The Final Training Camp Practice Ended Today, Who Improved And Who Slipped?
Training Camp is over. While the Detroit Lions still have some joint practices with the New York Giants next week, the major ones of training camp are now over. These practices are where position battles are won and lost and where players can make an impact and showcase what they can do on the field, seventh rounders can outperform veterans, anyone can get replaced. In the end, there are winners and losers of camp. While the winners might not end up doing much after camp, and the losers could turn it around and end up as starters, as of right now these are a few players to keep an eye on for their preseason performances.
Training Camp Loser #1 – QB Jake Rudock
My love for Jake Rudock is like any other player, I can talk about all the positives, but I am not afraid to talk about the negatives. Rudock had a good amount of the latter in camp. His arm strength is still weak and can cost him some passes, and his accuracy needs to improve.
While he did impress with some good throws and showed signs of growth, he also had his struggles and had more struggles than strengths. Rudock could lose his backup job to veteran Matt Cassel and the preseason games will be where he will have to showcase he can be the backup on this team.
Horrible decision by Rudock to throw back shoulder to Jones with Slay trailing. Near pick.
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) August 4, 2018
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) August 4, 2018
Training Camp Winner #1 – RB Kerryon Johnson
This is what Lions fans wanted to see and hear. Second round pick Kerryon Johnson is impressing in camp. Johnson was supposed to come in and help the running game find a 100-yard rusher and he might be the player to do that. Johnson impressed many in training camp, not only with his footwork and vision but with his hands as well.
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) August 3, 2018
One thing people have noticed in Johnson’s play is his vision and patience. He doesn’t just hit the ground running, he runs, waits for a hole, then bursts through it, or if there isn’t a hole, he waits and finds his best option with his solid vision. Don’t believe me? Read this tweet.
Training Camp Loser #2 – TE Michael Roberts
With Eric Ebron leaving the team, the tight end position was a big question mark coming into the season. Last year’s fourth-round pick Michael Roberts was seen as a player that could step up and see a bigger role, but it seems to be too much for the former Toledo Rocket.
Roberts is struggling with catching, dropping many passes and anyone who wasn’t happy with Ebron dropping passes won’t be happy with Roberts doing the same. If he can’t improve that, he could get the same treatment as Ebron, maybe not as vocal as he wasn’t a first-round pick, but he could be attacked like Ebron and we don’t want that again.
Roberts struggling means Luke Wilson might be the starting tight end and Roberts could have to fight for more playing time. With the first game being on Friday, Roberts will have a chance to compete.
Training Camp Winner #2 – WR Kenny Golladay
After a dismantling rookie year, former third-round pick Kenny Golladay is looking to make an impact this year. Golladay started out his rookie campaign well, but injuries would bother him and limit his playing time last season. This year doesn’t seem to be the same story.
At training camp, Golladay has made some impressive catches and getting open against the Lions cornerbacks, he is looking to put last year aside and showcase his skillset this season. With Golden Tate‘s contract up after this year, Golladay could move up to the number two role next season and he has to prove it everywhere – camp, practice, preseason and regular season.
Training Camp Loser #3 – P Sam Martin
There is a punter battle this year folks. Last year Sam Martin missed time due to a conch shell and his replacement, Kasey Redfern tore his ACL in the first game of the year, so the position has had some bad luck with injuries lately.
Along with the injuries is the poor performance by Martin. Martin was ranked 33rd last year in net average out of the 32 punters in the NFL, not a good look on a punter who is paid the sixth highest in the league. In comes Ryan Santoso.
Santoso has impressed during camp, and while Martin has done well too, Santoso is showing that he could be a cheaper and better option for the Lions. Martin is making $2.9 million this year and by letting him go and keeping Santoso the Lions could save almost $2 million that they could use elsewhere. This should be something to watch for the entire preseason.
Santoso with ~50 yard FG through the skinnys during scrimmage. He’s really looking good – very versatile. Have heard Martin curse himself a number of times. He also shanked a scrimmage punt.
— Detroit Lions Podcast (@DetLionsPodcast) August 4, 2018
Training Camp Winner #3 – CB DeShawn Shead
The underdog DeShawn Shead has moved himself into the competition for the starting cornerback role alongside Darius Slay. I believed this fight was between Nevin Lawson and Teez Tabor, but it seems that during training camp Tabor wasn’t given many chances to start and Lawson missed time for his newly born child, but when there he gave Shead a fight.
Depth at this position isn’t a bad thing and if we have three good cornerbacks that can rotate in and out, along with Quandre Diggs at slot or safety, along with Jamal Agnew and Tabor, this is a good problem to have.
Shead walked out of camp a winner with more eyes on him with Lawson out, and he could be given more chances within these next four games and they could turn him into a starter, which would be another steal by GM Bob Quinn.