The Detroit Lions finished their fourth day of training camp on Tuesday, practicing for the first time in full gear.
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz was pleased with how his team performed.
"The thing I liked about it was the first time in pads and it’s also probably the hottest day that we’ve had; humidity is up a little bit, so it was a good day to get through," he said. "It was our longest day on the practice field. I think we were all together two hours and about 14 minutes or so. It was a pretty good day for them.
"I am happy with the pace; there are a lot of things we can clean up, but for the first day in pads, I liked what I saw."
Schwartz noted the competition spike between the offense and the defense.
While Detroit's defense, much maligned a year ago, seems to be adjusting well to the bigger, most physical mantra established by Schwartz and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham (the first couple of weeks in any NFL training camp is traditionally "owned" by the defense), Detroit's offense showed up as well.
"Watching that nine-on-eight drill and to see the defense stone the offense on one play and then the offense get the better of them the next play, that’s good competition," he remarked.
Stafford Continues To Impress
Among those who stood out in pads was, surprise, surprise, rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford. Although he didn't complete a touchdown pass during a goal-line drill (Daunte Culpepper did, however), Stafford's laser-guided missiles throughout the day continued to spark enthusiasm from everyone in attendance, including offensive coordinator -- and the person who will ultimately determine who starts at quarterback -- Scott Linehan.
Linehan has been pleased with the progress of each quarterback, yet commented highly on Stafford, who many both privately and publicly believe is already distancing himself and en route to earn more repetitions with the first-team.
"I don't feel like I'm coaching or talking to a rookie when we work with him," said Linehan after Tuesday's only practice session. "I know you hear of that -- and it's not just talking, saying that's how it is because he was the No. 1 pick and all that stuff.
"He has a very natural feel for the game and understands concepts, he can translate things he's done before to what he is doing now without a lot of repetition. (He's) pretty impressive that way."
Linehan noted that Stafford's Pro-Style roots in both high school and college has helped ease the rookie's transition, negating the need to "coach up" Stafford, or correct any poor mechanics.
Instead, Stafford has simply hit the ground running.
"He shot the ball down the field (in the past), attacked all parts of the field with the passing game and did a great job of running their run game," added Linehan. "I would just go a different direction ... and say it's actually really prepared him for what he's doing."
Despite the praise tossed upon Stafford, Linehan pointed out that it's still early. And despite the team's August 15 exhibition opener looming, there was still much to sort out.
"They're being evaluated on a daily basis, on a period basis, on a situational basis and on how they play," he cautioned.
"As we get deeper into camp, obviously we'll be faced with making that decision and it will all take care of itself. I've always been under the philosophy that the cream always rises to the top. I just think the competition is going to bring out the best in all of them. "