Culpepper, Stafford, Stanton to split reps initially
Lions coach Jim Schwartz said Daunte Culpepper, Drew Stanton and Matthew Stafford will, at least initially, split the quarterback reps three ways when Stafford returns to the team next week. Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick, and Culpepper are expected to compete for the starting job in the fall, but Stanton still needs work in order to be an able fall-back option.
It'll probably be fairly even, Schwartz said Thursday. Situations like this when we have two two-minute (drills) we'll have to make decisions, but it'll probably be fairly even through the script.
Culpepper and Stanton have been splitting the work in practice since No. 3 quarterback Drew Henson was released immediately after the draft. Schwartz said Stafford also can take part in additional informal on-field work over the next few weeks that NFL veterans cannot.
Regardless, he's not worried about Stafford being too far behind the veterans.
That was one of the things that made us so encouraged, that made us feel so comfortable making that pick is when we brought him here for his final physical, we had done some installation with him and his carry-over, his knowledge of knowing that stuff when we went back down to Athens in a month, that retention was really impressive, Schwartz said. We sent all the rookies home with introductory materials. Playbooks, DVDs. I would expect all of them to be up to speed. I wouldn't think that any of them should be not remembering what they learned in rookie minicamp.
A few other notes from Thursday's OTA workout:
Schwartz on Kevin Smith's prediction that the Lions will make the playoffs next year: I like his enthusiasm. I don't want to discourage enthusiasm, but the playoffs are a long way away. What's more important is what happens today, how we practice today. Those are the things that we need to take care of on a daily basis. That's been the message. We need to set goals on a shorter scale than further on down the line. We don't want to talk about Super Bowls or playoffs or those kinds of things, or even the opener right now. Let's talk about getting through this next OTA and improving, and when you start building that stuff, that other stuff will take care of itself.
Schwartz said linebacker Larry Foote, who's been with the team a week now, is still finding his way in a new system, but he lit up when talking about the linebacker unit as a whole. I like where we are there, Schwartz said. We've got some veteran players, guys with a lot of skins on the wall. Larry Foote and Julian Peterson, brought in some other veteran players, guys like Cody Spencer. Drafted some guys, particularly (DeAndre) Levy. It's been an overhaul at that position. It's too soon to say where we are with it, but I've been encouraged by what we've seen so far.
I think the play of second-year right tackle Gosder Cherilus will be one of the keys to next season for the Lions. Cherilus showed flashes of dominance last year, but must sustain his play better and cut down on penalties if he's going to be a long-term building block on the offensive line.
We're going to get him coming downhill a little bit more, not run him laterally so much, Schwartz said. Let him use that size. But he plays with a mean streak, and when you talk about the great right tackles in the game and you could go a bunch of them, I've been around a bunch of them, they seem to all have that similar personality. David Stewart in Tennessee last year played with a mean streak and he's a giant. I was with Orlando Brown in Cleveland and Baltimore, did the same thing. A guy like Eric Williams, those guys all had similar traits. Big and really, really tough. He's still working his technique, he's still a young player, he's still got a long way to go, but we're seeing a lot of things we like from him.