TIM & MIKE

TIM AND MIKE: OTA Week 1 observations

Posted May 24, 2017

Tim Twentyman and Mike O'Hara share their observations from open OTA practice.

Man in the middle: First-round pick Jarrad Davis lined up at middle linebacker and was calling the plays with the first-team defense during the OTA practice open to the media Wednesday. That was somewhat expected. Veteran Tahir Whitehead, who has started in the middle most of the last two seasons, didn’t participate in practice for undisclosed reasons. We’ll have to wait to see where both line up when they’re on the field together. It seems like Davis will stay in the middle, and Whitehead is in for a position change. – Tim Twentyman

Speed – Ameer running: On a number of plays, Ameer Abdullah accelerated through openings and changed direction without breaking stride. Those are positive signs that Abdullah has recovered from the foot injury that sidelined him for the last 14 games of last season. A year ago, he wore a red jersey in practice throughout the offseason to protect him from contact while recovering from shoulder surgery. There is no red jersey this year. – Mike O’Hara

Speed – Ziggy chasing: Defensive end Ziggy Ansah is a remarkable athlete, and that’s apparent even in practice drills. On one play he was locked up with offensive left tackle Taylor Decker, then broke away to chase the receiver downfield after a completed pass.Mike O’Hara

Ball flip trick: Golden Tate, Keshawn Martin, Jace Billingsley, TJ Jones and Jared Abberderis were back returning punts in a special teams portion of practice. At one point, they were working on a drill where they’d have a ball in their hands and right before the punt would come down to them, they’d have to throw the ball they had in their hand in the air, catch the punt, then try to catch the ball they tossed in the air. It looked quite difficult. Tate was the only person to catch the punt and the ball he threw up in the air. That guy is good at everything he does. – Tim Twentyman

Left guard start: As expected, second-year player Graham Glasgow played left guard with the first-team offense. With T.J. Lang still mending his surgically repaired hip, Joe Dahl and Laken Tomlinson rotated at right guard. – Tim Twentyman

Standing tall: One of the physical qualities that attracted the Lions to cornerback Teez Tabor is his size. At 6 feet, 203 pounds, Tabor is one of the Lions’ tallest cornerbacks. His height stands out when he’s with the other defensive backs in position drills. So do his sure hands. He handles the ball effortlessly. – Mike O’Hara

Position changes: Cornerback Alex Carter’s first couple seasons in Detroit have been rather forgettable. He spent his rookie season on IR (ankle) and last season on the practice squad. It’s a make-or-break offseason for Carter, who appears to be making the switch to safety. The Lions are very deep at cornerback after signing one in free agency and drafting two. Also, veteran Brandon Copeland, who played almost exclusively at defensive end last year, played both there and linebacker. – Tim Twentyman

Jake’s hands: Jake Rudock has the inside track on being the backup quarterback to Matthew Stafford, but he got some work at the end of practice at another position. Rudock practiced taking snaps to hold for kicks. That doesn’t mean he is about to replace punter Sam Martin as Matt Prater’s regular holder. As Rudock said, it’s just part of being ready to help out if needed. – Mike O’Hara

Midseason form: Veteran cornerback Darius Slay looks to be in midseason form. He was all over the field in both team drills and 7-on-7. He broke up consecutive Matthew Stafford passes intended for Marvin Jones Jr. in a 7-on-7 sequence. – Tim Twentyman

Absent: Joining Whitehead and Lang as players not taking part in Wednesday’s practice were: Glover Quin (family obligation), Theo Riddick, Don Carey, Armonty Bryant and Corey Robinson. Cornerbacks DJ Hayden and Teez Tabor didn’t take part in any of the team drills. – Tim Twentyman