It’s almost upon us! That glorious time when we, as fans, get to see our players on a test run of sorts. Training camp is when future superstars such as the Giants’ Victor Cruz, the Texans’ Arian Foster, and the Lions’ own Joique Bell first shined.
It’s an exciting event that has only gotten better in recent years with a focus on the “Fan Experience” at the forefront. As someone who has enjoyed the Detroit Lions Training Camp for several years now, I can tell you from personal experience that it is worth attending.
I don’t expect you to take my word for it, though, so today I’ll be covering ten reasons you should attend Detroit Lions Training Camp and you can decide for yourselves!
While not the most exciting of events, 2013 saw a heated camp battle between former Pro Bowl veteran David Akers and YouTube sensation Havard “Kickalicious” Rugland. Fans were a big part of the kicking battle and you could hear the fans collective sighs of relief every time a kick went through the uprights. Even the Punters were fun to watch, with Sam Martin playing to the crowd showing his control, at one point kicking a 20, 40, and 60 yarder in quick succession with pinpoint accuracy while UDFA Blake Clingan booted 70+ nearly every time.
This season, the Lions will have a heated kicking battle between two young competitors. Newly drafted Nate Freese (3) will have to show he has the leg to go with his trademark accuracy while Giorgio Tavecchio (5) will be doing the opposite, showing he can control his monster leg. The kicking battle hasn’t been going that well, with both having failings in their respective areas, so it’s one to watch. Sam Martin (6) enters camp coming off an excellent rookie campaign, but 2013 was not mistake free and if he struggles in camp look for newly signed Drew Butler (2) to make a push to unseat him. Butler is clearly behind in this competition already.
The Defensive Line was overly hyped last season and the Offensive Line was a huge question mark so there were a lot of eyes on this unit last season. Even though it was a high-profile unit to watch, it was rarely a breathtaking experience. OL and DL were rarely going full-bore, though it stood out when they were. The youngsters were the funnest to watch since they held less back, and Ziggy Ansah vs. Riley Reiff was loads of fun.
With no new starters along the defensive or offensive lines, there’s little to watch with the 1′s. I’m hoping we get to see a whole lot from the newcomers, however, with Caraun Reid drawing praise and Travis Swanson looking to take over a deeply entrenched position like Center. The most interesting part to me in these drills is the aggressiveness some of the players show, even in practice. It may not be the most exciting group this season, but there’s plenty to look for with the new blood.
Why is this not higher on the list? Because the individual drills for QB are not as fast paced as those for other skill positions. For the past few seasons, the depth chart was set with Stafford as the starter, Hill as the #2, and Kellen Moore pulling reserve duties. It was mainly just watching to see if Stafford had fixed his issues, if Hill still looked like Hill, and if Moore had improved his arm strength.
This season we get a bit of a treat. While the top of the chart is the same with Stafford, Dan Orlovsky is pulling #2 duties. He’ll probably hold onto that job (He’s clung to one roster or another for nearly a decade), but he won’t have the fan support that Hill had. Fans will likely be pulling for either Moore or newcomer James Franklin to take over as the #2. Moore showed a lot of improvement last season while Franklin is a dual threat QB, something we haven’t seen in Detroit for a long time.