All about the QBs: Duce Staley and the Lions finished out the week of practices Thursday with a little throwing competition between quarterbacks Malik Willis, Sam Howell and Bailey Zappe. First, they had to throw into a small net target from 10 yards away. Zappe hit one of three throws, while Willis and Howell went 0-fer.
Next, Staley set up a large red garbage can in the back corner of the end zone, and each signal caller got three throws to try and make it in the bucket from the 20-yard line. Willis hit the bucket twice, though it didn't go in. Zappe and Howell had some throws come close, but failed to make it or hit the bucket.
Edge success: Western Kentucky edge rusher DeAngelo Malone caught my eye Thursday. He made a number of disruptive plays that earned the praise of Lions outside linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard. Malone had 8.0 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss last season. He finished his five-year college career with 59.0 tackles for loss. He was disruptive all week.
View photos of Detroit Lions players in the Senior Bowl.
TD Shakir: Boise State wide receiver Khalil Shakir (6-0, 193) found the end zone early and often in the National Team practice Thursday. He and Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett hooked up three times for touchdowns, once in a red zone team period and twice in a red zone 7-on-7 period. Shakir balled out Thursday. He finished his Boise State career with 20 touchdowns.
Red zone day: Speaking of the red zone, the Lions worked that area of the field almost exclusively Thursday. That's usually a big part of their Friday schedule during the regular season. It's important work. Settling for field goals can get a team beat. Space is tight and execution has to be on point. There were some good teaching points in the red zone Thursday. Let's see how that translates to Saturday's game.
Catch of the day: The award goes to Illinois safety Kerby Joseph, who made a diving, juggling interception after a ball bounced off tight end Trey McBride near the goal line in a team period. McBride got his revenge, however. He caught a touchdown on the very next rep right at the goal line in front of Joseph.
View photos from the second day of practice at the 2022 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
No Johnson: Arguably the top performer down here the first two days of Senior Bowl practices, Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II, wasn't at the American Team practice Thursday. Reports are Johnson is dealing with a minor ankle injury, but still plans to play in the game Saturday.
Big fan: Consider me a Willis fan. After a so-so first day, I thought he was clearly the best quarterback on the American Team roster Wednesday and Thursday. The arm talent stands out, and he's got a real confidence and swagger about him as well. He fit some nice throws into tight windows in the red zone Thursday, and for the second straight day, used his legs as a weapon. I thought he and Pickett were the best quarterbacks here. I think Willis really helped his draft stock this week in Mobile.