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TIM AND MIKE: Training camp Day 4 observations

Tackling season: Detroit conducted a live special teams tackling period early in practice that the players and the fans in attendance seemed to enjoy. It was an old-school ball carrier one-on-one with a defender, and there were some nice plays from both sides.

The best was maybe rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown hurdling a would-be tackler who tried to go low on him on the first rep of the period. Linebacker Anthony Pittman said after practice it's critical for defenders to work on tackling early in camp and hone those skills. Too often teams are worried about getting injured when tackling instead of working on one of the fundamental principles of good defense. – Tim Twentyman

Passing game, one for defense: Cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu got attention Tuesday for landing a punch in a skirmish. He did it Wednesday with his hands in a one-on-one passing drill. Melifonwu got inside position on a deep ball meant for Tyrell Williams and got the interception with a leaping catch down the right sideline. – Mike O'Hara

Passing game, one for offense: Strong hands were an asset for wide receiver Quintez Cephus in his rookie season, and he showed them again Wednesday. He ripped the ball away from safety Will Harris to make a catch on a 50-50 ball. – Mike O'Hara

Explaining the flag: The Lions have welcomed officials to practice this week. The officials met with the team Tuesday night and went through some of the points of emphasis they're looking for this season. A number of players Wednesday took the opportunity to talk with the officials and get an explanation for a flag. I noticed it twice, once with with cornerback AJ Parker and another when safety Will Harris was flagged. It's good to see players taking advantage of the officials now to try an avoid penalties when it counts. – Tim Twentyman

Catching my eye: We all know how good Da’Shawn Hand can be from that stellar rookie season he had in 2018. Injuries have plagued him the last couple years, however. He was one of the defenders who stood out to me during Wednesday's practice with a couple really nice plays in a team period. He stuffed a run in the backfield and then broke through the line a couple plays later for what would have been a sack on quarterback Tim Boyle. It's good to see Hand healthy and making plays. He could be a really nice part of the interior rotation upfront if he gets back to that 2018 form. – Tim Twentyman

Pin the punt: Cornerback Mike Ford looks like he'll have a bigger role on defense than he's had in previous seasons. He's been one of Detroit's better special teams players the last couple years while playing a reserve corner role. Ford is getting a lot of run with the first team as a slot corner, and could win that role heading into the season.

But Wednesday, Ford proved why he's made a name for himself on special teams. During a special teams period where punter Jack Fox was trying to pin the ball inside the 5-yard line, Fox got the assist from Ford twice when he was able to get his hand on the ball at the 1-yard line while staying out of the end zone to pin the ball inside the 5. – Tim Twentyman

Injury watch: Second-year outside linebacker Julian Okwara left practice with an apparent injury and returned later without any pads on as just an observer. Rookie cornerback Jerry Jacobs also left practice and returned as an observer without pads. Veteran defensive tackle Michael Brockers missed his second consecutive practice. – Tim Twentyman

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