Detroit and New Orleans are the only teams thus far to have all of their draft picks signed, which is good for the Lions heading into Rookie Minicamp this weekend. Rookies can attend minicamp without having a signed contract, but the last thing this team needs is a distraction heading into Training Camp.
The biggest thing to come from the camp is the neck injury scare to third-round pick Larry Warford. He got what the team is calling a stinger in his neck after being hit with an elbow on Saturday. Warford was quick to try to get back into practice, but the team and coach Jim Schwartz were quick to slow him down (from the Free Press):
He could have gone through everything today. But we just limited him to just individual today. We didn’t want him going through any of the half-line stuff or the team stuff or anything like that. So we made the decision on him just to err on the side of caution.
One player missing from the rookie camp was second round pick Darius Slay. He had knee surgery last week to repair a torn meniscus and sat out the camp as a precaution. When coach Schwartz was asked if he was worried about Slay missing time Schwartz seemed less than concerned (from the Free Press):
If he’s going to miss a couple weeks it’s probably better for it to be right now than OTAs or minicamp or training camp or during the season… So we took that approach to his knee knowing that if something had to get done, hey, let’s go sooner rather than later with it.
He’ll be in all the meetings, he’s lifting right now, he’s doing upper-body stuff. He’s walking around. He’s doing a little bit of rehab. But he can gain just as much a base of knowledge of our defensive scheme and the techniques we require by going through the process and not necessarily getting the physical reps.
Finally the YouTube sensation Havard ‘Kickalicious’ Rugland made his debut with the team during rookie camp and put on a football helmet for the first time. According to the Detroit News, Rugland says that the helmet will help him keep his head down while kicking and had this to say:
I’m excited… You need to perform on a high level, but I’ve been kicking for a little while now, so I feel pretty confident. Of course you always have some nerves, but that’s only good.
Coach Schwartz was impressed with what he saw from Rugland online, but admitted that he had some work to do before kicking in the NFL:
You could tell on that video he had leg strength and he could control the football… Then after he worked out here we had a feel for his leg strength on kickoffs and his accuracy, and we liked what we saw and we thought we could work with him.
It was good for the players in camp to get some reps in together and the development of this group will be important to the progress of the Lions this season. Training camp and the preseason will be the first real test, but this was a good opportunity to start impressing the coaches and looking to make an impact on the field for the Lions.