ALLEN PARK, Mich. – The Detroit Lions are ready for a new beginning.
Even though Sunday afternoon's practice was the third of training camp for the Lions. To the veterans and coaches, though, it was the unofficial beginning. After light workouts on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, the team put on shoulder pads for the first time in Sunday's second workout.
"It was good to have guys out there moving around, and we got some good things done," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said after the morning practice. "But it isn't going to feel real until we've gotten guys out there in shoulder pads like we will this afternoon."
The team is scheduled to work out twice more Monday before taking another step forward with their first full-padded practice on Tuesday.
"You can see some improvements from yesterday to today, but there will be things you can't see from our defense until we start hitting a little," Schwartz said. "You get some of that in shoulder pads and a little more in full pads, but there are some levels of live hitting that we won't see until the first preseason game."
For most players, the opening sessions of training camp were mostly a chance to get back into the flow of things after taking a month off from offseason workouts.
"There was a lot of rust to knock off in the first couple days," defensive end Cliff Avril said. "Now we can really get going."
One player, though, was working at midseason speed. Defensive tackle Kyle Vanden Bosch startled several offensive teammates by chasing them 30 yards downfield during non-contact drills.
"There were a couple plays where the backs had stopped running and turned back to go to the huddle, and then saw me still coming," he said. "I'm going to do that, and I'm going to try to strip the ball away from them. That helps my conditioning, and it helps them remember to finish off plays."
Schwartz, who coached Vanden Bosch in Tennessee, said that the veteran's high pace isn't an act.
"That's just how he is, and his teammates know it," he said. "Anyone who didn't know that about him learned it by the end of his first day with us in March. It is in his DNA to go hard all of the time."
Schwartz expects that the attitude will be contagious.
"That's the type of thing that rubs off on the other defensive players, and on the offensive guys too," he said. "By the end of practice, there were wide receivers blocking him down the field."
Vanden Bosch, though, still hasn't gotten a chance to work with Detroit's other new defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh. Suh, the second overall pick in April's draft, still hasn't signed a contract.
"Obviously, you'd love to have him here," Vanden Bosch said. "We know how talented he is, and we know how much he can help us. The sooner the better, but as players, we also understand the position he is in."
The only public development in Suh's holdout came on his Twitter account. During Detroit's afternoon practice, it was updated with a reference to a Biblical verse: John 7-24.
"Judge not by with appearances, but judge with the right judgement," the tweet read in a possible reference to criticism he has received for holding out.
Notes: TE Brandon Pettigrew was activated from the physically unable to perform list and took part in the morning practice. Neither he nor RB Kevin Smith, both recovering from knee injuries, took part in the afternoon session, and Schwartz said both would be limited to one practice per day for the next few days. ... WR Michael Moore left the afternoon practice with a sore shoulder, shortly after having a brief scuffle with CB Eric King. ... S Louis Delmas, who missed Saturday's practice due to a personal issue, was back on Sunday, but remained on the PUP list while recovering from a groin injury sustained in minicamp.