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5 things to watch: Training camp

The veterans report for training camp today, and all available players will be on the field for the first practice of training camp Friday.

Football is back!

Training camp can be a grind for players and coaches, but the work done over the coming weeks has a big impact on how successful teams will be.

Here are five things to watch as the Lions get back to work in Allen Park in preparation for the 2018 season:


This isn't the first time Ansah has started training camp on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. He missed all of training camp last year rehabbing from injury, and wasn't taken off the list until Sept. 1. He still managed a productive season (12.0 sacks) in 14 games.

Ansah was a limited participant this offseason in OTA and minicamp practices as the Lions took it slow with their best pass rusher.

"I'm just adhering to what the medical staff and coaches are asking of me," Ansah said during OTAs.

The sixth-year veteran is expected to play a big role in Detroit's new multiple-scheme defense this fall, so making sure he is healthy and ready to go in September is priority No. 1. Still, the length of stay on the PUP list is something that will be monitored closely throughout camp.


OTAs and minicamp are more about getting back in shape and installing schemes than they are about competition. In training camp, the competition part becomes a big chunk of the equation.

There are 90 players on the roster as of today, and only 53 will make the initial roster on Sept. 1. Not only are players competing for one of those coveted roster spots, but there's also starting positions and playing time up for grabs.

Some of the biggest competitions to keep an eye on early in camp will be along the defensive line, at running back, cornerback, linebacker and the backup quarterback job.


The rookies had their introduction to NFL football in the spring with OTAs. The pace picked up in June for the mandatory minicamp. Now the pads come on and jobs are on the line, so things really ramp up starting Friday.

Detroit could get some big contributions from the rookie class, led by top two picks Frank Ragnow and Kerryon Johnson. Ragnow, the 20th overall pick, has started at left guard from the first day he got to Allen Park. Can he be the final piece upfront that solidifies that group? Johnson, the team's second-round pick, is expected to play a big role in the backfield.

Defensive back Tracy Walker (third round) and defensive lineman Da'Shawn Hand (fourth round) will be looking for playing time on defense early on. Both Walker and Hand are versatile athletes. How might they fit into the mix early on?

Offensive lineman Tyrell Crosby (fifth-round) will be competing for a backup role at tackle behind Taylor Decker and Rick Wagner.

Fullback Nick Bawden, unfortunately, will miss camp after suffering a knee injury in OTAs. The seventh-round pick was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.


Every year there seems to be at least one player who emerges as a playmaker in training camp and earns a roster spot.

Last year, it was undrafted running back Tion Green, whose 63 yards rushing on just eight carries (7.9 average) and 89 receiving yards in Detroit's last preseason game in Buffalo earned him a roster spot.

We've seen it in past years with Zach Zenner, Joique Bell, Joseph Fauria and countless others.

Will one of the free agent linebackers signed this offseason make a big splash? Can one of the undrafted rookie free agents earn their way onto the 53-man roster? Who will emerge as this year's camp darling?


When asked about head coach Matt Patricia this offseason, a lot of players have said one of the things he really harps on is fundamentals. A Patricia-coached team is expected to be tough, smart and fundamentally sound, which are all things he'll try and establish early on in his first training camp as a head coach.

The Lions are installing a completely new system on defense. It's a fast-paced defense with a lot of moving parts and personnel groupings. How quickly can it become second nature to the players?

Patricia seems to be a little more animated at practice – at least he was during OTAs and minicamp – and practices are structured much different than they were under Jim Caldwell. It's a much faster tempo with players in and out of individual and team periods much quicker.

It's Patricia's show to run for the first time in his coaching career, and it has to be an exciting time to get back to the grind as a first-year head coach.

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