LIONS INSIDER

CAMP NOTEBOOK: Versatile Jason Jones giving Lions more flexibility

Posted Jul 29, 2014

Tim Twentyman covers all the news from Day 2 of Lions Training Camp including Jason Jones' versatility, George Johnson's quality reps and more.

The Detroit Lions severely missed Jason Jones versatility last season after he was lost for the season with a ruptured patellar tendon in Week 3.

Jones’ ability to play both inside and outside was going to allow the Lions to move pieces around and be more flexible upfront.

After 11 months of rehab, Jones is back to 100 percent to start training camp and the Lions still have big plans for their under-the-radar free agent signing a year ago.

“Sitting at home watching the games (last year) I could definitely see myself in on certain downs and me inside rushing,” Jones said. “A lot of people played out of place because of me.

“This year we’re going to do the same thing. I’m going to play inside as well too and I think I’m effective on the inside. This year I’m ready to do all the coaches ask (of me). I’m going to be inside and outside.”

Jones has a unique skill set in that he’s 6-foot-5, 276 pounds with enough strength, speed and quickness to play both spots and play them well.

“He does a great job inside – outside,” head coach Jim Caldwell. “He’s smart enough to handle it, he’s a multi-position guy. Obviously he has some unusual traits – very good pass-rusher, been around the block a little bit so he has a good understanding of what it takes to be successful in there.”

Jones is a bigger end and will play the closed side vs. the tight end in Teryl Austin’s scheme.

“This scheme is awesome,” Jones said. “We have a lot of formations and things like that. You’re going to see a lot of defensive lineman switched around a lot.”

Jones said he’s effective playing on the outside, but is “real effective” inside. It’ll be interesting to see how the Lions split up those reps.

No matter how they end up using Jones, they’re just happy to have a player back who gives them a lot of options on that side of the football.

JOHNSON (NOT THAT ONE) TURNING HEADS

George JohnsonDE George Johnson (Photo: Detroit Lions)

Defensive end George Johnson, who the Lions signed as a free agent in April, has been getting some quality reps the first two days of training camp.

Johnson measures in at 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds and had played parts of three seasons in Tampa Bay and Minnesota.

Johnson has slimmed down since his days in Minnesota and Caldwell says that’s helped him immensely.

“Well George Johnson has changed his body, first of all, a tremendous amount since he’s been in the league,” Caldwell said. “He used to be a lot bigger, carried a bit more weight.

“But he always had a bit of a quick twitch and now that he’s down in size a bit, (defensive) end is probably his more natural position. It appears that he probably bulked up to try to get the kind of size that he thought he needed to play in this league, but he’s got a gift, speed and quickness.

"So he’s a part of that rotation that you see and I think George is getting better and he’s another one of those guys that we’re excited about having the opportunity to see how it goes here down the stretch.”

MAYHEW HAS EYES ON SECONDARY

The Lions are optimistic Darius Slay can be a consistent performer in year two and that 34-year-old Rashean Mathis will play at the same high level he did last year.

The team has some young players entering the third year of their careers, too, who they hope take the next step in their career.

There are a number of ifs there and Lions general manager Martin Mayhew says he’s always looking for ways to improve his football team and he admits he has a close eye on the secondary.

“We’re shopping for everything,” he said. “We’re always trying to get our football team better. Defensive backs, linebackers, defensive line, offensive line, every position.

“We’re talking to people around the league about making moves and trades and are trying to upgrade all of the time. It never stops, it’s never ending. We control the situation where we feel comfortable everywhere, but certainly secondary is a place we would look.”

OBSERVATIONS

-- Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley have a nice little rivalry brewing on the two-man sled. The goal is to be the first to hit the sled and get the pad elevated. Suh beat Fairley by a slim margin today and did a little victory dance afterward. It's one of those drills the lineman get excited about, even when they’re not in it.

-- Receiver Kevin Ogletree has been impressive the first two days of camp and has been getting a lot of reps as the third receiver with Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate early on.

-- Rookie safety Jerome Couplin got the crowd going today with an impressive interception on a pass intended for Joseph Fauria in one-on-one drills.

-- Both Nate Freese and Giorgio Tavecchio missed field goals today when the Lions did a situational late-game drill to end practice. Freese missed what looked like a 50-yarder wide left and Tavecchio was short.

-- One of the fun drills to watch in camp is when the offensive lineman and defensive lineman do one-on-one pass protection drills. It’s a drill with a lot of energy that can sometimes get pretty heated.

Rob Sims and Larry Warford started the drill by stoning Suh and Fairley, respectively. Both Suh and Fairley won the second matchup, however. Fairley had a nice bull-rush on Sims.

Rookie tackle Cornelius Lucas (6-9-328) is a beast when he gets his hands on defenders, but rookie Larry Webster caught him with a nice duck-and-under move after Lucas stood him up on their first run. The Lions continue to work on Lucas’ footwork.