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.


See you soon

Thanks for checking in on a regular basis, but I'm off on a little vacation before next NFL season begins. This blog won't be updated again until mid-July, shortly before the Lions report for training camp. Here's a few thoughts to leave you with over the summer:

• If Las Vegas knows best, don't expect a big turnaround from the Lions this year. According to, the Lions have 13-2 odds to win the NFC North. The Packers and Vikings (8-5) are co-favorites, with the Bears checking in third (11-4).

• Consolation prize: The Lions could start off hot again. Their schedule is favorable early, and they're one-point favorites (according to Week 1 at Atlanta. I don't have to remind you how the Lions won at Oakland in Week 1 last year, beat a North team at home in Week 2 (Minnesota; this year's Week 2 opponent is Green Bay), and started 6-2 but finished 7-9. Just saying ...

• We're still waiting for the legal system to play itself out in safety Kalvin Pearson's April assault case, but it's interesting to note that Pearson was playing some nickel cornerback in OTAs in early June. Pearson said he played nickel corner his first two years in the NFL and feels comfortable at that position now. Travis Fisher is the No. 1 nickel back, but Pearson's versatility (he took No. 1 reps when Fisher was out June 9) makes me think he'll make the team despite his legal woes.

• The Lions put first-round pick Gosder Cherilus next to veteran left tackle Jeff Backus in the locker room for a reason. Cherilus said he's already started picking the brains of Backus and right guard Stephen Peterman (who's on Cherilus' left). Cherilus is a physical specimen, a lean 315-pounder with big hands and a bigger mean streak. I saw him at the Champs Sports Bowl last year, playing out of position at left tackle, and wasn't overly impressed. But he looks more at home on the right side now, though he had some expected growing pains during OTAs. How much he improves over the next two months could be key to the Lions' season. George Foster is around for insurance purposes. He'd be the favorite to start at right tackle now. But if Cherilus makes big strides the Lions can sever ties with Foster (Jonathan Scott is likely to make the team as a backup swing tackle) and use that roster spot on a youngster like seventh-round linebacker Caleb Campbell.

• If you have a fantasy draft sometime this summer, don't be afraid to take Calvin Johnson, Roy Williams, Jon Kitna or running back Kevin Smith. In that order. Johnson's going to have a big year. He'll be a touchdown machine. Williams is in a contract season and should approach 80 catches. Kitna won't lose his job this year unless the Lions start 2-10 and want to see what they have in Dan Orlovsky and Drew Stanton. And Smith will end up taking the bulk of the carries. He's a No. 3 fantasy back for now, though.

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Brown: Cherilus not far from being NFL ready

We told you last week that former Lion Lomas Brown hoped to work with rookie right tackle Gosder Cherilus this summer. Well, Brown stopped out at Lions practice Monday and got his first up-close look at the No. 17 overall pick from Boston College.

Cherilus is running second-team behind George Foster, and that shouldn't change when training camp opens next month. Foster, who cut short a stay in the NFL's Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program this spring in order to compete for the job, is far ahead of Cherilus in his footwork and grasp of the offense. Still, Cherilus has a mean streak and thirst for knowledge — and soon to come, big contract — that will endear him to coaches.

Brown, who previously worked with Jets left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, the NFL leader in sacks allowed last year, didn't speculate on who'll start when the season opens Sept. 7, but seemed impressed by Cherilus' skill set. Here's a sampling of his comments:

• His first impressions: "I watched the big fella. I love the attitude. I see he's got a tremendous punch, but like any new guy the footwork is bad. It needs to improve. He's not going to see a lot of speed rushers on the right side, so it's not going to bother him that much."

• What Cherilus needs to work on: "Your set has to be the same. It has to be repetitive. You have to be able to do it in your sleep."

• On not reading too much into Cherilus' performance during OTAs: "People might not have a good opinion of him just from what they see (now), but again he's a young guy, he's got to get that timing down. What that kind of reminds me of is ... Herman (Moore). Remember Herman's first two years? He couldn't catch a cold, man. I remember me and (Kevin Glover) went to the locker room one day after practice and we was like, 'Man, they wasted their money on this first-round pick. He's horrible.' But again, it took him a little time. When you're young and you step into this league it's rare that you get some guys that can come in and just start right now."

• On how far he is from being an NFL right tackle: "I would have to see him in pads but this is just my opinion in shorts, I don't think he's very far. I just think it's fundamental things with him, the timing of kicks and his punch. A lot of times it looks like he's grabbing and he's not punching the guy and it's all about his timing. That he can learn. He'll get that down during training camp. The more reps he gets with it the better he'll get, so I'm not really concerned with him. But I do like what I heard that he's got a nasty attitude. You can't teach that, so I'm glad he has that."

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Boot camp bound

Former Lion Ron Rice and New Orleans Saints tight end Mark Campbell, a Madison Heights Bishop Foley and Michigan alum, are among 20 current and former players enrolled in NFL Broadcast Boot Camp later this month.

The program runs June 16-19 at NFL Films and is designed to give players interested in broadcasting hands-on experience with editing, show prep, production meetings and field reporting. Each player will serve as a host on Sirius NFL radio and tape practice segments as a studio and game analyst.

Other names of note taking part in the program, in its second year, are Baltimore's Derrick Mason (Michigan State), Lions killer Darren Sharper of Minnesota, and retired tight end Tony McGee (Michigan).


Lomas and Goz

Former Lions offensive tackle Lomas Brown said Tuesday he hopes to work with first-round pick Gosder Cherilus later this summer, something Lions coach Rod Marinelli sounds interested in making happen.

Marinelli said he'll visit next week with Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowler who helped tutor Jets tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson last summer. Brown was a skilled NFL pass blocker, the least refined area of Cherilus' game.

"He's a special guy now," Marinelli said of Brown, who played on Tampa Bay's Super Bowl XXXVII championship team for which Marinelli coached. "It was his 15th or 16th year in the league, he was a backup player, he was the best scout-team (player) I've ever seen. Ever in my career. I've never seen a guy run a scout team like that in my life."

Marinelli said Brown devoured film of the offensive tackles Tampa's defensive ends would play against in that week's game and worked tirelessly to mimic their moves in practice.

"He'd give them exactly the look," Marinelli said. "He studied that guy, OK, this is how the guy's going to set you, bam, get him set here. It was phenomenal work. And then you see a professional football player, a guy that's got a chance for the Hall of Fame, and then you see him work in practice. That's professional football. That's what I like. I do. I admire that. It was special. He's always been a special guy to me."

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Cody: Important for me to have a big year

In two seasons under Rod Marinelli, Shaun Cody has yet to record a sack. For that reason more than any, he is no lock to make the Lions this fall.

Cody, entering his fourth year out of USC, talked with reporters Tuesday before the Detroit Lions Invitational golf outing for which he was a co-chairman. He said Marinelli called him constantly with words of encouragement this offseason, that the toe injury he suffered in 2006 negatively affected his play last year, and that he's shed 10 pounds and intends to play at a more determined 295 this year. A sampling of his talk:

• On rebounding from a frustrating 2007: "Last year I was no sacks and that was disappointing to me and this year coming into a contract year and wanting to be part of the Lions for a long time, it's important for me to have a big year. I know that and I've been trying to trim some weight and get down to a lower level than they want me and be successful this year."

• On how the toe injury hampered him last year. In 2006, Cody was limited to six games and finished the year on injured reserve: "I think any time you have a severe injury like that, to come back it takes a whole year. When I did my ACL in college it took about a year to come back so I figure this year, I've had a chance to play on it for a year now and get used to it, rehab it to its fullest. It feels great now."

• On how often he talked to Marinelli in the offseason: "Probably once a week. He'll call you up, let you know what's going on. He wouldn't expect you to call back. That's the first thing he'd start with, ... 'Shaun, you don't got to call me back, just wanted to leave you with this,' then he'd drop you some jewel of nugget pass-rushing wisdom."

• On why he's struggled getting to the quarterback: "I think what's happened here is I've been playing cautious. I know that my reps were limited last year and when you get in there you really don't want to make a mistake, that's the wrong way to play football. You don't want to worry about making a mistake, you just want to go out there and play. And that's what we watched (on film) with me is just being cautious, worried about making a mistake more than trying to make a play."