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Vaki impresses at first Lions rookie minicamp practice

After watching fourth-round pick Sione Vaki take part in the first open rookie minicamp practice on Friday, it's easy to see why the Detroit Lions fell in love with his game in the pre-draft process.

He was dominant in special teams periods, at one point getting to the returner first for what would have been a tackle (no hitting or pads in minicamp) on three straight reps he took part in on the coverage team.

In individual running back drills, he showed terrific footwork, agility, and balance, despite the fact the safety-turned-running back had just 42 carries in college after agreeing to move to offense because of injuries at the position. He chipped in 317 rushing yards and two touchdowns, while catching 11 passes for 203 yards and three more scores.

Vaki showed off terrific hands and good route-running ability in individual drills with the running backs and quarterbacks and in 7-on-7 periods. The Lions are excited about his offensive prowess and it's easy to see why.

Vaki is excited to be a weapon for talented young Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson.

"It's exciting to be on the offensive side of the ball," Vaki said after practice Friday. "I know we only got a sneak peek, a little taste of what he can actually do, but being out there catching the ball and being in his offense, man, it's fun, it's really fun."

How can Vaki not be excited to join this Detroit offense led by Johnson?

Detroit finished second last season in passing, third in total net yards, third in yards per play, fifth in rushing and had the third best red zone touchdown efficiency in the league.

Johnson has a way of being able to scheme players into space, and Vaki now becomes another one of those players with a versatile skillset who can be deployed in a number of different ways in a number of different spots.

Just how much untapped offensive potential is there truly with Vaki?

"That's what I'm here to find out," he said. "I feel like I'm in the best spot, best coaching, best spot to learn that and see what my potential is."

View photos from Day 1 of Detroit Lions rookie minicamp on Friday, May 10, 2024 in Allen Park, Mich.

Lions GM Brad Holmes had a good line after drafting Vaki when he said he was really intrigued by Vaki's backyard instincts and playmaking ability for a player who was 'not even majoring in it.'

Vaki's in the program now and he's going to get better and better the more reps he gets on that side of the ball. He also has a chance to make an instant impact as a core special teamer.

"It's really fun," Vaki said of the new kickoff rule. "It brings a lot of life back to special teams and then I feel like it puts my skillset out there."

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