Key players in attendance as Detroit Lions open organized team activities

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They are not opting out. They are showing up in droves.

Six weeks after releasing a joint statement saying they planned to sit out voluntary spring workouts, players for the Detroit Lions — and most other NFL teams — reported Monday for the start of organized team activities.

The Lions posted pictures on social media of some of their top players arriving at their Allen Park practice facility, including offensive linemen Taylor Decker and Frank Ragnow, running back D'Andre Swift and outside linebackers Romeo Okwara and Trey Flowers.

Detroit Lions center Frank Ragnow plays against the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter Sept. 27, 2020 in Glendale, Ariz.
Detroit Lions center Frank Ragnow plays against the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter Sept. 27, 2020 in Glendale, Ariz.

Decker, Ragnow, Swift, Okwara and Flowers are five of the Lions' best and most influential players, with Decker and Flowers filling spots on the team's leadership council in recent years.

The Lions are expected to have a significant portion of their 90-man roster in attendance for their first OTA practice Tuesday, though they were one of more than 20 teams who issued a statement through the NFL Players Association in April saying COVID-19 concerns would keep them away from the facility.

NFLPA president J.C. Tretter later acknowledged the union's primary concern was altering offseason work rules after the addition of a 17th regular season game.

Lions quarterback Jared Goff, who already has held multiple throwing sessions with his offensive skill players in California, indicated earlier this month that he planned to take part in OTAs, too.

"We’ve been working through it as a team," Goff said. "We had a nice meeting at first and I know everyone’s got their own opinions and reasons. I believe we will get together at some point as a team. I don’t know where that will be, but every team’s doing it differently this year and I think Dan (Campbell has) been awesome working with the players and finding out how we want to do things and really taking care of us."

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The NFL eliminated early minicamps for teams with new coaches and required teams to hold virtual meetings during phases 1 and 2 of the offseason program.

As a way to encourage more players to participate in-person in Phase 3, which includes three weeks of OTAs and a mandatory minicamp, many NFL teams have agreed to tweak practice and meetings schedules, lightening workloads and in some cases eliminating days on the field.

The Lions have three OTA practices scheduled this week, Tuesday-Thursday, and three more next week June 2-4.

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They hold mandatory minicamp June 8-10 and are allowed a third week of OTAs (June 14-17) that is not expected to take place in its usual form.

Last week, several Lions assistants indicated they would be working with veterans for only a three-week period, though rookie orientation will last later into June.

"The next two, three weeks I think will be very important for us to get an initial impression of, 'OK, what type of guys we have at each position,'" senior defensive assistant Dom Capers said. "That’s to me just the exciting part of it is the next three weeks, getting to know these players, seeing them on the practice field, seeing how well they pick up things from the meeting and take them to the practice field, process things."

Said wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El: "When you get them, again, you got to take full advantage of all that time, using as much as you can as possible because again, they’ll be here for I think three weeks and then they’re out. We’ll have the rookies for a little bit longer, but you’ve just got to take advantage of the time that you get."

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Key players in attendance as Detroit Lions open OTAs