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TWENTYMAN: Training camp Day 8 observations

Helmet spike: Second-year tight end T.J. Hockenson has had a good start to his second training camp. I talked about the Hock spike after a terrific touchdown grab a few days ago. It was a different kind of spike from Hockenson during Thursday's practice, however.

He had nice position on cornerback Justin Coleman on a post route. Quarterback Matthew Stafford put a good ball on him right at the goal line, but Hockenson couldn't hang on to the pass. We saw that a few times in Hockenson's rookie season where he needed to finish plays a little better. He was upset with himself for not making the play, and threw his helmet down in disgust when he got to the sideline.

Injury to watch: The Lions ran a couple live goal line reps at the end of practice Thursday. After the second rep, right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai was down on the field for a bit and slow to get up. He eventually got up on his own, but was escorted off the field by a trainer into the practice facility. The Lions are counting on Big V to be an anchor at right tackle after signing as a free agent this offseason. It's something to monitor over the next couple days.

Practice report: Da'Shawn Hand, D’Andre Swift, Bo Scarbrough and Hunter Bryant did not practice Thursday. Veteran left tackle Taylor Decker and veteran defensive end Trey Flowers didn't do much either.

Communication is key: One drill I've liked to watch the last couple of practices is a two-on-two receivers vs. defensive backs goal line drill. It's a drill that's all about communication in terms of handing coverage. Cornerbacks Jeff Okudah and Coleman got crossed up in one rep leaving a wide open receiver. The offense had the upper hand early, but the defense got it together and played better as the drill went on. The defense won the last rep when wide receiver Quintez Cephus couldn't hang on to a pass in the corner of the end zone. The offense had to do pushups.

Watchful eye: Mrs. Ford took in practice for the first time I've noticed in camp and for the first time since stepping down as owner.

View photos from practice during Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage on Aug. 26, 2020.

Center of attention: The Lions have done a good job cross-training their interior offensive linemen during the first week of camp. We've seen Frank Ragnow, Logan Stenberg, Jonah Jackson and Kenny Wiggins all play center at points in camp.

The Lions liked what they saw from Beau Benzschawel at the end of last year playing center. Benzschawel missed the first week of practice due to injury, but he's been back the last few days. It's been good to see him back as Ragnow's understudy with the second-team offense. It's allowed Stenberg, who'd been taking a lot of the second-team center reps, to get back to playing his more natural guard position.

Hardly ever noticed: Long snappers are usually only noticed when something goes wrong. Those moments have been few and far between over the 16-year career of Don Muhlbach, which is why he's been doing it at such a high level for so long. The Lions worked on their punting Thursday, and I noticed Muhl had one low snap that Jack Fox had to pick off his feet and another Muhl bounced to Fox. It's something we rarely see, which is why it caught my eye.

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