Second-year offensive tackle Penei Sewell was arguably the best player on the field for the Detroit Lions during Monday's padded practice in Allen Park. Sewell lit up the crowd early in practice when he hustled out wide on a short pass to slot receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and laid cornerback Jeff Okudah out to help pave the way for St. Brown. That earned a chest bump from wide receiver DJ Chark.
Sewell then handled No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson pretty well in one-on-one reps against the offensive linemen later in practice. It was just another one of those solid practices for Sewell where he rarely makes mistakes and dominates play with his athleticism and physicality.
Sewell was named to Pro Football Focus' All-Rookie team last year after earning an 81.9 grade by PFF at right tackle, ranking sixth best at his position. Sewell allowed only 5.0 sacks on the year and only 2.0 over his last 12 games.
He said Monday he feels way more comfortable with everything in Year 2, and the wild thing is, he's still just 21 years old and poised to have a monster second season after the Lions selected him No. 7 overall last year.
"It feels a lot different," Sewell said of the start of his second camp with the Lions. "More comfortable out there. I know the system. I know V (right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai), Jonah (Jackson), Deck (Taylor Decker) and Frank (Ragnow), so that chemistry, too, just makes my job way easer out there.
"I know what to expect. The speed is way slower. Everything is not coming at me 1,000 miles per hour."
It's certainly showed in camp so far, as Sewell has been one of the best players on the field through the first week of training camp.
"Penei is a really, really good player," Decker said Monday. "He is a guy who loves football. He gets excited and he loves being out here."
The Lions have to feel really good about where Sewell and this starting offensive line are at a week into camp. Sewell's still working on some hand technique stuff and making sure to change up his sets, something he and Decker work on, but he and this o-line are definitely one of the really bright spots for this football team right now.
GOFF IN GOOD SPOT
Quarterback Jared Goff was sharp Monday, spreading the ball around and fitting it into some tight windows for completions. Goff talked earlier in camp about his comfort level heading into his second season in Detroit, and his teammates are seeing that too.
"Starting in OTAs, I came in and talked to the OC (offensive coordinator Ben Johnson) and he was like, "Jared's already been in here getting the playbook down because he wants to know every single thing we have going on in the offense,'" Decker said.
Decker said Goff has been on top of every alert and check in both the pass and run game early on in Johnson's offense and recognizes it quickly to give the line time to adjust. Decker said that allows everyone else on offense to play fast when the quarterback is in tune with the playbook and gets the checks out fast.
"He's helping the entire offense," Decker said. "He's taken a ton of ownership of it and he's out there throwing dimes. If we give him time, we know a big play will be made."
Apparently, we are in for quite the show if Hard Knocks runs the performance of Hutchinson performing Michael Jackson's 'Billie Jean' during the rookie show in front of the entire team a couple nights ago.
Here are just a few of the early reviews:
- Head coach Dan Campbell: "I will say this it was outstanding. He took a big step in respect of his teammates because it was a hell of a performance, just saying. Billie Jean, right? Yeah, you'll see it, he's good, he's really good."
- Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn: "Outstanding, outstanding. Alright, man it was, it just reminded me of just old school, being rookies up there and the way he accepted it, and the way he went up there and performed. And man, you just saw the team just (gravitate) around that player."
- Sewell: "He scratched up a little bit in the beginning, but I get it, jitters. But he killed it, I mean killed it."
HARRIS VS. OKUDAH
One position battle to watch over the next couple weeks is between Will Harris and Jeff Okudah for one of the starting cornerback spots opposite Amani Oruwariye. Both players have been splitting reps with the first-team defense the first week of camp.
"We think Will Harris is very much in play out there, and he's getting a chance," Campbell said. "He's going to get a chance to compete for that, he and Okudah both and so, it's – may the best man win and let them go after it. And then, see what we've got."