The Detroit Lions held their annual scrimmage practice at Ford Field on Saturday morning, and the energy in the building was palpable. According to the team, about 18,000 people showed up on the Lions field, which was the highest number at the event since 2015, the year after Detroit’s 11-win season last.
In general, the day favored the attack, but training was also heavily biased towards helping that side of the ball. Several training sessions started in midfield or closer, and the first-team attack regularly came up against backups and potential players from the training squad.
That being said, several players on both sides of the ball put in impressive performances. Here are the six that stood out to me the most.
Without a doubt, Chark was the biggest star of the day. I had it for four catches, 76 yards and two touchdowns during scrimmage. He continues to be a big play machine, particularly impressive when it comes to contested holds. Coverage for a few of his receptions on Saturday was decent, but Chark’s focus and ball skills were on display throughout camp.
“I’ll just say it’s a godsend because it’s something I’ve always had a knack for,” Chark said of his ball-following skills. “Running, being able to use my speed to locate the ball, I also think it takes a lot of hand-eye coordination. I do a lot of things to work on my hand-eye coordination. And being able to adapt with Speed up or slow down and control your body, so I think all of those things come into play.
Chark finished the practice with a phenomenal 33-yard diving touchdown to win the day for the offense on a two-minute drill.
By my very unofficial tally, Jared Goff was 13 of 17 passing for 171 yards, 4 touchdowns and 0 picks in the scrimmage today. DJ Chark caught two of those touchdowns (3.33 yards), while Josh Reynolds (12 yards) and Amon-Ra St. Brown (18 yards) added one each
– kyle meinke (@kmeinke) August 6, 2022
That’s a pretty impressive stat line, although it does require some caveats. For one thing, the Lions’ first-team attack often lined up against second- and third-team defenses. Second, the high number of touchdowns is a result of good field position. Two of those touchdowns came on drives that started on the opponent’s 25-yard line, one started on the 50-yard line, but that last throw to Chark was on a drive that started from his own line of 27 meters.
That being said, there is something to be said for Goff’s confidence, especially when it comes to pushing the ball down. He has more confidence in himself and more confidence in his teammates than I saw at any time last season.
Bryant continues to be a disruptive threat on defense. I had Bryant down for a tackle for loss, a sack and at least one other press. Many of his games have also come against the first team attack. With Julian Okwara, Romeo Okwara and Josh Paschal all running out of time right now, no one benefits more than Bryant.
Hutchinson didn’t have a monster day, but I had two ratings that show exactly what the Lions thought they would get in their second overall pick.
In the first, the Lions threw a screen and Hutchinson got up the field so quickly he almost stopped play in his tracks. Eventually, he recognized the screen and was able to rush downfield and tackle the running back well before the first down.
Then, during the first team’s two-minute drill, Hutchinson stabbed into the backfield, prompting an off-target shot from Goff. He should be a huge weapon for the Lions in late-half defensive practice.
The biggest surprise performance of the day came from Banks, a mid-season addition from last year. Banks, too, is seeing an increase in playing time due to injuries to his teammates, and on Saturday he was all over the place. He met Jermar Jefferson in the backfield for a 5-yard loss. He both forced an incomplete and fired a waiting penalty on Penei Sewell later in training. And he had an outright sack against the first-team attack.
It was a stellar performance from Banks, and if he can carry that momentum into next training week and throughout pre-season, there could be a place in the practice squad (or more). for him.
You may remember that last year’s Family Fest was a harbinger of where Lions were. Let me refresh your memory for our 2021 observations article.
The kickers were once again a mess from range. Randy Bullock missed field goals from 50 and 54 yards left, while Matthew Wright missed from 50 yards right and missed his 54-yard attempt.
Well, Austin Seibert is here to make those memories a thing of the past. Seibert was a perfect 6 for 6, with marks of (approximately) 41, 41, 44, 50, 54, and 62. That 62-yarder bounced off the crossbar and inside.
Seibert clearly has a stronger leg than Riley Patterson, but he had struggled earlier in camp with consistency. That said, he was the better kicker on Saturday, as Patterson’s lack of strength – he missed 54 and was well below 61 – proved to be a problem with long-range kicks.