Five reasons to watch Lions training camp closer this year

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /
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D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions
D’Andre Swift, Georgia Bulldogs (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Reason #2: To get a look at the youngsters before fantasy draft day

Since Calvin Johnson retired (man, it’s been almost five years already), Lions players routinely get very little love from fantasy GMs. With a surplus of young talent in the offensive skill positions, there is potential for some firepower this year.

While something of a sleeper the last two seasons, there’s plenty of reason to scoop up Kenny Golladay in the early rounds this year (as well as Stafford, who is 32 now but hopefully has many more good years left).

A close look at the running back competition and at T.J. Hockenson’s progression could help prioritize fantasy draft big boards. D’Andre Swift, Hockenson, and Marvin Jones Jr. are fair game to grab in a later round, without being scoffed at as a shameless Honolulu blue-eyed homer.

Reason #3: Because ignoring it in 2018 was costly

A few years ago, the controversy brewing right from the start of mini camps was that the Lions had to run way more wind sprints than they wanted and were accustomed to. At the time, I wrote a quick post dismissing how ridiculous that sounded, and didn’t think too much more about it.

As it turned out, the ‘wind sprints’ issue was merely shorthand for a much greater clashing of methods between the team and their new coach. Day by day, there was a foreboding sense of dysfunction from training camp that raised plenty of red flags about prospects for the season.

That dysfunction from early on absolutely carried into the preseason, where the team often stunk in embarrassing fashion. The astonishingly poor performance on an opening night national broadcast was very much reflective of the whispers that had been emerging from camp for weeks by that point.

The bottom line is, there is no part of the calendar that ‘doesn’t matter’. You want a productive camp, the coaches need to be on the same page, and the leaders on the team need to buy in early.