LIONS INSIDER

CAMP NOTEBOOK: Caldwell ready to see players in action

Posted Aug 8, 2014

Tim Twentyman covers all the news from Friday's training camp practice including Jim Caldwell's excitement for the preseason opener, injury updates and more.

What players do on the practice field and in the meeting room during training camp is all part of the evaluation process, but preseason performance can sometimes tip the scale. How a player performs under pressure in real game situations can ultimately be the determining factor in position battles and roster spots.

It’s for that reason Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell can’t wait to get off the practice field and into Ford Field Saturday night vs. Cleveland.

“Really for me, it’s a great opportunity I think to see our guys in action,” Caldwell said after Friday’s practice. "That’s the fun part of it.

“I’ve heard one young man say, ‘They pay me to practice, but we play the games for free’, guys love to play the game and coaches love to coach them as well.

“It’ll be a lot of fun. I’m excited about every single position. I’m going to be wide-eyed and looking at the guys, how they function and react and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

There are probably three position battles that have stood out the most in camp and Saturday will be the first opportunity for players in those races to make a first impression.

Corey Hilliard and LaAdrian Waddle are competing for the right tackle spot, Ashlee Palmer and Kyle Van Noy at SAM linebacker and Nate Freese and Giorgio Tavecchio for kicking duties.

Fans will also get a first glimpse – albeit a vanilla version – of the Lions new schemes on offense and defense.

The preseason may not count for anything, but with all the changes this offseason, being able to see how it’s all coming together against an opponent is an important step in the process.

The Lions with have a better idea of how far along they are on Sunday.

PRACTICE REPORT

Calvin Johnson and Eric Ebron returned to practice Thursday, but Caldwell wasn’t ready to reveal whether either player will play Saturday.

“Maybe a couple guys here and there (that don’t play),” Caldwell said. “We’ll sit down with the coaches after this and kind of go through every guy and every situation.

“We had a couple guys from yesterday’s practice get a little dinged up, so we have to work out those things.”

Johnson missed Thursday’s practice for personal reasons and Ebron sat out Wednesday and Thursday with an undisclosed injury.

James Ihedigbo practiced after leaving briefly Thursday with a right leg injury. Rodney Austin was also back practicing after sitting out Thursday with a lower leg injury.

Running back Joique Bell was not at practice Thursday for personal reasons.

PLAYING TIME

Starters don’t usually get a whole lot of playing time in the first preseason game, but Caldwell said he hasn’t put a firm count on any players as of yet.

“You can’t tell if the opposition gets the ball or if you have an eight-minute drive, you’re only going to play a group the first quarter, then you’ve got to re-think it, so it just kind of depends,” he said.

Nate NessDB Nate Ness (Photo: Detroit Lions)

“So we have our parameters set and how to judge it accordingly. But we’re going to let them play, as long as we deem necessary and get work.”

TEAM SIGNS NESS

The Lions added more depth to their secondary on Friday just one day after adding cornerback Drayton Florence.

The team signed defensive back Nate Ness, who was with them in the spring.

Linebacker Cory Greenwood was released to make room for Ness on the roster.

“It’s one of those things where we have to take a look every single day,” Caldwell said of the transaction.

“We’re looking at our roster to make a determination of changes we have to make and adjustments, and it’s going to be that way constantly. We’re constantly trying to find ways to get better.  Sometimes we’ll get thin at other spots and other spots we think we’re fairly healthy so we’ll make some adjustments.”