The Lions officially ended training camp on Monday. All that really means is that the practice and meeting schedule will more resemble that of the regular season moving forward and players are no longer required to stay in the team hotel.
With so many starters and coaches back from last year's 10-6 team, the Lions seemed to hit the ground running when practice began July 27.
“No doubt we accomplished more this camp than we ever did with the two-a-days because everything went in first,” center
Here are five things we learned about the Lions in training camp:
Avril missed the entire offseason program and the first eight practices of camp after he and the team couldn’t come to an agreement on a new long-term contract past this year’s $10.6 million franchise tag tender.
But when Avril put on the pads and participated in practice for the first time two days after reporting Aug. 5, it was clear he wasn’t going to need an adjustment period. Avril stepped right into that left defensive end spot and began making life more difficult for Lions offensive tackles in practice.
In his first preseason game Friday in Baltimore, Avril nearly had an interception and recorded two tackles, one on a third-down play which he tackled Ravens running back Ray Rice from behind on a screen play that forced a field goal try.
Avril seems to have picked up right where he left off last season when he had 11 sacks and six forced fumbles.
It only took a couple plays that very first practice back in July for Stafford to hit Johnson down the left sideline for a long touchdown. It’s been a reoccurring theme in practice ever since.
Stafford is coming off a 5,000-yard, 41-touchdown season with 1,681 of those yards and 16 touchdowns heading Johnson’s way.
The two have built a terrific rapport over the last year and it’s featured in practice every day. But why restrict the fun just to practice?
In Friday’s 27-12 victory over the Ravens on national television, Stafford and Johnson connected five times for 111 yards and a touchdown. The pair teamed up for 83 yards in three plays, including an 18-yard touchdown, on the team’s first scoring drive of the second quarter.
Stafford and Johnson are quickly becoming one of the best quarterback-receiver duos in the league, and if training camp and the preseason are any indicators, the two are in for another big season in 2012.
3. The starting right cornerback spot is going to take a little more time to figure out
The two most likely candidates to fill the job are rookie third-round pick
Bentley began training camp in the nickel with Lacey at right cornerback, but Bentley quickly earned himself a look on the outside with some good practices early on.
All through camp the Lions have flip-flopped Bentley and Lacey from the outside to nickel. Head coach Jim Schwartz is giving both players an equal chance at winning the job.
Bentley started at right cornerback against the Browns and had an interception and nearly another one.
Lacey started at right cornerback against the Ravens last week and was solid.
The competition for that starting right cornerback spot opposite
Bentley might have a slight edge at this point, but it's too close to call.
4. The best is yet to come for defensive end
Young had some big sacks for the Lions last season – the one at the end of the come-from-behind victory over the Cowboys for example – but that small sampling couldn’t have prepared anyone for how good Young would look through the offseason training program, OTAs, minicamp and now training camp. Young has been impressive over the last four months.
A seventh-round pick in 2010, he's become one of the bright young players on this Lions roster.
He had a sack and a quarterback hit in the first preseason game against the Browns. The sack caused a fumble, which Young also recovered.
Friday night against the Ravens, he blocked a punt and had a tackle on defense.
If things continue on their current trend, be ready to see plenty of Young’s trademark ‘reel them in’ sack celebration this season.
5. A few rookies have already shown they belong
The team spent their first three draft picks in April on offensive tackle
Rookies are going to make mistakes, but can they physically match up against the veterans? Can they consistently make plays? All three so far have fit the bill.
Reiff might not crack the starting lineup at tackle to start the regular season, but that’s not an indictment of his play as much as it’s a compliment to how well incumbents
Reiff has looked good when given an opportunity to play and he’s shown to be a versatile lineman that the Lions can plug in at a number of different spots and feel good about his ability. He has a bright future ahead of him.
We have yet to see Broyles at 100-percent following ACL surgery in November but it’s already obvious that he knows how to get open. He understands the mental part of playing the receiver position and knows how to get open within a defensive scheme. When his body catches up to his mind, the Lions are going to have another good weapon for Stafford.
Bentley stepped onto the field the first day of training camp and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with anyone. He’s physical and fast and has a playmaking propensity. That’s a good mix for a rookie cornerback.
The jury is still out on the rest of the Lions draft picks. Linebackers
The Lions aren’t likely to find out what they have in