NOTEBOOK: Carter playing catch-up as he returns to practice

Posted Aug 23, 2015

Tim Twentyman covers all the news from Sunday's practice including returning players, injury updates and more.

Mental reps and physical reps are two very different things in the NFL, especially when dealing with rookie players.

For three weeks rookie cornerback Alex Carter has been paying attention in the meeting room and keeping his head in the game on the practice field, all while being unable to translate it to the field in real reps because he's been rehabbing an ankle injury suffered in late July.

Carter, the team's third-round pick this past spring, returned to practice in limited fashion on Sunday. He did individual work, but no team drills.

Heading into training camp the Lions expected Carter to be a key reserve on the outside at cornerback and a big part of their special teams and sub packages.

He can still be all those things, but he’s only got two preseason games and exactly three weeks to catch up before the regular season begins.

“Obviously, you have to be able to give him a chance to at least have some success, so it’s just a progression for him as well,” head coach Jim Caldwell said.

“He’s missed so much, it’s going to take him a little bit to catch up. But he’s been in it mentally. Physically it’s a little bit different applying the different techniques he’s learned. So we’ll see how that goes.”

Carter says he knows the reps will be important over the next three weeks and the clock is ticking.

“I’m just trying to take it at a good pace so I’m healthy and at the same time getting those reps,” Carter said.

“I’m doing as much as I can right now. We’re still working on a progression getting back, but this week will be a good week for me.”

It’s unclear if Carter will be ready for Friday’s third preseason game in Jacksonville. That will depend on how much progress he makes this week.


Jason Jones is entering his eighth season in the league and knows the value of getting reps in training camp and the preseason

“Anybody would need some sort of reps, just to get out there and get the swing of things. Seeing my muscle memory back and footwork right. My aiming points as far as the defense,” Jones said of returning to practice for the first time Sunday since being placed on the PUP list before the start of camp.

“I know the defense in and out, so I don’t have to learn that. It’s just about getting my feet wet.”

Jones was joined for the first time on the practice field by right tackle LaAdrian Waddle, who also came off PUP on Sunday.

“It was definitely a good feeling knowing that I’m close to getting back out there (full-time),” Waddle said.

Both players took part in individual drills but didn't do any team work.

Sitting out practice were a host of players that included: Haloti Ngata (NFI), Joique Bell (PUP), Ziggy Ansah, Caraun Reid (ankle), Larry Warford (ankle), Kyle Van Noy, Eric Ebron, Isa Abdul-Quddus, Lance Moore (non-injury) and Kevin Snyder (hand).

Caldwell said Ansah, Ebron and Abdul-Quddus are dealing with minor things. He also said Bell was “really getting closer” to coming off the PUP list.

Van Noy, on the other hand, might be out a bit.

“He’s getting checked out,” Caldwell said of his second-year linebacker. “He’s had a bit of an injury that sort of occurred about a week ago or so, and is just increasingly getting a little bit worse. So he’s getting looked at closely. He’s got some issues.”

That’s obviously not a good situation for a player who missed half the season last year with a core muscle injury and had surgery on his hip following the season.


Calvin Johnson has been getting the Barry Sanders treatment this preseason.

Sanders used to get in for four or five plays in the entire preseason (usually in game three) in his heyday.

Johnson hasn’t played in either of the Lions’ first two preseason games vs. the Jets or Redskins, but is hoping to get into the game Friday in Jacksonville, if only briefly.

“I’d love to play,” Johnson said. “I’d love to get out there. I think any professional wants to get out there and get some plays in, especially when you have a chance to get some in the preseason before you actually get it going in the regular season.”

There’s obviously the risk of injury to weigh here because Johnson means so much to the offense, much like Sanders did for those teams in the 90's.

It’s expected that Johnson will see a little bit of playing time Friday night in Jacksonville. How much exactly is unclear.