The Lions took part in two joint training camp practices with the Indianapolis Colts this week ahead of Sunday's preseason opener. Both teams enjoyed being able to go up against someone other than their own teammates.
"We're not game planning these guys," quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "We're showing up. We're playing basic football and it's against looks we haven't seen. So, it puts guys in a little bit of an uncomfortable situation and makes them react, see how they react and see how they play.
"And can they follow their fundamentals and go out there and play? And then, obviously, the competition aspect of it is ramped up and a lot of fun."
The Lions' offense struggled a bit on Thursday, mostly because of dropped passes taking away opportunities, but they recovered the next day with a stronger performance.
On the other side of the ball, the defense flourished against the Colts' offense without starting quarterback Andrew Luck in the lineup. Cornerback Darius Slay lived up to his Big Play Slay moniker with a pair of interceptions in the first practice.
"It's very encouraging," Slay said after practice. "I'm trying to be a turnover machine for the defense, man. I'm just trying to give Matt (Stafford) more chances to put points on the board."
Fellow cornerback Teez Tabor also got some good work in, as he navigates the ups and downs most rookies at his position experience. That showed on one rep in particular, when Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton burned Tabor on a deep route, but Tabor stuck with the play and was able to get his hand on the ball.
"I don't know if it's more catch-up speed -- or scared to get beat deep," Tabor said. "It's just a 'want to.' When the guy catches the ball and you're still right there, you can still make a play. That's just the fight I have in me.
"I've been playing ball since I was in high school, little league, college. When the guy's right there, you've got to fight. That's all I try to do."
Recap all the action from Week 2 of Lions camp:
HEALTHY RUN GAME
In order to improve the run game, two of its key players need to stay healthy. Just ask one of those players, Ameer Abdullah.
"We want to win and in order to win we know we need to add that running game as well," Abdullah said. "With the moves we've made bringing in guys up front, and me and Theo getting healthy, I expect this running game to be at its best. I think it's going to be a good year."
Third-year running back Zach Zenner could also play a factor for the Lions, especially after his impressive end to last season.
"Every season is new," Zenner said, when asked about the end of last year. "As much as you like there to be carryover after a fairly strong finish, the reality is you have to start over, and you have to build that foundation for the next year.
"It's good for sure to get opportunities and put stuff out on film, but you want to keep improving."
OTHER NOTEWORTHY ITEMS:
- In case you missed it, Inside the Den: Lions Camp episode 1 aired this week. Make sure you catch up before episode two comes out Monday!
- Transaction alert. The Lions signed three new players: Cornerback Tramain Jacobs, wide receiver Dez Stewart and tight end Tim Wright.
- As the early depth chart indicates, Antwione Williams has a key role in what the front office and coaching staff have done to overhaul the linebackers.
- The Lions 2018 home and away schedule was released Tuesday along with this year's Facts and Record Book.
- Watch Tori Petry talk with Pistons point guard Ish Smith at Lions camp about his relationship with Jim Caldwell and which Lions he'd play with in Madden.