Detroit Lions training camp observations: DJ Chark shines in Ford Field scrimmage – Pride Of Detroit

Detroit Lions training camp observations: DJ Chark shines in Ford Field scrimmage - Pride Of Detroit

The Detroit Lions held its tenth practice of 2022 training camp on Saturday, and as has become tradition, the team switched celebrations from Allen Park to Detroit and the friendly confines of Ford Field.

Despite only winning three games in 2021, Lions fans are full of excitement and about 18,000 turned out for Family Fest. According to the team, that’s the largest number of fans attending the event since 2015, when the Lions were coming off an 11-win season that included a trip to the playoffs.

“Listen, it’s exciting,” coach Dan Campbell said of the fan turnout. “It really is. I know they talked that there were a lot of RSVPs (for tickets). I knew we would have a pretty good turnout. It’s exciting. We want to give these fans something to be proud of. It was quite long. We have to hang in there and model this issue after what our city is all about.”

If you missed any of our previous observations:

Attendance/Injury Updates

One of the most notable things during Saturday’s scrimmage was the absence of cornerback Jeff Okudah. Recovering from Achilles surgery this past offseason, Okudah worked hard to regain his health and quickly found himself back in the mix for a starting role.

On Friday, Okudah did not participate in the majority of practice, which was not too unusual as many veterans rested with the scrimmage on the docket. But on Saturday, not only did he not participate, but Okudah was completely absent from the event itself. It’s too early to jump to guesses as to why he missed the scrimmage, but that’s sure to be one of the first questions Campbell is asked Monday.

Also sitting out due to injury were Julian Okwara, Levi Onwuzurike, Quintez Cephus, and Ryan McCollum. Additionally, backup offensive lineman Zein Obeid was unexplained, with no reason being given as to why.

There were no changes on the PUP or NFI lists, and CJ Moore – who was just removed from the NFI a few days ago – was still held out of team drills and only participated in individuals and special teams.

Dan Campbell excites the crowd

Before the event began, as has become customary, Campbell gave another pre-scheduled speech to the crowd:

This team works their backside off to give you something to be proud of. They are grinding it out now and I know this, we are starving. We are hungry! So the hyenas better get out of the way.

Setting the table for the melee

The basic layout of the scrimmage would begin in a similar fashion to training camp in Allen Park, with walking, stretching, followed by some light individual drills, and then the bulk of the practice would be heavily focused on team drills, with some special ones. team exercises mixed.

Campbell told the media before practice that the team drills would be “unscripted,” meaning it’s up to the coordinator to adapt to the situation on the field and make the proper play call, similar to what they would be expected to do in a regular . season game

Both coordinators were on the sidelines of today’s scrimmage, and Campbell told the media that both offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn plan to do the same on game days.

DJ Chark shines under the bright lights of Ford Field

Last season, Jared Goff established solid chemistry with Amon-Ra St. Brown and Josh Reynolds, and for the most part, they picked up where they left off — if not improved — when training camp began. So it’s probably no surprise that one of the most popular questions asked among Lions fans is: How is Goff’s chemistry with DJ Chark?

Well, if the last three practices are any indication, they’re already in midseason form.

After Goff connected with Chark on highlight reel receptions in back-to-back practices, the duo maintained their best performance for Saturday, connecting on three above-average plays, including two very difficult catches where Chark laid up for the catch and two touchdowns. The Lions posted all three receptions on their Instagram page:

The first reception by far came on just the team’s fourth play of the day, and would have likely been the best catch of the day if he hadn’t topped it with his 33-yard diving reception for a touchdown to close out practice.

“It went pretty smoothly,” Chark told the media about his performance during the scrimmage. “We practice a lot of these things, talk about a lot of these things. A lot of it came out today. (Goff) took some chances on me, on Saint (St. Brown), with the deep ball. It is our job to continue to help him feel comfortable. We’re starting to get a rhythm.”

Starting to get a rhythm.

If this is Goff and Chark “starting to get a rhythm,” things could get really exciting once they find it.

More offensive notes

Chark was, of course, one of Jeremy Reisman’s top six standouts from the scrimmagebut he also acknowledged Goff’s performance as well, cleverly pointing out:

There’s something to be said for Goff’s confidence, especially as it relates to pushing the ball downfield. He has more confidence in himself and more confidence in his teammates than I saw at any point last season.

St. Brown and Reynolds also caught a touchdown pass by Goff on Saturday, in case you were wondering, Chark absorbed all of Goff’s available chemistry.

The backup quarterbacks were a mixed bag of results, as has become more and more typical. On David Blough’s first series, he threw a quick out to Shayne Zylstra for a minimal gain, had his next pass. broken by AJ Parkerconverted a bubble screen to Tom Kennedy, overthrew Garrett Griffin and was intercepted by DeShon Elliott, then hit Kennedy on a bomb for a landing. On his next throw attempt, he was sacked by Austin Bryant, his first of two on the day.

Tim Boyle also found Kennedy on a nice touch pass for a touchdown but he also had another pass (or two) overturned at the line of scrimmage – which seems to be a regular thing.

D’Andre Swift’s physical gifts have looked improved with his new physique and as long as the health management plan they have him in keeps him healthy, he could be a big factor this season. He remains an incredibly difficult player to cover out of the backfield.

Jermar Jefferson’s day started slowly. He was stuffed by Charles Harris and Eric Banks early, but by his seventh carry, he started picking up chunks of yardage, including scoring a touchdown after an impressive block by Devin Funchess.

For the seven people who track this stuff like me, after spending most of camp upside down, Logan Stenberg is back at left guard (a spot he’s played for years) and Tommy Kraemer was at right on Saturday.

Malcolm Rodriguez’s rise up the depth chart remains

After working with the first and second teams for the first time on Friday, Rodriguez followed that practice with more work with the top unit on Saturday. During walks, Rodriguez again took second-team reps at the MIKE backing up Alex Anzalone and working alongside Derrick Barnes or Shaun Dion Hamilton.

When live drills began, the team opened with special teams, and Rodriguez also worked with the first team in kick coverage. In fact, on the very first play of practice, Rodriguez was one of, if not the first player on the field and was in the perfect spot for the tackle.

During team practices, Rodriguez found himself working with the reserves, alternating between the second and third teams. But when the Lions switched to a sub-package look that featured just one linebacker, Rodriguez stepped into the role with the first team. In the Chark video above, you can see Rodriguez just miss a pass at the front of the end zone on Chark’s first touchdown.

Previously, the Lions tried Chris Board and Anthony Pittman in the single linebacker role, but Rodriguez has the speed, coverage skills and upside that could make him the best fit for the role. It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see this first step to contributing in the regular season.

More defensive notes

As noted in the Blough paragraph, Austin Bryant showed up again with another sack on Saturday. He continues to coordinate effective plays. But Bryant wasn’t the only defensive lineman making some noise, Eric Banks was very disruptive when working against the first team, notching a sack and drawing a holding call on Penei Sewell.

Aidan Hutchinson had a terrific play that really illustrated his athleticism. On the play, the offense tried to leak a screen out to his sideline, and despite aggressively attacking the offensive line, he was able to redirect the momentum of his body and track down Craig Reynolds.

The Okudah-Harris battle remains an interesting battle, but one trait Harris holds over Okudah is his physical game against the run. On Saturday, Harris recognized a Craig Reynolds swing to the right and drove on the ball carrier quickly, putting up a big hit for a minimal gain.

Special Teams

The Lions typically limit special teams to a single target during each practice, but during Saturday’s scrimmage, they focused on all aspects of special teams.

The most obvious special teams battle is at kicker, where Austin Seibert is looking to bounce back from last season’s trip to injured reserve, and Riley Patterson is working to convince coaches that he should keep the job he finished the season doing.

On the day, the pair alternated field goal attempts during team drills, attempting kicks of approximately 41, 41, 44, 50, 54, and 62 yards. Seibert was perfect on all of his attempts, managing to squeak in the 62-yarder off the crossbar and through the uprights.

While Patterson’s kicks were consistently up the middle, attempts of 54 and 62 yards proved to be too much for the second-year player. And that seems to be the difference between the pair. Patterson may be slightly more accurate, but there is a noticeable cap on his distance, while Seibert has the more powerful leg.

Seibert’s leg strength also showed up on kicks. Last year he handled kickoff duties, but after he was injured, the team passed those duties to punter Jack Fox instead of Patterson. That might not seem too important, but it’s all part of the evaluation process for the job.

“To me, it would be a level of talent,” special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said of the kicking competition. “Do they have enough talent? Can they do the things we need them to do effectively from a kickoff and field goal standpoint? Will they be consistent enough? Maybe more factors into it at some point, but I wouldn’t say much.”

The Lions don’t live a tackle during scrimmages, so in kicking and punting coverage drills, we have to make our best guesses about who was in the right position to make a play. Here is a list of the players considered to be doing “treatment” during these drills: Malcolm Rodriguez, Chris Board, Anthony Pittman, Mike Hughes, Brady Breeze, Saivion Smith, Craig Reynolds and Justin Jackson.

The rest of the roles remained the same as we saw recently in camp. Godwin Igwebuike, Trinity Benson, Kalil Pimpleton, and Maurice Alexander returned kicks. Kalif Raymond, Pimpleton, Alexander, and St. CJ Moore was the first team personnel protector and was backed up by Tracy Walker. While at gunner Bobby Price, Mark Gilbert, Hughes, and Benson stood out.

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