Training Camp Tour – Detroit Lions

Detroit-Lions-Training-Camp-2014

BritViewNFL continues its training camp tour with a day trip to Detroit to see the hometown Lions in training camp action.

Stick with us throughout the week as we’ll also be bringing you an exclusive report from the training camp of the Wembley-bound Jacksonville Jaguars.

Where is BritViewNFL.com?

At the Lions regular practice facility in Allen Park, Michigan – about 20 miles outside of downtown Detroit. As you would expect for a cold weather dome team, the Lions have indoor and outdoor practice facilities. After a morning walk-through inside, the Lions held their main afternoon practice outside, despite showers passing through the area.

5 observations from Detroit Lions Training Camp

Calvin-Johnson

  • Of course, I have watched him on television many times before, but I truly found it special to watch Calvin Johnson work on the practice field just a few yards in front of me. He looks slightly skinnier in person, but it is clear why he wins so many jump balls with his big frame. He made a few eye-catching plays during practice but that should come as no surprise. After practice, I got a 10-minute interview with a true NFL star who is about as humble and down-to-earth as they come. It was a real privilege.
  • Megatron won’t be alone in catching passes from Matthew Stafford in 2014. Reggie Bush continues to be used all over the formation, Joique Bell prides himself on being a good receiver out of the backfield and rookie tight end Eric Ebron is a smooth, sure-handed athlete who moves like a wide receiver. And several receivers caught the eye on Tuesday, including Golden Tate, Kris Durham and Kevin Ogletree – all three made spectacular catches in team or seven-on-seven drills.
  • I was not told as much in so many words, but I got the sense from talking to a host of Lions players and coach Jim Caldwell on Tuesday that Matthew Stafford has been told to tidy up his game. Stafford is a gunslinger and a competitor, but he is also a young passer who turns the ball over too much. That won’t sit well with Caldwell. He is very excited to work with Stafford and feels he can be special, but his young passer has some rough edges that need to be smoothed out. If that can happen, Stafford has every physical tool in the book.
  • Few will believe me when I say this but for the second time in the last three years, I walked away from an interview with Ndamukong Suh and thought, ‘What a nice guy.’ He is charming, affable and well-spoken. But as I suggested to him in our interview, he is also Public Enemy Number One in the NFL. Don’t expect Suh to change any time soon – he openly admits his persona changes when he crosses the white line, all in the name of competitiveness and wanting to win games. You may not agree with his style of play, but not every player on your team can be a Choir Boy.
  • Reggie Bush was built to be a mismatch nightmare for an opposing defense and that’s why I think he is the ideal running back for today’s NFL. Reggie can play in the backfield, in the slot or out wide. What he cannot do is plough away between the tackles for 25-30 carries per game. But that’s fine and is one of the reasons Joique Bell has emerged as a key player for the Lions. Their ‘Thunder and Lightning’ pairing worked out well in 2013 and should be just as dangerous this term.

Did you know?

According to Pro Football Focus, Golden Tate dropped just 3 passes in 2013. The newly-acquired wide receiver also led the NFL with an average of 8 yards after each catch and forced an NFL-high 21 missed tackles. This is a talented receiver who does all the little things very well indeed. I liked his signing at the time, and I still like it now – he is going to seriously upgrade Detroit’s passing game.

They said what?

Neil-Reynolds-and-Ndamukong-Suh

“I might leave him there on the ground for a few seconds… and then I’ll help him up.”

— Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Suh was telling me how he enjoys sacking Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler. He regrets not sacking Brett Favre before he retired and he insists he would like to sack Peyton Manning before the Hall of Famer heads into retirement. I asked Suh if he would help Peyton up after the sack given that he is football royalty. The above quote was his reply!

Final Thought

There were some who felt that Jim Caldwell was not the sexy pick as the new head coach of the Lions. But he appears to be the perfect fit for this team at this time. First, his speciality is working with quarterbacks and that can only help Matthew Stafford. But more importantly, he is a firm believer in discipline and playing fundamentally sound football. The Lions are crying out for that kind of disciplined approach to the game – he will treat his players like men, but they’d better act accordingly or the nice-guy players’ coach will bare his teeth.

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