With all the hype surrounding the start of training camp, picking the most notable player is nearly impossible. Although practice has been efficient on all spectrums, three players have been able to catch the eye of their teammates, coaches, and the media. Here are the biggest winners from Detroit Lions training camp so far:
1. Theo Riddick:
Theo Riddick, as with most players their rookie season, saw playing time limited to second teams and special teams. Being able to stand out with only a few touches per game was difficult but Riddick proved himself to be a valuable special teams asset as a kick returner and blocker. This year, Riddick is poised to become a more integral part of the Lions’ offense.
During OTA’s and minicamp, Riddick was praised by coaches as being one of the biggest surprises. The attention hasn’t stopped there. When asked in the press conference following day two of training camp, Jim Caldwell acknowledged the impressive performance of Riddick so far. Caldwell stated, “there are a few guys that jump out at you on film. I was watching special teams and every single time on the unit he’s on, he shows up.” He went on to compliment the running back on his intensity, desire and toughness while being a very capable ball carrier.
2. Golden Tate:
Coming from the same Notre Dame Alma mater as Riddick in the 2010 draft, Golden Tate has already started living up to the high expectations in Detroit. Tate has mastered his new routes while previously recording an astonishingly low 2.7 percent drop rate during his time in the NFL.
Tate will be an instrumental part to the Lions offense in order to provide another outlet for Matthew Stafford. Although his success may be measured by limiting coverage on Calvin Johnson, Tate is going to show progress beyond being No. 2.
Caldwell has noted Tate’s impact on the team extends to “his ability to catch the ball, run with it, block, he’s a high-energy guy. His leadership is extremely important as well.” Last year was a breakout season for Tate on a Super Bowl winning team and after shining in practice at Wayne State yesterday, we can expect similar things this season.
3. Jason Jones:
After suffering a season ending knee injury early last season, Jason Jones has been on a long road to recovery, until now. Entering training camp in full force has put Jones back on the coach’s radar. The coaching staff expressed excitement in the unique skill set the defensive end brings to the table in being able to break both inside and outside.
From his mental strength on the field to his excellent pass-rushing abilities, there are great expectations for Jones this upcoming season. Jones has an inspired attitude when looking at the offensive scheme to be employed by coach Lombardi. “We have a lot of formations and things like that. You’re going to see a lot of defensive lineman switched around a lot.” Jones has captured attention during training camp and we don’t see him fading from the spotlight anytime soon.
The Lions training camp philosophy has been geared toward getting every player multiple reps to build a solid foundation. Going into day four of camp leaves room for improvement with stringent hard work ahead. Be on the lookout tomorrow, day five, as the Lions enter their first practice with full pads.