This week was the second week of OTA’s for the Detroit Lions and they have been getting used to doing drills again. This week has had some notable things happen, new members, impressions and contract talk. Check out the five things we learned from the second week of OTA’s.
1. Lions Sign Tight End Ben McCord
The Detroit Lions reclaimed tight end Tim Wright as he is now on the IR list with a torn ACL. No news has came out if Wright will miss all of the 2016 season or if he will return, but Detroit wasn’t wasting any time and signed tight end Ben McCord out of Central Michigan University. McCord had his best season last year, with 39 catches for 612 yards and five touchdowns. For his career at CMU, he finished with 65 catches for 879 yards and nine touchdowns. McCord, Cole Wick and Matthew Mulligan are the only healthy tight ends on the roster right now with Wright on IR, Eric Ebron, Adam Fuehne are out with undisclosed injuries and Brandon Pettigrew won’t be back in action until August while he recovers from a torn ACL, which gives these three a good chance to compete for a roster spot. McCord may just be a body for OTA’s, but if he can make it out and still compete at training camp, he could be a sleeper pick for the number three tight end spot.
2. A’Shawn Robinson Impressing in OTA’s
Robinson got some first team reps with Caraun Reid and Tyrunn Walker out and he has been looking good from what players have been saying. Haloti Ngata said Robinson looked “awesome,” adding that Robinson has shown a good understanding of the playbook. Ngata also said that “He’s freakin’ big and strong, and he’s going to be a great student of the game. He pays attention and just always corrects what he needs to correct.” Robinson could get some playing time if he continues to impress and be a factor in the upcoming season.
3. Kyle Van Noy Fighting For Roster Spot
Van Noy has earned reps on the first team at the strong side linebacker this week. This wasn’t just a test to see how he would do, Teryl Austin said that Van Noy is “much better. Kyle’s doing much better.” Coach Jim Caldwell said “When he came back, he’s in better shape than he’s ever been – body fat percentage, strength levels, all of those kinds of things. During our time off, he didn’t take time off it appears, looking at his numbers. He just went right to work, and I think you can see a difference out there. “He’s moving along extremely well. He’s playing the position a lot better. So he’s making good progress.” Austin also said “He’s in much better position now than he was last year, in terms of once the ball’s snapped, so I think that’s good. Again, we’ll see how he does in the preseason, but right now I’m pleased with where his development is.” This is good news for Lions fans and Van Noy himself. Van Noy was a second round pick and hasn’t developed into what he once was at BYU, dealing with injuries and never catching up in time with the team. This year looks like Van Noy is 100 percent healthy and all caught up in what he has been watching the past two seasons.
4. Travis Swanson Out of OTA’s, Replaced by Gabe Ikard
Swanson was out of practice on Thursday and he wasn’t replaced by Graham Glasgow. Gabe Ikard was the surprising replacement on the first team unit and nobody knows why Glasgow wasn’t getting the first team reps. “He’s a smart guy,” coach Jim Caldwell said of Ikard. “He’s got size. Coming in (last season), a little bit of the introduction has helped quite I bit. I think he’s growing within it. He’s doing well.” This will be something to watch for the rest of OTA’s and mini camp because if Ikard is doing better than Glasgow at the center spot, you may expect Glasgow to move over to guard as a backup.
5. Darius Slay Looking to Sign Extension
Slay is hoping he can stay here in Detroit once his contract expires. He is on his final year of his rookie contract and he is going to get paid during his next contract, as his agent has met with the front office a few times the past few months. Slay would prefer to get a deal done early than wait until the season is over. Slay said “I’m just very comfortable here. I love my teammates. I love to be around these guys. There’s good leadership here. They built me, helped me become a man, a better leader and a better player. Being around here, in this atmosphere, it’s been a blessing.” Detroit would be smart to get this contract done ASAP as the asking price will likely get even higher as the season continues. Slay talked about getting paid and how Josh Norman just signed a five year deal worth $75 million with $50 million of it guaranteed, he said “It’s just showing how important this positions is. There are a lot of elite guys playing on the other side of the ball, the receivers. To take them out, you’ve got to pay a top (cornerback). That’s it. It’s just basic. It’s simple and plain.”