Special Teams Issues a Concern as Padded Camp Opens

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Photo by Dona Keast

We opened our coverage of Detroit Lions training camp in Novi and it was a heck of a show.  The turnout was great, the energy was high, and the excitement was palpable.  Like 2014, camp was at a crazy fast pace the entire time and only let up for a few moments at a time, a few times during the day.  As the evening wore on, we learned some things about a bunch of positions, and I’ll try to cover as much ground as I can.  The Special Teams unit provided much concern for me, however, and I’ll be sure to explain why this unit could be a problem in 2015, but first some camp observations.

Some Clarity at Wide Receiver

One of the positions I’ve harped on the most for the Detroit Lions lack of depth has been wide receiver.  Aside from the excellent starting duo of Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, the team didn’t have anyone proven at the position who could step in and be either reliable or dangerous.  Thankfully, it looks like Corey Fuller has really stepped up since last season.  2014 saw the second year player taking some significant snaps as Calvin Johnson dealt with injury and he stepped up a bit before fizzling pretty hard.  He was clearly in over his head, but it’s good to know that he’s moved ahead and picked up better routes and stronger hands.  I would still like to see him in some contested catch situations to see if he improved there, but for now it’s good to know WR isn’t a complete disaster.

Less So at Quarterback

I mentioned before that the best case scenario for the Lions is that Kellen Moore overtakes Dan 0rlovksy at #2 quarterback.  I’m hoping today was just an anomaly, but I’d be wary if Kellen Moore even makes the team at this point, and regardless of whether it’s him or 0rlovsky, the Lions are in bad shape.  Moore made one beautiful pass deep to Vernon Johnson.  Johnson had beaten coverage, but the pass was right on the money and even if coverage had been there it probably would have been completed.  Outside of that one throw, he was a walking disaster.  Off target throws, bad decisions in 11 on 11 drills, these sort of things will not help you make this squad.  Garrett Gilbert, the camp arm, was better and I still have Gilbert’s chances of making this team firmly in “Not Remotely Likely” territory.  Whether it’s Moore or 0rlovsky taking the #2 job, the Lions are completely doomed if Stafford goes down.

Returner Shaping Up

A lot of players took reps at returner, but some ground was gained so we’re in different territory than before.  Ross looked okay, as did Tate.  Broyles had one really nice return, but was otherwise a non factor there.  TJ Jones made the best plays as a returner, which is a good sign in my opinion.  Ameer Abdullah made some nice moves as a returner, but I am doubtful he’d win that job in a contest straight up right now.  I’d rate the returners in this order: Jones, Ross/Broyles, Tate, everyone else.

Next: The Zach Zenner Show