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.

4/16/2014

Detroit Lions host Jadeveon Clowney, a bit of a surprise


So what are the Detroit Lions up to?

Today (Wednesday) the team hosted defensive end Jadeveon Clowney who is expected to be either top pick or second pick in the NFL draft.

Each NFL team is allowed just 30 pre-draft visits and now they’ve used one on Clowney. Wonder what he thinks about snow in mid-April?

The Lions want to win now and adding Clowney to the defensive line along with Ndamukong Suh, would be interesting to watch unless you were the opposing offense.

Clowney played at South Carolina with Lions defensive end Devin Taylor who improved game to game last season.

The Lions have the 10th overall pick in the draft which is May 8-10.

The team also hasn’t hidden its admiration for wide receiver Sammy Watkins who is expected to go at least top five. He visited and Lions coaches and staff were present at his pro day.

To draft either Clowney or Watkins the Lions would have to move up several spots. 

Of course the Lions are close-mouthed about their intentions. At a panel discussion at Ford Field on Monday night for season ticket holders, the master of ceremonies mentioned rumors of a Clowney visit. Not a word was spoken except for “I plead the fifth.”

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

4/15/2014

Join live chat on Detroit Lions at 3 p.m. on Thursday

Join me for a live chat discussing the Detroit Lions. The first minicamp under Jim Caldwell starts Tuesday and there are just three weeks until the NFL draft. Bring your questions or just read along.

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford in elite class with Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady


Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was one of the three highest paid players on American sports teams in 2013, according to an ESPN survey of worldwide sports salaries.

Stafford, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady were three of only seven professional athletes in the world who made at least $31 million last year. This is based strictly on salary, not endorsement money.

Rodgers ($40 million) was ranked fourth while Stafford ($31.5 million) was sixth and Brady ($31 million was seventh.

Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson ($25 million) was tied for 16th with Peyton Manning and MLB’s Ryan Howard and Cliff Lee.

(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 coordinator: Sky's the limit for punter Sam Martin


While the Lions are looking for a kicker, they found their punter in the fifth round of the draft last year when they selected Sam Martin from football powerhouse Appalachian State.

“He rewrote all the records for punting, he owns all the single season records and is second all-time rookie punter in the history of the National Football League,’’ Lions special teams coordinator John Bonamego said on Monday night at a town hall meeting for season ticket holders.

“I think he’s pretty good and I think with Sam the sky’s the limit,’’ Bonamego said. “He’s only starting to scratch the surface.’’

Bonamego pointed out that Martin performed “very well’’ in three areas — punting, holding for field goals and kickoffs.

It wasn’t a perfect season, Martin had a few shanks and miscues, but it was still solid for a rookie.

“He’s a young man that works very, very hard,’’ Bonamego said. “I would expect for him this year to improve in some of the situational (areas), I don’t think we’ve seen anywhere near what he’s capable of.’’

(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 will test 2 young kickers, may look to draft


When it comes to special teams, the Lions have one key need.

“The No. 1 thing we need to do is find a kicker,’’ Lions special teams coordinator John Bonamego said at a town hall meeting for season ticket holders on Monday night.

“We have two guys on the roster right now who both have some experience,’’ Bonamego said.

John Potter, 24, and Giorgio Tavecchio (in photo), 23, are both signed to reserve/futures contracts.

“John (Western Michigan) was drafted by the Buffalo Bills, was in their training camp, he’s got regular season experience. He’s going to compete with Giorgio Tavecchio who’s also in his third training camp. Giorgio’s from Cal, he was in camp with the Green Bay Packers last year and really gave Mason Crosby a run for his money,’’ Bonamego said.

The Lions minicamp April 22-24 will be key for the kickers to show what they can do.

“We’ll evaluate those guys in this upcoming period, and we’ll compare to the guys who are coming up in the draft,’’ Bonamego said. “We’ll find one.’’

David Akers was a disappointment last year when he replaced Jason Hanson.

Finding a young kicker who could be around for years to come would be the ideal situation for the Lions who drafted Hanson in the second round in 1992 and kept him around for 21 seasons.

Last year the Lions drafted punter Sam Martin in the fifth round. He had a solid rookie season and they expect him to improve.

(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 seek closers in free agency, the NFL drat


Closers. The Lions have been looking for guys who can finish out a game during free agency. That will be another focus during the draft.

It’s not a shock considering in 2013 they let so many wins slip away.

Sheldon White, the Lions vice president of pro personnel, explained that when the Lions play, he and team president Tom Lewand make their way to the sidelines late in games. It gives them a good perspective.

“We’re going to be there right with Jim (Caldwell) when we finish up each game. We’ll see the positives and negatives. With that we also saw six games out of seven where we did not finish,’’ White said Monday night at a town hall for season ticket holders.

“We’re going to be looking for closers this year, we look for them in free agency guys who have been there, guys like our coaching staff that have been there. Guys who will not quit ... that’s what we’re looking for and that’s what we’ve done so far. We still have a lot of work to do,’’ he added.

They have signed two free agents who own Super Bowl rings — wide receiver Golden Tate and safety James Ihedigbo. Caldwell, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi have won Super Bowls. 

You win a Super Bowl, you know what it takes to finish.

Through free agency, the Lions have put themselves in a position where there is not one huge screaming need when it comes to the draft.

Obviously that’s a good thing.

“It’s not just simply a talent factor, obviously that makes a huge difference, but it’s also a character factor, it’s also a commitment factor, it’s also being able to gel with your teammates and create chemistry you need,’’ Caldwell said.

Naturally White would not share the players the Lions are most interested in with their eight picks, starting at No. 10 overall.

But he narrowed it down this way.

He wants players with “high integrity, high motor and a guy who finishes well.’’

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

4/14/2014

Report: Detroit Lions re-sign CB Rashean Mathis


Veteran cornerback Rashean Mathis has re-signed with the Detroit Lions according to a report from Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post.

Mathis, who was signed as a veteran backup last August, started 13 games for the Lions in 2013.

The 33-year-old corner had 47 tackles and 15 pass defenses in 15 games.

He was a valuable asset as a veteran leader for the young cornerback group.

Chris Houston and Darius Slay are expected to start this season, but don’t count out Mathis. The Lions also signed free agent corner Cassius Vaughn who was with the Indianapolis Colts the last two seasons.

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

4/11/2014

Detroit Lions - Dan Orlovsky seen as a fighter by coach Jim Caldwell


Dan Orlovsky is many things to many people.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell has a completely different perspective on the journeyman NFL backup quarterback than the Lions fans do. Orlovsky was with the Lions from 2005 to 2008, before signing on as Matthew Stafford’s backup a few weeks ago.

When Caldwell was coach of the Indianapolis Colts in 2011, Peyton Manning could not play the whole season. It turned into pretty much a nightmare ending with a 2-14 record and a pink slip for Caldwell.

 When Orlovsky became the starter that season for the Colts they were 0-11.“I had a real great opportunity to see Dan operate in maybe some of the most difficult times that I’ve been in as a coach,’’ Caldwell said Thursday. “We had a team that wasn’t doing very well, we were struggling. Under duress, I saw a guy come in and really work extremely hard, a true professional regardless of all the distractions around.’’

Orlovsky led the Colts to wins in two of his five starts.

“(He’s) a really focused guy who has the kind of attitude I love,’’ Caldwell said. “He’s one of those guys who will fight until the bitter end. He caught on extremely well, learned the system quickly was ale to certainly adapt and adjust to it proficiently and gave us a chance to win some games down the stretch.’’

Orlovsky replaces Shaun Hill who didn’t see an significant action the last three seasons while Stafford stayed healthy.

Lions fans have bitter memories about Orlovsky. 

Orlovsky is best remembered in Detroit for running out of the back of the end zone for a safety when he was lined up in the shotgun during his first career start in October 2008. The Lions lost 12-10 to the Vikings. He also started the 16th game in that 0-16 season. In 2008 he started seven games and completed 143 of 255 attempts for 1,616 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. 

Remember, if Caldwell didn’t have faith in Orlovsky’s ability to step in and help win games, he wouldn’t have welcomed him back to Detroit.

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

4/10/2014

Ndamukong Suh's absence did not blind-side Lions coach Jim Caldwell


ALLEN PARK — Lions coach Jim Caldwell is pretty clear on what he wants from his players. One thing is he would like all the time allowed to work with each one.

Ndamukong Suh, who was a defensive captain last season, has been absent for the first four days of the voluntary offseason workout program.

“It certainly didn’t blind-side me, we certainly knew,’’ Caldwell said on Thursday. “He and I have had more discussions than any player we’ve had on the team. He was here a couple days when I came to visit. We knew exactly what was going on.

“From a coaching standpoint, it’s just like anything else. My business is to get in the position to win and win consistently. So we want every single minute of every single hour with every single player. That’s the way we want it. The rules don’t always lend that type of attitude but nevertheless that’s the way it is. We’re working, we have a great group that are here, they’re focused and we’re making progress,’’ Caldwell said.

He was asked if Suh specifically told him he would not be in attendance.

“I’m not going to draw into all those ramifications,’’ Caldwell said. “We had several discussions. Like I said, and I told you my feelings on it, what I would like to have done. It’s just kind of the way it is at this point in time.’’

Quarterback Matthew Stafford was also asked about Suh’s absence.

“He’s a guy who has trainers he likes to work with and he’s done it sometimes in the past, we understand it,’’ Stafford said. “The one thing we know is when he shows up he’ll be in great shape, he’s going to be playing great football and we’ll be happy to have him.’’

This week and next week the Lions are limited to strength and conditioning work along with meetings. A voluntary minicamp is set for April 22-24.

(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 Jim Caldwell on Nick Fairley - So far, so good


ALLEN PARK — While general manager Martin Mayhew has been clear that he wants to see improvement from Nick Fairley, Jim Caldwell checked in for the first time on the defensive tackle this morning.

The coach was asked about Fairley’s attitude and hustle quotient.

“We haven’t been on the field so I don’t know anything about hustle ...’’ Caldwell said smiling. During the first two weeks of this offseason program, the players focus on strength and conditioning and can’t be on the field with the coaches.

“I tell you he’s been hustling in the meeting room,’’ Caldwell said. “He’s been great so far. He’s doing what he’s supposed to do, he’s here, he’s working, he’s learning the system, he’s been active in the meeting rooms — I’ve been in there with him. It’s been good, but it’s early yet.’’

(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 Reggie Bush excited about possibilities with Caldwell, Lombardi


ALLEN PARK — Reggie Bush says It’s too early to tell exactly how the Detroit Lions’ offense will change under new coach Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.

Bush talked to the media Thursday morning. This is the first week of the offseason workout program for the Lions.

Bush said he’s impressed with Caldwell who talked to the team on Monday about their goals this season.

“(He) just talked about a clean slate, starting over, starting fresh, building that championship mentality. It starts right now, it starts in the offseason,’’ Bush said. “Veteran leadership is going to be important, we’re going to have to keep guys healthy and make sure everyone’s here.’’

While Bush worked with Lombardi at New Orleans, he has not worked with Caldwell previously.

“I really like him a lot,’’ Bush said. “The first meeting we had I was really impressed with some of the things he said and talked about. Really impressive, well spoken, guy  smart you can tell he knows what he’s talking about and excited to work for him ...’’

Bush said they haven’t gotten into the new playbook yet. The first two-week phase of the offseason program involves strength and conditioning.

Whatever the changes even if it involves his workload, Bush seems to be ready.

“Joique’s a great player, I think what me and him have going right now is pretty good,’’ Bush said. “Hopefully we can build on what we put together last year. I don’t  think we’re at all worried about the workload, I think we both work hard enough through the offseason to prepare for a heavy workload.’’

The running game is expected to change with the addition of fullback Jed Collins.

“We had a fullback last year he just got injured,’’ Bush said referring to Montell Owens. “Whatever they call us to do we’ll be ready. Whether it’ less of a workload or more of a workload we’ll be ready.’’

(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 - Ndamukong Suh still absent from offseason program


ALLEN PARK — Ndamukong Suh has not participated in the Lions voluntary offseason workout program which started on Monday. Reggie Bush was asked about Suh’s absence on Thursday morning.

“From what I know it’s a contract thing, so that’s the business side of stuff,’’ Bush said. “We all go through it, everybody understands no one’s looking down on him.’’

Suh, who is signed through 2014, is working on a contract extension.

Bush said he’s not certain that’s the reason Suh is not in attendance because he hasn’t talked to him.

A year ago, Matthew Stafford was working on an extension and had full attendance during the offseason program.

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

4/09/2014

Detroit Lions preseason schedule announced



Lions fans haven’t seen the last of Jim Schwartz and Nate Burleson.

Schwartz, now the Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator, will face his former team in the final preseason game at Buffalo on Aug. 28.

Burleson, who signed this week with the Cleveland Browns, will line up against his former teammates in the preseason opening game.

None of the Lions’ preseason games will be on national television.

The Lions preseason looks like this with dates and times to be announced:
— Week 1 vs. Cleveland Browns at Ford Field. It will be 13th straight season the teams have met in the preseason.
— Week 2 at Oakland Raiders will mark second time in three seasons they have met in the preseason.
— Week 3 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars at Ford Field will be the first time the two teams have met in the preseason since Aug. 10, 1995, at the Pontiac Silverdome.
— Week 4 (Aug. 28) at Buffalo Bills. The two teams have matched up in preseason finale each year since 2002.

Announcing the NFL preseason schedule is like an appetizer that whets the appetite for the main course.

The NFL announced the preseason schedule on Wednesday and is expected to  release the regular season schedule within a week or two.

The Lions’ regular season opponents are known.

Also one game is set. Detroit will be the road team playing the Atlanta Falcons at London’s Wembley Stadium on Oct. 26. The Lions’ bye weekend will be Nov. 2, the weekend after they return from London.

Other road games will be at the Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers.

Games at Ford Field will be against the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Bears, Packers and Vikings.
They will play either the Bills or Dolphins in the traditional Thanksgiving game.

The Lions started their offseason workout program this week, their first under coach Jim Caldwell.

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

Transcript of chat on Detroit Lions

If you missed Thursday's live chat on the Lions, here's your chance to catch up. Lots of talk about Ndamukong Suh's absence from the offseason workout program. Also plenty about the NFL draft which is a month away. Join me at 3 p.m. Thursday, April 17 for the next Lions' chat. Enjoy ...



4/08/2014

Detroit Lions: Story implies Buffalo Bills may be Thanksgiving opponent


It’s not a secret that the Lions will play either the Miami Dolphins or Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving. We know it will be an AFC opponent on the CBS televised game. This isn’t breaking news.

Some news reports are jumping to conclusions over a few paragraphs on the Bills’ team web site. The story is “13 things to know about 2014 opponents.”

Here’s what they wrote for No. 8:

“Bills first year defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will make his first visit to Ford Field on the opposing sideline after he served as the Lions’ head coach for the previous five years.

“Buffalo and Detroit will meet for the 10th time in the regular season in 2014. The Bills have played in eight previous Thanksgiving Day games (4-4) in team history with their last appearance on Turkey Day coming in 1994.”

Note, it doesn’t say the Bills will be at the Lions on Thanksgiving.

The NFL regular season schedule is expected to be released in the next two weeks.

At this point the only certainty is that the Lions will play the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 26 at London’s Wembley Stadium.

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