Ebron left the first practice of camp after individual drills because of a pulled hamstring, and he apparently reaggravated the injury when he returned for individual drills only during a joint practice against the Indianapolis Colts earlier this month.
Just 24 years old and entering his fourth NFL season, Ebron has now missed significant chunks of two straight camps. Lions head coach Jim Caldwell insisted the missed time hasn't hampered Ebron's development too much, and is most concerning from a "refinement" standpoint.
"You always end up starting just a little bit later in terms of where you are from a sharpness standpoint when you do miss chunks of time during the preseason," Caldwell said. "So that's what he's missed more so than anything else. But his production, when you look at the numbers, look at the end of the year, possibly could they be better than that? We'll see. But I do think that he gets in the swing of things pretty quickly and is able to adjust. But just the fine-tuning, just like anybody that would miss. You miss that fine-tuning which is key. Particularly in the passing game; it's timing and accuracy. And he's a big part of that."
Jace Billingsley led the Lions in receptions and receiving yards last preseason, and the second-year wide receiver has had another solid start to camp this fall.
Through two exhibition games, Billingsley has five catches for 59 yards. Last year, he had 12 catches for 146 yards and two scores in the preseason.
The Lions have one or two open spots at receiver (though TJ Jones is the favorite for the No. 4 job behind Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay), and Billingsley said he's tried not to let the uncertainty about his future impact his play.
"That's definitely one of the tougher things about camp, but for me, especially this year, I just try not to think about it," Billingsley said. "It gets stressful, but at the same time there's people going through a lot more stressful things than trying to make an NFL team. You just got to kind of put it in perspective."
The Lions have more depth in their secondary than at any point in recent memory, and that caused defensive coordinator Teryl Austin to say only two players are locked into starting jobs in the defensive backfield right now: cornerback Darius Slay and safety Glover Quin.
"I think the competition is really thick at most spots," Austin said. "I mean, we have competition obviously at corner. We have competition at the nickel. We know who our entrenched starter at free safety is, it's Glover. But there's good competition behind him in the safety position. So, it's really good and I think it helps. The overall depth obviously helps you when somebody gets injured, when they do get injured because it's going to happen. But it also helps push the guys that are fighting for positions to play their best football and that makes you a better team."
Tavon Wilson started 14 games at strong safety last year, but spent the early part of training camp in a red no-contact jersey after injuring his shoulder in practice. Second-year players Miles Killebrew and Charles Washington shared first-team reps in Wilson's absence.
At cornerback, Nevin Lawson is expected to start opposite Slay, while Quandre Diggs and D.J. Hayden are the front-runners for the nickel spot. The Lions also have two rookie cornerbacks expected to make the 53-man roster in Teez Tabor and Jamal Agnew.