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TWENTYMAN: Rookie minicamp observations

Coaching update: Lions head coach Dan Campbell was not at minicamp Friday as he deals with a personal matter. Assistant head coach and running backs coach Scottie Montgomery broke the team down after practice and helped the run the show Friday along with other veteran coaches on the staff.

First day mistakes: As expected, the first day of minicamp wasn't the crispest of operations. There were plenty of fumbled snaps, a couple fumbled handoffs, some drops, and a number of times the offense had to re-huddle and run the play again after false starts or missed assignments. Pretty normal stuff on the first day, but these are the things young players have to clean up before they join the veterans at OTAs in a couple weeks.

View photos of Detroit Lions players arriving for 2024 rookie minicamp and getting fitted for equipment.

Special weapon: Two things stood out to me watching running back Sione Vaki's first day on the job. 1. He's got terrific hands. 2. He's going to be a beast on special teams. The Lions went through a special teams period and I counted three straight times when Vaki was on the coverage team getting by his man and being the first person to the ball carrier. I see now why Lions GM Brad Holmes called Vaki the best special teams player in the draft. He was certainly that in Allen Park Friday.

New look: The new kickoff formation is definitely going to take some getting used to. It seems really weird to watch players standing like mannequins five yards apart while the ball floats down the field and is eventually caught by the receiving team. Then, in an instant, all heck kind of breaks loose. It's going to be fun and different, but it will take some getting used to the first time you see it.

Why 59?: As soon as I walked around the corner of the building to head back to the practice fields at Allen Park, I could spot rookie tackle Giovanni Manu. He's hard to miss. He's at least a head above everyone else along the o-line. Manu is massive at 6-foot-7, 354 pounds but he's really put together.

He was asked after practice why he chose No. 59. He said it was partly because it's his father's birth year, but he also said with Penei Sewell No. 58, he wants to be the next great Polynesian player after Sewell and that's part of the reason why he chose the number right after Sewell's.

Smooth: That's probably the best way to describe the way first-round cornerback Terrion Arnold plays the game. Just watching him run through individual periods and hip-turn drills, he does things very well and makes it look effortless. I can't remember a pass being thrown his way in 7-on-7 or team drills on Friday. He even garnered a high-five from defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn after one rep where he locked down his receiver so tight it forced quarterback Cade Peterson to just scramble out of the pocket and get what he could with his legs.

View photos from offseason workouts on Wednesday, May 8, 2024.

Catching my eye: There are no pads in minicamp and it's really hard to truly evaluate offensive and defensive linemen without pads. That being said, tryout player Darryl Johnson, 27, who has bounced around the league the last few years to a number of different teams had some productive rushes in the first team period. He's 6-foot-6, 260 pounds with pretty good burst.

Play of the day: This belongs to cornerback J.J. Ross out of Western Illinois, who made a fine interception off Peterson over the middle of the field in traffic in a 7-on-7 period. Ross stepped in front of former Illinois wide receiver Isaiah Williams, absorbed some contact from Williams, and was able to hang on to the football and head the other way. That's one way to catch a coach's eye.

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