The Lions hit the road this week to travel to Pittsburgh for two joint practices with the Steelers ahead of their preseason game.
One of the more anticipated matchups was between Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and Lions cornerback Darius Slay. Brown may have come out slightly ahead, making it a very valuable learning experience for Slay.
"It's only going to get me better, you know?" Slay said. "I've never seen that kind of guy in my division. Nobody's 5-9 and shifty and a big-time player."
The Steelers got a learning experience of their own, going against Pro Bowl defensive end Ziggy Ansah.
"He's an unbelievable athlete," Alejandro Villanueva, the Steelers' projected starter at left tackle, told reporters before Wednesday's practice.
"I'm really glad I got a chance to practice against him yesterday (Tuesday). He's a great player. I'm glad we're not going to see him in the regular season."
One of the biggest benefits of joint practices is getting quality work in against different schemes. For instance, the Steelers play a base 3-4 defense. After going against the Lions' 4-3 scheme all offseason and start of training camp, it was a good test for the offensive line.
"You're facing a completely different defense than we've been facing," center Travis Swanson said. "It takes some adjusting. The last series -- I think we had a 16-play drive – was a big one. It was good to get the ball in.
"You know schematically what the defense is going to be. It's one thing to look at it, and it's one thing to actually go against it. It's different for us, but it's good. We see the stout defenses multiple times throughout the year.
"We're just trying to build the best chemistry we can, regardless of who's out there on the field. We are a very close group. We can only get closer."
The Lions and Steelers week of work culminated in their first preseason matchup Friday night at Heinz Field.
With many of the starters seeing little to no playing time, the game was extremely important for the young guys, especially the rookies.
Rookie left tackle Taylor Decker's debut had its ups and downs, culminating in a missed block on Steelers linebacker James Harrison that caused a Matthew Stafford fumble.
"It's something you have to get better at," Decker said after the game. "Nobody wants to have bad plays out there. I'll watch the tape tomorrow and try to get better.
"I think with any player there is going to be ups and downs. You just have to be able to respond. You can't let one bad play turn into 10 bad plays. You just have to respond and go out there and keep playing."
Overall, there was a lot we learned about this team on both sides of the ball as they made their way to a 30-17 victory over the Steelers.
And ICYMI: Watch all of the best highlights from the game below:
- Dwayne Washington takes it to the house on a kick return.
- Jake Rudock hits Jace Billingsley for a 27-yard touchdown.
- Dan Orlovskly connects with Andre Roberts on a 28-yard touchdown.
- Johnson Bademosi causes a fumble, and Brandon Copeland recovers it.
- Stafford hits Aquan Boldin for 30 yards to get the third down and then some.
- Marvin Jones Jr fits right in with a toe drag swag sideline catch.
If you missed any of the practice action this week, we've got you covered:
Day 9: Photos | Observations
Day 10: Photos | [Observations
Day 11: Photos | Observations
Each day of training camp, Tim Twentyman tracks the performance of one player in a feature called Camp Spotlight.
Check out this week's spotlights below:
- Cornerback Quandre Diggs
- Tackle Riley Reiff
- Defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson
It wouldn't be a week of training camp without a couple roster adjustments. On Monday, the Lions signed undrafted rookie free agent wide receiver Alex Chisum and waived wide receiver Damian Copeland.
And after Ian Wells suffered an undisclosed injury in joint practice Tuesday, the team waive-injured the cornerback Wednesday.
With the extra roster spot, the Lions added free agent cornerback Rashaad Reynolds. Reynolds spent the last two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
OTHER NOTEWORTHY ITEMS:
- Go behind the scenes with Episode 1 of "Inside the Den" Detroit Lions 2016 training camp.
- It's still early, but it looks like the Matthew Stafford-Marvin Jones connection is going to be a strong one.
- How did the re-tooled offensive line perform in their first game action? Tim Twentyman takes a look.