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.

9/23/2014

Detroit Lions — Rashean Mathis' impact can't be overlooked


The biggest question about the Lions’ defense three weeks ago involved the cornerbacks. 

After three games, Darius Slay and Rashean Mathis have stepped up. There’s work to do, but they’re off to a solid start.

After three games the Lions’ defense is ranked first in the NFL allowing just 244.3 yards per game. The pass defense is third in the league allowing 180.7 yards per game.

The leadership of the 34-year-old Mathis cannot be overlooked.

“One of the things that is very difficult for individuals to notice is the impact that Mathis has on games. He’s a real settling force for those guys out there,’’ Caldwell said after the win over the Packers.

It’s not just Mathis’ play on the field that Caldwell likes.

“During the course of the game, you can see him communicating back and forth, making certain everything is in place, but what he does in practice and the meeting rooms, he’s absolutely invaluable,’’ Caldwell said.

Slay, in his second season, has shown great improvement over his rookie year.
“He just keeps getting better every week. He gets challenged every week and sees different styles of receivers with different strengths every week,’’ Caldwell said. “He has certainly been able to progress.’’

Thanks to injuries the Lions have used four nickels. The first two — Bill Bentley and Nevin Lawson — are gone for the season. Don Carey injured his hamstring again early on Sunday although the severity is not known. Danny Gorrer, who signed last week, stepped in against the Packers.

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

9/22/2014

Detroit Lions to sign ILB Josh Bynes, per report


Inside linebacker Josh Bynes will be signed to the Detroit Lions’ active roster off the Baltimore Ravens practice squad, according to The Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson.

The Lions have an open roster spot after placing middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch on injured reserve after he tore his ACL in Sunday’s 19-7 win over the Packers.

Bynes, who is 6-foot-1 and 240 pounds, started six games and played in 15 in 2013. He had 45 tackles and three pass break-ups.

Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was the Ravens secondary coach last season so obviously he knows Bynes. 

Bynes, who was a teammate of Nick Fairley’s at Auburn, was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Ravens in 2011.

You might remember him from Super Bowl XLVII when he tackled Ted Ginn Jr. after a free kick in the final seconds of the game to clinch the big win for Baltimore.

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

Detroit Lions — DeAndre Levy seems logical choice to fill in for Tulloch


ALLEN PARK — With middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch out for the season with a torn ACL, the Detroit Lions defense will obviously have to make adjustments.

Coach Jim Caldwell on Monday said they haven’t determined if DeAndre Levy will take over Tulloch’s spot.

Levy filled in for the final three quarters in Sunday’s 19-7 win over the Packers and played incredibly well. The only hitch was getting the microphoned helmet to work initially. Even then Levy maintained his poise and had the defense running smoothly.

“We’ll look at all of our options and see what happens,’’ Caldwell said on Monday.

It seems Levy would be the logical choice.

Tahir Whitehead, who plays on the outside, is much less experienced on the defense. In fact this is his first season getting defensive snaps.

Ashlee Palmer, who also plays the outside, has never played in the middle for the Lions.

Travis Lewis is the backup middle linebacker on the depth chart, but he wasn’t active on Sunday because of a groin injury.

Rookie outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy is on short-term injured reserve which means he can’t start practicing until after the sixth game and can’t play until after the eighth game.

In fact any linebacker that has been with the Lions since 2010 has not played in the middle because Tulloch had never missed a game.

Placing Tulloch on IR creates a roster spot so the Lions could sign a free agent. 
It just makes sense, though, that they’d stick with Levy in the middle after Sunday’s performance.

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


Detroit Lions Stephen Tulloch out for season with torn ACL


ALLEN PARK — Detroit Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch will be out for the season after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in Sunday’s win over the Green Bay Packers. Coach Jim Caldwell confirmed the injury at his Monday press conference.

Tulloch sacked Aaron Rodgers in the first quarter, jumped up and celebrated imitating the discount double-check and then falling over.

He got up and was back on the field, but two plays later he was down. He didn’t return in the game.

Caldwell talked to Tulloch after the game.


"As spirited as he is, guys will always be a bit disillusioned for a short bit of time, he’s also a fighter,'' Caldwell said. ""We expect him to rehab like he does everything else full-go, he’ll get back soon.''

Tulloch until Sunday was the Lions’ Ironman. He has not missed a game since he was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2006. The knee will require surgery which has not been scheduled.

On Sunday, DeAndre Levy moved to middle linebacker once Tulloch was out. Caldwell wouldn't confirm if Levy will stay at middle with Tulloch gone. 

"We'll look at all of our options,'' Caldwell said on Monday.

Tullloch joins the growing list of Lions who have been lost for the season due to injury including cornerbacks Bill Bentley and Nevin Lawson, along with right tackle Corey Hilliard. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy is on short-term injured reserve which will allow him to start practicing after the sixth game and start playing after the eighth game.


"Any time you lose anyone, particularly a guy like that who has the experience he has and has played as well as he has for you, it’s a loss there,'' Caldwell said. "Unfortunately in our game it happens all too often. That’s the nature of the sport, it’s a very physical game and with it come some consequences that are sometimes difficult to deal with.''

Also, Caldwell confirmed that the Lions have signed kicker Alex Henery and released Nate Freese who was 3 of 7 in field goal attempts in the first three games.


UPDATED: Detroit Lions sign kicker Alex Henery, release Freese


The Lions signed  kicker Alex Henery Monday to replace rookie kicker Nate Freese who was a disappointment after going 3-of-7 on field goal attempts in the first three games. 

Freese, a seventh-round pick in May’s draft, beat out Giorgio Tavecchio in training camp. He was 2-of-5 in the first two games. But Sunday he was 1-of-2 with a miss of 41 yards indoors in Sunday's 19-7 win over the Green Bay Packers.

The Lions worked out several kickers last week but ultimately gave Freese one more Sunday.

Henery spent the last three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was 23-of-28 on field goal attempts in 2013 with a long of 51 yards. In his three-year career in Philadelphia he was 74-of-86, an 86-percent success rate.

“We had a number of guys come in and had them go through a battery of tests in terms of kicking duties and things of that nature and felt (Henery) was the best out of the bunch,’’ Caldwell said.  “He was accurate, he was really decisive in terms of his kicks. He has experience in the league and is going to be able to do the things we require him to do.’’

Henery was  cut in August after he was 1 of 3 on field goals in the preseason.
Henery played for Nebraska where he set an NCAA record for field goal accuracy with a 89.5 success rate.

The 27-year-old Henery was one of three kickers who worked out for the Lions last week.

Caldwell cannot pinpoint what happened to Freese who didn’t miss a field goal in his senior season at Boston College.

“Sometimes it’s a difficult thing to put your finger on. In this particular sport at this particular level it’s difficult, you get heavily scrutinized, the pressure mounts on you as well,’’ Caldwell said. “He’s a guy that’s very capable. It’s pretty obvious that we thought he was very, very good at what he does.''

Caldwell still thinks Freese still has a chance to make it as an NFL kicker.

“In the long run he’s not the first guy that’s been drafted that’s been released at that particular position,’’ Caldwell said. “Most of them when you look at their records and where they’ve been — have been at several different places and at one point in time get settled in and kick for a long period of time.’’

Of course the Lions were spoiled for 21 years after they drafted Jason Hanson in the second round of the 1992 draft. 

Henery will join three other Lions who went to Nebraska — Ndamukong Suh, Dominic Raiola and Mohammed Seisay.

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


9/21/2014

Detroit Lions — No weak links on defensive line


DETROIT — No weak links. That's the motto of the Detroit Lions' defensive line.

Defensive end George Johnson came out of the tunnel on Sunday in pre-game introductions wearing this huge chain around his neck composed of 10 links.

It’s a new learning tool used by the defensive line this season, courtesy of Kris Kocurek and Jim Washburn who coach the defensive line.

Nick Fairley explained the concept following the Lions’ 19-7 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Ford Field.

The day before each game in a meeting, each defensive lineman is given a link for the chain. Each guy speaks up, says why he won’t be the weak link and passes it around the room, adding each link as it's passed around.

On Saturday before the Green Bay game, Fairley said, “Let’s go out here stop the run, get after 12 (Aaron Rodgers)  and I won’t be the weak link.’’

Pretty basic stuff, but the chain kind of solidifies the idea.

The defensive line also cane out of the tunnel together instead of being introduced  individually. 

They did the same thing last Thanksgiving against the Packers. They won that game too.

“We’re not sending no message, basically what it is, we’re a unit as a defensive line,’’ Fairley said. “I actually came up with it (last year). From here on out we’re not going out as separate, we’re going out as Detroit’s defensive line. That’s how we’re coming out.’’

It worked on Sunday. The defensive line pressured Rodgers all day long, holding the Packers’ offense to one touchdown.

Fairley was asked to analyze the defensive line after three games.

“Not there yet, we still have minor things to correct,’’ Fairley said. “Once we get there it’s going to show.’’

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

Detroit Lions — Ansah in, Ihedigbo still out vs. Packers; complete list of inactives


DETROIT — Defensive ends Ziggy Ansay (knee) and George Johnson (groin) are active for the Lions vs. Packers today. Both had been listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report. 

It’s been mostly bad news for the Lions secondary regarding injuries the first two weeks, but safety Don Carey returns today to play in his first game this season. He’ll back up Isa Abdul-Quddus (who will start for James Ihedibgo) and Glover Quin. Carey can also play nickel.

Ihedigbo, who missed the first two games with a neck injury, is also inactive. He was listed as doubtful on Friday along with fullback Montell Owens (hamstring) who is also out.

Cornerback Cassius Vaughn (ankle), right tackle LaAdrian Waddle (calf) and linebacker Travis Lewis (groin) were ruled out on Friday.

Garrett Reynolds will start for the second straight game at right tackle.
Other inactives are quarterback Kellen Moore and Ryan Broyles.

On Saturday the Lions signed cornerback Mohammed Seisay from the practice squad so they could have four corners today. To make room on the roster they released wide receiver Kevin Ogletree who had been inactive the first two games.

Note: Kicker Rob Bironas, who tried out for the Lions last week, was killed in a car crash Saturday night near his Nashville home.

Packers inactives: QB Scott Tolzien, CB Demetri Goodson, LB Carl Bradford, LB Brad Jones, DT Mike Pennel and WR Jeff Janis. (Only six because LB Andy Mulumba placed on injured reserve.)

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

9/20/2014

Detroit Lions make roster moves to get help at cornerback


The Lions needed to make a roster cut if they were going to sign cornerback Mohammed Seisay from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

They released wide receiver Kevin Ogletree on Saturday. The Lions confirmed earlier reports on Saturday night.

With cornerback Cassius Vaughn (ankle) out for Sunday’s game against the Packers, the Lions were down to three cornerbacks — Rashean Mathis, Darius Slay and Danny Gorrer who was signed as a free agent this week.

Seisay, an undrafted rookie out of Nebraska, had a good preseason and knows the defense. The coaches like his length (he’s 6-2) and his speed.

The Lions have lost cornerbacks Bill Bentley and rookie Nevin Lawson for the season. Safety Don Carey is expected to play his first game of the season on Sunday. He could step in and play nickel.

Gorrer played for coach Jim Caldwell at Indianapolis and Baltimore so he’s somewhat familiar with the defensive scheme. His first practice was Wednesday.

Ogletree had been inactive the first two games along with Ryan Broyles. To start the season, the Lions have just been keeping four wide receivers active for games — Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Corey Fuller and Jeremy Ross who also is the returner.

Detroit Lions 5 keys to game vs. Packers; plus prediction


It has been six years since the Detroit Lions (1-1) and the Green Bay Packers (1-1) met this early in the season. Kickoff is 1 p.m., Sunday at Ford Field.

Here are five keys for the Lions:

1. Get off to fast start. It’s not a good idea to get in a hole against any team — especially the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

 2. Stay with the run game. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said that looking back he wishes he had stayed with it longer on Sunday in the loss at Carolina. In the opener, he showed patience and it paid off in the fourth quarter with a seven-minute, 80-yard, clock-eating touchdown drive.

3. Convert in the red zone. With kicker Nate Freese on shaky ground (he should be better indoors, shouldn’t he?), it’s key to make the most of trips inside the 20-yard line.

4. Pressure Packers' Rodgers early and often. The more uncomfortable the front seven can make him, the easier life will be for the banged-up secondary. 

5. Get the ball to Calvin Johnson. Everyone else too, but Johnson is key.

Prediction: Lions 35, Packers 28.

9/19/2014

Detroit Lions injury status for Sunday vs. Packers


Lions' injury report for Sunday vs. Packers at Ford Field:

Along with cornerback Cassius Vaughn (ankle), right tackle LaAdrian Waddle (calf) and linebacker/special teams Travis Lewis (quadriceps) are offiicially out for the game.

Safety James Ihedigbo (neck), who has missed the first two games, is doubtful as is fullback Montell Owens (hamstring).

Along with defensive ends Ziggy Ansah (knee) and George Johnson (groin), Nick Fairley (biceps) is questionable.

Running back Joique Bell (knee) and safety Don Carey (hamstring) are probable.




9/18/2014

Detroit Lions — Quick hits from Thursday


ALLEN PARK — Quick hits from today (Thursday) before Detroit Lions practice:

— Safety Don Carey practiced for the first time in several weeks on Wednesday and sounds like he’s more than ready to play. Coach Jim Caldwell wouldn’t say whether he expects Carey to play. Carey is versatile enough to play nickel which would be a bonus since Bill Bentley and Nevin Lawson are gone for the season with injuries.

— Caldwell also had no comment on the three who didn’t practice at all on Wednesday — Ziggy Ansah (knee), Travis Lewis (quad) and LaAdrian Waddle (calf).

— The offensive linemen were sporting new T-shirts. On the front: Arrive. Raise Hell. Leave. On the back: Stone Cold.

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

9/17/2014

Detroit Lions — Ansah, Waddle, Travis Lewis unable to practice


ALLEN PARK — Defensive end Ziggy Ansah missed practice Wednesday with a knee injury. He was one of three who didn’t practice at all.

Also, linebacker Travis Lewis (quad) and LaAdrian Waddle (calf) did not work out. All three were on the field.

Those who had limited practice include Joique Bell (knee), Nick Fairley (biceps), James Ihedigbo (neck), George Johnson (groin), Montell Owens (hamstring), Cassius Vaughn (ankle) and safety Don Carey (hamstring).

It was a step in the right direction for Carey who hadn’t practiced at all in weeks. 

With so many injuries in the secondary, he’d be a great help if he could play on Sunday against the Packers. Carey is versatile enough to be able to play nickel if needed.

Ihedigbo said that he is day to day. He would like to play on Sunday but doesn’t know if he’ll get clearance.

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

Detroit Lion — Nate Freese remains kicker; James Ihedigbo questionable; Gorrer versatile


ALLEN PARK — Lions Jim Caldwell anticipates that Nate Freese will be the kicker on Sunday. The rookie is 2-of-5 in his first two games.
“At this point in time he is our guy. He’s a young guy who has potential, just like anything else it’s a performance business and we all certainly understand that and he understands that as well,’’ Caldwell said on Wednesday.
Jason Hanson, who kicked for the Lions for 21 seasson, was 3-of-6 in his first three games.

— Safety James Ihedigbo said he makes progress daily with a neck injury but isn’t sure if he’ll be ready to play on Sunday. 
It’s day to day, it truly is, I want to be out there so bad. And my teammates want my support,’’ Ihedigbo said. “It’s me being the best I can be and close to 100 percent to play the way I play on the field. If I can’t do that I’m no good to my teammates, I’m a hindrance.’’
Ihedigbo, who will start with Glover Quin when he's healthy, has been sidelined for the first two games.

— Cornerback Danny Gorrer, who was signed Tuesday, has played for Caldwell with the Colts and Ravens. He’s familiar with the system but needs to learn the language. He’s also versatile enough to play outside or at nickel.

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

Check out transcript of Lions chat

If you missed Thursday's chat, check out the transcript. The Detroit Lions are preparing to play the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field on Sunday. Both teams are 1-1 entering the key divisional game. Join the next chat at 3 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 25.