The Detroit Lions commenced their Week 1 Organized Team Activities (OTAs) with a well-attended practice, offering insights into the team’s performance. Although rookies were not immediately given starting positions, they displayed promising potential.
This article breaks down the observations from the Detroit Lions OTAs, highlighting key performances in each position group.
During the Detroit Lions’ Week 1 OTAs, Jared Goff took the field and displayed glimpses of his talent despite some initial rust. While he demonstrated his skills, Goff faced challenges with accuracy, frequently overthrowing his targets on potential big plays.
Several missed connections occurred during the practice session, such as a deep wheel route intended for Jahmyr Gibbs, a post pass targeted at Jameson Williams, and a glaringly open opportunity for Josh Reynolds during the 7-on-7 drills. It was evident that Goff would need to fine-tune his timing and precision in the upcoming practices.
In contrast, Nate Sudfeld made a positive impression with his performance on the field. Sudfeld showcased excellent pocket presence, skillfully maneuvering within the confined space to evade pressure from the defensive edges. He also displayed decent arm strength, delivering a remarkable pass up the middle of the field to Jameson Williams. Unfortunately, Williams was unable to secure the catch despite being well covered. Sudfeld’s abilities hinted at his potential contribution to the team’s quarterback depth chart.
The contrasting performances of Goff and Sudfeld highlighted the importance of accuracy and consistency in quarterback play. While Goff struggled with accuracy, Sudfeld demonstrated promise with his ability to navigate the pocket and make accurate throws. As the Lions continued their OTAs, it would be intriguing to see how Goff improved his accuracy and how Sudfeld further showcased his potential as a reliable backup option.
The coaching staff adopted a cautious approach with rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs. Recognizing the importance of his long-term development and ensuring his full recovery from a low ankle sprain, the Lions assigned Gibbs to the second and third teams.
This careful decision demonstrated the organization’s commitment to the player’s well-being and their desire to bring him along gradually. As the Detroit Lions gamelines unfolded, Gibbs’ potential impact on the field became a topic of anticipation among fans and analysts alike.
Amidst the strategic handling of Gibbs, it was Jermar Jefferson who truly caught the attention of onlookers. Among the talented running backs on the roster, Jefferson’s standout performance left a lasting impression. With an exceptional speed that seemed to make the field blur around him, he displayed electrifying bursts of acceleration.
One particular play stood out as Jefferson received a draw play, swiftly evading defenders and leaving them in his wake as he raced down the field. His remarkable speed and elusiveness were evident to all who witnessed his performance.
Shane Zylstra’s athleticism shone through as he made an impressive play with a speedy route up the middle of the field. Sam LaPorta, while not as prominent as in training camp, exhibited signs of progress toward the end of the practice.
Amon-Ra St. Brown consistently proved to be the Lions’ most reliable receiver, getting open during both 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills. Jameson Williams showed improvement in his route running, although he dropped a deep ball and struggled with a contested catch.
Without pads, it was challenging to make significant observations about the offensive line. However, notable absences included Frank Ragnow and Jonah Jackson. The first-team offensive line consisted of Kayode Awosika, Taylor Decker, Graham Glasgow/Ross Pierschbacher, Penei Sewell/Obinna Eze, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai/Matt Nelson.
Due to the non-padded nature of the practice, meaningful observations about the defensive line were limited. However, Christian Covington played as the first-team nose tackle, and Alim McNeill primarily occupied the three-tech position. The common five-men front comprised Christian Covington, Romeo Okwara, John Cominsky, Alim McNeill, and Aidan Hutchinson.
Derrick Barnes, alongside Alex Anzalone, started as a notable presence among the linebacking corps. Anzalone praised Barnes for his significant growth and mental transition to the professional level. Jack Campbell received second-team reps at the MIKE position, indicating his potential as a future starter. Malcolm Rodriguez and Jalen Reeves-Maybin also made contributions during the practice.
Cameron Sutton and Jerry Jacobs manned the outside cornerback positions, while Will Harris and C.J. Gardner-Johnson rotated in the slot. Tracy Walker’s presence allowed Gardner-Johnson to play in the nickel position, but he dropped back to safety when Walker was absent. Rookie Brian Branch also rotated between the two positions.
During the limited special team drills, players practiced pinning down opponents on the punt team. Notable returners included Amon-Ra St. Brown, Kalif Raymond, and Maurice Alexander, while Khalil Dorsey, Jarren Williams, Chase Lucas, and Starling Thomas V acted as gunners.
The Detroit Lions’ Week 1 OTAs showcased the progression and potential of both rookies and established players. While some players displayed areas for improvement, others stood out with exceptional performances. The observations from this practice session provide valuable insights into the team’s progress as they prepare for the upcoming season.