Notes from todayâ€™s Lions OTA practices!
Well you can say a lot and I will but today was the worst of the off-season practices that I have seen and it was sloppy.Â There were some surprising developments and some things that stood out but overall as a team it was not a good day.Â Here are the notes:
- Drew Stanton took all of the backup reps today exclusively.Â Dan Orlovsky who has had a good off-season literally stood and watched as Drew took all of the reps that Kitna didnâ€™t take.Â Drew was obviously a little nervous and his accuracy struggled at times but his new motion and his new grip and basically the complete overhaul are done and he did look very good at times.Â One particular play he threw a 40-yard strike to Kevin Kasper and Keith Smith and Idrees Bashir had perfect coverage but Stanton dropped it where only Kasper could get it and he did.Â Now he also turned around on the next play and threw and interception but that was because the receiver (Sean McHugh) had not gotten to the appropriate spot, but Drew was dead on.Â The interesting thing about the interception however was that it was rookie safety Gerald Alexander and he capitalized on the receivers mistake and made a spectacular play.Â In fact Martz was quick to comfort his star pupil because the INT was not a Drew error.Â The interesting component was that Drew turned right back and had another 25-yard strike.Â Again as good as that 25-yard play was, at one point he had to re-huddle the team because he struggled with some verbiage.Â My point is that he is progressing and he is progressing well.Â Here is what Coach Marinelli had to say about it when I asked him at practice:Â â€œItâ€™s like I was saying when they first got here; in the first week (the media) is asking: â€˜why is he on the other end of the field?â€™ Just to get the verbiage out sometimes (in the huddle) is unbelievable. Mike (Martz) knows how to coach quarterbacks, he has a great history of that. He knows how to bring those guys along â€“ he builds them and builds them. (Stanton) has come along each and everyday. The worst thing is: all of the sudden you put a guy in and he canâ€™t get the words out â€“ then he canâ€™t get out of the huddle. Heâ€™s really done a nice job and thatâ€™s what practicing football is all about. You come in here and you get all of these guys showing up together; you get the good looks and you get continuity and then all of the sudden each man starts getting better. Iâ€™m excited about it.â€Â
- For those of you that like to rip and say Kitna isnâ€™t an accurate long-range passer I wish you had been in practice today.Â He threw one bomb and it was a perfect strike (sixty yards in fact) that he dropped in a spot that only CJ could get it while in double coverage.Â CJ dropped it and not only was I shocked since it was a perfect pass and he has made some much more difficult catches, but the entire staff and team all yelled out in shock.Â It was as loud as the team got today and it was a wonderful camaraderie moment as it was more of a come on rook moment.Â
- As good as Kitna was with that pass, to be honest he didnâ€™t look real good today.Â He again held the ball too long and with the team in 7 on 7 drills and 11 on 11 team activities with virtually no rush he canâ€™t do that.Â At one point he actually ran the ball (it was a 7 on 7 drill) because of the great defense.Â That sent Joe Barry into a virtual emotional explosion with his defenseâ€™s ability to stop the number one offense in a drill that gives the offense all of the opportunity.Â Kitna also had an interception when he just made a poor read, and he missed a wide-open CJ on an out route.Â Again, there is no controversy with the staff about Jon but hey, I am willing to tell you when he does well so I have to be honest.Â He looked distracted and sloppy today.
- Barring an injury Marcus Robinson wonâ€™t make this team but Coach Marinelli constantly reminds the players that their tape is their resume.Â Because the Lions tape all practices when a player gets cut, he can get the copies of his work to send other teams when trying to get another shot.Â Well Marcus today was involved in a play with some shifting and he ran into a moving TE.Â Martz was fuming and it was just a sloppy play.Â Something that a guy trying to make a resume tape canâ€™t afford.Â
- Joe Barry as I have told you has spent a lot of time in each practice emphasizing that the defense has to get turnovers and he worked hard today with Ernie Sims.Â The Lions feel like had he been looking he could have gotten several balls last season and he got some special attention today working on his recognition and catching technique.
- Sean McHugh is going to make this team but he struggled today with his footwork, technique and fundamentals and that is unacceptable in the Marinelli system.Â Now in fairness that is the first time all off season that he has looked sloppy but it was the way it played out today.
- The WRâ€™s in this system are trained to go to a spot.Â I know that some people struggle with that concept but it is the way things happen with Martz.Â Early in practice the players had to make an eight-yard sprint and cut between the eight and ten yard marks.Â There were two cones that they had to cut between.Â CJ ran past the cone and the coachesâ€™ tore him up.Â I canâ€™t tell you exactly what was said but after practice someone close to the drill essentially told me â€œhe was just instructed that out here people donâ€™t care where you were picked, just make the cut and catch the ******* ball!Â The players really like CJ and his work ethic and he loves that he isnâ€™t getting any special treatment.Â He gets ripped like any rookie trying for a spot.
- T.J. continued his excruciating work ethic but unfortunately he dropped two early passes that were perfectly thrown.Â He recovered later but like his teammates he struggled with sloppiness today.
- IAF actually got some work in today and he was explosive.Â He was on the money and in particular was in the QBâ€™s face (Kitna and Stanton) on three different occasions.Â He was held out of the full speed teamwork but he looks the part!
- Ramzee Robinson (Mr. Irrelevant) is a young man looking to make a team.Â I have had little to say about him because he hasnâ€™t done anything.Â Well today he made three spectacular special teams plays.Â The guy has speed but he looked great on some punt coverage work downing the ball three times within the five.
- Speaking of special teams I can tell you that Nick Harris took several (I canâ€™t tell you how many due to the NFL proprietary rules) punts and boomed at one point (more then 10 and less then 20) in a row inside the ten with most of them inside the five.Â That my friends is sick and it was yet again a demonstration that clearly reminds us all that he is one of the best in the NFL.
- I have talked with you about Devale Ellis and Edell Shepherdâ€™s fight for that coveted fifth receiver spot.Â Well another name that is trying to get recognized and is for sure getting an impressive resume tape is Kevin Kasper.Â He looked fantastic on special teams and ran great routes in the team drills.
- Casey FitzSimmons made a great catch today.Â He had Keith Smith (who had perfect position) all over him but he leaped and made a spectacular catch.Â Joe Barry even told Keith, â€œWhat can you do?Â That guy is in the NFL also!â€Â I loved that.
- Another sign of respect and what the Lions think of CJ.Â He was double teamed all day in team sessions.Â That was probably part of the reason he struggled but the dude is a rook and that happens?!Â (yes I realize I used to punctuation marks and that is how I felt)Â The point that stuck out however was that they did it all day.
- Paris Lennon had an interesting play today with CJ.Â He had him in single coverage because he had made a low cut off of the line of scrimmage and was about five yards off, the safety couldnâ€™t get down fast enough to pick up the double team and Paris reached in and slapped the ball away.Â CJ turned and couldnâ€™t believe that Paris had the athletic ability to do it.Â The defense all started hooting and hollering and even though Martz was able to get him off the double team the defense still held.Â
- A.J. Davis had a welcome to the NFL rook moment.Â T.J. Duckett caught a ball and A.J. accelerated to a full sprint to catch up with him.Â Duckett noticed and kicked in his 4.4 speed and literally ran away from him.Â People on both sides of the ball were shocked and even Marinelli shook his head.Â In fact, after practice when asked about T.J. Marinelli said, â€œHeâ€™s got great habits. He wants to get used to scoring. Youâ€™ll see some guys chasing the ball all day, working and conditioning; taking angles and conditioning themselves.â€
- Fernando Bryant and Stanley Wilson were the only two receivers that at times didnâ€™t look sloppy today.Â Fernando slipped in coverage today but recovered and made a great break up on a pass.Â He was impressive but the highlight went to Wilson.Â He shut down CJ on two consecutive plays not letting him get anywhere.Â It helped that he had him double-teamed with Bullocks over the top (behind) but he had him shut down.Â Marinelli talked about Wilsonâ€™s development after practice also.Â â€œI just see the fundamentals: the footwork, the re-routing and understanding were to get to. I see that from, really, that whole group. They just really seem to understand the package right now; they understand the system, where they fit and why. Thatâ€™s as important as anything; the backside of the slot, the slot rules â€“ all these things that weâ€™re trying to get accomplished. I think when theyâ€™re comfortable and they really understand why, then their skills start growing.â€Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
- Damien Woody made a false start and was out of position on three plays that I specifically watched.Â For a guy that is trying to make a team his play certainly is less the stellar.
- Claude Harriott who is trying to make the team and has a real shot has such a quick first step that twice today he caused the TE to jump.Â He really has improved since last season but we will really have to wait to see how he looks in pads to be sure but he has a legitimate shot.
- Another CJ note.Â Travis Fisher wanted to make a point when covering him today and CJ just literally ran by him.Â He had Fisher twisted and turned and was just another flash of potential greatness.Â You will see less of the miraculous catches for now as CJ is learning his routes but his speed is spectacular and he knows what to do with it.
- Eddie Drummond was not at practice today.Â I contacted him on his cell phone afterwards and he told me that he had been in a car accident.Â He and all parties involved were fine and he will be back on Tuesday.
- Mike Furrey was not in practice but the Lions knew that he was not going to be there.
I will have some more Lions information for you later this evening about a very interesting development and what it means to the Lions.Â Â