I managed to get a seat in row 3 on the 25 yard line where in year's past was the "center" of the action... so of course this year it was not so much. Oh well, the good news is after the practice I was able to corner Tom Kowalski who was mumbling something about "there goes avoiding you all weekend". I just laughed and shook his hand. I think he was stalking me since he knew I was going to a Tigers game after I left and he knew I went to one last night as well. Scary, really.
I did make both Tigers games... and that's about all I want to talk about them. Horrible games, especially todays.
So anyway, after the autograph session the players started wondering onto the field. First one out was Derrick Williams. He began catching "kicks" from the machine and was quickly joined by Tim Toone. More of the team arrived a bit after that then Williams and Toone were joined by Aaron Brown, Nate Burleson, DeDe Dorsey, Contravious Parks, and Jahvid Best. Some worked on kick returns and some on punt returns and some on both. Burleson and Williams looked the smoothest at it to me, but that might due to their experience at it. Without the live bullets (a defense) it is really hard to tell how the are doing... except they did all (even the worst ones) look better then last year at this time.
After the horn they went into group drills. The entire offense was on the first half of the field (away from me) so I got to watch the DBs up close and the LBs over from them (again). So Phillips still looks out of sorts, I'm beginning to think he was playing with the ones to get film on him (from a report from the other day). To me he looks like the first guy to be cut from the DB class. Someone was on the field wearing number 36 with no name... didn't know who that was (until I got back to my room and saw the tweet about the Lions re-signing Paul Pratt). Anyway, the DB drills were about concentration and foot/hip work. During the drills Wade was the only one to drop the pass sent his way on one part while #36 also dropped one later on.. and White stumbled on his feet once. If this was normal for any of them they wouldn't make the team. As it is though it was one drill on one day and so I have no idea if it was something unusual for them (for each of them) or something to worry about. I didn't see this problem on Friday's practice from anyone.
My notes say #55 was not smooth and dropped a pass (Landon Johnson). I don't recall the practice play which is why I write it down and look up names later (usually).
The horn blew and some new drills involving both the offense and defense started. First play Stafford throws a beautiful deep ball to Burleson and just as he was about to catch it Houston tips it away (just like the drill from Friday was about). It was a great defensive play... one that Houston always seems to be making if I'm able to watch him. In comparing some matchups; Williams beat White with a pass by Hill; Toone beats Hefney also on a pass by Hill; Phillips got called for interference or should've if he didn't; #87 (Brian Clark) faked out Bly on a great move as did Toone later on; #41 (Dante Wesley) had great coverage on #81 but CJ beat him anyway; Northcutt had a couple of great catches in stride; then King got faked out by Burleson but Burleson didn't complete the catch. (If I left out details I didn't catch them to write them).
The horn blew and my notes say it was 7 on 7 time. There were a whole bunch of short passes that got lots of yards after... really exploiting the LB area (need Levy to get healthy bad!... also note; no LB depth). Stafford is going about his reads quickly, efficiently, and still making a decent looking throw on his 2nd or 3rd reads (of course, no sacking or hitting is happening). I'm not going to post the play by play as I missed either who was defending or who was throwing or who was receiving on most of the plays (hard to catch all 3 when they keep rotating players in on every play).
After the next horn blew it was 9 on 9. KVB 'accidently' rolled over DeDe like a rolling pin and dough. #62 got yelled at, big time (Chima Ihelkwoaba). #24 knocked the ball (fumble) from #44 (Wade and Best). Hill was pulled off sides by Hill (as in Shaun Hill used his voice to draw Sammie Hill off sides). Suh was off sides, twice. My notes say something about Bly making a good play on a RB but I can't read all of it. #85 had a couple of good plays (Schefler, didn't realize then it was him... I don't have ALL the numbers memorized yet). Young got a LOT of personal coaching... during before and after a few plays in a row. Not sure what he did to tick off the coach but he sure did.
Another horn. My notes say that #36 had a nice tackle on a run play but since it was special teams play I don't know what I meant... perhaps it was on a running back on a special teams play? Whatever, #36 (found out it's Pratt did a good play). #97 Hunter got yelled at big time on a special teams play. #50 as well (Isaiah Ekejiuba), in fact, the coach stopped the play and sent him to the sideline and skipped that play entirely.
Another horn and it was announced they were going to play a special situations set.
I saw Kevin Smith play in this, I'm sure it was him. #79 got yelled at (Willie Young) and then talked to by the coach on the sidelines later. I watched for a little while not taking notes. It was all onesided stuff anyway. Did note that Stafford is making fewer and fewer off target throws though.
Another horn and now it's a full out scrimmage. 11 on 11.
First play is a deep perfect ball to CJ... and it's knocked down by Houston, perfectly. Next is complete to #85 (Schefler). Best makes a 1st down. DeDe runs for about 5 yards. A deep ball appeared to be called back. A nice throw to #44 (Best) who ran quite a ways after the catch then slipped and fell making a cut move. Stafford was replaced with Hill who ran a couple plays before #75 self destructed... off sides unabated and another play that was called back for something. Stanton thew about 7 yards to #35 (Matt Clapp). Handed off to #27 (DeDe) for a 1st down. Then a very low snap (shotgun) hit Stanton in the ankle by I think it was Gandy, couldn't tell for sure.
That was it, but I stuck around as usual.
The very first player to exit the field without stopping? Suh
The first player wondering around with ice on the knee already? Kevin Smith
Who carried the hobbled Smith's gear inside? Jahvid Best.
Who found Killer Kowalski on his way to writing his reports? NetRat
And that was all for the day. One final note, I would like to thank the Greektown Casino for paying for 95% of my long weekend vacation. You run a fine establishment!