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 sports-odds.com, 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 sportsbook.com) 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.