Lions OTA report:
Here are some very interesting morsels from the OTA practices this week:
- This may seem minor to some of you but to me the biggest evidence of this teams metamorphosis is that after practices you now see the offense and defense walking off the field together.Â That fact hasnâ€™t avoided notice from the players either.Â Camaraderie is the name of the team in Allen Park now.Â They are actually acknowledging in positive ways the good plays of the other.Â Donâ€™t misread that and think that there is no competition, because that is stronger then ever.Â It is a complete sense that they need one another and for the first time since back when Barry was here, they believe in the other.Â You can skim that point and minimize it as much as you wish friends but that is huge.Â One offensive player told me â€œit is really great to finally see that this is a team now.Â Last year and even the year before it was the defense and the offense thing.Â You know, Dreâ€™ kind of put that out there.Â Now it is a group of guys that all see that if they donâ€™t stop folk and get us the ball, and if we donâ€™t put points up when they give it back we all are at home in December (actually January) and I donâ€™t mean hosting a playoff game Iâ€™m talking watching.â€
- On Wednesday Martz and the gang started demonstrating some new wrinkles that the offense had not seen before as far as expanding routes and laying some foundation for some new plays that were not available in the arsenal last season.Â I think that fans sometimes donâ€™t understand that last season they really only had two WRâ€™s that produced.Â With the decimation of injuries it was difficult to add to the game plan each week (it is normal in the NFL to add and subtract up to 35% of your playbook each week) in order to confuse teams with plays that they have no film on and/or plays that you hadnâ€™t used in multiple weeks.Â The Lions were able to subtract as players fell like jelly donuts on my desk but they were never able to add.Â In St. Louis last year when the Lions made a valiant effort to come back, it was talked about that the play they needed to run in the midst of the comeback they couldnâ€™t because they didnâ€™t have the manpower to do such.Â Imagine that.Â Now they can expand to the entirety of the Martz plan and that just makes this team even more dangerous.
- Kevin Jones has been working out as I have reported but in the last part of the OTA (not open to the media) several sources confirmed that he looked very good and actually did more then he had been doing.Â One source told me â€œhe is way ahead of where he was expected to be.Â This injury is a real b**** so we have to be very guarded about setbacks.Â Yeah, I would say that he is farther along then expected right now but there always seems to be set backs once they stop running and start playing football.Â Letâ€™s keep our fingers crossed.â€
- On Wednesday CJ made his usual:Â I canâ€™t believe what I just saw catch.Â This time he reached around himself (I am a fatty so I have never done it, but is that actually possible) grabbed it with is LEFT hand and pulled it in.Â Like one Lions non-player said to me:Â that man is sick!
- Obviously there are no pads and a lot can change but as of right now the O line appears set.Â Big Ed and Peterman will be the tackles.Â Dom at center and Foster and Backus at the guard.Â Woody has been getting a lot of reps simply because Mulitalo has been out, but he is ahead of schedule with his injury and is clearly the Lions choice to fill that role.
- I admit that it is my opinion (and most people in the NFL) that good teams are built on the lines and I give special attention to that.Â However, if you really want a special battle to watch as the Lions prepare for the 2007 campaign keep your eyes glued to the running back slot.Â Bell and Duckett will have it out but with KJ ahead of schedule and on his way back (barring a setback) that is going to get real fun.Â Bell is so very fast, but what fans and pundits donâ€™t get is that so is Duckett.Â In a flat foot race the winner with him and Bell would be a draw and Duckett is vastly superior in strength and speed.Â Now before anyone emails and says â€œof course your pimping Duckett he is your boyâ€ I fully admit my friendship with him.Â That doesnâ€™t mean I lose credibility as long as I am objective.Â Bell has looked great.Â He is liquid and has incredible acceleration.Â I also know that the RB spot is going to be a lot of fun to see.Â Keep you eyes there.Â I for one would love to see KJ back in the mix.
- Stanton got a few more reps as this weeks OTA came to a close.Â He is a long ways from Kitna and Orlovsky (obviously) but the Lions coaches are learning (what the Spartan Nation already knew) that he is a smart kid and he has kept his nose in the playbook studying and that has impressed them.Â
- Speaking of the QBâ€™s, Martz has been ruthless this OTA (even more then usual) on being accurate.Â Last season there were so many holes to fill and now that the depth is expanded and the team has grasped what he wants, he now can drill the nuances that maybe he wasnâ€™t able to drill last year as much.Â Now before you have a coronary you need to know that obviously accuracy is huge, but now he is really focusing on small windows.Â Not just putting it there, he is talking about hitting exact spots.Â Kitna is a good QB.Â For those of you that think I am an apologist youâ€™re wrong.Â I will have a rather lengthy article about Jon coming the eve of training camp but although last seasons failures are not at all in totality his fault, he has to be more accurate this season.Â Last season was impressive, but this year Jon has to be great.Â Cleary he was not in 2006.Â The thing that I think people miss is that Jon knows he has to be better and has embraced that.