Players, coaches get on the field together in Phase II of the offseason program

Posted Apr 30, 2012

After two weeks of strictly running and lifting in the first phase of the Lions’ offseason training program, Kyle Vanden Bosch was happy to see the coaches back on the field Monday for the beginning of the next phase of the program.

“It feels like football again and guys were really into it and we got better, that's the big thing,” Vanden Bosch said.

“During the offseason program it can become monotonous, but with the different phases you take each as they come. The emphasis is on getting better today, and I think that's what we did."

With the NFL Draft now behind them, the Lions moved into Phase II of the offseason training program Monday.

In Phase II, coaches can take part in workouts and the players transition from just running and lifting to more structured football-related workouts.

This phase is best described as the individual portion of practice during the regular season. There can’t be any competition between the offense and defense, but Matthew Stafford can throw routes to receivers, and assistant coaches like linebackers coach Matt Burke can run his unit through drills.

“It’s really big,” Burke said of offseason program. “This time is usually a lot for fundamentals and drill work and stuff. We didn’t have a lot of that time last year being thrown into the season right away.”

The Lions weren’t afforded a training program last offseason because of the lockout.

Stafford, who’s coming off a 5,000-yard season in 2012, welcomed the more structured workout Monday and got a chance to throw routes to his receivers.

“It is good to be back out here,” Stafford said. “We were doing a little bit on our own outside of the building, but it’s nice to have a little bit of structure, call some plays – get guys thinking a little more concept football than normal just routes on air.

“We have most of the guys here. That’s the great thing about our program is all the guys show up. Almost everybody shows up, so it’s nice to be back together.”

Stafford said it’s more working on timing and routes at this point than anything else, but those are things that are important in the grand scheme of things.

“You can’t even guard the receivers so it’s just routes on air, throwing and catching, just getting as good as you can, try to keep the ball off the ground the whole practice, which we did today, so that was good.”

The Lions continue this phase of the program until the first OTAs (organized team activities) begin later this month. At that point, the rookies will be fresh off their mini-camp and will join the veterans.

“It basically just gets your mind going thinking more football type of stuff,” linebacker Justin Durant said. “We’re doing a lot of conditioning and things like that, but with the coaches we can get more football-specific, things that apply to the actual game.

“We can go in and watch a little bit of tape, really get your mind going, get back into it mentally also.”