Detroit Lions rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and second-year cornerback Jeff Okudah duked it out pretty hard in a one on one receiver vs. cornerback period during Wednesday's padded practice in Allen Park.
Okudah, the No. 3 overall pick by Detroit in last year's NFL Draft, has looked tremendous to start training camp, and the opportunity for St. Brown to match up against him to test his skills was a big plus for the rookie early in camp.
"Jeff is an amazing corner ... ballin all camp," St. Brown said when asked about the reps against Okudah. "So for me it was just a challenge. I wanted to go against one of our top corners. He challenges me every day and I love it. We challenge each other.
"It's awesome to have a corner like that on your team you can go against every day and just compete and make yourself better."
The two matched up early in the period, and St. Brown said Okudah played him really well on a slant route that fell incomplete. St. Brown told Okudah he wanted to match up again so St. Brown cut in the receiver line and went against Okudah again. This time St. Brown caught the ball and won the rep. Then it was Okudah who called St. Brown out and wanted to go again, so the two did another rep.
It turned into a nice little battle throughout the one-on-one period, and St. Brown said he's a better player for having done it.
A day prior on Tuesday, which was the first padded practice of training camp for the Lions, St. Brown and rookie cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu got into a little scuffle during a special teams blocking period after neither player wanted to back down from a physical block.
It's that kind of physicality and willingness to compete that's caught the eye of Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn.
"I like him," Lynn said Thursday of St. Brown. "He's tough, man. He gets in there and mixes it up. He's route savvy. He's doing a good job."
There's an opportunity for St. Brown to play a role in Detroit in his first season. The Lions revamped their receiver room this year, and the pecking order is still kind of figuring itself out.
It's similar to the opportunity St. Brown had when he first stepped onto USC's campus as a freshman receiver a few years ago. He adapted quickly to that environment and earned an early role catching 60 passes as a true freshman for the Trojans.
St. Brown's gotten some early run during training camp in the slot, including quite a few reps with the first-team offense. He played in the slot his first two seasons at USC, but mostly outside as a junior, and he's shown the ability to play both this first week of training camp in Detroit.
"Slot is more a feel for zones and feel for getting open," St. Brown said. "Outside is more winning one on ones. I love both. I feel like I can do both."
Lynn said Thursday he's looking for a receiver or two to stand out. St. Brown needs to keep pushing himself and improving. We'll see if he can impress in the preseason and establish himself as a reliable threat in the passing game and early playmaker for Lynn and the Lions' passing attack.