Hello! This week members of the panel weigh in on week one of camp. Besides responses here, check out all the congregation sites for more in-depth thoughts and observations on camp. Have a question you’d like to see answered? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Also check out camp observations from:
NetRat of The NetRat.com
1. From Brian M: what do you think of the Lions secondary after the fist week of camp? Was Houston a steal, or is it just camp hype?
Zac:My opinion of the secondary hasn’t changed much after one week of camp. I still believe they will be the weakest link of this team and it will take a lot more than training camp rumblings before I start feeling good about them as a unit. Hopefully Louis Delmas starts feeling 100% very soon. I have always subscribed to the “were there is smoke there is fire” theory regarding reports like the one that came out about Delmas from Pro Football Talk. If his groin forces him to miss an extended period of time then the Lions are in trouble. Chris Houston is a nice pick up for the price they paid. The reports about his ability to hang with Calvin Johnson are certainly encouraging but I won’t get too excited until he does it against someone in opposing colors.
Al: Until further notice, the Lions’ secondary will remain too awful for words. It’s far too early for the defensive backs to be considered anything else.
The fact C.C. (aka Can’t Cover) Brown (Giants fans actually celebrated his moving on), and Randy Phillips (a rookie free agent) have been taking reps with the 1st team defense pretty much says it all about the state of the defensive backfield, wouldn’t you say?
With Louis Delmas injured (How badly injured remains a topic for debate. I’m not convinced he’ll be 100% anytime soon), there isn’t anyone remotely near a Pro Bowl talent in the Lions’ pass defense. I’m not counting former Pro Bowler Dre Bly, because at the age of 32, he’s the equivalent of being 55 in cornerback years.
As for Houston? Again, it’s far too early to tell, though he is still penciled in to start at left corner when the season begins. But if you go by reports out of camp, Houston’s counterpart on the right side, Jonathan Wade, has been the most impressive corner in workouts. We do need to remember on thing. No matter how good a player appears to be during two-a-days, you have to see them in game action before you can even begin to make an educated determination.
Houston and Wade looking good in August is one thing. Looking good in September is something altogether different, as their former teams, the Falcons and Rams, will tell you.
DetFan1979: Practice? You want to talk about Practice? Practice? — seriously though, practice is one thing — games are another. A big knock I read from the Falcons side when we acquired Houston is that he practiced great, but didn’t play so well. Honestly, looking back at his play, while he wasn’t a young Champ Bailey in Atlanta he certainly would have been over-qualified and a standout in the Lions secondary last season. You get help where you can in the NFL — and if you can get a big upgrade at CB with a low round pick, you do it.
I think the reports may hold into the season IF the Lions keep having him play man bump n run. He is not a zone guy, which is primarily what he played in Atlanta. Much of his problems were scheme vs player ability. IF the Lions coaches can utilize him right, he could be a solid #1 CB. My opinion hasn’t changed though — when it comes to the Lions secondary, I’ll believe it when I see it. Not before. Same goes for the glowing reports out of camp on Wade.
The CB and Safety positions are already continuing the cycle of injury, ineffectiveness, replace that they have been going through since the turn of the century. Delmas is the only guy in the defensive backfield we can say has proven to be a talented starter (and he’s injured). Everyone else is a big ??? — making the whole defensive secondary a big IF — and not leaning to the positive scenarios. When you have an undrafted rookie free agent running with the 1’s at safety, you know you have issues.
IF Houston and/or Wade come through as solid starting corners, it would certainly be considered an epic steal for what the Lions had to do to get them. If Phillips turns into a starting caliber safety, that would also finally put the Lions on the “found an undrafted free agent rookie who was a diamond in the rough” category for once. As usual for this time of year – IF – which is what the IFSeason is all about.
2. First Impression of Camp?
Zac:The talent level is certainly upgraded from a year ago, but the most positive factor to me is the philosophical continuity from year-to-year. The Lions return their quarterback, offensive coordinator, and scheme; something they have very rarely done over the last two decades. Last year was a learning year, this can be a refining year. Scott Linehan referred to developing their “bread and butter” plays on offense in an interview last week. That isn’t something that can be done when the primary concern is just learning the playbook.
Al:It’s positive, for the most part. We’re getting good reports on both Jahvid Best and Ndamukong Suh. Kyle Vanden Bosch has stepped right in as a team leader. Matthew Stafford has improved by leaps and bounds in his 2nd season, solidifying his hold as the starting QB and the face of the Lions. Everyone is expecting big things from Stafford.
But realistically, what else can you say? Most players look good in shells and shorts practicing at 3/4 speed against never-gonna-bes, your typical training camp roster filler.
Of more concern early on have been injuries. Most of the secondary is banged up in one way or another. MLB DeAndre Levy hasn’t been practicing due to a sore back. Despite being cleared to practice, we still don’t know how well Kevin Smith and Brandon Pettigrew have recovered from their season-ending knee injuries.
So as I said above, my first impression is positive. But it could change from day to day, or even from hour to hour, depending upon performances in preseason games and if (God forbid) core players go down to injury.
DetFan1979: Thus far my reaction is fairly positive, but guarded. Remember back before the 2008 season? The Lions were having “the best training camp ever” and Rod Marinelli was looking out over the practice field with ” a tear in his eye” because the team was exactly what he wanted… 4-0 in the preseason before falling flat on face and going 0-16. I am normally a bright little optimistic ray of sunshine, but I’m pleased with where the team is at – but also concerned.
The first concern I have is the secondary (detailed last question). The second is the Linebackers. Levy & Peterson need to stay healthy and Follett needs to keep stepping it up as a starter and also stay healthy — because the backups are…well…shall we say not in the same stadium with the starters thus far? Dizon seems to be showing improvement — improvement enough to work his way into some first team reps. Still, I am concerned that the lack of depth at LB and the shuffling already starting in the secondary could lead to some real problems again on the defense.
On the offensive side, however, my positivity seems to be rebounding in record speed. Pettigrew is already working his way back in. Kevin Smith is already back on the field and more motivated than ever. Sims, Sheffler, Burleson, and Best all seem to be as advertised which is not what we were seeing from offensive additions last year at this time (the top WR were all out). Even Felton is finally getting a larger role — I still think that if given the proper carries he would be an excellent bruising back.
So overall, I’m pumped for a season where the team looks to be more competitive and more talented than it was last year, and certainly the year before. IF this pattern of early training camp holds into September, then my gut says we’ll have some competitive football to watch as Lions fans this season.
Thanks again everyone! Come back later this week to see another training camp edition of the Lions Congregation.