Camp fires Day 5: An earful
Every day during training camp, Lions beat writer Dave Birkett takes you inside practice at Allen Park with a few notes, quotes and observations of interest.
Looks like the Lions will go conventional with their use of the new defensive speaker system. Middle linebackers Paris Lenon, Buster Davis and Jordon Dizon have had their helmets outfitted for the system and practiced using it for the first time today. During team drills, defensive coordinator Joe Barry used a walkie-talkie to relay play calls to Lenon and Co. At the same time, linebackers coach Phil Snow hand-signaled in the plays. The nuts and bolts of how that will work during the season still is being ironed out, but Lenon reported no hiccups with the dry run today. Hand signals aren't going away, but Barry said he hopes to test the speaker system another nine or 10 times during the preseason. On game days, two helmets will be wired for the system but only one player can have it on the field at any given time.
Devale Ellis continues to have an eye-catching camp. Competing for the No. 5 receiver spot and return duties, Ellis made a few nice catches in traffic during full-team drills this morning. On special teams, I don't think he's dropped a punt yet. Passing-game coordinator Kippy Brown indicated the other likely candidate, fifth-round draft choice Kenneth Moore, has a ways to go as a receiver the other day. Moore was drafted for his return skills.
The Lions are counting on Ikaika Alama-Francis to contribute at defensive end this year, and Rod Marinelli is after him to be more consistent. An example from morning practice: In one drill, Marinelli praised Alama-Francis for having good pad level and good get off (he got under right tackle George Foster's pads and knocked him backwards with ease). In the next, Marinelli hollered that Alama-Francis needed to get off the ball better and "I haven't seen you make one play all day."
Dewayne White and Jeff Backus had two good, clean battles in one-on-one line work. There was a little pushing, however, between Langston Moore and Matt Butler.
THIS NOTE UPDATED 12:30 P.M. TUESDAY A football man watching practice with a more trained eye than I said rookie defensive tackle Andre Fluellen looked quick and had good hips after seeing him in position drills. A third-round pick, Fluellen should make the team, but something tells me the Lions wouldn't mind if the left elbow injury he suffered last year flares up during camp. That way they could stash him on injured reserve for the year and keep Shaun Cody, who's having a great camp, and Moore as backup tackles.