Week 2 of OTA practices wrapped up Thursday with a session open to the media. Several veterans sat out practice allowing young players to step up and get more reps.
"Well, it's a very unique opportunity," head coach Jim Caldwell said after Thursday's practice when asked about tight end Cole Wick specifically.
"You know, because we have a couple guys, few guys that are down, that ordinarily he wouldn't get nearly as many reps as he's getting. So, the big thing is that he takes advantage of those."
Also taking advantage of the reps he's getting is linebacker Kyle Van Noy. Van Noy missed the majority his rookie season (2014) due to injury and didn't make much of an impact last year. This third year is big for him, and he's practicing like he knows it.
"When he came back (for the offseason program) he was in better shape than he's ever been," Caldwell said of Van Noy after Thursday's open OTA practice. "Body fat percentage, strength levels and all of those kinds of things – he didn't take time off it appears looking at his numbers. He just went right to work."
"He's moving along extremely well. He's playing the position a lot better. He's making good progress."
Even veterans like cornerback Darius Slay, who is really starting to make a name for himself in this league, are making the most of their practice time. Slay, in particular, is putting himself through what he calls "hands school" to try and up his interception numbers this year.
"Catching nothing but balls every time I'm on break," Slay said. "Just catching. Getting my hands stronger.
"I got to get my hands on the ball, man. I get my fingertips on it slapping it down and stuff but I need to grip it so I can have some pick sixes."
For Tim Twentyman and Mike O'Hara's full list of observations from Thursday's practice, click here.
RECEIVERS AT THE READY
Earlier this week on The Jim Rome Show, general manager Bob Quinn was asked about replacing wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Quinn explained that it will take a team effort.
"I've told this to many people over the last couple months that there's no one that can replace Calvin Johnson," Quinn said. "We're going to have to do this as a team."
Part of that team effort will include wide receiver Jeremy Kerley. After a down season with the Jets, Kerley is convinced that signing with the Lions in March was the right decision.
"I think this fits me," Kerley said. "It's almost tailored to my playing style. To have a quarterback like Matt – a gunslinger who's very accurate with the ball – it gives me an opportunity to make plays. That's what I am.
"After the first or second week, you start to feel comfortable with the guys. I feel wanted. I feel welcome."
Megatron's retirement opens the door not only for veterans like Kerley, but also young guys like undrafted free agent wide receiver Jay Lee. Lee had his pick of teams after the draft, but ultimately felt most comfortable coming to Detroit.
"I had a great feel for the coaching staff," Lee said last week. "I was comfortable with it. I had five teams (interested in signing me) but I got to do a private workout (with Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter) and come up here on a visit. I just felt comfortable in this kind of environment."
After placing tight end Tim Wright on Reserve/Injured (torn ACL) Tuesday, the Lions signed undrafted rookie free agent tight end Ben McCord.
McCord notched 65 receptions for 879 yards (13.5 avg) and nine touchdowns in 48 career games at Central Michigan University.
On Wednesday, the team signed undrafted rookie free agent OL Dominick Jackson. Jackson joins the Lions following a two-year career at Alabama.
The final transaction of the week occurred on Friday when the Lions signed undrafted rookie free agent kicker Devon Bell and waived punter Kyle Christy.
Bell averaged 62.1 yards per kickoff last year for Mississippi State.
OTHER NOTEWORTHY ITEMS:
- Watch Tori Petry's recap of the second week of OTAs, including the situation at tackle, who took first team reps and which players didn't participate.
- Several Lions alumni visited the team's OTA practice Wednesday and had lunch with Rod Wood, Bob Quinn and Jim Caldwell. View photos from their visit.
- Tim Twentyman takes a look at 5 areas the Lions improved the second half of last season that the team should continue to work on.
- With all of the new faces on offense this year, read how quarterback Matthew Stafford is really growing as a veteran leader on this team.