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.

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.

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