Watching football, but not playing football, has been tough for defensive end Trey Flowers.
Detroit's top free agent signing this offseason missed the offseason training program and the first two weeks of training camp while rehabbing a shoulder injury.
But Flowers' wait to get back between the lines ended Saturday morning after the team activated him from the Physically Unable to Perform list before Saturday afternoon's practice. Flowers was in pads and taking part in drills.
"It's definitely tough," Flowers said of missing as much time as he did. "I'm a guy that loves to perfect his craft and I pride myself on fundamentals and techniques, so just not to have that chance to come out here and work on it is kind of tough, but like I said, I was just staying patient and taking it one day at a time."
Flowers took part in individual periods Saturday, but didn't do any team work. The Lions are going to be careful with him, and work him back in slowly.
"It's great and there will be a process to getting him back," head coach Matt Patricia said. "Obviously, the rest of the team is a little bit further advanced from a physical standpoint of being out there every single day and working on the techniques and the fundamentals.
"Just like the rest of us, he hasn't played a game in a long time. He hasn't really been out there in a long time, so he's going to have to start from scratch like all of us and go from there. It is good to have just another guy out there on the field that is a great professional, works hard – his example of work ethic is outstanding. That'll help us as we push through the rest of camp."
The good thing for the Lions is Flowers only missed 12 days of training camp. There's still a month to go before the Lions square off with the Cardinals in the regular season opener Sept. 8.
Flowers spent the previous four seasons in New England where he compiled 164 tackles and 21 sacks. He recorded 7.5 sacks this past season and ranked in the top 10 in hits, hurries, and total pressures by Pro Football Focus.
Flowers is a three-down player with position versatility who can affect the quarterback and the run game. He's got the ability to play on the edge and even move inside in certain packages.
View photos from Day 13 of Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage.
The Lions are slowly starting to get healthier upfront on defense with Flowers back, but the team is still waiting on defensive linemen Mike Daniels, Damon Harrison Sr. and Da’Shawn Hand to get back on the practice field. Along with defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, who's a full participant in practice right now, those five are expected to be huge contributors for the Lions' defense this fall.
"You definitely have to know the guy you're in there with as far as how he plays and things like that and if you're going to play off him," Flowers said of needing to get some practice time in with all the defensive linemen at some point. "That chemistry is definitely important."
Flowers said the most important thing right now, however, is guys upfront getting healthy and ready to play. He's confident the rest of it will work itself out over the next month.