ALLEN PARK – Detroit Lions players have said they will boycott volunteer work during the offseason. Then new head coach Dan Campbell chatted with some of them, and over 80 guys ended up making their way to team headquarters this week for the start of organized team activities. It is an excellent demonstration.
But not everyone was in training on Thursday and Tyrell Crosby was among the notable absentees.
Crosby has just completed a strong 2020 season which saw him overtake Halapoulivaati Vaitai on the right tackle and start 11 games. But then the Lions passed the seventh overall pick over Penei Sewell to play that position, which sent Crosby to the bench as he approached a contract year. He also has $ 2.3 million against the cap, which is a hefty price tag for a swing tackle.
The Lions are therefore reportedly exploring their options, including a possible trade. It’s no accident that Crosby wasn’t in town for OTAs this week, and he might not be at OTAs next week either. There is no compulsory labor until the minicamp opens next month, when Crosby will either have to show up or face a potential fine.
Linebacker Jamie Collins, defensive tackle Michael Brockers, wide receiver Tom Kennedy, defensive tackle John Penisini, defensive tackle John Atkins and tight end Charlie Taumoepeau also did not attend Thursday’s practice, while Undrafted rookie Rakeem Boyd worked sideways with a coach. Boyd suffered an injury which also prevented him from leaving the field during the rookie minicamp.
Other than that, everyone was on the pitch despite the players’ initial plan to skip voluntary practice.
“The best way to say this is, look, what do we want it to be? Campbell said before practice. “What do we want it to look like? What are we prepared to do? And so I would just say, man, almost all of them are here. To me, this sends a strong and clear message: at least they’ve taken the first step. They have taken the first step and that tells us, as coaches, that they are committed. It’s something they want to do.
“Just to acclimate these (guys), get them used to our system, the system, work with each other. Just for me, bypass these coaches, around Anthony Lynn and (Dave) Fipp and AG (Aaron Glenn) and so we can – man, let’s start building a relationship. Let’s start to mesh. Let’s start to understand how to work together. All I can say is that this is the first step.
Some additional notes from today’s practice:
– Players are never in the pads this time of year, and the Lions seemed to be going even lighter than they did in the Matt Patricia years. The only period of competition was a brief seven-on-seven workout, so there really isn’t a lot of meaningful observation to be made on a bunch of guys doing individual drills in shorts. One guy who stood out, however: Jahlani Tavai, who looks slimmer and faster after losing a lot of weight. He is currently recording around 247 pounds, having played up to 267 pounds last year. This is a huge change. Whether that means he’ll play better remains to be seen, but not asking a 267-pound linebacker to cover receivers in space seems like a pretty good place to start. (Seriously, what were these guys thinking?)
–New quarterback Jared Goff has built chemistry with his receivers and tight ends in private pitching sessions in California, but it’s easy to see how much work remains to be done. He wasn’t on the same wavelength a few times with his targets today, including a ball that sailed into the middle of nowhere for seven to seven.
Behind him, Tim Boyle got most of the backup shots. David Blough was QB3.
– There is a lot of construction to be expected for this offensive line, which should be among the best in the league. Again, it’s impossible to say much about these guys right now, as they aren’t even wearing pants right now, let alone hitting people. But that forehead really does look huge with Taylor Decker, Jonah Jackson, Frank Ragnow, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and Penei Sewell stretched from left to right.
“I’ll say this – I never thought Sewell could look small, but when you see him next to Decker, he doesn’t look that big,” Campbell said.
Campbell said that while offensive linemen don’t hit anyone, it’s still a precious time for them as they can start to build the chemistry needed to excel in the role.
“Like someone like Sewell, it’s one thing to be able to get him out and have his reps, his one-on-one reps basically, his individual time,” Campbell said. “But to be able to work with these other guys and watch how they do it and train alongside them, and then be able to work with the right goalie, to be able to hear Frank and his calls, where we’re on the mic, where we’re going. Does Frank work my way? Is not it? Did the keeper get me? I think these things are huge. I think more than any other group, I think the faster your offensive line can learn to fit together and work together, I think you are able to solve a lot more problems a lot faster. I think it’s big. Being able to work together and do the fundamentals is huge for these guys. “
– Kalif Ramond has the most experience as a returning man on the team, scoring 53 kicks and 56 punts over the past five seasons. He appears to be the frontman to replace Jamal Agnew, who signed with Jacksonville in free agency, although he has competition from Victor Bolden and rookies Amon-Ra St. Brown and D’Angelo Amos. They were all fucking Jack Fox punts on Thursday.
– The seven-on-seven offensive starters were Goff, TJ Hockenson, Darren Fells, Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, Amon-Ra St. Brown and D’Andre Swift. The defense was spinning too much to really determine starters anywhere, although it was interesting to see Quinton Dunbar get plenty of points from the cornerback. Dunbar is a huge cornerback, by the way. It is listed at 6 feet 2 inches and is every inch of it.