Photo by: Dona Keast and Kent Lee Platte
The fast paced Detroit Lions training camp practice put on by Jim Caldwell and his staff on 8/1 had us psyched that the same would be true of the much more visible Family Day practice on 8/2. Instead, it was more subdued, playing to the crowd early and often.
There was still plenty of practice going on, they just clearly knew that the fans wanted to see people catch passes and move the football. The good part in all of that was that the Big Heavies drills, normally held on the far side of the field, were primarily held in much closer proximity to the crowds.
A little known UDFA out of Rutgers way back in 2010, the journeyman didn’t come into camp with high expectations. In fact, most agreed he was just a camp body with no substantial chance to make the roster. Spending some time with the Buccaneers and later on the Vikings practice squad, it’s hard to see how someone with so little staying power could come in and make much of an impact.
Impact has been a buzz word around Johnson in training camp. On one play, he threw former Lions 1st round pick Brandon Pettigrew (275 lbs.) to the ground like a rag doll. Is he only a one trick pony? On the next play, he put a smooth swim move on and flushed the pocket. At 6’4″ 268 lbs., Johnson has legitimate size and has shown more ability as a pass rusher than anyone would have expected. He’ll have to show it in the preseason for any chance of making the active roster, but the fact he’s showing as well as he is now with Ziggy Ansah recovering from injury is a very good sign.
Reid was considered a steal for the Lions and I easily agreed with that sentiment. Likewise, DE Larry Webster was considered a huge reach and it was hard to argue as he wasn’t even considered a DE by most teams. The results in camp so far have been the opposite of expectations, with Reid struggling to make any kind of an impact and Webster by and large fitting in despite looking like more of an athlete than a football player.
Reid appears to be struggling with the pace of the game, his trademark first step noticeably absent. There’s no reason to panic just yet, he’s a rookie after all, but many including myself expected a contributor from day one in a deep rotation. We might not even get that as a rookie if Reid can’t catch himself up to the game, and might instead be looking at a similar development arc as Sammie Hill.