The Lions are closing out their offseason program with a three-day mandatory mini-camp in Allen Park.
Day one consisted of two non-padded practices: one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Head Coach Jim Schwartz was pleased with the way the team practiced, but admitted there was some rust that had to be worked off.
“The players were off for a little more than two weeks,” he said. “Had a couple things in practice where we weren’t as sharp as I’d like to be, but it’s sometimes expected coming off a two-week break like that and it’s something we have to learn from.”
The Lions originally had two organized team activities (OTA) scheduled for Monday and Tuesday of this week, but they were cancelled by the NFL, which cited that Detroit’s OTAs had been too physical throughout the offseason.
Schwartz addressed that after practice.
“I’ll tell you what: I am extremely proud of our offseason program,” he said. “I think if I was a player, I’d want to be in this offseason program. Guys have access to about everything you can have access to improve as a player, from coaching to strength and conditioning, specialists to cafeteria, good nutrition, trainers – everything else.
“The thing I’m most disappointed in wasn’t the (loss of) practice time; I was most disappointed for the young guys that are trying to make the team, that are trying to improve as football players. They were denied the opportunity to go out and improve as football players.”
In regards to how the NFL intervention arose, Schwartz said it had to do with the first day of rookies participating with the veterans.
“They actually saw a headline in one of our newspapers that said, ‘Suh and Peterman battle it out in OTAs,’” he said. “They flagged and said, ‘Hey, we want to see the practice film.’ I assume that they were looking for one-on-ones and things like that, which you’re not allowed to do with the offensive and defensive linemen, which we weren’t doing.
“The first practice with rookies is going to be more guys on the ground, it’s going to be a little bit looser because you have rookies that are trying to make a good impression, you have veterans who don’t want to be beaten by a rookie.
“I think our track record of keeping players healthy and doing a nice job with player safety can handle a lot of that stuff, but they looked at that practice and didn’t like the looks of it.”
It didn’t set the Lions back, but it did make for a more challenging practice because the players had to get back into the swing of things.
“Most of Monday and Tuesday (would have been) getting back up to speed and just taking it slow,” said Schwartz. “It just accelerated what we had to do, it didn’t really cut anything out.”
HOPING FOR CAMP CLEARANCE
Another positive to come out of this year’s offseason program is the rehab work done by Detroit’s injured players, most notably tight end
Both players have worked their way into individual drills, while Smith actually participated in a handful of team drills on Monday.
“He took a few team drills – just a few,” said Schwartz. “We want to see how he reacts to doing that and then increase it a little bit more. We’re inching him back in.”
Pettigrew has also been on a steady road to recovery and will take the same path as Smith in regards to participating in 4-on-3 drills, 7-on-7 drills and then team drills.
“Our training staff has done an outstanding job, as have the players,” said Schwartz. “That’s a long, long rehab to come back from an ACL and you better be a tough guy to be able to go through it.
“It’s not a one-day thing. You can’t go fast and then take a week off and then go fast. It’s a slow, steady – you have to show up every single day and those guys have all done an outstanding job that way, as have our trainers.”
CAMP WILL BE OPEN
Team President Tom Lewand confirmed Wednesday morning that Detroit Lions Training Camp will once again have select dates open to the public.
Just as it has in recent years, some dates will be exclusive to season ticketholders and other groups while others will be open to the general public.
Lewand said an official announcement will be made in the coming weeks.