October 3, 2022

DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Lions held training camp at Ford Field on Saturday, hoping it’s a step toward gaining home-field advantage this season.

Last year, the Lions went 3-13-1 and had the fewest home runs of any team in the NFL. In the last four years, they have won a total of nine home games.

The Lions usually camp at Allen Park, but instead held their annual game at Ford Field, where 18,000 fans packed the home field, the most since 2015.

“This is unbelievable,” coach Dan Campbell told the crowd before practice. “I can’t believe you guys.”

Optimism doesn’t come out of nowhere. After starting last season 0-10-1, the Lions finished by winning three of their last six games, including three straight at home.

“The last three home games we’ve had, there’s been a good atmosphere,” Campbell said. “We could feel it as players and coaches. I’d say they picked up where they left off, you know? This is not easy to do. Sitting there at the end of the year, we had no wins, then we get one win, you get two. Listen, this is a credit to our fans. They have hope.”

Detroit spent the offseason trying to build that finish, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Lions selected Jameson Williams with the 12th overall pick and signed former Pro Bowl wide receiver DJ Chark in free agency.

While Williams remains sidelined with a torn ACL suffered in the College Football Playoff, Chark showcased his talents to the Ford Field crowd on Saturday. During the game, Chark caught four passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns, including a 33-yard score that ended practice.

“I really have high expectations for this team, certainly for this offense,” Chark said after practice. “And I want to do my best to live up to them.”

Since making the Pro Bowl in 2019, Chark has struggled to stay healthy. He missed three games for the Jacksonville Jaguars next season, and a broken ankle forced him to miss the final 13 games in 2021. Saturday marked his first time playing on a professional football field since that injury.

“It felt great,” Chark said. “This is my first time actually being here. Just looking around, taking in the atmosphere, the fans are excited. I’m excited. It’s my first time back on a pitch since September 30 or so, so I’m just taking it all in and enjoying it.”

Despite the optimism, Campbell knows those feelings won’t last long if the team doesn’t make it. The Lions haven’t made the playoffs since 2016 and haven’t won a playoff game since 1992. Campbell is regularly recognized in the Detroit area in his second year leading the Lions, but he knows the tone of those meetings will change if his team doesn’t start winning.

“It’s a lot better when you win,” Campbell said. “When you lose, it’s ‘Hey coach, take this.’ We are in a good place right now. We just have to get a little better. That’s what we have to do.”

NOTES: CB Jeff Okudah did not participate in Saturday’s game, marking the second straight practice he has missed. … Second-round pick DE Josh Paschal remains sidelined after undergoing sports hernia surgery in the spring, but Campbell said Paschal is ahead of schedule on his recovery. … S CJ Moore was removed from the non-football injury list Friday.


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