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The Good, Bad, and Ugly: The Detroit Lions’ first practice in pads was interesting

It was loud. It was intense. And as Dan Campbell wanted, it was physical. That’s the best way to describe the Detroit Lions practice today, as players were in pads for the first time during training camp. 

Even though it’s only the first day, some good, bad, and ugly football took place Tuesday at Allen Park. Here are some of my observations.

The Ugly: It wasn’t Jared Goff’s day.

Because of that, there was apparent rust on several players. One of those players was quarterback Jared Goff. He had a “bipolar-type” afternoon during full 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills. 

During the first sets of 11-on-11’s, he had several impressive throws to fullback Jason Cabinda and Breshad Perriman. However, he had some non-impressive throws as well. Three missed throws stood out in particular. One of those was an incredibly wobbly one intended for Perriman, which Amani Oruwariye intercepted. Goff followed that up with an ugly underthrown ball, which no receiver, in my opinion, would’ve been able to pull down. 

Despite having a rough start to practice, Goff composed himself, performing well during the mentioned 7-on7’s. He connected with rookie wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown on several passes. The two that stood out were a deep ball where Goff hit him in a sweet spot, the type of 50-50 balls that St. Brown has a reputation for grabbing. Several plays later, Goff went back to St. Brown, connecting with him on a sideline grab. After his display during the 7-on-7s, Goff appeared seemingly found his grove.

Once the team went back to full 11-on-11s, Goff began to show some love to his tight ends, connecting with T.J. Hockenson and Darren Fells on a few plays. Even Damion Ritley got in the mix of things, catching a nice throw from Goff. 

Following those throws, however, Goff began to look a bit shaky again. He missed Kalif Raymond on one throw, and Elder Corn tipped another pass shortly after, much to the delight of defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. 

Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions practiced at Allen Park in full pads for the first time in the Dan Campbell era. Photo credit: Kory Woods

On Saturday, Goff mentioned that some players at the camp were rusty. However, it’s starting to look like he was referencing himself. Despite the shaky showing, this is no need for Lions fans to panic yet. 

The Bad: Derrick Barnes being out this early could be a concern for the Detroit Lions.

From Spring until now, Derrick Barnes has dealt with a hamstring injury. Unfortunately for the Lions, the injury limited his participation, even up until now. Today, Lions coach Dan Campbell addressed his status. 

“It’s just lingering a little bit, so that’s why we held him back,” Campbell told reporters. 

“But there again, we’re being smart with him. I don’t think this is a major issue. It’s something that we do feel like if we put him back out there, we can make this thing worse than it needs to be.”

The Lions selected Barnes with the 113th pick in this year’s draft. 

As the Lions are transitioning to a 3-4 defense, all hands need to be on deck. And that includes the former Purdue Boilermaker. As a three-year starter at Purdue, Barnes played inside linebacker in a hybrid style 3-4 scheme. 

Veterans with experience in the 3-4, such as Trey Flowers, are critical for the Lions’ defense this season. However, having a rookie with similar experience as a pass rusher and linebacker who plays off the ball is a need for Detroit. 

There is no timetable for Barnes’ return. 

The Good: Expect the running game to be a focal point of the Lions’ offense.

The Detroit Lions have not had a 1,000-yard rusher since Reggie Bush in 2016 (1,006). And honestly, there is a possibility they won’t have one this season either.  

Here’s the exciting thing, though. Despite possibly not having one, the Lions’ running game continues to look strong. Throughout this training camp, Duce Staley’s imprints are all over this unit. He’s coached them hard and continued to demand they display that “juice” on every snap. 

And that “juice” eventually took center stage. Unfortunately, it was at Jermar Jefferson’s expense. While going through drills, safety Dean Marlowe “welcomed” rookie Jermar Jefferson to the league, leveling him with a vicious hit. While fans were on the opposite side of the field, both players’ collisions sounded like a bad car accident.

 After reading this, one may wonder, “Well, where is the good?”

The “good” was Jefferson’s reaction. After Marlowe smacked him like a pinata, the rookie began to show out in team drills. There were four specific runs where Jefferson displayed elite-level speed. Expect him to be a great compliment to D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams.

Before training camp, rumors linked the Detroit Lions to several free-agent running backs, specifically Todd Gurley. However, if Jefferson can be productive throughout the next few weeks, including preseason, he should be a lock as the Lions’ No. 3 running back. 

Furthermore, expect him to be a significant part of Anthony Lynn’s scheme this year. 

Follow Kory Woods on Twitter at KoryEWoods.

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