LIONS INSIDER

TWENTYMAN: 5 takeaways from minicamp

Posted Jun 18, 2017

Tim Twentyman gives his 5 takeaways from minicamp.

The Lions have completed their three-day mandatory minicamp, which now concludes the offseason training program.

Next up is the rigors of training camp starting at the end of July. Camp will decide the initial 53-man roster and get the team ready for their home opener Sept. 10.

Looking back at minicamp, here are five takeaways from those three days of practice:

1. Forget what we saw at left tackle

Lions general manager Bob Quinn shook things up on the last day of minicamp Thursday, when he traded for tackle Greg Robinson, a former No. 2 overall pick, and signed free-agent tackle Cyrus Kouandjio. Both players were bystanders at practice Thursday, and are expected to compete at left tackle when training camp starts.

Joe Dahl had been taking most of the first-team reps at left tackle in minicamp, but he could be a candidate to revert to his more natural position at guard.

We also have yet to see Corey Robinson in action because of an injury. Robinson was the third tackle behind Taylor Decker and Riley Reiff most of last season.

When training camp begins, expect a whole new competition at the left tackle spot until starter Taylor Decker can return from his right shoulder injury.

2. Good start, rookie

Receiver Kenny Golladay was a small-school product that put up big-time numbers in college -- back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons at Northern Illinois.

He parlayed that production into a third-round selection by the Lions in this year’s NFL Draft.

Golladay’s size (6-4, 213), speed and length were on display just about every day of the open OTA and minicamp practices. He made a number of difficult catches and big plays, and has impressed several of his veteran teammates, including Matthew Stafford and Golden Tate.

Making plays in shorts with limited contact is a lot different than full pads with bump-and-run coverage, which Golladay will face in training camp, but it’s certainly a good sign that he’s shown a playmaking prowess and has done well with what he’s been asked to do early on.

The Lions need a third receiver to emerge behind Tate and Marvin Jones Jr., and Golladay made a statement this spring and summer that he might just be up to the task.

3. Linebacker pecking order

Rookie Jarrad Davis appears solidly entrenched at the MIKE. He’s looked like a natural fit there in minicamp, too.

But where does everyone else fall into line? That question is hard to answer right now because Tahir Whitehead didn’t take part in OTAs or minicamp as he’s rehabbing an injury. He’s making the switch from MIKE to WILL, but he’ll have to compete with Paul Worrilow, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and others.

Antwione Williams is also in line for more playing time after a solid rookie season.

The competition at linebacker will be a definite spot to watch in training camp.

4. Backup quarterback competition

Playing quarterback in this league as a rookie is tough business.

Jake Rudock realized that very early last season. He was drafted to compete with Dan Orlovsky to be Matthew Stafford’s backup, but Orlovsky’s experience and knowledge of the offense gave him a clear advantage. Orlovsky ended up winning the job.

Fast forward one year and Brad Kaaya is learning the same lesson. Rudock’s experience and knowledge of Jim Bob Cooter’s scheme is light years ahead of Kaaya’s right now, and that’s shown on the field in minicamp.

Rudock appears to have clearly established himself as the No. 2 quarterback heading into training camp.

5. Speed on defense

Detroit needed to add speed and playmakers on defense this offseason. Early indications are that they’ve accomplished that.

The additions of rookies Davis, Teez Tabor, Reeves-Maybin and Jamal Agnew, along with the signings of free agents DJ Hayden, Paul Worrilow, Cornelius Washington and others, have given this defense a new look.

“I think where we’re different, obviously ... I think we’re a little bit younger,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “I think we’re a little bit faster, overall team speed --linebacker, in the secondary.

"You have some guys who really can run. I think we’re better that way, overall. I think our athleticism is a little bit better than we were last year, which I like.”

It was a ball-hawking unit during minicamp, and Austin no-doubt hopes that continues in training camp when the pads come on, players start flying around and the hitting starts.