American Football

5 standouts from Week 1 of Lions training camp practices

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Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

A breakdown of the five biggest standouts from early Detroit Lions training camp practices.

Detroit Lions training camp will be put on pause on Thursday, as the players get the day off following four days of practices. From Sunday to Wednesday, players participated in the “ramp-up period,” where no pads or live tackling were allowed, and practices slowly lengthened from 90 minutes to just over two hours. On Friday, they’ll retake the field and are expected to wear full pads for the first time.

But before we get there, let’s look back on the four practices this week and highlight some of the top performers. Because there were no pads, I’m not going to talk much about the trench players—as their play is predicated on a level of physicality they cannot accomplish without pads.

With that disclaimer, here are the five players who stood out the most in Detroit’s first four training camp practices.

EDGE Charles Harris

I know I just said I wasn’t going to talk much about trench work, but Harris is first on my list simply because of the way the Lions are using him and talking about him. Detroit has been employing more five-man fronts early this camp, and that has involved the line bookended with Aidan Hutchinson and Harris as a SAM linebacker. He’s also been the “starter” in four-man fronts.

Heck, when Dan Campbell was asked a question about James Houston, he couldn’t help but break into a rant about how excited he is about Harris.

“The other point of that is I’d say this about Charles, man, let’s not forget about Charles. He’s coming off the injury. We lost him last year. I mean this guy’s a man on a mission. He’s another guy I can’t wait as we go through camp because you can tell he’s ready. He’s been going now, so it’s good to have him back too.”

TE Sam LaPorta

As offensive coordinator Ben Johnson noted on Wednesday, LaPorta has started to work his way into first-string reps. But the truth is, no matter which team LaPorta is playing for, he’s quickly become the most efficient target short of Amon-Ra St. Brown. Not only is he constantly finding open space, but he’s also shown reliable hands and the ability to turn upfield and gain YAC.

Goff’s chemistry and trust in LaPorta are still building, but we saw over the last two seasons how much Goff loved utilizing T.J. Hockenson. That kind of QB/TE relationship appears to be budding now with Goff and LaPorta.

CB Starling Thomas V

Our staff was high on Thomas going into camp, with all of us predicting that he’d make the 53-man roster. Even with those high expectations, Thomas has managed to stand out in all the right ways.

Thomas has been repping with the second-team defense consistently, and he’s been putting up some nasty battles with the likes of Maurice Alexander and Denzel Mims. Even his scuffle with 330-pound Germain Ifedi is likely viewed more favorably than not, showing the tenacity and fight this regime wants.

Finally, Thomas has been the No. 1 gunner on special teams, a role he’s learning but perfectly fit for. It’s far too early to call him a lock, but he’s in about as good of footing as you could expect from an undrafted rookie.

Jared Goff

If you were to count incompletions from Goff during the team portion of drills through the first four practices, I’m not sure you’d get far beyond a single hand. Goff’s command and decisiveness look as good as ever, and I’ve seen a little more velocity and pinpoint accuracy than in previous seasons.

Two passes stand out to me in particular—both to the final person on my list. The first was a goal-line drill that he just missiled in between two tight defenders for a score in the back of the end zone. The other, he lasered over the middle of the field, splitting two linebackers and hitting the receiver in stride for a big catch and run.

Amon-Ra St. Brown

I can’t help but put St. Brown on this list, even though everyone already knows what a dawg he is. The way he dominated Tuesday’s practice was something I haven’t seen since Calvin Johnson was in town. He and Goff are currently on another level, and the best part of it is that they both know it. You can see the confidence each player has in the other, and that kind of chemistry and trust is dangerous.

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