Penei Sewell's star is certainly on the rise.
The third-year Lions right tackle is considered one of the top at his position in the NFL and a foundational player Detroit is building their future around. Sewell, 22, made his first Pro Bowl last year in just his second season after allowing only two sacks and six quarterback hits in over 660 pass-block reps. Lions running backs combined to produce 426 carries for 1,880 yards (4.4 avg.) and 23 touchdowns last season with Sewell helping to pave the way.
But what Lions fans should be really excited about when it comes to Sewell is that he's not nearly satisfied with the early success he's had individually to start his career.
"I want it all, man," Sewell said Friday after practice. "Nothing less. It's as simple as that. I don't want to give you guys specifics, that's between me and the man in the mirror, but I want it all. Individually, team wise, family wise. I want it all."
Philadelphia's Lane Johnson and Tampa Bay's Tristan Wirfs were the two All-Pro right tackles last season. They are considered the top two right tackles in the game with Sewell in that same conversation. Can Sewell climb the ladder and earn his first All-Pro status in 2023?
"He's a man on a mission," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said of Sewell. "I feel like we're a team on a mission, but he is a man on a mission and you talk about being wired right, a guy that comes in every day, puts in the work and he's got so much ability, but he's got the right attitude too and I think that's what makes him dangerous if you're the opponent, so he's right where he needs to be.
"If he loses, it bothers him, bad and that's what you want. You want a guy who believes that there's no way he should lose any rep, no matter who he's playing and – so he's shown up, he's in shape, he's lean, he's mean and I'm glad he's ours."
Sewell has looked terrific to begin camp as one of the key players on a Detroit offensive line that's considered one of the best in the NFL. He is pound for pound the Lions' most athletic player and he's on a mission to prove he's not just the best right tackle in football, but one of the best offensive linemen period.
"That guy, man. He's a rock star. He really is," veteran edge rusher Charles Harris said of Sewell. "He just loves the game of football. He really does. His leadership is amazing. Consistency every single day. He is who he is."
The pads came on for the first time during training camp on Friday, and that means the physicality and competitiveness ramped up considerably. It was also our first opportunity to see the rookies in pads. As expected, there was some good and some bad.
One thing the Lions have really been working on with third-round pick Brodric Martin is lowering his pad level. Martin is 6-foot-5, 330 pounds and has 35-inch arms. His size is elite. Martin showed off a nice bull rush on one-on-one pass-rush drills Friday. He told a few reporters after practice that defensive line coach John Scott Jr. has completely changed his stance to get him to play with lower pad level. Martin said playing lower has been his big focus since coming to Detroit.
Martin, who played collegiately at Western Kentucky, is making good strides. In fact, he's been mixing in some first-team reps already in the first week of camp.
"We see a level of growth," Campbell said of Martin. "And then with his size, his length and his strength, you want to see if you can get him to come along a little quicker, potentially. I think that's what it is. If we saw a player that up to this point was not growing and you're afraid he's going to get somebody hurt by being in there, we're not going to (give him first-team reps)."
The Lions waived wide receiver Tom Kennedy with an injury designation on Friday. Kennedy made a terrific catch down the seam in Wednesday's practice and hung on to the ball going to the ground while linebacker Jack Campbell fell on him. Kennedy got up slow and didn't return to practice with an upper body injury. It would not be surprising to see Kennedy back with the team at some point in the future.
To fill his roster spot, the Lions signed wide receiver Trey Quinn, who last played in the USFL with the Michigan Panthers where he caught 37 passes for 438 yards in 10 games. Quinn was the last pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and has made 16 appearances in the NFL with 35 receptions for 273 yards and two touchdowns.
Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley is expected back in Allen Park on Monday, according to Campbell. His absence from the first week of camp has been for medical reasons. Asked if Moseley needed more surgery coming off the torn ACL he suffered in San Francisco last year, Campbell declined to answer.