ALLEN PARK – The Detroit Lions trained inside a nearly empty Ford Field Wednesday afternoon. It was an attempt to get used to the odd atmosphere, the new coronavirus procedures, and the day-to-day operations.
Detroit opens the season against the Chicago Bears in less than two weeks at Ford Field. The Lions will play their first two home games of the season without supporters but remain hopeful of being able to host some before the end of the season.
Ford Field looked almost the same, albeit for a few more plexiglass and solid blue painted end areas. The team claims to have added a new air filtration system, more than 250 sanitation stations and glass separators to every point of sale inside Ford Field.
The Lions also held a scrum, but the warm-ups and individual drills were the only sessions open to the media. For those wondering, the team has been pumping music into pre-snap situations in recent weeks. The NFL has would have created a sound that teams hosting games without fans in the stands can pump out as the action unfolds.
“Big day here for us today – we’re going to head over to the stadium and have a little try through our normal playing operation and get through the pre-match stretching routine, just familiarize yourself with it. our stadium and our environment and give the team the opportunity to go out there and work on the pitch, ”Lions coach Matt Patricia said before practice. “We are delighted with this. It will be a big change of scenery for us which will be good, but there is a lot of logistics here, it seems like we want to make sure that we are managing from the point of view of what a gameday operation will look like, so that when it comes for the first time against Chicago, we have nothing else to do but focus on the game.
Detroit has had a practice or scrimmage at Ford Field for the past few seasons. But never during a training camp without a preseason or in preparation to play matches without anyone. The third-year head coach added that the team’s footprint has spread outside the locker room due to COVID procedures. He felt it was essential to acclimatize the players now, instead of seeing everything for the first time hours before the opener.
“Going into the stadium will be different, the locker room will be different, and obviously we took precautions against COVID-19 in the locker room with plexiglass and separation and space, different things that we do there” said Patricia. “Changed the training area to have more space for recording and things like that. We have a little stretching area that is different, which we usually use this type of training room, move it there so that we now have different spaces available to us in the stadium that we normally wouldn’t do. because of the fans and the crews and the things that operate there. “
Wednesday also offered new coaches and players the chance to visit their stadium for the first time. One of those new players was veteran cornerback Desmond Trufant.
Although Trufant is new to town, he was instrumental in Ford Field history with the Atlanta Falcons in the “10 seconds” game in September 2017. Golden Tate dove for the goal line, but the officials ruled the former Lions wide receiver short with 8 seconds remaining. The second 10-second lap was all she wrote for Detroit that day. While Trufant jokingly argued that Tate hadn’t scored, he added, “I’m on the safe side now.”
Trufant recalled the energy and atmosphere of Ford Field that day during a Zoom call with reporters. It got him thinking, “It sucks that we can’t have fans out there right now, but we’re still going to do it like everything is normal.”
While the Lions will start the year without fans, the lower bowl end areas will not be empty. Fans can purchase cardboard cutouts for the entire season or select individual parts.
“I’m not going to say it won’t be different. I mean the energy is real; you feel it. You smell the fans. It’s real, ”Trufant said. “You feel it all throughout our body, which is why we are there as if we are there. At the same time, we can still create that within the team. When the offense is there, the defense is there – we have to bring the juice to them. Whether there are fans or not, I know we’re always going to bring it.
“We’re still going to play like the fans are there. It really doesn’t matter. We will just bring it no matter what. I know everyone is happy to come out.