LIONS INSIDER

NOTEBOOK: Alex Carter playing catch-up

Posted Jun 10, 2015

Tim Twentyman covers all the news from Wednesday's open OTA practice including Alex Carter's return, a tight end signing and more.

After Wednesday’s open OTA practice, Detroit Lions rookie cornerback Alex Carter was working alone with defensive backs coach Tony Oden in the middle of the practice field. Coach and player were going through drills and getting some extra work in.

Carter is trying to catch up after joining his teammates this week. He couldn’t participate in the Lions’ offseason until exams were completed for this semester at Stanford.

Alex CarterCB Alex Carter (Photo: Detroit Lions)

He took part in the rookie minicamp last month. When he left, the Lions issued him an iPad that had the playbook on it and they were sending him videos of practice and meeting sessions while he was in California.

Carter said his days away consisted of going to class, working out and then talking to his coaches at night.

He said he made sure to study the vets in those videos and try to pick up how they line up and what techniques they use in hopes of assimilating himself quicker when he returned.

“He’s gotten baptized,” head coach Jim Caldwell joked about Carter’s first week on the job. “I think you could see that coach (Tony) Oden had him out there doing a little extra after practice is over with trying to catch up.

“Now, I think he did a nice job of doing what the league allows us to do in terms of his studies and visiting with Tony, Coach Oden, whenever he could. But it’s nothing like being here, getting the reps, so he’s trying to make up for that. But I thought he’s acclimated fairly well.”

Carter is a Stanford guy and says he’s a pretty quick learner when it comes to catching up.

“Now it’s just a matter of getting the reps and doing what I’ve learned already,” he said.

If he continues to stick close to veterans like Rashean Mathis, he’ll pick it up quickly.

“It’s bright and early, so we can’t expect too much from him,” Mathis said of Carter. “He got his hand on his first ball today for an interception, so we all corralled him and told him good job, but like I said, it’s early.

“I’m the kind of guy that you don’t want to let a guy know that you’re expecting too much out of him. Just let him feel his way around and the athleticism and the playmaking abilities and all that will come out.”

LIONS SIGN TIGHT END

An ankle injury is still keeping tight end Joseph Fauria from participating fully in practice, so the Lions added some depth to the position Wednesday.

The team signed veteran tight end David Ausberry, who spent the last four seasons in Oakland.

Ausberry, 27, played in six games for the Raiders last year and caught two passes for 14 yards. He has 11 career catches for 120 yards.

The Lions return their top three tight ends from last year – Eric Ebron, Brandon Pettigrew and Fauria -- and also have Jordan Thompson and undrafted rookie Casey Pierce in camp.

The team released safety Nate Lindsey to make room for Ausberry on the 90-man roster.

CONCERN FOR BELL’S CONDITIONING

Running back Joique Bell hasn’t participated in OTAs this spring as he continues to rehab from offseason surgery. Bell should be ready to go by the time training camp starts.

“Really, I think your biggest concern is just, is he going to be able to get in the shape that you wanted to at the beginning of camp,” offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said. “But we’ll be careful with him and smart and ramp him up as we go.”

Bell was the Lions’ leading rusher last year (860 yards & seven touchdowns) and is expected to play a big role in the Lions backfield again this year alongside second-round pick Ameer Abdullah and third-year back Theo Riddick.

WASHBURN BACK

Jim Washburn is entering his 17th season in the NFL as a defensive line coach. There’s no replacing that kind of experience.

Washburn rejoined the Lions this week after recovering from offseason surgery the last couple months.

“With his experience and background, he’s a wealth of knowledge,” Caldwell said. “Kris (Kocurek) and Matt (Raich) have done a tremendous job and that will continue, but Wash is a pretty unusual guy. Glad to have him back.”

OTA OBSERVATIONS

  • Bell, LaAdrian Waddle, Haloti Ngata (personal reasons) and Ryan Broyles (personal reasons) did not take part in practice Wednesday. Fauria, Jason Jones, Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy did individual work but no team drills.
  • The Lions continue to rotate reps between Travis Swanson and Manny Ramirez at center and first-round pick Laken Tomlinson and Ramirez at left guard. All three players took first-team reps at times during practice.
  • One of the more impressive things about Abdullah so far is his ability to change direction on a dime and get to full speed quickly. He’s not the fastest guy on the field, but he’s still able to get separation because he gets to his top speed quicker than most.
  • Matthew Stafford has looked pretty sharp all summer, but there were a couple throws that had him patting his chest as if to say ‘my fault’ at practice today. He overthrew Golden Tate over the middle in a red zone ghost drill and under-threw Calvin Johnson on a corner route in the end zone that resulted in the play being broken up. Stafford was quick to take the blame in both instances.
  • Speaking of quarterbacks, Dan Orlovsky took second-team reps Wednesday. He and Kellen Moore have been rotating them all through OTAs.
    • “Yeah, both of them are getting a lot of work,” Caldwell said. “Just like anything else, you know, right now it’s a rep chart as opposed to a depth chart. So, both are working some with the twos and some with the threes and they’re doing well.”
  • Eric Ebron wasn't targeted a ton Wednesday, but did make an impressive catch dragging across the middle in a team period and then ran away from the defense down the sideline. He’s worked hard to improve his speed this offseason and he looks faster. He also didn’t have any drops.
  • Kyle Van Noy and Travis Lewis continue to get quality reps at linebacker with Tulloch and Levy sitting out team periods. Van Noy is getting reps at both the SAM and WILL. Neither jumped out Wednesday in terms of making plays, though.
  • Kicker Kyle Brindza was 7-of-8 kicking field goals in a team drill.
    • “You know, young guy,” Caldwell said of Brindza. “I mean, we had a couple situations last week where we put him in game-winning-kick situations and he did well. But he’s pretty versatile and he’s eager, so he’s doing well right now.”