LIONS INSIDER

CAMP NOTEBOOK: Darius Slay OK after brief scare

Posted Aug 4, 2014

Tim Twentyman covers all the news from Monday’s training camp practice including Darius Slay's scare, Ziggy Ansah's increased activity and more.

If there’s a list somewhere of the players the Detroit Lions can least afford to lose to injury, cornerback Darius Slay’s name has to be high on it.

The Lions have big expectations for their second-year cornerback. The team released veteran Chris Houston this offseason and the depth behind Slay and Rashean Mathis has a lot of question marks attached to it.

So when Slay stayed on the ground after a one-on-one rep with Golden Tate, coaches and teammates probably held their collective breaths.

Tate fell right on Slay’s neck after catching a pass and trainers attended to Slay for several minutes before walking him inside. He came back out to practice a short time later, but did not return to action.

“Golden Tate went up for a ball, and came down kind of on his neck,” head coach Jim Caldwell said. “I told him that Golden has a way of being a pain in the neck once in a while. We had a little issue there briefly, but he will be fine. He will be back at practice tomorrow.”

How improved this defense can be in 2014, in large part, will go hand-in-hand with how well Slay is improved from an inconsistent rookie campaign. He's looked good so far in camp and the Lions need him to continue to trend upward.

“I’m being productive every day,” Slay said after Monday’s practice. “I’m getting better every day. That’s my goal, to get better every day.”

As for the injury: “It wasn’t nothing,” he said. “Just playing ball. That’s basically what it was. I’m good.”

ZIGGY GETTING CLOSE?

Ziggy AnsahDE Ziggy Ansah (Photo: Detroit Lions)

Ziggy Ansah has been on the PUP list since training camp started but there are signs he could be close to returning.

Ansah has been working with trainers on the side since the start of camp, but he wore shoulder pads during that workout for the first time on Monday. He also did some sled work, which is a good sign that shoulder is feeling good.

“He’s making good progress they’re ramping up his activity in terms of just rehab,” Caldwell said. “I think as you watch him out here he’s doing more and more each day. He’s getting close so we will see what happens.”

STRETCHING

One small difference in the way Caldwell runs his practices vs. the old regime is that he doesn’t spend time stretching at the beginning of practice. When the players hit the practice field it is time to work. They stretch on their own before practice.

“I like it because I feel the offensive line specifically gets in what we need as far as going through our run steps and stretching what we need stretched,” guard Larry Warford said.

Players know their own bodies and what stretches work for them and everyone seems to like the new way of doing things.

“It's put more responsibility on the players to make sure we get out here early enough to stretch,” running back Reggie Bush said.

There seems to be a decline in some of the pulled muscles and nagging injuries so far in camp, though Bush doesn't think there’s a correlation between the two. He does, however, like the new way of doing things.

“I kind of like it this way because it seems practice goes quicker,” he said. “We’re not warming up and stretching and that usually takes a good 30 minutes. We go straight to work.”

It’s just another way Caldwell is putting the responsibility on the players to be professionals.

ENOUGH BALLS TO GO AROUND

Look at the talent the Lions have assembled on offense and it’s natural to question how all those weapons are going to get their hands on the football.

From Calvin Johnson, Tate and Eric Ebron to Bush, Joique Bell and Theo Riddick, the Lions have a lot of players who can do a lot of things.

“It reminds me of when I was in New Orleans,” Bush said of this current Lions offense.

“It’s the same exact situation. We have tight ends that can play receiver. We have receivers that can take the ball the distance from anywhere on the field. We have running backs that can play receiver. We have running backs that can catch the ball out the backfield. We are not lacking any talent. I think when anybody looks at us on paper we definitely pass the eye test.”

Bush said the NFL season is a long one and it’s about longevity, which is why a lot of players will get a chance to get their hands on the football so everyone can be fresh for the playoff run at the end.

CAMP OBSERVATIONS

--Running back George Winn got a reaction from his teammates when he ran over rookie safety Jerome Couplin in a team period.

“It was me and him and I either had to make a move or put my head down,” Winn said after practice. “Chose to put my head down.

Winn (5-11, 215) has proven to be a physical runner so far in camp.

--Giorgio Tavecchio hit all five of his field goals in a team period, while rookie seventh-round pick Nate Freese was 3 for 5.

“You like data, you like hard, firm data, you like to try and challenge them in a number of different situations, so you really get a good feel of what he’s capable of doing, but we’re looking at results, moreso than anything else,” Caldwell said of the kicking competition so far.

“Coaches are in the business of winning. If we don’t win there’s a problem, nothing good ever happens when you don’t win, right? So what we’re going to try to do is get the best player out there playing for us to give us the best chance to win. And we don’t care where he came from, who he is, we’re just looking for results and that’s what counts.”

--Jason Jones was terrific again Monday in one-on-one drills with the offensive lineman and has really stood out early in camp. The Lions like the versatility he provides and he’s certainly motivated after missing most of last season with a knee injury. Nick Fairley has also been dominant in individual drills and has also shown flashes in team periods. He’s noticeably quicker off the ball.