Live scrimmage: The Lions ramped up the intensity for Saturday's last open practice to the media by taking part in a live scrimmage with tackling. With no preseason or open practices to fans, I know you all are anxious for games to begin, so I'm going to run through a lot of what I observed in the scrimmage in today's observations, as follows:
First series first-team offense: Quarterback Matthew Stafford opened up the scrimmage with a first-down pass to wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. for a nice gain. Two short runs by Kerryon Johnson on the next two plays set up a 3rd and 3. Stafford completed a short pass to wide receiver Kenny Golladay on third down, but cornerback Desmond Trufant came up and made a terrific tackle on Golladay to stop him for just a short gain, forcing a punt.
First series second-team offense: Just for note, the second-team offensive line consisted of (from left to right): Tyrell Crosby, Oday Aboushi, Beau Benzschawel, Kenny Wiggins and Matt Nelson. Running back Jonathan Williams opened up the series with a couple runs to set up 3rd and 3. Quarterback Chase Daniel hit wide receiver Tom Kennedy for a first down on 3rd down. Daniel hit wide receiver Quintez Cephus for about a 20-yard gain two plays later on 2nd down. Rookie running back Jason Huntley had a nice first down run two plays later, and the series was capped with roughly a 50-yard touchdown pass from Daniel to wide receiver Marvin Hall (cornerback Tony McRae in coverage).
Second series first-team offense: Stafford opened the drive with two first-down throws to Jones. A short pass to running back Ty Johnson, a Johnson short run and an incomplete pass to tight end Jesse James set up a 4th and 4. On 4th down, Stafford was able to hit slot receiver Jamal Agnew for a 1st down. A tackle for no gain by linebacker Jahlani Tavai set up 2nd and 10. Stafford hit tight end T.J. Hockenson for a 9-yard gain on second down to about the 26-yard line. On 3rd and 1, linebacker Jarrad Davis broke into the backfield and tackled Johnson for no gain to force a field goal from Matt Prater.
First series third-team offense: On the third play of the series (3rd and 1) the defense jumped offside and quarterback David Blough used the free play to toss a deep ball down the left sideline intended for wide receiver Victor Bolden that safety C.J. Moore made a nice play to high-point for an interception. The coaches wanted to see the 3rd and 1 from the offense, so they set it up again. Blough handed off to Wes Hills, who got the first down on a run up the middle, but fumbled, though it was recovered by the offense. The offense faced a 3rd and 3 three plays later, and Moore again made a nice play to knock the ball away from the intended receiver, Chris Lacy. That forced a field goal.
Red zone: The coaches mixed in a red zone series for the offense next and it took just two plays for Stafford to hit Golladay for a 19-yard touchdown over second-year cornerback Amani Oruwariye. Ty Johnson converted the subsequent two-point conversion on a run up the middle.
Red zone #2: The next red zone series was from the 1-yard line. Kerryon Johnson got into the end zone on the first play. The coaches ruled that Williams was short of the end zone on the second rep.
Big-time punt: Next the Lions worked on kicking out of their own end zone, and punter Jack Fox really got into one. He kicked it over the return man's head (Hall) all the way down to the opposite 20-yard line. Fox had the wind at his back, but it was still really impressive.
Second series second-team offense: After a 4-yard run by Huntley on 1st down, he showed off his speed and elusiveness on 2nd down with a terrific stutter step that froze a defender in the hole and allowed him to race up the middle for around a 15-yard gain. Daniel completed a pass to Lacy for a first-down catch two plays later, but the drive ultimately ended with a punt after linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin ran right through Huntley on a third-down blitz to record a sack (players don't actually hit the quarterback, so coaches ruled it a sack).
Third series first-team offense: Crosby played left tackle in place of Taylor Decker in this series. The drive opened with a screen to Hockenson for about a 20-yard gain. Two plays later Kerryon Johnson made a nice cut and got loose into the secondary for a 15-yard gain. Three plays later Kerryon Johnson got behind Tavai and made a diving catch down to the 5-yard line. Agnew finished off the drive with a diving 5-yard touchdown at the front left pylon.
View photos from practice during Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage on Aug. 28, 2020.
Two-minute: The offense worked on some two-minute situations next. They were trailing 28-24 with 1:19 left on the clock on their side of the 50-yard line. Stafford got the first-team offense well into the defense's territory on the second play of the series with a deep pass to Golladay down the right sideline. Golladay finished off the drive with a one-handed touchdown grab from Stafford four plays later.
Two-minute #2: Next up was the second-team offense led by Daniel for the same scenario. Kennedy made a couple nice early catches to get the offense on the positive side of the field. Huntley had a nice run a couple plays later down to the 1-yard line. Huntley capped off the drive on 4th and 1 with a touchdown run up the middle. McRae was injured late in this series on a non-contact play in the back of the end zone. It was the only injury of note all practice.
A few takeaways from the scrimmage: I thought Stafford was crisp throughout the scrimmage. He looks ready for Week 1. Golladay had a monster scrimmage. He's picked up right where he left off last season. Huntley showed me a little something with his speed, elusiveness and pass-catching ability. Agnew is going to do just fine as a receiver. Offensively, this team has the potential to be a real handful for defenses.
These scrimmages are always hard to evaluate from the defensive line perspective because they can't hit the quarterback, but that group was good against the run pretty much all day, and made the quarterbacks uncomfortable at times. There were a few sacks in there coaches let play out in the offense's favor.