Sensory overload. That’s how I felt watching the joint practices against the Buffalo Bills two years ago. It was incredible but impossible to see everything. The intensity, the chaos, all the action taking place throughout two fields. Now the Detroit Lions are in town and even without Calvin Johnson, there’s still some great matchups to highlight for these two sessions. Let’s break down a couple.
1. Matthew Stafford vs Mike Mitchell
Stafford has a hose and Mitchell will be the deep safety most of the time with the first team defense. Mitchell can hit, I don’t think the team drills will be super contact heavy, but let’s see if he can make any big plays in coverage.
2. Theo Riddick vs Ryan Shazier
Ameer Abdullah is uncertain to practice but Riddick will be just as tough a test in coverage. Riddick is one of the league’s best niche receiving backs, catching 80 balls last season. They should go up against each other in one-on-ones. Let’s see who wins out.
3. Antonio Brown vs Darius Slay
AB is the best receiver in the league but Slay may be the best cornerback you don’t know about. He got a long-term deal in the offseason. These two should be pitted against each other in WR/DB work and the results should be incredibly exciting.
4. Anthony Chickillo vs Taylor Decker
I can’t be 100% sure if these two will see each other often but man, I’m really hoping they do. Chickillo has had a strong camp but he needs to see a new face. Decker is a big boy and a plus athlete. Dying to get them together in one-on-ones.
5. Larry Warford vs Stephon Tuitt
Tuitt should see Warford more than Cam Heyward since Warford is the Lions’ right guard. Warford is a big body, a road grader, and a different body type than David DeCastro. Warford might be able to get a push in the run game and in one-on-ones, let’s see if he can move laterally to hang with Tuitt.
6. Anquan Boldin vs Sean Davis
Whew, talk about rookie versus vet. Boldin is anticipated to work in the slot, meaning he could draw Davis in team drills. In one-on-ones, it could be a different story. Davis will get a quick dose of a savvy vet and it’s interesting to see if he can win with his superior athleticism or if Boldin will work him over.
7. Maurkice Pouncey vs Haloti Ngata
Hello, old friend. Ngata is 32 but he’s still built like a house, listed at 345 pounds. He’s in the Lions’ 4-3 system now, not the Ravens 4-3, meaning these two may not always be pitted up directly but Pouncey is still going to get a dosage of Ngata. I don’t expect Pouncey to get work in pass rush one-on-ones so don’t expect any results there.
8. Marcus Gilbert vs Ezekiel Ansah
Ansah is one of the league’s rising stars at end, 14.5 sacks year with a reported goal of 20 in 2016. Gilbert is criminally underrated right tackle so we’re in for a treat.
9. Wallace Gilberry vs Everyone
There might not be anyone the Steelers hate more than Gilberry. They’ve gotten into it on the field and there’s been Twitter feuds (namely with Gilbert) off it. As luck would have it, he’s on the Lions, and the smart money is on him being in the middle of the first camp scuffle. Gilberry moved all around in his time in Cincinnati so everyone is likely to get their chance at him.