Monday, August 10, 2009

Saturday, August 8th, Ford Field practice.

Day two of my excursion into downtown Detroit brings Lions news that a lot of you may have already heard, or read, or where told about. But since I have nearly 7 pages of notes to type up, I’m going to tell it as I saw it (and as we all know, any two Lions fans watching the same thing can come up with completely opposite views of what they saw).

Got a couple of nice seats around the 25 yard line about row 6 or so, close enough that someone in the row in front of me said something like “good look Ernie” and the entire section was welcomed to an angry look from Mr. Sims who had heard it. (I’m just not sure he heard what was said correctly, in fact I assume he did not.) Ernie Sims is one very intense man. He is full of 0-16 and needs to release it on someone. I pity the poor team he releases all that on.

Turns out that the Commish was there. I thought it great he got to see over 15,000 people show up to a practice for a 0-16 team, most of whom waited in the rain (a heavy rain) to get in. I applaud all who attended. There is no better way to show your support of your team to a guy like Goodell then what happened, especially after the recent past.

I think it impressed coach Schwartz as well. He stated in his address to the attending fans that the commissioner was there and that it would be very wrong to take away the tradition of the Thanksgiving game from the Lions. He used the size of the crowd to support his stance. Now if only he could get BishopDon to shut up about it. (If you don’t know who that is or his stance on this issue, you haven’t spent enough time at the Mlive Lions Forum.)

While the players were warming up, stretching, and what-not, Jason Hanson worked on his field goals using a wire to hold the ball. Basically, he was warming up, in his own way. By my count, he made 4 out of 5 kicks from 53 yards out, and 2 of 3 from 55 yards out. He was not exactly happy with that (but I was).

I saw Cook, Dizon, Fitzsimmons, Pettigrew and Morris there but not participating. There were probably other hurt guys there but they either weren’t visible to me or weren’t wearing their jerseys.

The team broke up into their usual positional groups for drills; in front of me were the linebackers (again) so I watched the defensive line across the field from me. Not going by height, or actual weight, but by appearance, it seems to me that Jackson is the largest dlineman on the team. Second goes to Darby. Third to Ikaika Alma-Francis. And the fourth largest is John Gill. Strongest? Heaviest? Best player? No idea. Wasn’t comparing that. Just the visible size difference as they stood there in a group.

Now the play by play. Due to people leaving their seats and my having to move to allow them through, and due to my camera not cooperating all the time, and answering questions by those around me, I missed some of the plays. So the following is not complete. Not accurate. And when it comes to whether a play failed because of a bad throw, a bad attempt at a catch, or a well defended play… well, that comes down to the interpretation of the viewer. Having said that, this is what (I say) happened… (oh, and trying to keep track of who threw it, who caught or didn’t catch it, and who defended it… ha! (I’m only ONE person.)

In the one-on-one drills:

Culpepper threw to CJ, it was not a catch, very well defended. Kevin Smith dropped a pass. Threw out of bounds to Williams (overthrow). Then Jennings caught a great pass in traffic.

Stafford threw to a TD to Boldin on a great pump fake play. To Fowler a nice catch in stride. Then an incomplete to Sippio who appeared to have run the wrong route. (For sure missed some plays in there)

Stanton overthrew the receiver on the first pass. Dumped off a pass to the RB perfectly. Threw to Williams who slipped and missed the catch.

Back to Culpepper who threw to Jennings for an incompletion. Then Boldin had a nice catch. Sippio in stride. Then a good short pass to Gronkowski.

Stafford to CJ complete in good coverage. To Williams but would need instant replay to see if Williams was inbounds on the catch. To Harris overthrown deep.

Stanton to Boldin who slipped and nearly caught it anyway.

Summary. Nothing great, nothing horrid, and they ALL have a LOT of work ahead of them.

7 on 7 drill….

Culpepper to Kevin Smith nice short pass in stride. Throw 2 was an incomplete (was pass interference by Sims but not called). #3 to Heller for a completion. #4 out of bounds (bad throw, bad route, intentional? No way to know, like I said, it’s that way for any play). #5 to CJ one handed try with good D coverage. #6 had to kneel to set up field goal (the goal of the series of plays was to get in field goal range in so many seconds). A successful series.

Stafford to Cason for short yardage. #2 to Gronkowski incomplete deep. #3 to Colbert, out of bounds (again, throw, route, intentional?). #4 to Gronkowski complete for a first down. #5 to Colbert high and out of bounds. #6 to Gronkowski 1st down. #7 was a spike to stop the clock. 10 seconds remaining… threw another 1st down to Colbert and called timeout for field goal. A successful series.

Stanton to Jennings 1st down. #2 to Heller 1st down. #3 too high for Harris. #4 incomplete by Bodin. 4th down pass #5 for a first down to Jennings. 15 seconds left. Spiked it to stop the clock. #6 overthrown out of bounds. #7 kneel down to stop the clock for a field goal. A successful series.

Special teams then worked out, with Jason getting live action attempts (versus a wire holding the ball as before practice started). He was good from 38, 41, 43, 47, 50, and then 53 yards. Perfect.

Then they went to a live team drill….

Stafford started it with DeVries knocking down his pass. Run play by K. Smith for short yardage tackle by Sims. Complete to Felton (I made some kind of note here about Buchanan that I can not read). Smith had a nice run to the outside. Overthrew a nice pass to Heller deep middle. Felton had a nice run up the middle. (note the use of the fullbacks in both runs and passing? Yeah, me too)

Culpepper to Allen Ervin who caught the dump off pass. Kevin Smith ran hard up the middle. Felton ran up the middle. A nice deep pass to CJ who caught it (but he did push off it was not called). Sippio same play, fell flat trying to catch it. He just wasn’t fast enough.

Stanton hands it to Aaron Brown for short yardage. Naked boot leg, ran it for a few yards. Naked boot leg (faked) it was handed to Aaron Brown who ran into a pile of guys and reversed field for a nice run (haven’t seen that in, oh, about 12 years I’d say). Fowler drops a nice deep pass up the sideline. Aaron Brown worms his way up the middle for a nice gain. Allen Ervin was stopped quick on his run. Darby then stuffed Brown real quick.

From there they took up Kick Off practice…

Buchanan was one of the kick returners. As was Derrick Williams, Dexter Wynn who let it go over his head.. twice (by design?), Ramzee Robinson dropped his, Jennings dropped one. Chris Robinson good.

Now back to team drills…

Culpepper to CJ on a short pass, stopped quick by Henry. Pass #2 would’ve been a sack but Dante completed it to Jennings. #3 was a double blitz (left and right), not picked up, throw to CJ was over his head. Very nice Defensive series. Sammie Hill has his hands on his hips already. (Means he’s tiring). Cason tried a run up the middle, Peterson stopped him. Short pass to Colbert is good. Nice pass to Fowler is good.

Stafford hand it to Aaron Brown who is quick up the middle. Williams caught a short pass as he was wide open. Took exception to the tackle. Didn’t see who the D was, but a small fight broke out between them. Throw to Williams again, it went off his shoulder (consider it a drop, or miss, whatever). To Colbert, nice catch in stride. Appears bigger then he supposedly is. A throw to #46 Carson Butler. Then a nice long pass to Colbert.

Stanton did not play in that series.

New drill. 10 seconds on the clock, 1 time out. 30 yard line. Need a score….

Stafford to Williams… stopped by Ramzee Robinson short. Pass to Jennings incomplete.

Culpepper to Jennings, complete. Pass to Williams is dropped (or just not caught).

Stanton throws it way way way out of bounds. Jennings catches the next for a 1st down, and the only QB to score.

Now the drill is a full team for the full field…

Culpepper to CJ deep, sails over his head as he never saw the ball and wasn’t to the spot. A nice run by K Smith, now 3rd and 3. Sacked by Hill. Time out. Cason runs it, 2nd and 2. (obviously I missed something in this series). CJ wide open for 11 yard catch. Cason up the middle. 2nd and 8. Fluellen at DT, Jason Hunter at DE. Dump pass to Cason for 1 yard, 3rd and 7. Incomplete to CJ, nice Defense.

Stafford hands it to Aaron Brown, stuffed by Levy. 2nd and 10. Incomplete pass, broke up by Robinson. Pass complete to Boldin, 16 yards. 1st down. Aaron Brown for 1 yard, stopped by Levy. Overthrow to Colbert. Incomplete to Fowler, penalty, automatic 1st down. To Colbert incomplete.
Allen Ervin runs for 6. On a high snap in the shot gun he gets it to Colbert for a first down.

Stanton to Harris, through his hands. Aaron Brown gang tackled, 3rd and 6. To Heller who dropped it. To Felton who was hit hard with the tackle. 2nd and 6 after 15 yard penalty. Felton up the middle for 9. Felton hit the defender hard, very loud hit. Throw to Williams 1st down. Incomplete pass to post, not one WR was near it (bad route maybe?). Carson Butler (or was it Felton, stupid fonts for numbers anyway, hard to read) TD.

After the practice I stuck around until they started sweeping. Saw #76 (Jeff Backus) with ice wrapped around his arm (I think it was ice). Saw Loper and Schwartz’s wives and kids (kids were handed over the wall to them). Schwartz stayed and signed autographs and talked to about 2 dozen fans at the end. Finally, Cody Spencer started throwing his clothes into the audience, first his shoes, then his socks, and I think an arm band. Later he was interviewed by the press, then on his way (barefoot) into the tunnel he signed the stuff for the fans who caught it… or maybe he signed footballs, hats and such… couldn’t tell.

And that folks was the way I saw it. (Then a few hours later I saw the Tigers get whipped by the Twins, but man, the fireworks after were something to see! Still have not seen the Tigers win a game when I was in the stadium, do I get more then 3 strikes?)


Craig V said...

Thanks for this NetRat. I couldn't make it down to the practice so this is the next best thing.


Ty said...

Awesome work NetRat. FYI, the guy throwing his stuff into the stands wasn't Cody Spencer, it was Stuart Schwigart. I know because he signed my kids' football!


NetRat's Lions Blog said...

Really? Hmmm... I can foresee problems with these new fonts. Or perhaps I just erred on the name I thought I saw over there. Thanks.