The Lions held a three-hour practice with several crisp team sessions on a smoky, 26-degree Tuesday morning.
The most evident concern with the team is the health of four injured starters on offence. QB Michael Reilly took part in non-throwing drills only. He is reportedly resting a sore shoulder and hasn't thrown since last week. He is expected back in action soon but the situation is eerily reminiscent of what happened in 2005 with Casey Printers and 2014 with Travis Lulay, when they were hampered by sore shoulders in camp and never fully recovered.
Receivers Bryan Burnham and Lemar Durant joined Reilly on the sidelines, taking a few spins on the exercise bike but not much else. Burnham, who is believed to have a minor ankle injury, briefly tossed a few balls back and forth with Reilly on the sideline. He struggled to catch the ball in Saturday's scrimmage and has been replaced on the first-team offence since then by rookie Keon Hatcher. I'm told the coaches are high on Hatcher, and he took advantage of the opportunity with several catches in team play Tuesday. Free-agent national receiver Jacob Scarfone stepped in for Durant and had a couple of catches and a drop in team play. Second-year Lion Jevon Cottoy, who dwarfs other skill position players at 6-5, 230 lbs., made made several sure-handed catches on the second team but is still mainly used a special teamer.
Also sidelined since last week is tackle Ryker Mathews. Phil Norman has stepped in seamlessly. Norman is a rare lineman who can play all positions on the O-line. He can expect to earn a full paycheque this year even if he's not on the active roster each week.
The injuries have given other players a chance to step up and impress the coaches but this team isn't going anywhere without four key starters.
Will Arndt and Nathan Rourke split first-team reps at QB. Arndt is the only backup QB on the roster with CFL experience but I'm intrigued by the upside of Rourke, who has a strong arm and quick feet and seems to handle the offence as well as any of the other backups on the roster. Shea Patterson took third-team reps and wasn't sharp.
On defence, Josh Banks took first-team reps at defensive tackle after the release of Lewis Neal on Monday. Obum Gwacham took first-team reps at defensive end in place of J.R. Tavai. The rest of the defence was unchanged since the start of camp and looks solid, although first-year starter Victor Gamboa has been targeted often at field corner. Boundary corner Garry Peters had an end-zone interception off Arndt in a goal-line session. Kiante Hardin had a nice end-zone knockdown of a Rourke pass in the same session.
Backups who got a lot of work on special teams, in addition to those mentioned in Friday's report, include American DB Bejour Wilson, American RB James Butler, rookie national RB Kayden Johnson, American DB Nydair Rouse and global D-lineman Nik Gustav
Japanese placekicker Takeru Yamasaki showed a strong leg and good form on all his kicks but struggled with accuracy, hitting only 2 of 6 attempts. One kick hit the right upright. Others were wide left or right.
Linebacker Bo Lokombo triggered a scuffle when he flattened RB Jamel Lyles on a pass over the middle. Despite there being no tackling and only limited hitting allowed, Lokombo has flattened several receivers who have entered his area in camp. Several offensive players jumped on Lokombo after the hit but he and Lyles shook hands at the end of it.
"I think [Fred Fateri] was like a lot of people who watch football, hockey or any professional sport on television. They sit there and think they could coach better than the professional. Some people really think that." - Bob Ackles, The Water Boy