NOTEBOOK: Caldwell has better feel for Lions heading into camp

Posted Jun 12, 2014

Following the offseason training program, OTAs and three separate minicamps, Lions head coach Jim Caldwell has a good pulse on his team.

The Detroit Lions wrapped up their mandatory minicamp on Thursday, which officially concludes their offseason.

It’s been a busy last few months hiring a coaching staff, adding to the roster via free agency and the draft, players learning new schemes and the coaches learning what their players can and can’t do.

There’s been a lot of work crammed into a short amount of time, but head coach Jim Caldwell likes the progress that’s been made.

“I thought they prepared well," he said. "They worked hard. They certainly didn’t flinch under all the circumstances that we had to deal with, whether it was raining or cold or whatever it might be.

“I thought they did a nice job of lessening the number of mistakes that we had. We had fewer and fewer mistakes as our practices went on, which is the way it’s supposed to be. We were pleased with the effort they gave us as well, so a lot of guys are making real good progress. We like where we are.”

Eric EbronThe Lions wrapped up minicamp Thursday (Photo: Detroit Lions)

That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of work remaining when the players return at the end of July. Caldwell and Co. got a good jump on implementing their schemes and the players seemed a lot more comfortable with them coming off the field Thursday than they did even last week during OTA’s.

“One of the things that you do is you certainly look at what you want to add from a schematics standpoint,” Caldwell said. “We had a long list of things that we wanted to put in because we’re new, you know, the entire scheme, so we had quite a few things that we had to get through, then also situational as well.

“It’s been good. Our checklist, we’ve been able to run down it and get the great majority of the things in and feel good about where we are.”

But maybe even more important than implementing the scheme is what this offseason afforded coaches in terms of learning their personnel. That’s an important part of the equation come training camp. Who can do what and how well can they do it?

“You had a few guys that you had worked with previously, but I certainly do have a good feel for them,” Caldwell said. “I’m impressed with the things that we’ve seen in terms of the progress we’ve made. We have a lot of good, strong leaders and we’re excited about this group.”


Minicamp is over and that gives six weeks of either rest or rehab for some of the Lions’ walking wounded.

Defensive end Ziggy Ansah, running back Joique Bell and receiver Golden Tate didn’t take part in any of the three minicamp practices this week, but each is expected back for the start of training camp.

The Lions aren’t certain that’ll be the case for cornerback Chris Houston, but are hopeful.

Receiver Kevin Ogletree, running back Mikel Leshoure, linebacker Stephen Tulloch, receiver TJ Jones and guard Rob Sims, all of whom missed a portion of minicamp or were limited, are all expected back on the field for training camp.


“There’s an old adage that says, ‘The mark of a true leader is a man that can lead himself.’ We have a lot of guys like that, that can lead themselves.”

--Caldwell when asked about the leadership on this team


Former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz did not believe pumping in crowd noise or music during practice had much benefit come Sunday.

Caldwell thinks otherwise and says he will employ the technique when the season begins in the fall.

“When we get to the fall you’ll start to see those things,” he said. “Both sides of the ball. Either your offense is going to have to deal with the noise or your defense at home has to deal with it. We work that constantly.”

Expect music, however, at a Caldwell fall practice and not just piped in crowd noise.

“Sometimes (music) is a little bit more entertaining,” he said with a smile.