Good day on D: After what I thought was a rather poor day for the defense overall Thursday, that side of the ball was much better during Friday's padded practice in Allen Park. The defensive line was good in pass-rush drills against the offensive line, and many more balls hit the ground or landed in defenders' hands on Friday than they have probably all week.
There was a particularly good sequence late in an offense vs. defense team period. Safety Will Harris knocked a Matthew Stafford pass away from tight end T.J. Hockenson. On the next play cornerback Justin Coleman got his hand on a Stafford pass. The next play Jamie Collins Sr. came up with an interception.
The second-team offense came in after that, and their first play was a bad high snap from Logan Stenberg that led to a mishandled attempted handoff by Chase Daniel, resulting a fumble recovered by Romeo Okwara. The entire second-team offense had to run after that one. Overall, it was a much better day for the defense Friday.
Okudah INT: Sticking with the defensive side of the ball, No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah came up with his first interception of camp on a deep ball intended for Marvin Jones Jr. It was a free-play situation after an interior defender jumped early, prompting Stafford to take a deep shot to Jones, but still, Okudah was on Jones' hip down the sideline and showed good ball skills by going up and making a nice play for the pick.
Impressive week: There have been a number of good performances throughout the first week of padded practices for the Lions, but two guys have stood out to me. Hockenson really looks good early. Third-year safety Tracy Walker has also stood out, especially when it comes to his range and cover skills. The Lions are going to rely pretty heavily on both young players, so it's nice to see them off to a good start.
Family affair: The Okwara brothers, veteran Romeo and rookie Julian, made a number of plays Friday for the Lions' defense. I thought both were good in individual pass-rush drills against the offensive linemen with both winning reps convincingly. Both players would have had a sack in team periods had they been live and allowed to hit the quarterback. Romeo also recovered a fumble. There were some team periods where they were both on the field together, which had to be pretty special for the brothers.
Safety range: Duron Harmon has proven over the years to be a rangy, playmaking safety, which is one of the reasons the Lions traded for him this offseason. Harmon has 10 interceptions over his last three years playing in roughly 60 percent of the snaps as the Patriots' third safety. Harmon showed off that range in Friday's practice, coming over from the deep middle of the field and breaking up a deep pass intended for Marvin Hall down the left sideline in a team period. He's going to make a difference for the Lions' defense in the pass game.
Pass-rush drills: I focused more Friday on the defense in D-line vs. O-line pass-rush drills, and a few defenders stood out to me. First was veteran defensive tackle Danny Shelton, who was particularly impressive with his technique and rush. He won both his reps against Frank Ragnow and Joe Dahl. Da'Shawn Hand was good, especially in his rep against right guard Jonah Jackson. I thought Romeo Okwara was particularly sharp as well.
View photos from practice during Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage on Aug. 20, 2020.
Punt returners: The Lions worked on some punting Friday and had Jamal Agnew, Danny Amendola and rookie Jason Huntley back returning punts. Agnew and Amendola, as expected, were smooth catching and returning. It was more of a struggle for Huntley, however, who played more kick return than punt return at New Mexico State. In fact, Huntley returned 59 kickoffs in college vs. only five punts. He dropped two of the four kicked his way Friday.
Practice report: The two biggest names missing from practice Friday were running backs Bo Scarbrough and D'Andre Swift. That gave more opportunity to the newly acquired Jonathan Williams, who's been making the most of his reps this week. He's looked good.