The Detroit Lions were back in action this week with their three days of mandatory minicamp on June 5th-7th. While the media doesn’t get as in-depth access to mandatory minicamp as they do other parts of the off-season, such as training camp, there was nonetheless a lot of observations to go off of. Let’s take a look at the biggest storylines from minicamp.
Detroit Lions Minicamp: Biggest Takeaways
Fullback a Competition No More
With all the hubbub surrounding the Lions’ revamped running game, all eyes were on the backfield with the rookie duo of Kerryon Johnson and Nick Bawden expected to make a splash. Those dreams didn’t last long, as news came out of Allen Park on the second day of mini-camp that Bawden, the fullback out of San Diego State, had a torn ACL.
The #Lions fear rookie FB Nick Bawden suffered a torn ACL in practice today, source said. Happened in a special teams drill. Seventh-round pick’s season appears to be over.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) June 6, 2018
While head coach Matt Patricia refused to comment on the injury, sources have confirmed that it is a likely ACL tear and Lions fans will have to wait another year to see the rookie in action.
This means that linebacker-turned-fullback Nick Bellore is now a shoe-in for the starting role at fullback.
Sophomores Step Up
— Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat) June 5, 2018
According to reporters, the two have not only been extremely competitive throughout camp but have done so with the first team. They’ve battled back and forth, and Tabor has shown off his reputable ball skills with two consecutive days of picking off quarterback Matthew Stafford.
#Lions CB Teez Tabor update:
-2nd day in a row with an INT against Stafford
-Was also beat twice for 2 TDs by Kenny Golladay from Staffordpic.twitter.com/GYMlBcsbAd
— Logan Lamorandier (@LLamorandier) June 7, 2018
Changes in the Secondary
While very few expected Tabor to take on a starting role in the secondary, he’s not the only new face out on the field. Second-year cornerback Jamal Agnew has reportedly taken over the first-team nickel cornerback spot. The spot has been occupied by cornerback Quandre Diggs for the most part since he was drafted in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, with help from now-former Lion D.J. Hayden last year.
— Tori Petry (@sportstori) June 6, 2018
Agnew’s move to the starting nickel role doesn’t necessarily mean a demotion for Diggs, however. After moving to strong safety late in the 2017 season Diggs saw lots of success, with numbers that would have placed him among the best in the league when projected across an entire season.
Diggs could take over the starting role at strong safety, especially as incumbent Tavon Wilson has had consistency issues due to injury and started minicamp wearing a red no-contact jersey.
While Agnew played a significant role on the team last year, he did so almost entirely on special teams. Agnew saw only 69 snaps on defense and 12 on offense throughout the 2017 season per Pro Football Reference. His main role came as a punt returner, however, as he led the league with a 15.4 yards per return average on his way to earning All-Pro honors in his rookie year. With this new development, Agnew could be showing up much more on defense in the coming year.
One of the notable absences from drills throughout minicamp was star defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. Ansah, who received the franchise tag this off-season, has a history of being injured even going into training camp, so the team merely wanted to keep him fresh according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. The lack of participation is not a product of contract disputes or of any known injury, so there should be no need to worry.
The Lions are back in action on Monday, with more off-season training activities taking place throughout the week.