New Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson met with the media Friday morning for the first time during training camp. The offense Johnson is installing should be fun to watch, and it has the potential to be pretty explosive through the air and on the ground.
Here are my five biggest takeaways from Johnson's media session:
1. It's been evident through the first nine practices of training camp that quarterback Jared Goff is in a pretty good place running Johnson's offense. Goff has had a really strong start to camp. Asked about Goff, Johnson said he's really tried to put Goff in tough situations and make him uncomfortable, but Goff's got such a handle on this offense that it's been hard for Johnson to get Goff uncomfortable.
"It's been a challenge to rattle him," Johnson said. "We've thrown some new concepts at him that we didn't even do in the springtime, and he's handled it really well. He has done a really nice job just staying steady, and he is focused. I'm really proud of where he's at after a week and a half."
2. Veteran wide receiver DJ Chark is best known for being a big time deep threat with his size and speed combination. Chark's certainly been making a lot of plays down the field for the Lions through the first week and a half of camp, but his game is also evolving to be more than that. Chark is a good route runner, he's got great hands, and he can make catches in traffic. Johnson is utilizing those skills throughout the entire route tree.
Johnson said Chark comments to him almost daily how he was never asked to do some of the things Johnson's asking him to do here in Detroit in his previous stop in Jacksonville. Johnson said he's really happy where Chark is at right now.
3. Rookie tight end James Mitchell is back on the field and taking part in team reps after missing the offseason program and starting camp working off to the side as he rehabbed a knee injury from college.
Johnson described Mitchell as being quite different than most rookies he's encountered in terms of his ability to learn and retain information. Johnson said it's really separated Mitchell from other rookies he's been around. Now it's about ramping up Mitchell's reps in practice and seeing the physical part of his game. Mitchell seems to be very much in the competition for one of the backup jobs at tight end behind T.J. Hockenson.
View photos from Day 8 of Detroit Lions training camp on Thursday August 4, 2022.
4. How much of Johnson's offense has been installed so far?
Johnson didn't put a percentage on it, but said a good foundation has been laid. He and the offensive coaches chart all the mental mistakes throughout the course of practice. As more plays are installed, naturally the more mental mistakes there are. There's a balance that has to go on there, according to Johnson. He doesn't want to put too much on the players' plates where the mental mistakes ramp up. Once the mental mistakes go down, that's Johnson's cue to push a little bit more on them.
This time of year isn't all about just learning scheme, either. The coaches are also evaluating players and what they can potentially do in this offense. There has to be a good balance of scheme instillation and evaluation, and that's where Johnson said this offense is right now.
5. Special. That's the word Johnson used to describe second-year wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. Johnson said St. Brown is on a mission right now to improve on the things that he and St. Brown identified in the spring as areas where he could grow and improve his game. One of those areas of improvement was being a better run-after-catch threat. Johnson said he could really see St. Brown has taken that aspect of improving his game to heart and it's translating to the practice field.