I thought there would be a ton to talk about at Detroit Lions minicamp, considering the kind of year the team had, the Lions’ stars, and a bunch of off-the-field things. And yeah, my head was swimming by the end. This really is a franchise on the rise, and it’s fun to watch from close up. The optimism is palpable.
What went on during the first OTA session in Allen Park today? A quick run-through:
— It’s not breaking news to say QB Matthew Stafford looked strong-armed and good, but he did. And compared to Kellen Moore, he looked really, really good (and tall). Moore looked fine, but if I had to describe how he throws, I couldn’t. Kinda funky. Anyway, guys who are really good, like Stafford, make it look so easy. One of the things Stafford talked about was that there is so much more familiarity now. The Lions are past installing the offense now. That’s big.
“Rookies kinda gotta pick up where we’re going,” Stafford said. “Understand it, learn it on the run. It’s nice. We all know what we’re doing out there, don’t have to sit there and try and teach the whole offense over again. We’re just tweaking things, adding things, seeing if we like them or not.”
— WR Calvin Johnson, also known as Megatron, is much bigger in person than on TV. I can only imagine what it’s like for an opposing DB to cover him. Poor dude. When you watch him catch the ball, it’s like his body is a shield. I bet he gets few passes broken up once he gets his paws on them. Johnson is hoping the offense can be even more explosive than last year, especially with the improved health of running backs Jahvid Best and Mikel LeShoure. In more positive news for the offense, second-round pick Ryan Broyles was participating in some of the session just six months after ACL surgery and without a brace. He was limited, but it was a good sign.
“We got a dangerous passing game,” Johnson said, “we got a dangerous offense in general. If we can keep those backs healthy, we’ll be all right. Definitely, we have the same high expectations we did last year, even more so. Gotta do better than we did last year. Most importantly, keep guys on the field.”
— One of the cool things from OTAs today was a press conference held by team president Tom Lewand and Senate majority leader Randy Richardville to stump for youth sports concussion legislation. This is a summation here. The goal is to follow about 20 states and make mandatory guidelines that must be followed for children who have concussions. They must pass tests and see doctors before returning to the field. It’s in the football rules, but they want it for all sports. I can’t help but think how much better football players in 20 years will have it, having grown up under such a watchful eye. Good stuff.
— DT Ndamukong Suh, who made headlines for all the wrong reasons last year, has a new perspective this year. Or the same perspective, but he’s just trying to do it all better. He doesn’t want any of those stomping incidents, for instance. He’s looking trim, like he’s in great shape, even if Suh said he hasn’t weighed himself in a while. Suh didn’t think 2012 is pivotal based on last year, just pivotal in general.
“Every year’s important,” Suh said. “This year will be important for the simple fact that we have a great group of guys that can help not only this organization get back on its feet, but also to a whole different level. Is it a very important year for myself, personally? Every single year, I want to out-do the previous year. My rookie season, I had a good year. Last year, indifferent year. This year, (I) have an opportunity to have an outstanding year, but then again it really doesn’t matter (about me). Because it’s a team game and I want to win.”
— I was intrigued by coach Jim Schwartz saying that he wasn’t really evaluating guys during these OTAs. I know important decisions aren’t made during this time, but I hadn’t heard a coach say it quite like that. Mostly, the purpose of OTAs is to get guys acclimated, get them to know the offense/defense/whatever and try to function as a team. I guess it makes sense. Most of the guys who come to camp will be the same as they were on the field today. Clearly, though, everyone was happy to be here instead of “on the couch, relaxing” like last year, as Megatron said. Or something.
— There was no contact or anything, but I could see why the Lions are optimistic about Best and LeShoure. LeShoure is huge, much bigger than the other dudes. And he looked pretty decent running around, though he didn’t do everything because of that Achilles. And Best looked straight-up fast. Concussions got to scare you to death, but if he’s healthy, look out. This could be one of the top three offenses in the league.