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TWENTYMAN: 10 takeaways from 2021 Lions training camp

The official end of training camp was Tuesday.

Now the roster cuts begin and the game planning ramps up for the next two preseason games and for Week 1 vs. San Francisco.

Looking back at the first couple weeks of training camp, here are my 10 biggest takeaways:

1. T.J. Hockenson has been impressive

The third-year tight end and former No. 8 overall pick is poised to have a monster 2021 season. Recently coming in at 93 on the NFL's list of the Top 100 players, Hockenson's had a strong training camp coming off his first Pro Bowl season in 2020. He's built a really nice rapport with quarterback Jared Goff, and the two seem to be on the same page in the passing game. Don't be surprised if Hockenson leads the team in targets, receptions and touchdown catches this season, if he stays healthy.

2. Penei Sewell fits right in

The No. 7 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft wants to continue to work on his hand placement and pad level, but the 20-year-old rookie out of Oregon has fit right in as the missing piece along Detroit's offensive line at right tackle. Every starter upfront who's been asked about Sewell says he's eager to learn and fits right in with the chemistry in that room. Sewell's been good in camp, and he looks like he'll be good for a long time.

3. Defense will be aggressive

Attack. Attack. Attack. That's the mantra from new defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. His base 3-4 scheme wants to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage, and he'll bring pressure when he sees the opportunity, which is something we didn't see much of from the last regime. We've seen a lot more aggressive blitzing defense from the Lions over the last few weeks.

4. Jeff Okudah came to camp with a ton of confidence

It's amazing what being healthy and actually having an offseason to work on your craft can do for a second-year player like Okudah. He wasn't afforded those things as a rookie, and it's been a 180-degree difference for the second-year corner out of Ohio State. Okudah has a swagger about him that wasn't there last offseason, and he's been one of the best players in camp so far.

5. D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams are 1A & 1B

Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn believes in the hot hand when it comes to dividing carries in the backfield. In Williams, Lynn has a back he thinks can play very well between the tackles and give them toughness and stability. Swift is the big-play threat, and he could also be used a ton in the passing game. Expect both backs to be a big part of Lynn's offense.

6. Top four receivers have established themselves

Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, Kalif Raymond and Amon-Ra St. Brown have consistently been the first four receivers up with the first-team offense all camp. Where it gets interesting is when we start to talk about the fifth receiver. Second-year receiver Quintez Cephus has been steady, and looks to have the edge, but there's still time with two preseason games remaining for someone else to also put their hat in the ring.

7. The inside linebacker competition is fierce

Veterans Jamie Collins Sr. and Alex Anzalone look to have the edge early on for starting roles at the two stacked inside linebacker positions. But rookie fourth-round pick Derrick Barnes has caught the coaches' attention when he's been healthy and playing. Then there's Jahlani Tavai, who's entering a critical third season to show he can be more consistent. Will Jalen Reeves-Maybin get some run on defense? Anthony Pittman has made some plays in camp too. It will be interesting to see how that competition plays out. However it goes, the Lions need more consistent play from that spot overall than they received a season ago.

8. Alim McNeill could be a force

The fourth-round pick out of North Carolina State has quickly asserted himself as the top nose tackle option upfront for Detroit. The "Dancing Bear" as teammates and coaches refer to him, McNeill has shown a terrific blend of power and quickness, and coaches think he can offer something in the pass-rushing department from the interior as well. He's been the first-team nose tackle since the beginning of camp, and he's been a handful in there so far.

9. Backup quarterback job seems close

This is Goff's team, but the real question during camp when it comes to the quarterback position is who will be his backup? I think there's a great chance both Tim Boyle and David Blough make the 53-man roster. Who ultimately plays first if something happens to Goff is probably a closer call than some would have thought at the beginning of camp. Boyle was signed in free agency, but Blough's been pretty good with his command of the offense and willingness to push the ball down the field and make plays. It will be a fun couple weeks to see how this competition pans out.

10. How much will the Lions miss Matt Prater?

Randy Bullock has a career 83.2 make percentage on field goals, so he's been good in this league for a long time now, but he has struggled some in camp with distance kicks, which is something Prater, who is now in Arizona, excelled at over the years. Bullock still has to win the job over Zane Gonzalez, and if he does, will he provide the same kind of stability Prater did for the last seven years?

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