Camp fires Day 7: Dizon in the middle
Every day during training camp, Lions beat writer Dave Birkett takes you inside practice at Allen Park with notes, quotes and observations of interest.
I spent part of the morning watching rookie linebacker Jordon Dizon, who's progression and comfort level is key to the Lions' chances this year. The second-round pick out of Colorado is constantly working to digest the defense. In one sequence with Dizon on the sideline Wednesday, linebackers coach Phil Snow would relay a play call to the middle linebacker on the field, then turn and repeat the hand signals for Dizon and ask him what was being called. Dizon said he's spent about 16 hours a day, from 6:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m., at the Allen Park facility studying football since he signed last week.
Here's a telling quote from Dizon, who's taking mostly third-team reps for now behind Paris Lenon and Buster Davis: "I'm stuck in the middle of a big learning curve, but the good thing about it is it's progressing. For me, the biggest thing is not make the same mistake twice." Dizon intercepted a Jon Kitna pass on the goal line in Tuesday morning's practice. Turns out, he was in the wrong place for that particular defense. Maybe that's a good sign, that he'll make plays regardless.
One more Dizon quote: "They call a defense, I understand it, I know my alignment, I know where I'm supposed to be. But in terms of what the line is doing in front of me, what checks to make if they change to this formation go to this formation I know the basics, but it's when there's a check involved that's when I struggle."
Wednesday's morning practice was pad-free as the Lions have some minor injuries mounting and are down to about 72 healthy bodies. Still, there's a competitiveness between the offense and defense. Jon Kitna to an official pleading for a pass interference call after Keith Smith tripped Ron Bellamy on an in route: "What, your flag got stuck?" On Tuesday, it was Dwight Smith angling for a call when Stanley Wilson was flagged for pass interference on Roy Williams. "Where's your job at," he asked the official. The officials in camp now work local college games.
Center Dominic Raiola was back practicing after a day off to rest a sprained left ankle. The Lions had no botched snaps after fumbling six quarterback-center exchanges with Raiola sidelined Tuesday.