LIONS INSIDER

Jim Schwartz not concerned with Darius Slay missing practice

Posted May 10, 2013

Tim Twentyman offers his first observations from the first practice of Lions' rookie mini-camp, including Darius Slay's absence, Devin Taylor's stature and Havard Rugland

Darius SlayCB Darius Slay will not participate in rookie orientation practices. (Photo: C. Wywrot/Detroitlions.com)
The only draft pick not participating in this weekend's rookie mini-camp is second-round pick Darius Slay, who underwent minor arthroscopic surgery last week.

Slay is lifting and attending meetings, but won't do any on-field activities.

So, how much is he missing with that regiment?

"Hardly anything," Schwartz said. "Other than getting a good look at him.

"If he's going to miss a few weeks, it's probably better for it to be right now than OTAs (organized team activities) and mini-camp or training camp or during the season.

"We took the approach to his knee that is something needed to get done, 'hey, let's go sooner rather than later with it."

Slay suffered a slight tear of his meniscus during his pro day back on March 6. He's expected to be back on the field in a couple weeks when the team begins OTAs.

"He gains just as much a base of knowledge of our defensive scheme and the techniques that we require by going through the process and not necessarily getting the physical reps," Schwartz said.

When Slay returns to the field, he's expected to compete right away for the team's vacant right cornerback spot opposite Chris Houston.

"The goal wasn't this weekend," Schwartz said. "We were well aware of where he was, and again, if something needed to get done, hey, let's error on the side of getting it done quickly.

"If you miss a couple weeks in camp, it's a lot to miss. If you miss a couple weeks now -- other than three practices we have right now, next week, the week after -- it's not as much and it's a lot of ground that you can catch up.

"We were well aware of where he was, we were very comfortable with that and we'll just get him back as quick as we can."

A HEAD ABOVE THE REST

Devin TaylorDevin Taylor (left, helmet) is a head above his defensive line teammates. (Photo: C. Wywrot/Detroitlions.com)

Devin Taylor sticks out in a crowd -- or more accurately a huddle.

The 6-foot-7 defensive end, whom the Lions snagged in the fourth round of the NFL Draft, is literally a head above the rest of his line mates.

"He's not the tallest guy we have," Schwartz said. "(Joseph) Fauria is taller than he is. We can feed the low post out here. We have some guys that have some great length to them.

Fauria, an undrafted free agent tight end, measures in a touch over 6-foot-7.

The Lions could probably sport a competitive basketball team with their height, but Schwartz is hoping that length, particularly Taylor's, has a measurable impact on opposing quarterbacks.

"Long arms are good for the position," Schwartz said of Taylor and his length. "Fending off blocks and having range to be able to tackle guys. Also knocking down passes.

"He's learning all that stuff, but he's not learning how to be 6-foot-7, he's been that way for awhile. I saw some good things from him."

Taylor showed terrific quickness and agility for his size in individual drills during the Lions' first rookie mini-camp practice Friday. It was easy to see his and first-round pick Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah's athleticism and why the Lions liked them on draft weekend.

Taylor played exclusively at left defensive end Friday with Ansah manning the right side.

WHOLE NEW BALL GAME

Havard "Kickalicious" Rugland participated in his very first American football practice on Friday. Afterward, Schwartz was asked where the coaches had to start when it came to a player who's never played the game before.

"Putting a helmet on," he said. "Didn't really get that whole thing. I actually asked him out there, ‘Is this the first time you've had a helmet on,' and he said, ‘Yeah.' So, you've got to start there."

The Lions signed the former soccer player turned NFL kicker after a workout last month. He got the workout after a now famous YouTube video of him doing trick shots with a football started to circulate.

"You know, he's kicked the ball his whole life but it's different," Schwartz said. "There's a snapper, there's a holder, and there are 10 other guys on the field. It's not an individual sport. As much as the technique and everything else is individual, you're relying on a lot of different guys.

"So, this was his first taste of that. We didn't really do any kicking today, but as we go that will be. But he's never put a pair of football pants on. When we make thigh pads and knee pads mandatory, he's not going to know which one's which and where they go without some direction."

MINI-CAMP OBSERVATION

The Lions didn't do any kickoff or kick return drills during their first practice, but they did work on punting and fielding punts.

First things first, both Sam Martin and Blake Clingan have noticeably stronger legs than what the Lions have featured the past couple years.

Second, returning punts for the Lions were: running back Steven Miller, cornerback Lionel Smith, receiver Patrick Edwards, receiver Cody Wilson, cornerback Michael Ray Garvin and receiver Andre Snipes-Booker.