As it’s still early in training camp, it is clear that this Detroit Lions team isn’t what we’ve been hearing about. This team is going to be really good…
The Detroit Lions have completed the first two days of their 2019 training camp. Players and coaches alike are already getting amped up and welcoming the competition. Day one started off slowly, but confidence is building and players were getting louder and more vocal during day two.
As to be expected, there is a little rust to be cleaned up, considering the Lions have only had two full days of practice. Even so, players are battling through nicely with determination and the heat of competition. One player, in particular, has really stood out among the offensive squad the first two days. Rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson has already seen some quality time with the first-team offense and is making the most of his opportunities.
Hockenson had a couple of impressive red-zone grabs during day one of camp. One of them grabs, a touchdown pass in the back corner of the end zone. With a laser zipped between two defenders, the first-year tight end showed off his awareness and concentration while hauling it in as he toe- tapped the congested boundary for the touchdown.
With another highlight-reel type play, Hockenson made an incredible diving catch on a back-shoulder pass that had him twisting through the air and landing on his back, all the while securing the ball through the process. It was an excellent display of athleticism and focus, to say the least.
Day two was much of the same. Hockenson continued to be a terror for the defense in red-zone drills. He even caught a nice pass 35 yards or so down the seem for a touchdown to boot. From what has been displayed in the first two days of training camp, T.J. Hockenson is every bit of the baller as the Lions had hoped for when they drafted him eighth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Another thing that stood out to me the first two days is the amount of time that rookie linebacker Jahlani Tavai is spending with the first-team defense. The first-year pro started day one as the WILL linebacker with the first team and has shifted between all of the WILL, MIKE, SAM, and JACK linebacker roles.
Yes, you read that right, Tavai spent time in the SAM linebacker designation. As did Jarrad Davis, Christian Jones, and Jalen Reeves-Maybin. We didn’t see the SAM position in Detroit’s multiple defense in 2018, as it involves deploying four linebackers. In 2019 the position group is a bit deeper, so the Lions should be able to offer more looks in that regard.
Players appear to be up to the challenge of tackling the tough tasks that are in front of them. The offense is learning a new scheme under first-year offensive coach Darrell Bevell, which is a complete 180 from what we saw out of the Lions in years past. The defense is implementing a whole new set of looks from their linebackers, likely changing assignments throughout that entire side of the ball.
With new challenges ahead and the disrespect that the Detroit Lions have received by the media and analysts this offseason, the team is noticeably trying to shake that Same Old Lions moniker that has followed them around throughout the years. Parts of the team even stayed after practice to put pads on and run a few drills on their own time. Others spent their own personal time with the jug machine after practice was concluded. No pads were used during practice.
It is time to get excited. The Detroit Lions are a new team with a whole new mind-set. This team wants to win and they want to win now. They are working harder, longer, and smarter than they have in previous years. It has been a different feeling surrounding the Lions this off-season. It is clearly Detroit vs. Everybody with all the negativity surrounding them throughout the football world.
As fans, we need to get behind our team more now than ever! It is time to change the narrative in Detroit. Our team is doing their part and it’s time we truly and fully support them on this road to reclamation. When our opponents visit Detroit on game day, we fans need to do our part by making it more difficult on them, we must do our part and restore the roar! It is time we leave the past where it belongs, in the past. The future is near and the future is looking bright. What side of the fence will you be on? For myself, it has, is, and always will be OnePride til I die!