Mike O’Hara recaps highlights from Wednesday’s training camp practice at Wayne State.
Coach Jim Caldwell promised that Lions fans would see a normal training camp practice Wednesday night at Wayne State’s Adams Field, but he gave a hint of what’s to come later in the week.
Caldwell asked his players to increase the tempo, with the team in shoulder pads for the first time in camp.
“Nothing unusual,” Caldwell said of Wednesday’s practice plan. “You’re going to see basically the same type of practice that we’ve had. For the most part, it’s going to look similar to what you’ve seen.”
But that will change Friday when full pads go on for the first time for the fifth day of camp.
“We’re still in the process of working our way into full pads, which we want to have on, probably on Friday,” Caldwell said. “But we’re making some strides. Tonight (at Wayne State), you’ll see a little more hitting than you’ve seen before, but hopefully we’ll keep everybody up off the ground.”
Players practiced in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts Wednesday night. They wear football pants when they’re in full pads.
Golden hands: Golden Tate made a catch and run that showed why the Lions made it a priority to sign a receiver who not only would be a complement to Calvin Johnson but also one who could make plays on his own.
Tate caught a pass over the middle and raced through a seam up the middle for a long gain. Eventually, he changed direction, from left to right, and ran out of bounds. It was the explosion after the catch that stood out as a sign that defenses aren’t going to be able to concentrate as much on Johnson this year as they have in past seasons.
Eric Ebron, the rookie tight end – or pass catcher, as he prefers to be called – made a rolling, tumbling catch inside the 10-yard line early in practice. He beat a linebacker on coverage to make the grab.
“It’s one of those plays where I exploit the middle,” Ebron said. “It’s one of the reasons they drafted me. Hopefully those plays help Calvin out and Golden, by me operating in the middle. It was just a throw and catch, and I made a great catch.”
Later in practice, Matthew Stafford and Ebron just failed to connect on a deep throw down the left sideline against tight coverage.
Thud: Caldwell said there would be more contact on the third day of practice than there was on the first two, and linebacker DeAndre Levy provided early with a hit on running back Mikel Leshoure. There was no tackling, and Leshoure bounced off and continued running, but the hit got a roar from the crowd.
Leshoure didn’t mind the contact a bit.
“It’s our first padded day,” Leshoure said. “Coach wanted them to thud the running backs. Just starting up a little contact today. Not too much. It’s football. I expected it.
“We knew what was coming. We knew want he wanted.”
Back home: Running back Joique Bell, a Wayne State alum, got a big reception from the fans in his return to the place where he made a name as a Division II star.