Skip to main content


Presented by

O'HARA: What we learned from first week of camp practices

Head coach Dan Campbell has a good feel for the mindset of Detroit Lions fans. That's something we learned from his pre-practice press conference Saturday morning, and later from his actions on the field.

Sticking with the coach, what I also think we've learned is that the time he spent with the Lions as a player gives Campbell further insight into Lions fans.

Among the other things we learned is players don't care about gloomy preseason predictions for the 2021-22 Lions; a player on the bubble can make an impression and players like performing in front of fans at training camp.

We start with Campbell on the mindset of Lions fans:

Saturday was the first day fans were allowed to attend training camp. Before the drills started, Campbell was asked why Lions fans have been so loyal despite the team's losing record.

"I know it's hard, but they've been able to endure," he said. "They've been able to keep the faith. There's hope in another year -- hope in a new season. I think they are resilient.

"I think that's what makes them unique. I know it hasn't always been the way you hoped ... but you know what? I think they are always holding on to hope."

That shows that Campbell has a feel for what fans who follow a franchise that hasn't had success go through.

Just as important -- and perhaps more -- he knows how to express it by speaking from the heart with experience and not using cliches.

A player's view: Campbell spent his last three active seasons as a player with the Lions -- from 2006-08.

He played all 16 games, with 11 starts, in 2006 and had one of his most productive seasons: 21 catches, 14.7 yards per catch and four TDs. He was injured the next two years, playing two games in 2007 and one in 2008.

He was mostly an observer in 2007, but he saw the Lions at their best for a half season. They started 6-2 and finished off the first half with a 44-7 win over the Broncos at Ford Field.

During a lull near the end of the game, former Lions cornerback Dre Bly said to offensive tackle Jeff Backus, "You guys are really good."

They were, but it didn't last. They won only one game the rest of the way and finished 7-9. The Lions skidded to 0-16 in 2008, but that 6-2 start in 2007 had ignited the fan base. It gave hope.

Hope springs eternal.

From the bubble: In response to a question early in the week Campbell pointed to safety and inside linebacker as two positions in need of upgrading.

Every play -- good and bad -- counts for players on the bubble of making the roster.

Linebacker Anthony Pittman, a Wayne State product who spent most of the last two seasons on the practice squad, broke up a pass in one drill Saturday. It was not a routine play, and it had his teammates cheering.

What it leads to remains to be seen, but as we've learned from experience, it doesn't hurt.

Show time: Players responded affirmatively when asked if they like practicing in front of fans.

In that regard, the Lions apparently have arranged their practice fields in order to give fans the best view possible. That certainly beats scurrying off to a distant corner and making fans strain to view practice.

Related Content