Lions rookies get feet wet at first mini-camp

ALLEN PARK, Mich. - Jim Schwartz calls it orientation. The league and the team officially labels it as a mini-camp.

The three days the Lions draft picks, rookies, and tryout players spend in Allen Park can be described many different ways, but all parties involved now know one thing: the warm, fuzzy honeymoon is over.

"I don't know if there's even a honeymoon period," fourth round pick and defensive end Devin Taylor said. "It's just coach coaching the way he does, and you gotta adapt to it."

And they better do it quickly, or they'll stick out like a sore thumb.

In all, 50 players worked out for the Lions during the rookie mini-camp. Schwartz said no one particularly wowed him, but he was left feeling good about each player.

"They all exceeded expectations, starting with (first round pick) Ziggy Ansah, go straight through our draft picks and the undrafted guys," the head coach said.

Schwartz said the weekend was a good start for each player.

"There was nobody that we came out of this saying, 'Why was that guy here?'"

Impact was a word frequently used by Schwartz and the Lions brass throughout the Draft. In the first three rounds, the team picked players that ultimately fit needs and holes in the depth chart.

Ansah, cornerback Darius Slay, and offensive guard Larry Warford are all expected to compete for starting positions. The adaptation to the Lions program will continue this week, as veterans return to Allen Park to mesh with the rookies.

"I want to live up to the expectations, and eventually surpass them," Warford said. "I'm not working to start, I'm just working to get myself better."

The third round pick has made a home at his new locker, directly next to center Dominic Raiola. The longtime center requested Warford sit in the space next to him.

"I heard he's a character," the rookie said of Raiola.

The attention for so many of the first-year players will soon be on the talented veterans around them. On the offensive side of things, Calvin Johnson's name was commonly repeated.

Seventh round pick Michael Williams is no stranger to big stages and success. The former Alabama tight end said Nick Saban's program has prepared him for the NFL, but when it comes to meeting Megatron, he's already at a loss for words.

"I'll probably be flabbergasted, sitting there in shock," Williams said of their anticipated first meeting.

Once the orientation closes out with veteran meetings, it will be back to football for Williams and the rest of the rookie crop.

"(I'm) a 22-year old kid basically living your dream. You're coming out to compete, and try to play your cards right. Hopefully, when the season starts, you're on the 53-man roster."

That's wise sentiment for a guy who has only three days of NFL experience.

Brad Galli is a Sports Reporter for WXYZ Detroit. Follow Brad on Twitter @BradGalli.

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