Blogs > Lions Lowdown

One thing you can count on with the Detroit Lions is that they are never, ever boring. Follow the latest news including injuries, roster moves and more here daily from Oakland Press beat writer Paula Pasche. Plus you'll find regular commentary about the team.

4/19/2015

Detroit Lions begin offseason workouts on Monday

Monday is the first day of the Detroit Lions’  offseason program which will end in mid-June with a mandatory minicamp.

It will be the first time that new acquisitions like Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker can work out with their Lions' teammates.

Following the stipulations of the collective bargaining agreement, the NFL offseason plan begins slowly.

Starting on Monday and during the first two weeks they are allowed strength, condition and rehab work only. Strength and conditioning coaches are allowed to work with the players but no other members of the coaching staff are allowed. Footballs can be used for punting and kicking. Also quarterbacks can throw to receivers who aren’t covered.

Coach Jim Caldwell and his staff can be involved in classroom instruction and film study up to two hours a day, but the player can’t be at the facility for more than four hours per day.

Phase Two lasts for three weeks and allows individual player instruction and drills. It also allows team practice without live contact, or team offense vs. team defense drills. Offensive or defensive plays are allowed, but without an actual defense or offense on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Helmets must be left in the locker room.

Phase Three, which last for four weeks with up to 10 days of practice, is technically known as organized team activities. No live contact is allowed in OTAs, but team drills (7-on-7, 9-on-9, 11-on-11) are permitted. Also, there can be no one-on-one offense vs. defense drills and no one-on-one special teams drills.

During the first two phases players can’t be at the facility more than four hours per day and or more than four days a week. Also, they can’t be on the field for more than 90 minutes a day.

The NFL randomly monitors practice tapes on each team to make sure the rules are followed.

In 2010, the Lions lost two days of OTAs due to the intensity and tempo of the drills under coach Jim Schwartz. Also the Lions were penalized for similar situations in 2006 under coach Rod Marinelli.

A year ago, Ndamukong Suh skipped the first two phases which are voluntary because he preferred to work on his own.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Pre-order her new book “Game of My Life: Detroit Lions” on Amazon.com. Also, order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ on Amazon.com.)

4/16/2015

Detroit Lions Jason Jones heads to NFL boot camp at Michigan

Lions defensive end Jason Jones will be one of 22 former or current NFL players to participate in a four-day NFL boot camp on franchising. It starts Friday at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business which is named for Stephen Ross, the owner of the Miami Dolphins.

“We want to help our players to be successful on and off the field,” said Charles Way, vice president of NFL player engagement. “Offering this boot camp and putting our players and their significant others in front of some the most successful people in our NFL family and in the corporate world will hopefully provide them the inspiration needed to achieve their dreams away from the football field.”

Speakers will include franchisees, franchise owners, professors and former players, as well as executives at the International Franchise Association. Ross, the chairman and founder of Related Companies, an international real estate firm, will open the program as the keynote speaker. In addition, former NFL players with franchise ownership experience, including Tim Biakabutuka, owner of four Bojangles llocations; Angelo Crowell, owner of five Jersey Mike's Subs locations; and Van Jakes, owner of three McDonald’s locations, will take part in panel discussions.

“This seminar is an excellent opportunity for the players to get educated on the ins-and-outs of being a franchise owner,” Biakabutuka said. “Every football player would like a long career but that is not a guarantee. Becoming a franchise owner could be a rewarding venture for a player who is planning for life after football and decides they are committed to learning the business.”

Others who will participate include former Lions cornerback Ron Bartell, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Devin Hester.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)



4/15/2015

Check out transcript from Detroit Lions chat

If you missed Thursday's chat on the Lions, have no fear — you can read the transcript here.

We had lots of talk about the Lions biggest needs and most likely pick in the first round.

With the draft only two weeks away, it's a great time of year for speculation. Also the players will return to work on Monday for offseason workouts.

Join the next Lions chat at 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 23.  — Paula Pasche



4/11/2015

Detroit Lions top 5 possible first-round draft picks

While there are so many variables, that doesn’t stop the speculation about the NFL draft that starts on April 30.

Without (much) hesitation, here are the current top five possible picks for the Detroit Lions to draft in the first round with their 23rd overall pick:

  1. Offensive tackle Ereck Flowers (Miami-Fla.) could step in and immediately upgrade the Lions’ offensive line. At 6-foot-5 and 324 pounds, Flowers (in photo at right)  is an intimidating and physical presence. Frank Cooney of TheSportsExchange.com calls him a “mean-spirited mauler who loves to outmuscle opponents until the whistle stops blowing.’’ He’s played both sides so could step in at left or right tackle.

  2. Defensive tackle Malcom Brown (Texas) has been connected with the Lions in mock drafts for months. Why? He’d be a good fit. He’s got experience, maturity and size (6-foot-2, 319 pounds).

  3. Running back Todd Gurley (Georgia) could fill Reggie Bush’s shoes. Gurley, is coming off ACL surgery in November, which makes him a bit of a risk. But from all indications, he is worthy of first-round consideration and would go higher if not for the injury. ACL injuries are not as career-threatening as they once were. Gurley (in photo at right) is built for the NFL at 6-foot-1 and 222 pounds. Rob Rang of CBSsports.com compares him to Marshawn Lynch. He’s one of two running backs who the Lions brought in for a pre-draft visit. (The other was Indiana’s Tevin Coleman.)

  4. Offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings (Pittsburgh) is a defensive end who turned himself into a right tackle. Because of his athletic upside some draft experts believe he could be the first offensive lineman off the board.

  5. Wide receiver Breshad Perriman (Central Florida) would, of course, be the best story since his dad, Brett Perriman, was a solid wide receiver for the Lions from 1991 to 1996. The older Perriman is 5-foot-9, but his son is 6-foot-2 and uses his size and strength to make a catch. It’s his speed that has boosted him up the draft boards. He ran a 4.26 40-yard dash at his pro day. He’s one of three wide receivers the Lions welcomed for pre-draft visits. The others were Louisville’s DeVante Parker and UAB’s J.J. Nelson.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

4/09/2015

Detroit Lions announce preseason schedule

The Lions have announced their preseason opponents and the basic schedule. The exact dates and times will come at a later date.

They will open in the first week (Aug. 13-17) at Ford Field hosting the New York Jets for the second time in three years. Detroit and New York have met only five times in the preseason, and Detroit holds the edge in the preseason series, 3-2-0.

In Week 2 (Aug. 20-24) they will play the Redskins at Washington. The teams last met in the preseason in 1996, with Detroit claiming victory, 34-25.  

In Week 3 on Aug. 28, the Lions will play the Jaguars at Jacksonville in a game on CBS. This is generally considered the key preseason game. It’s the second consecutive season for this matchup. Detroit owns a 2-0 record in the preseason series against Jacksonville.

To wrap up the preseason schedule, the Lions will host the Buffalo Bills in the 35th preseason meeting between the two teams on Sept. 3 or 4. The Lions lead  the preseason series 22-11-1, including wins the past seven years and a 23-0 win in 2014.

The regular season schedule is expected to be released in the next few weeks prior to the NFL draft which starts on April 30.

The Lions home opponents in 2015 will be: The Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers.

The road opponents: The Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8 of the regular season at Wembley Stadium in London on Nov. 1. Other road opponents: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

Report: Detroit Lions agree to trade George Johnson to Buccaneers

The Lions have agreed to trade defensive end George Johnson to the Tampa Bay Bucs for a late-round pick, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. 

The Bucs had offered a deal to Johnson for $9 million for three years. The Lions had a right to match the offer but instead were contesting it according to the NFL. An impartial arbitrator was expected to make a decision. The trade nullifies that.

Johnson, who is 27, came to Detroit last season to add depth but was a good surprise from the get-go. He had six sacks in 16 games. He got many of the snaps that were expected to go to Devin Taylor.

Here’s where the Lions stand at defensive end without Johnson:

— Ziggy Ansah will start at one end. Ansah just keeps improving. Look for more of a leap this season because he’ll have his first full offseason of workouts with the team. Last year he was coming off surgery. He had 7.5 sacks in 2014 with three forced fumbles and 49 tackles.

— Jason Jones is expected to start at the other side after playing his first full season with the Lions in which he had five sacks, two forced fumbles, five pass defenses and 22 tackles.

— Darryl Tapp who played in all 16 games last season finishing with a half-sack, two pass defenses and 17 tackles.

— Devin Taylor should be ready to get more involved in the defense. He had one sack with limited time on defense last season and 2.5 sacks in his rookie year in 2013.

— Larry Webster could be the X-factor here. Webster, a fourth-round pick last year, made tremendous strides last season even though he didn’t play. Jim Caldwell practically raved about his improvement (very un-Caldwell like) when asked about Webster in December.

— Phillip Hunt, who played in 22 games for the Eagles in 2011 and 2012, was signed as a free agent.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

4/08/2015

If you missed Detroit Lions chat, check out transcript

With the NFL draft just three weeks away, we had a lively discussion about the Detroit Lions on Thursday's weekly chat.

The Lions have the 23rd overall pick and five other picks in the draft. We discussed which players and positions would fit best. We also talked about the George Johnson deal and much more.

Join us for the next chat at 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 16. — Paula Pasche




4/03/2015

Five reasons Detroit Lions won't collapse like they did in 2012


It was all good in 2011 when the Lions went to the playoffs for the first time in a dozen years. Then in 2012 they took a dive, finishing 4-12.

Lions fans have good memories. They have not forgotten the miserable 2012 season.

So once again the Lions are coming off a trip to the playoffs in the 2014 season and skittish fans don’t want to see another slide.

Here are five reasons these Lions won’t have the same backslide that they did in 2012:

1. The coaching staff has changed. Team president Tom Lewand was asked this question at a season ticket holders’ event this week. His first response was to look at Jim Caldwell and his coordinators. They weren’t around in 2012. They’ve already started working on the mindset for the team in 2015. It happened immediately after the devastation of the playoff loss at Dallas.

2. After a season under Caldwell, the Lions have are stronger mentally. Yes, they play the game on the field, but they have to have the right mindset. Caldwell worked on that from Day One.

3. They were a better team in 2014 than they were in 2011 — their last two playoff seasons. 

4. With the help of Caldwell, they are finishing better. In 2012 Matthew Stafford had three fourth-quarter, game-winning drives but none after Week 7. In 2014, he had five such drives in weeks 7, 8, 9, 14 and 15. 

5. The defense is so much better. In 2014 it was ranked second in the NFL at the end of the season and was in first place for several weeks. In 2011, the defense was ranked 23rd in the NFL. Yes, they have lost Ndamukong Suh but they’ve gained Haloti Ngata. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said this week that the defense will be better in 2015. After seeing what he did in one season, it’s hard to doubt him.  When he took over, the defense had been ranked 16th in the 2013 season.

OK, OK. There are some things that could happen — like catastrophic injuries to key players — over which there is no control. Still, things are looking up for the Lions.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Report: Detroit Lions add LB Brandon Copeland


Linebacker Brandon Copeland, one of the top performers at the NFL Veterans Combine last month, has signed with the Detroit Lions according to the Baltimore Sun.

While Stephen Tulloch will start in the middle and DeAndre Levy on the outside, it's possible Copeland could compete with Tahir Whitehead and Kyle Van Noy to start at the other outside spot.

Copeland, who is 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, was undrafted out of Penn in 2013 and signed with the Ravens. He spent time with the Tennessee Titans in 2013 and 2014. 

The Sun reported that Copeland ran a 4.52 40 at the veterans’ combine and the Bengals, Chiefs, Jets and Vikings were also interested in signing him.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)