Raiola on Stafford; Jackson's in the 'management program'
Center Dominic Raiola said last week he had no problem with the Lions drafting quarterback Matthew Stafford No. 1 overall.
I like the pick, Raiola said. I don't know what it means for this season, I haven't even seen him yet. I don't really have anything to say other than I like the pick. We need a young quarterback. We haven't had a young quarterback. I think we've got a good quarterback now in Daunte (Culpepper) and I think that buys Matt some time to grow.
Raiola wouldn't venture a guess on who starts next year, but he said playing Stafford won't necessarily signal the Lions are headed for another uncompetitive season.
I don't think this staff's come in and said, 'Let me buy one year,' Raiola said. I don't think that's the mindset they have. If there's a rookie quarterback out there, obviously they think he can win. I don't think you go into any season thinking we're just going to put him in so we can put him in the fire and rebuild.
Of course, coming off an 0-16 season, the Lions are in a rebuilding mode regardless of who's at quarterback.
A few more leftovers from last week before I head off to the Lions' bocce ball tournament:
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said he's excited about the opportunity that awaits him, a chance to work with and develop a No. 1 overall pick at his position of expertise, quarterback.
I'm excited about it, Linehan said. I'm excited for not just him, but for our organization. I think it's just such a great thing to be able to draft a player with this kind of ability to bring into an organization and to see how that person comes in right away and fits in, and how that person goes about his business and puts himself in a position to live up to the expectations.
Not a lot of people are equipped for taking on that kind of pressure. You can talk all you want about the glamor and the fame and the fortune and all that, but you're talking about a guy who all eyes are on him 24-7. He just is so comfortable in that. The thing that I was most impressed about with him, and I talked a number of times with Jim is, he was born to be in that position. So it's going to be fun to see that transpire as a player and as a performer for this organization. He wanted that from the beginning, which is great to see.
When the Lions signed 36-year-old defensive tackle Grady Jackson as a free agent this offseason, I was one of many who wrote that Jackson was a two-down player who'd be good for a limited number of snaps every week next season. I was thinking 20 to 25, 30 at most. Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said that number's on the high side. Sort of.
Cunningham said last week Jackson's part of the management program.
Working for Al Davis, I learned that a long time ago, Cunningham said. He used to say, 'Gun, I need six plays out of the guy.' I'd say, 'Six plays?' He said, 'Six good ones in one game will do. Take care of him.' And I think that coaches, they want players to go hard every day, but when you have guys that are in their 30s, you got to be careful and you got to know how to do that.
Cunningham is a great quote, by the way, with more stories than a library. He's also a little prone to hyperbole. Here's what he said about rookie safety Louis Delmas: (In Kansas City) we had a guy named Dale Carter, who was an all-pro corner. ... Dale Carter was kind of wiry and long and looked like he was out of control sometimes and then he'd have the ball. And when I look at Delmas now, I go, 'My God, it is like I'm younger and there's Dale in front of me again.'
We don't want to anoint the guy at all, but he came on the practice field (during rookie orientation) like I believe you should come on the practice field. There were a lot of bad things said about Dale Carter off the field. On the field he was a consummate pro. He loved to practice. From what I see in this young kid, he loves football. I don't know where he got it, but there's something about him that, he's not very big and yet you see him in college just blowing guys up on tackles. Then he comes in here and threatens our first pick in the draft and says I'm going to get (an interception) sooner or later. He missed about three or four early, and then he took it away from him.
A lot of my buddies have been texting me saying, 'Boy, we were going to draft him.' And I said, 'Well, you should have.'
Carter played in four Pro Bowls and was the 1992 Defensive Rookie of the Year.