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Camp Notes: Gibbs stands out in first joint practice

Detroit Lions veteran linebacker Alex Anzalone was asked after Tuesday's joint practice with the New York Giants what he got most out of the two-hour practice.

"Not having to cover (Jahmyr) Gibbs out of the backfield was nice," Anzalone said with a smile. "Made my day a little less stressful."

That's quite the compliment from the veteran Anzalone about Detroit's rookie running back. Giants linebacker Micah McFadden and the rest of his position group found out rather quickly Tuesday what Anzalone was talking about.

Gibbs was one of the standouts for the Lions Tuesday making plays both in the run game and the pass game, but what he did as a pass catcher really stood out. Gibbs was dominant in a team red zone period late, catching a couple touchdown passes and also running one in. The Lions see Gibbs as a do-it-all three down back, and he spends just as much time at practice with the pass catchers as he does the running backs.

"I feel like my expectations were met as far as him as a player," Anzalone said of Gibbs. "He's twitchy. He's fast. He's got a dead leg to him that can get you and once he gets away from you and gets separation it's tough to recover."

Gibbs caught 44 passes at Alabama last year, which led the team and were the second most for a single season by a running back in school history. He was also credited with just one drop on 52 targets. He's very smooth as a pass catcher, meaning he catches the ball away from his body and doesn't lose stride in the process.

It's become clear through the first 12 training camp practices that offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is going to move Gibbs around to try to get him in space to create mismatches. He's been fun to watch so far, especially Tuesday against the Giants, and he's expected to be a big part of what the Lions do offensively in 2023.

"He is pretty good, he is pretty good," Lions quarterback Jared Goff said of Gibbs Tuesday. "In space he is really special. That is always our goal. To get guys who are special in space, and he is one of them."


The Lions are signing veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to bolster their quarterback room and promote competition behind Goff.

Bridgewater has started 65 career games over eight seasons and has a 33-32 record in those starts. He's completed 66.4 percent of his passes for 15,120 yards with 75 touchdowns and 47 interceptions in his career.

Bridgewater, 31, was the backup in New Orleans in 2018 and 2019 when Lions head coach Dan Campbell was on that staff. He started five games in 2019 in his last season with New Orleans when starter Drew Brees was injured and went 5-0. He adds a ton of experience to Detroit's quarterback room.

"I mean when you are with somebody for two years you get a really good feel of what they are capable of, and the way they are wired the way he thinks," Campbell said of Bridgewater. "I have seen him work, I have seen him run the offense, I have seen him in critical moments. I have seen him develop young talent, young receivers.

"We lost (Drew) Brees, (Bridgewater) went five and zero. He went in there and he kept the ship afloat. He kept the heading right where we needed it and that means a lot to me. And that is all we need. So, to me that is one of the reasons I wanted him here."

He now steps into a competition with Nate Sudfeld to be Goff's backup. The Lions have two other quarterbacks on their roster: Rookie third-round pick Hendon Hooker and undrafted rookie Adrian Martinez. Hooker is on the NFI list as he rehabs a torn ACL and isn't expected to play this preseason.


Anzalone is a terrific athlete at the linebacker position and the Lions are hoping to tap into that by playing him more at the WILL. Detroit is hoping either Jack Campbell, Derrick Barnes or Malcolm Rodriguez can handle the MIKE role to a point where Anzalone can play WILL more.

"I feel like I'm playing more my natural position at weakside linebacker," Anzalone said. "Just for the type of athlete I am."

The rookie Campbell has been getting most of the first-team reps next to Anzalone at the MIKE over the last week or so.


  • Wide receiver Denzel Mims and guard Jonah Jackson didn't take part in practice Tuesday.
  • Dan Campbell was particularly fired up at his morning press conference ahead of Tuesday's practice with New York: "I can't wait, man. I'm competitive. I don't even get to practice, but that's just me. I love this ... if you have a competitive nature about you, this is as good as it gets. So, that's just me. I'm pretty fired up right now."

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