The Detroit Lions held their annual scrimmage training at Ford Field Saturday morning and the energy in the building was palpable. According to the team, an estimated 18,000 people showed up at the Lions’ home turf, which was the most at this event since 2015 — the year after Detroit’s most recent season with 11 wins.
Overall, the day favored the attack, but the drill was also heavily skewed to help that side of the ball. Several drives started in midfield or closer, and the first team’s attack regularly went up against backups and potential back-ups.
That said, several players on both sides of the ball had impressive performances. These are the six that stood out to me the most.
Chark was without a doubt the biggest star of the day. I had him down for four catches, 76 yards and two touchdowns during the scrimmage. He remains a big machine, which looks especially impressive when it comes to contested catches. The coverage of some of his receptions on Saturday was decent, but Chark’s concentration and ball skills showed throughout the camp.
“I’ll just say it’s God-given because it’s something I’ve always had a knack for,” Chark said of his ball tracking skills. “Running, being able to use my speed to locate the ball, I also think there’s a lot of hand-eye coordination involved. I do a lot of things just to work on my hand-eye coordination. And be able to adapt quickly. Speed up or slow down and body control. So I think all those things are part of it.”
Chark finished practice with a phenomenal 33-meter touchdown hold to win the day before the offense on a two-minute drill.
By my very unofficial count, Jared Goff was 13 out of 17, passing 171 yards, 4 TDs and 0 picks in today’s scrimmage. DJ Chark caught two of those TDs (3.33 yards), while Josh Reynolds (12 yards) and Amon-Ra St. Brown (18 yards) added one each
— kyle meinke (@kmeinke) August 6, 2022
That’s a pretty impressive stat line, though it does require a few caveats. First, the Lions’ first team offense often lined up against the second and third team defenses. Second, the high touchdown count is the result of good field position. Two of those touchdowns came on drives that started on the opposing team’s 25-yard line, one started on the 50-yard line, but that final delivery to Chark was on a drive that started from his own 27-yard line. .
That said, there’s something to be said about Goff’s confidence, especially when it comes to pushing the ball down. He has more confidence in himself and more confidence in his teammates than I have ever seen last season.
Bryant remains a disruptive threat to the defense. I had Bryant down for a loss tackle, a layoff and at least one more push. Many of his actions also came against the attack of the first team. With Julian Okwara, Romeo Okwara and Josh Paschal all missing out on time, none benefit more than Bryant.
Hutchinson didn’t have a monster day, but I had two notes showing exactly what the Lions thought they were getting in their second overall pick.
On the first, the Lions flipped a screen and Hutchinson came onto the field so fast, he nearly stopped the game. Finally he recognized the screen and was able to run to the field and tackle the running back well before the first down.
Then, during the first-team’s two-minute practice, Hutchinson smashed into the backfield, triggering an off-target throw from Goff. He should be a huge weapon for the Lions during defensive runs at the end of the half.
The biggest surprise performance of the day came from Banks, a mid-season addition from last year. Banks also sees the playing time increase due to injuries of his teammates and he was everywhere on Saturday. He met Jermar Jefferson in the backfield for a 5-yard loss. He forced both of them to finish and was awarded a holding penalty on Penei Sewell later in practice. And he had a downright sack against the first team attack.
This was an outstanding performance from Banks, and if he can continue this momentum into the next week of practice and throughout the preseason, there could be a spot on the practice squad (or more) for him.
You may recall that last year’s Family Fest was an ominous sign for the Lions’ plight. Let me refresh your memory for our 2021 observatory.
The kickers were again a mess from distance. Randy Bullock missed both 50- and 54-yard field goals wide left, while Matthew Wright missed from 50 yards to the right and fell short on his 54-yard attempt.
Well, Austin Seibert is here to make those memories a thing of the past. Seibert was a perfect 6-for-6, with marks of (roughly) 41, 41, 44, 50, 54 and 62. That 62-yarder bounced off the bar and into it.
Seibert clearly has a stronger leg than Riley Patterson, but he had struggled with consistency before in the camp. That said, he was the much better kicker on Saturday, as Patterson’s lack of power – he missed from 54 and came far from 61 – proved to be a problem on long-range kicks.