Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

Final Detroit Lions OTA Observations: Young players trying to make an impression

By meerna Jun12,2024

Although the Detroit Lions were initially scheduled to have an open practice on Monday, an offseason violation forced the team to abandon that practice. That pushed the schedule back by a day, and the Lions returned to it on Tuesday for their final OTA session of the offseason.

As promised, only young players were present during the last week of training, which was a good opportunity for them to attract more attention from the coaches.

This was a relatively short practice, so it will be an easy day of observation.


It’s always interesting to see which player will remain in the final week of OTAs. Of course, the rookie class has extra work to do, but some older players often opt for much-needed reps.

Here’s the full list of players I saw at Tuesday’s training (newbies are in bold)

QB Hendon Hooker
RB Sione Vaki
WR Jalon Calhoun
WR Isaiah Williams
WR Kaden Davis
TE Parker Hesse
TE Sean McKeon
OT Giovanni Manu
OT Colby Sorsdal
OT Connor Galvin
Bryan Hudson’s G/C
G/C Duke Clemens
C Kingsley Eguakun
G Matt Farniok
EDGE by James Houston
EDGE Mitchell Agude
EDGE by Nate Lynn
EDGE Mathieu Bets
EDGE Isaac Ukwu
DT Chris Smith
DT Mekhi Wingo
DT Brodric Martin
LB Ben Niemann
LB DaRon Gilbert
CB Terrion Arnold
CB Ennis Rakestraw
DB Morice Norris
Sr. Loren Strickland
S Chelen Garnes
S Kerby Joseph
K. Michael Badgley
K. James Turner
P Jack Fox
LS Scott Daly
LS Hogan Hatten

A few interesting names on this list are James Houston, Kerby Joseph (who did some work with the team, wore a helmet for the first time all offseason, but still mostly worked with the coach) and new linebacker Ben Niemann, who signed with the team this year. week.

Tough day for special teams

Last week, coach Dan Campbell said Monday’s practice would be offensive/defense, while Tuesday’s practice would be special teams intensive. With Monday’s practice canceled, it appears the Lions mixed up both practices. Of course, special teams work is crucial for these young players, as their skills in this aspect of the game could be the difference between making the team or not.

There’s not much to say about contact drills, which are still not allowed, but I will note that receiver Kaden Davis has flashed a bit as a potential punt returner. The job is obviously not up for grabs, as Kalif Raymond will likely hold it in 2024, but that’s just another feather in Davis’ cap. On Tuesday, receivers coach Antwaan Randle El talked about Davis’ spring.

“Kaden has been around the league a little bit more, but to be able to go on offense, keep the game going as fast as he did, and then go out there and apply it on the field and make those plays, that’s a challenge, a big deal,” Randle El said.

Sione Vaki continues to impress

Vaki was the only runner to compete, but he impressed in two very short team sessions. His best play came in 7-on-7 when he picked off linebacker DaRon Gilbert on a wheelie route for a significant gain. As the game went 11-on-11, Vaki started a cross-field drive, beating new defender Ben Niemann by a few steps and picking him up by about 10 yards.

Vaki has been one of the most impressive players this spring, and I believe that if he can master some of the fundamentals when it comes to timing and pass protection, he could play a role in the offense, albeit a relatively small one.

A few dimes from Hendon Hooker

It was a decent day for Hooker, the Lions’ only current quarterback. On the previously mentioned circular route to Vaka, Hooker showed excellent passing feeling. Then, when he needed a quick ball to his sharp man Sean McKeon inside the 20-yard post, he hit it perfectly. (Note: This was also a good route for McKeon, who had some steps on Niemann.)

That said, processing still takes time. In 11v11 games, Hooker was sacked twice (Nieman, Mitchell Agude) even though they only played about 10 total plays.

Big mistake by a big rookie

At the end of the 11-on-11 simulated contest, the Lions faced a fourth-and-1. It looked like they were just trying to force the defense to go offside. Instead, it appears Lions rookie Giovanni Manu flinched in a false start. This difficult moment was the end of training.

It’s a learning moment for the rookie, and it won’t be the last time he screws up. But that’s exactly what these OTA practices are for: solving problems.

Despite the setback, offensive line coach Hank Fraley was impressed with the progress Manu made this spring.

“I’m very happy with him,” Fraley said. “He’s learning a lot. There are a lot of things we’re changing about it that you’ve been used to for four or six years. We demand certain things from him, but he is trainable and wants to learn.

By meerna

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