the past have joked around a bit, perhaps threw their gloves into the stands after practice, but I have never seen a player play catch for around 15 minutes before a practice session started.


Following that the players lined up on the field for a team wide stretching session. This I have seen before, every year I went in fact, though this time it was Offense to the far side, QBs in the middle, and Defense closest to my side.

Just a note here, this did not happen for all that long, and even less the next day at Allen Park. Appears the players are expected to loosen up on their own prior to practice starting. If there is suddenly a large rash of tight hamstrings this season it might because players aren't working on their own enough to loosen up before games. I'm hoping that this doesn't come to pass

In my notes at this point I wrote about how Muhlbach, Butler and Tavecchio were all working on holding, hiking, and kicks while #6 (Martin) and #3 (Freese) were mostly standing around. I thought at the time that this didn't bold well for Freese, who appeared to me to be slacking off when he should be working on his craft. I realized later that that wasn't the case, more on that in the future.

Finally the whistles blow and the official start to practice begins, right on time (I had gotten there about 40 minutes early). The first drills they worked on at Ford Field was squib kicks. #3 and #5 (Freese and Tavecchio) were the kickers, the returners (due to it being squib kicks) were #34 (Montell Owens), #44 Chad Abram, #41 Theo Riddick, and #45 Jeb Collins. Next they worked on regular kick offs, but not so much the kicking off or the returns, but worked on staying onsides each kick. From there it was Punts and the punt returners were #15 Golden Tate, #21 Reggie Bush, #12 Jeremy Ross, #40 Steven Miller, #84 Ryan Broyles and #83 Patrick Edwards. #31 Rashean Davis was next in line when the whistle blew, time was up, on to the next series of drills.

I had already noticed that Ebron was not in pads, then I spotted #13 TJ Jones also out of pads. It wasn't until after I got home 2 days later that I realized another standing around was Ziggy Ansah. Anyway, at this point they broke up into position groups and each group took up in a different section of the field to do work. It is completely and totally impossible to watch all of it when this happens. In fact, it's hard just to concentrate watching the one group do their drills from beginning to end. Later, when the groups join back up to drill, I was able to do more play-by-play in my notes. The other thing that happens is the crowd, they stand up in front of you to get concessions, or hit the john, or find their kids, whatever. If they're in your row you need to make room for their exit. It's all the time too, still, I managed to spot things here and there, sometimes bad, sometimes good. For the most part, it's all just one small handful of seconds out of weeks of practice sessions, all of which is filmed for later review by the coaching staff, though I found I wanted to hit re-wind on my non-existent remote control to replay things and see what I missed on any and almost every drill.

The WRs did some crossing routes into the flat (what would be just in front of the linebackers if there were any in this drill) and a ball was thrown to them by one of the coaches (the QBs were off doing something in another area of the field). Each WR gets one route. One ball. First in one direction (and they all caught it) then the other direction, they all caught it this time too except for #18 (Durham). The next drill by the WR group was a crossing route but the ball was intentionally thrown behind them. In this drill each WR has to spin around to make the catch (while running full speed the other way). The only drop in this drill was by #83 Patrick Edwards. If there were more drops by anyone (and there might have been) I didn't get to see it what with all the people coming and going in my row and the row immediately in front of me.

The next drill saw the DBs joining the WRs and practicing jams. For the DBs, it was working on how to jam effectively a WR at the line of scrimmage. For the WRs they were working on defeating the jam. Since we fans want both sides to win, we always lose (well, one player wins, one loses, but we don't want anyone losing, right?). A couple of notes I made on this drill, #1 Peacock easily defeated #45 Seisay, or was it #45 Seisay totally blew the jam on #1 Peacock. I'm afraid I can't tell, certainly Peacock was able to easily complete his route is all I know. During this drill it was Slay on CJ and both nearly went down when they tangled up their feet during the jam. Both regained their balance and Slay managed to stick with CJ the rest of the route. Right after this #39 Hester and #84 Broyles made contact and Hester quickly removed his glove and came towards the sideline. I knew he had jammed a finger or something, and sure enough, the trainer met him with a roll of tape and taped his thumb/hand/wrist. He then put his glove back on and re-joined the DBs. These guys do not want to skip a drill.

The next drill saw the QBs join in. This drill was a sight for sore eyes. I have been complaining for years how none of the WRs EVER come back towards the QB when he has to scramble like many other teams do. This drill was a come back drill. The route the WR ran was out, then a full stop and a few steps back towards the QB for the catch. Stafford was perfect on all 5 of his passes during this drill. That too was a sight to see. Absolutely perfect mechanics and spot on perfect passes every time. After everyone got one shot at this drill there was a short coaching session (to which I could hear nothing) and then the WRs each ran an curl out route (or whatever it's called when they go out roughly 10 yards then curl out towards the sidelines). #14 Franklin missed #86 Payton but that was their one chance to do this drill, no repeats. I realized two things at this point in time. One, Orlovsky looks like a stick man next to the other QBs (tall and thin) and that this coaching staff runs through every drill once, no one gets a 2nd chance no matter who it was that messed it up. That doesn't mean they don't work on things in their respective positional drills, just that when position groups work together you get one chance to do it right... just like in a game situation. Everything is filmed, from at least two angles, and everything is reviewed by the coaching staff (and likely graded or otherwise noted) after every practice. When you only have so much time to do your practices you don't have time to stop and do it again, over and over, only moving as fast as the slowest (to learn). I would think this means you don't want to be that guy on film who constantly makes errors. You want to be the guy who does thing so well it sticks out (I call this "flashes"). If you're a player, you want lots of flashes and no negatives, both in the locker room and on film. (That didn't exactly sound right, oh well, you know what I mean).

The next set of drills were run plays. I wrote down that Riddick and Miller were working with Orlovsky or in other words, they are the 2's. Bell and Bush were with Stafford (the 1's) and Bell flashed a great play. Then all of a sudden the QBs were switched up and Stafford was with the 3's (Leshoure and Winn). I presume this was to see how the running backs did with the different QB's, giving one constant and one variable instead of two. Before this set of drills were over, both Riddick and Bush flashed good (borderline great) plays.

My impressions of the Ford Field practice to this point was that some players on offense are starting to stand out, mainly Stafford, CJ, Tate, Bell, Bush, Riddick, and a few others. I was offense heavy because that is who was practicing in front of my part of the field. Had I been sitting elsewhere my report would've been totally different as I would've been watching entirely different position groups practice. If you try to catch everything you miss just about all of it. I had even jotted down the following at this point in my notes; "hard to keep track of 3 drills at once". I also see in my notes that I am not yet half way done with Ford Field but it's nearly 3am so the rest will have to wait until tomorrow afternoon. Thank you for joining me this far and I promise there will be more, a lot more, to come.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Lions Training Camp 2014 - Part I


I made it to Detroit this year (after being unable to for a few years in a row) to see the Detroit Lions Training Camp both Wednesday night at Ford Field and Thursday afternoon at Allen Park. I had planned to use my notes from these visits to make a large blog post about all things Lions but I now realize it's going to take many hours to write so instead I'm afraid I'll be breaking it down into smaller segments and posting them over the weekend. I'm also going to be using my notes to help update my estimated (final 53) depth chart. I will skip the images I took at the Detroit Zoo and save them for my grand kids, you are welcome.

Instead of writing this in the order that I saw things, I'm going to jump around. For example, a few things on the very last page of my notes...

1. near the end of practice on Thursday the 7th Stafford did a kneel down on one of the plays I was watching from across the field. At first I was like, there are only so many snaps in training camp each day and you waste one on kneeling down (victory formation)? But after a little more thought, I realized that like all plays, everyone on the team does actually have to know how to do that should it come to pass... you sure wouldn't want to not have ever tried a kneel down against the Bucs in a 1 point game (for example) or else you could end up flat on your back with the ball heading towards their end zone in someone else's hands.

2. After practice some players head to the sidelines to sign autographs, some go to the "official" autograph area, some talk to reporters of all ilks, others remain on the field to do some extra work with their teammates, and occasionally a trainer and a player or a handful of players will stay to keep working or testing things out. After Thursday's practice both Ebron and Ansah were running 50 yard "sprints" to and from our sideline to mid-field where they would talk to the trainers for a long while, then up and do it again. I believe this repeated like 5 or 6 times.


The one trainer would run with them and took pleasure in making sure he was first back, taunting them a bit it seemed. No one (as far as I have heard) knows why Ebron is being held out of practice but I suspect (and this is a pure guess on my part) that he may have a tightened hamstring a few days back. I have a hunch they worked on loosening him up all practice then tried out the sprints to see how it would react to the exercise. He never pulled up lame so I know things didn't get worse, I just couldn't hear if he felt okay or still tight (assuming my guess is right) after the running was over. Ansah on the other hand is recovering from minor surgery I believe to his shoulder so his running was possibly to help his legs keep in game shape somewhat. I suspect both will be back to 100% sooner rather then later from the looks of it (to my untrained eye).

3. #14 James Franklin, #28 Bentley and #84 Broyles worked on some things together all on their own out towards the right end of the 2nd field (furthest from us in the crowd). At Allen Park there are two full football fields side by side and another partial one out past the right side endzone at 90 degrees to the first two. I was seated in the bleachers at the 50 yard line of the closest field trying to watch what I could but it's not easy having groups of players and coaches and trainers spread out over 15,000 square yards of football fields.
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I was thinking they were the last Lions players to leave the field when I noticed a guy carrying two sets of pads towards the sidelines (he had been doing his own running all by himself on the far left field area). I figured out it was #63 Dalton carrying #51 Raiola's and his pads. So at least some of the vets still make the rookies carry their pads.

I still have a couple dozen pages of notes to write about. Things about how the practices are different then in year's past. Things that I haven't read about such as which kicker is left footed, which QB is left handed, and why that will possibly make a difference in the final roster. Which players flashed at least something during the practices. Who just goes through the motions and who is working hard in the drills. A ton of material really. Look for more in the coming days and hours as I get them done.

If you ever get the chance to make it to a Lions practice I highly recommend you do so, it's not at all like the games on TV and for some fans at least; you realize these are just guys (some fresh from college) who are trying to earn a living playing a game that is part entertainment, part reality TV, and part dangerous to themselves and others. If you see someone in the stands with a small pad of paper and pen making notes instead of trying to get autographs it just might be me.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Which Undrafted Player signed played at Nebraska, same team as Ndamukong Suh?


First, new contract news; The Lions today signed 5th round pick DT Caraun Reid to a 4 year rookie contract with an estimated signing bonus of $188,880 and a first year salary of $420,000. He is the first Lions draft pick in 2014 to sign his contract. You may recall I really wanted the Lions to draft this particular player and I provided some information on him the night after he was drafted. I fully expect he will flash enough during the pre-season that the Lions will keep him on the 53 man roster.

So far I have gone over a few of the undrafted free agents the Lions have signed and what the signing bonuses were for all of them noting OT Lucas received the largest signing bonus followed by FB Abram and SS Couplin. The fourth highest paid undrafted player plays Cornerback but could play Free Safety and/or Special Teams, he graduated from Nebraska with a degree in Family Sciences. Mohammed (Mo) Seisay is between 6' 1" and 6' 2" tall (different sites have different numbers) and weighs in at 202 pounds. He ran a 4.52 40 at his pro-day but has been timed faster. His vertical is 39" and he managed 13 on the bench. He had transferred to the Huskers from a small school but in the 2 years after arriving there was unable to break into the starting lineup. From CBS Sports "Senior Mo Seisay completed his two-year Nebraska career in 2013. Seisay was a key contributor the past two seasons as a versatile reserve in the Nebraska secondary and one of the Huskers' top special teams performers. Seisay saw action in 2013 in Nebraska's nickel and dime packages. He finished the season with nine tackles, including eight solo stops and one tackle for loss. Seisay was one of 19 Husker seniors to play in the bowl game as a graduate after earning his degree in family sciences in August. "

Despite limited playing time in his two years at Nebraska, cornerback Mohammed (Mo) Seisay signed a free agent deal with the Detroit Lions for 3 years with a $5,000 signing bonus, he’ll join up with former Husker and All-Pro Ndamukong Suh.

I'm not entirely sure now how many possible or projected nickel and dime defensive backs are on the Lions roster, and I don't know how many the team will keep when they cut down to the final 53, but Mo Seisay is yet another one to keep an eye on. It's also possible that even if he doesn't make the final 53 he could easily find himself on the practice squad. As I see all the talent on the Lions roster that may not make the final 53 I find myself hoping that the NFL increases the size of the practice squad from the current 8 players to at least 11, if not more, to like say, 22? :-)