The majority of the Detroit Lions rookie class, along with a group of tryout players, took to the field on Saturday morning to participate in another rookie minicamp practice.
head coach Dan Campbell explained to reporters prior to the start of practice what this weekend was intended to accomplish for the young talent coming in and attempting to get acclimated.
“I would say we’re trying to get them acclimated with what we’re doing schematically. So, introduction to our schemes — offense, defense and special teams,” Campbell said. “Then, we’re trying to assess their movement skills and their shape. What kind of shape are they in? What do they really look like as athletes? We’re around them, so we’re testing them a little bit with just their lateral movement, hips, flexibility, change of direction, all of those things. Just to be able to get our eyes on them is really — I’d say those two things are the most important things right now.”
After observing the morning practice of rookie minicamp, here are several takeaways from inside Allen Park.
List of tryout players
The list of players invited for a tryout includes four players on defense and five players on offense.
Among the players invited are quarterback Connor Sampson, wide receivers Jalen Martin and Hunter Rison, guard Logan Harris, tackle Evin Ksiezarczyk, linebackers Natrez Patrick and Jaylan Alexander, defensive lineman Jason Strowbridge and defensive back Najee Reems.
Lions have one quarterback at minicamp tossing the football
Sampson is the sole quarterback slinging the football this weekend.
The young quarterback played collegiately at Western Illinois and was the team’s starting quarterback for his final three seasons.
During his final season, he coughed for 3,182 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also was able to complete 65.2% of his passes from him.
Despite sitting out, wideout Jameson Williams engaged in the process.
Williams is still recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered against Georgia in the College Football Playoff championship game.
The speedy wideout has been engaged in the process, despite not being a full participant at minicamp.
He revealed following practice that he chose the No. 18 because it was “reversed Calvin Johnson” and also was a number that was worn by Randy Moss.
“He’s engaged. You put him out on the grass and that’s his domain,” Campbell said. “He’s asking questions, he’s got the script, he’s on it.”
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First impression of Aidan Hutchinson
Hutchinson’s strong potential to turn into a reliable pass-rusher was on display all throughout drills.
His freakish athletic ability, combined with Josh Paschal’s versatility, should setup the Lions’ defense for success for many years to come.
The ex-Wolverines rookie appears at first-glance like a player with the propensity to have an incredible work rate.
In drills, he demonstrated speed, power and an ability to use his length in optimal ways that benefit him.
James Houston has been used as off-the-ball linebacker at minicamp.
Early in his tenure with the Lions, Houston has been working as an off-the-ball linebacker, a position he wants to prove he can play at, since he mostly used as and edge rusher at Jackson State.
“I feel like I want to do more. I want to play inside, I want to help inside. I want to help outside,” Houston said in a Barstool Sports documentary. “If I could go on offense, to help the offense, I’d play fullback and help ya’ll run the ball.”
Houston and Malcolm Rodriquez were observed working on fundamentals and recognizing proper recognitions with linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard.
The young rookie earned praise for his ability to burst forward quickly in drills, a trait the Lions coaching staff wants to instill in all linebackers.
Undrafted free agent Kalil Pimpleton stands out
On several passing routes, the speedy wideout was observed getting open and demonstrating NFL level speed.
Pimpleton was targeted often by Sampson and the duo developed a slight connection late in the day.
Pimpleton finished his final season at Central Michigan with 62 receptions for 959 yards and four touchdowns.
He also added an element on the ground, as he recorded 84 rushing yards and two touchdowns on offense.
Early in his NFL career, Pimpleton will likely be working towards a role on special teams, as he averaged 20.6 yards per punt return on 14 attempts last year.