LIONS INSIDER

Camp Notebook: Reiff fitting in at left tackle, Fairley impressive and other observations

Posted Jul 26, 2013

Tim Twentyman on who stood out and other observations from day one of Lions' training camp

Dominic Raiola said he glanced over at Riley Reiff in the locker room Friday and saw the second year offensive tackle with a dip in his mouth and a USA Today in his hand and almost mistook him for Jeff Backus.

“He’s going to fill that role fine,” Raiola said after the Lions’ first training camp practice Friday.

Riley ReiffT Riley Reiff

“Riley is a starter. That’s how I look at him. I think his role last year really got him ready to where he’s at right now. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Reiff has some big shoes to fill replacing an iron man like Jeff Backus at left tackle, but it’s clearly his spot now and he says he’s comfortable with that.

“I feel good,” Reiff said. “Every day (you) come out here and improve on what you did, learn from your mistakes, get better, make a mental note on the good things, just keep moving on and growing as a player. I’m excited.”

Reiff said he learned some valuable lessons about coming to work and having a lunch pale mentality by spending one season behind Backus.

“You can ask anyone, Jeff came to work every day,” Reiff said. “That’s all I can say about that. That’s not a line, that’s just the truth.”

Reiff has added 12 to 15 pounds to his playing weight from last year, but doesn’t seem to have lost any of his athleticism.

“He’s a really good athlete,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said after practice. “He played some tight end-type position for us (last year) even though we didn’t use him as a receiver. We used him to move around and things like that.

“You can see his athletic ability. Anytime you’re a player, weight only helps if it doesn’t effect your movement. I think what we’re seeing with Riley is as his body matures … he’s able to put weight on but keep the athletic ability and the movement. It will be helpful for him there.”

Reiff certainly looks the part as training camp gets under way. Now it’s about consistently doing it day-after-day.

OWNER VISIT

Detroit Lions owner and chairman William Clay Ford attended Friday’s practice in Allen Park. He spent time watching practice and talking with team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew.

His presence wasn’t lost on the players.

“It was a big deal to see him out here,” veteran receiver Nate Burleson said. “It’s an honor to have him watching practice, focusing on practice and not just waiving at a couple people and walking back into the facility.

“He’s just as focused as we are and he has the same mindset we do, which is, ‘let’s go out and win some games right now.’”

LIONS PUT THREE ON PUP

The Lions placed guard Leroy Harris and receiver Devin Thomas on the Physically Unable to Perform list before practice and placed second-year defensive end Ronnell Lewis on the Non-Football Illness list.

Schwartz said he doesn’t expect any of those to be long-term designations, though.

“Leroy Harris came off an ACL last year – and he’s doing really well -- and what we wanted to do was just make sure after doing conditioning and stuff like that and test stuff that he didn’t have any swelling or anything else,” Schwartz said.

“Devin Thomas and Ronnell, after the conditioning test (Thursday), just didn’t really respond real well. We just want to give them a couple extra days.”

FAIRLEY GOOD

Earlier Friday, I wrote a column on Nick Fairley and the shape he seemed to have reported to and how important that was for the Lions.

This is what Schwartz had to say about Fairley after practice:

“I’ll tell you what, he’s really impressive from where he left here at the end of mini-camp to his report,” Schwartz said. “You know people make TV shows about Extreme Makeover and stuff like that and I like where he is right now.

“He’s worked very hard in five weeks or six weeks whatever it was where he was gone and reported in great shape. His weight was done and he just needs to stay on that track. We’ve talked about how talented he his but it’s been more about availability thing with him rather than a talent thing. And it looks like he’s taken it very seriously. I’m proud of him for doing it.”

CAMP OBSERVATIONS

The Lions made it through their first practice relatively unscathed health-wise.

First-round draft pick Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah left practice briefly after having his left foot stepped on, but returned to take a few more reps after the injury. He was eventually shut down early as a precaution.

Rookie tight end Joseph Fauria had his right shoulder area looked at after making a terrific diving catch in the back of the end zone in a seven-on-seven drill, but he hopped up after a few minutes and returned to action.

WHO STOOD OUT?

There were a few players who stuck out Friday:

1. Calvin Johnson

Calvin JohnsonWR Calvin Johnson

I know this really shouldn’t count, but is never ceases to amaze me how hard the guy works and how much effort he puts into every single play and route, even in training camp. He made a number of deep catches down the sideline Friday, his first on cornerback Darius Slay, welcoming the rookie to the NFL.

2. Bill Bentley

Bentley only played in four games last year because of a shoulder injury, but we shouldn’t forget that he earned a starting spot out of camp last year because of his playmaking ability. That was on display Friday playing in both the slot on the nickel and the outside. He got a hand on a number of passes and seemed to be all over the field. Good first day for him.

3. Glover Quin

Quin set the tone for the whole day by being the first person on the practice field. First observations are that he’s a very complete safety. Always seems to be in the right spots. He can make a few plays, too. He made a terrific diving interception on a ball a little underthrown by Matthew Stafford down the seam in a team period. Quin popped right up looking to run. The Lions need to create more turnovers in 2013 and Quin looks likes he might be up to the task.

RETURN DUTIES

The Lions aren’t leaving any stone unturned in their search for a new return man.  They let eight players take reps at the punt return spot Friday. They included: Reggie Bush, Ryan Broyles, Steven Miller, Micheal Spurlock, Mike Thomas, Patrick Edwards, Cody Wilson and Terrence Austin.

The team ranked 22nd in punt return average in 2012.