Answering your e-mails
Before I get to the Thursday morning mailbag, a quick note from Clark Judge of cbssports.com who reports, indirectly, that the Lions have decided to continue taking part in the league-run pension plan for coaches and executives. Judge reports that a memo circulated Wednesday listed eight teams changing their retirement plans, seven others considering a move, and 17 continuing contributions. The Lions were not listed in the first two categories, so presumably they're in the third.
Considering the state of the economy, that's no small measure. I imagine it's subject to change at some point in the future, but as I wrote in last week's mailbag the Ford family has a good reputation through the league for the way it treats its employees. This is one example.
The full story is here: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/11715980
Onto the mailbag:
What impact will Zach Follett have next season?
Follett, a seventh-round pick out of Cal, had an uphill battle to make the team even before the Lions signed Larry Foote. Presumably, Foote, Julian Peterson and Ernie Sims are your starters with DeAndre Levy and Jordon Dizon as the primary backups. That leaves probably one spot for Follett, Alex Lewis, Curtis Gatewood or Cody Spencer. I know fans like Follett for his hard-nosed style, but he's a ways away athletically and could wind up on the practice squad. From defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham the other day: The intangible part is outstanding. He's got the right attitude. He wants to kill you every day. But he's struggling in minicamp. But again, whether a guy looked real good or looked average, it's too early to tell all that. He's got a middle linebacker mentality, I'll say that. He kind of reminds me of myself when I was a kid. I wasn't as big as him, but I liked to play like that and he likes to play. He's going to have to fight for a backup spot.
Will Cliff Avril be a double-digit sack guy next year?
Can he? Sure. Will he? I think he's still a year away from realizing that potential. Coach Jim Schwartz likes speedy ends and Avril should have plenty of opportunity in the nine technique, but I lean towards not yet because I still see Julian Peterson and even Dewayne White playing big roles in rush. The Steelers and Colts were the only teams with two double-digit sackers last year 10's a lot harder to get than it seems and the Lions, despite their defensive changes, aren't on that level yet. Still, Avril had an impressive rookie season with five sacks and four forced fumbles. He'll get there before too long.
What's next now that the Lions have signed Foote?
Signing defensive end Kevin Carter is a distinct possibility, but as I wrote last week there's no urgency to get a deal done on Carter's part. He's a veteran, he doesn't need camp. If he decides to play it will be in July or August. Beyond that, the Lions continue to shuffle in free agents at their biggest position of need offensive line. Toniu Fonoti, Kirk Barton, Dylan Gandy, James Blair and the recently-released Matt Lentz all have gotten looks. There's big concerns with protection up front (another reason Matthew Stafford might not play immediately), and the Lions are hoping to strike gold on the waiver wire. Fifth-receiver option Keary Colbert re-signed today, but I'm not sure the Lions are done looking there, either, if the right guy comes along.
Labels: Cliff Avril, Detroit Lions, Dewayne White, Ernie Sims, Gunther Cunningham, Jordon Dizon, Julian peterson, Keary Colbert, Kevin Carter, Larry Foote, Matthew Stafford, William Clay Ford, Zack Follett