Detroit Lions Week 3 OTA Observations: Rookies get a chance to shine


Detroit Lions Week 3 OTA Observations: Rookies get a chance to shine

The Detroit Lions had about half the team present Monday morning for the first of four practice sessions in the last week of organized team activities. The Lions coaching staff sent most of the veteran players home for the remainder of June as the team prepares for training camp in late July.

With only about 45 players in attendance, it was definitely a slower-paced practice with a higher emphasis on individual and positional drills versus 11v11 competitive drills. So here is an abridged version of the observations from Monday’s final training session, which is open to the public ahead of the training camp.


Remember, OTAs are voluntary, and over the past week the Lions have pardoned most of their veteran players to get a closer look and more intimate coaching with their younger players. So here’s a look at the players who were not in practice:


run back

  • Jamal Williams
  • Jason Cabinda

Slightly surprising that D’Andre Swift was still around.

wide receiver

  • DJ Char
  • Josh Reynolds
  • Amon-Ra St. Brown

Jameson Williams was in training but dropped out. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had to lock St. Brown out of the building.

tight ends

Derrick Deese and James Mitchell were at practice but not at practice.

Offensive lineman

  • Evan Brown
  • Matt Nelson
  • Taylor Decker
  • Dan Skipper
  • Halapoulivaati Vaitai
  • Jonah Jackson

Despite being so important to the team, the Lions elected to keep Penei Sewell for an extra week.

Defensive lineman

  • Ali McNeill
  • Michael Brockers
  • Levi Onwuzurike
  • Bruce Hector
  • Josh Paschal
  • Eric Banks
  • Jason Cornell
  • Romeo Okwara
  • Julian Okwara
  • Karl Harris

Basically the only defenders present were Demetrius Taylor, John Cominsky and Aidan Hutchinson (also James Houston). It’s definitely surprising that both Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike haven’t been hanging around, but with Levi, they may choose to be overly cautious with his back situation. Josh Paschal was likely held out through injury.


  • Austin Bryant
  • Alex Anzalone
  • Jarrad Davis
  • Chris board
  • Shaun Dion Hamilton
  • Josh Woods

Natrez Patrick was in training, but not in training.


  • Mike Hughes
  • Amani Oruwariye
  • bobby price
  • Markus Gilbert
  • AJ Parker

Jeff Okudah was still banned from team drills but completed many individual drills. Ifeatu Melifonwu and Jerry Jacobs were also present but did not train. The absence of AJ Parker should definitely be taken as a surprise.


  • DeShon Elliott
  • TracyWalker
  • will harris
  • JuJu Hughes
  • CJ Moore

No surprises here.

Rookie intelligence shines

Lions linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard has been gushing all offseason that sixth-round pick Malcolm Rodriguez is one of the brightest young players he’s seen. Rodriguez showed that intelligence early in practice, recognizing a screen pass almost immediately and blasting Godwin Igwebuike from behind the line of scrimmage.

“To be honest, there are things I can do with Malcolm that you might have to scale back to a third-year player, to be honest,” Sheppard said before practice. “I saw that right away at rookie training camp, being able to take command of the huddle.”

The other draft pick who continues to flex his mental muscles on the field is seventh-round pick Chase Lucas. Detroit continues to work hard on the pre-snap movement from a defensive standpoint, communicating changes in assignments while the offense moves quickly. Not only is Lucas the quickest to spot this shift, but he’s also the most vocal of the group and shows no fear of shouting assignments to the rest of the defensive backfield.

“You see Lucas, great speed in the short space, great agility, some positional flexibility and he’s very vocal,” Lions defense coach Aubrey Pleasant said on Monday. “He’s a leader out there.”

Pleasant also made it clear that Nickel cornerback is “home” to Lucas at the moment. With AJ Parker and Mike Hughes ahead of him on the depth chart, it seems unlikely he can make up that bottom by the end of training camp, but early results are still positive.

Defense strengthens in the red zone

The offense scored just once in a total of six red zone snaps. The coverage was particularly impressive as Brady Breeze had a very good rep who covered Kalil Pimpleton and knocked him down as soon as the quarterback left the pocket. His play earned him a hug from Aubrey Pleasant afterwards.

The best play during this part of practice came from defensive tackle Demetrius Taylor, who continues to make the most of his early opportunities. He deflected a pass off the line, then snatched the ball out of the air to intercept it.

The defense’s only slip came from Anthony Pittman, who had a rough day reporting on Monday. Tight end Shane Zylstra, who stood out among the remaining tight ends, hit him clean on an inbreaking route.

Competitive passing game

To conclude practice, the Lions placed a blocker dummy on a cart and slowly drove it across the goal line. Quarterbacks David Blough and Tim Boyle took turns trying to hit the blocking dummy as it returned left-to-right, then right-to-left. Blough defeated Boyle six (of about 14 passes) to four.

Then it was time for non-quarterbacks to try the drill. Bobby Price, who had a surprisingly strong arm, was defeated by a more modest throwing Tom Kennedy. Kennedy only hit twice with the dummy, but after winning he had an impressive punt.

Lions Beat Writer combine

I don’t want to spoil the results, but both I and Erik Schlitt were on hand after training for a “Beatwriter” combine that was more like a skill contest. Your only spoiler: both me and Erik took the lead with equal points.

Practice included 17-yard field goals, catching a punt off the jugs machine, longest punt, quarterback precision, 55-yard chipping off the green, and a three-point contest.

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