Twentyman: Training camp notes

Posted Jul 29, 2012

Lions left tackle Jeff Backus (thumb) and running back Mikel Leshoure (hamstring) were bystanders at practice Sunday after each sustained injuries during Saturday’s morning practice. Backus wore a brace on his right hand, but didn’t seem too concerned about the injury when asked about it after practice.

"It's just disappointing, it's frustrating, but I know how to handle situations like this," he said. “Me personally, I don’t like missing reps. I enjoy being out there with the guys and taking reps and just getting the work in. So, I’m disappointed in that regard.”

Backus wouldn’t go into details on the extent of the injury, referring instead to head coach Jim Schwartz, “I really don’t have any updates,” Schwartz said of Backus’ injury. “He’s not long-term. He wasn’t practicing today, that’s it. No, he’s not long term.

“He’s started for 11 straight years and has never missed a start. We have a lot of confidence in Jeff when the bell rings that he always answers.”

Leshoure, who tore his Achilles tendon and did not play last season, also said after practice that he wasn’t too worried about the injury and categorized it as day-to-day.

“I just felt it coming,” he said of the hamstring injury. “I didn’t feel any pop or anything. I definitely just want to be smart about it.”

He said the injury could be a result of overcompensating for his Achilles tendon and the fact that he hadn’t been in a meaningful practice in almost a year before Friday’s session. “I just don’t want to rush back and make this a season lingering injury,” he said.

Safety Erik Coleman was also held out of practice Sunday because of a “muscle tweak”.


The Lions continue to rotate players among different groupings, especially at cornerback and offensive tackle.

Both Alphonso Smith and Jacob Lacey took first-team reps opposite Chris Houston at cornerback Sunday. The Lions are still trying to find a replacement for projected starter Aaron Berry, who the team released last week, and are going to look at a lot of different combinations in camp.

Corey Hilliard took first-team reps at left tackle in Backus’ absence, while rookie first-round pick Riley Reiff played right tackle with the second group with Jason Fox playing left. Reiff worked on the left side Saturday.

“Be careful reading anything into depth charts or anything else,” Schwartz cautioned the media on Friday. “We don’t have a depth chart. We have groups that we practice with and we change them up all the time. You’ll see those groups change quite a bit.”

We’re already seeing that from practice-to-practice.


Veterans Nate Burleson and Stephen Tulloch were both asked about playing under the cloud of added expectations entering this season.

“Coach told us it's easy to go from not so good to good but it's hard to go from good to great,” Burleson said. “We're nowhere near great, but that's what we're chasing.

“It's a lot different than when I came in three years ago. Everybody was trying to figure out just exactly who we wanted to be. Right now we picked up where we left off.” Tulloch said the team has placed more expectations on themselves than any outside influence ever could.

“As a team, we know that we have to be better,” he said. “We have to be 11-5, not 10-6. We got to get better. If you're not getting better, you're getting worse.

“We know what's at stake. We know that we set the bar. We got to keep working every day and not get complacent; stay focused and help the team achieve those goals of coming out here every day and keep working.”


--Stefan Logan, Ryan Broyles and Patrick Edwards – in that order – were back returning punts in special teams punting work.

--Logan took advantage of added offensive reps as the second running back behind Kevin Smith with Leshoure not practicing. Logan was very elusive coming through the hole and has always been a terrific receiver out of the backfield. He seems to be taking advantage of opportunities to play more on offense.

--Defensive end Willie Young lined up opposite Riley Reiff in a two-minute 11-on-11 drill. Reiff held Young at bay the first few plays, which prompted defensive line coach Kris Kocurek to yell, ‘Come on Willie.’ Young responded by getting a great jump on the next play and would have had a sack if he were allowed to hit the quarterback.

--Second-year punter Ryan Donahue finished the punting portion of a special team’s period with two moon shots. The punting competition between Donahue and veteran Ben Graham should be interesting.


--Along with receiver Ryan Broyles, offensive tackle Jonathan Scott was removed from the non-football injury list and practiced for the first time Sunday.