ALLEN PARK – The Detroit Lions are back on the field for the first time in months at the team’s rookie minicamp this weekend. As 32 players made it to the team’s training center to sort out coaching staff issues, a notable body disappeared in seventh overall pick Penei Sewell.
Sewell recently tested positive for the coronavirus, taking him away from his first opportunity to be with his new teammates at Allen Park. He also opted out of the pandemic-altered college football season, so the great Oregon offensive lineman hasn’t been on the pitch for some time. Sewell is set to start as a right tackle in Detroit this season, a position he hasn’t played since high school.
Lions coach Dan Campbell has said he’s not worried Sewell is falling behind, telling reporters the 331-pound rookie took part in the team’s Zoom sessions, not schematically missing a step.
“No hindsight. It’s not going to hurt at all, ”Campbell said. “He’ll be there, you know. We will probably bring him in at the start of the week. He’s been at the Zoom meetings, so basically he’s attending them, and everything will be fine. He will adapt quickly. It won’t be a setback at all. “
New GM Brad Holmes wasted no time getting to work on the offensive line, adding Sewell and extending Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow after the draft. Holmes has said he expects Sewell to start right tackle the first year, leaving Tyrell Crosby’s future with the team potentially uncertain. Crosby, who still has a year on his contract, started most of last season as a right tackle. His name was on the rumor mill to be traded before the draft, then ESPN added to this report saying the team continues to explore moving the tackle.
Campbell called the Detroit rookie minicamp non-traditional, saying the 32 participating players aren’t ready for real football, calling it an opportunity to go through things and acclimatize them before the summer. The Lions hosted the three-day minicamp without a quarterback, keeping it simple while looking to instill competition wherever they can. Offensive assistant coach Tanner Engstrand, a former San Diego State University quarterback, handled the main duties of the quarterback with the help of Mark Brunell and Antwaan Randle El.
“Really the seven on seven, which you can see, will be the first period of competition we’ve had in three days with the rookies,” Campbell said on Sunday morning. “It’s only going to be 10 games, but just to see them move a bit. I tell you what, it was good. It’s a good class. They are excited to be here and it’s just good to see them move. We’re not trying to – I told them this – no one will be on that team in these three days.
“This is not what it is. It might help you get invited to training camp, but you won’t be on that squad just yet. So I wanted them to be smart. Some of these guys haven’t played for two years, so we thought it was important to be smart about the way we trained and that’s what we did.