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.


It doesn't get easier

Coming off the Thanksgiving Day game, the Lions schedule has been tweaked for this week. Usually they have a walk-through on Mondays and then  have Tuesdays off.  This week they have today (Monday) off, then will start preparing for the Cincinnati Bengals with a practice on Tuesday.

Nothing gets easier for these Lions (2-9) who play three of their final five on the road. That includes the next two Sundays — at Cincinnati, then at Baltimore. The Lions haven’t won on the road since Oct. 28, 2007, a streak of 17 straight road losses.


Daunte not the answer

It’s unbelievable that so many Lions fans wanted Daunte Culpepper to get the start on Thursday instead of Matthew Stafford. Does anyone remember the last time that Culpepper started against the Packers? it was on Oct. 18 at Lambeau Field and the Lions were shut out 26-0. Obviously, offense was lacking.

Stafford would not have played unless he was healthy enough to do so. Coach Jim Schwartz reiterated on Friday that Stafford’s four interceptions had nothing to do with his injured, non-throwing left shoulder. (Two of them had more to do with a healthy Charles Woodson.) The Lions had time for only one full practice in the short week and that was only full-speed for half the time. So, no, missing practice did not affect Stafford’s game either. He was in meetings, he watched film and he was on the field watching practice. It’s not unusual for this time of year to play after missing practice. Safety Louis Delmas had limited practice because of a bad ankle and he also started.

Schwartz also said he had no second thoughts about starting Stafford. This kid is the future of the franchise. It’s not pretty at times, but he’s gaining NFL experience. Unlike other young quarterbacks who have come before him in Detroit, he’s already proven he’s tough mentally and physically. If the Lions had a better running game, along with stronger offensive line play, Stafford’s numbers would be much better.


Pettigrew's season over

Rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew is out for the season. Tests on his left knee on Friday showed significant damage that will require season-ending knee surgery. Pettigrew injured the knee on the Lions’ first drive on Thursday. It was a non-contact situation where it appeared his knee just buckled.

Coach Jim Schwartz said earlier this week that Pettigrew, a first-round pick out of Oklahoma State, was starting to feel comfortable in the offense. He had dropped several balls in earlier games, but in the win over Cleveland on Sunday he had six catches for 72 yards and scored his first touchdown.

“He’s been pressing, most of his drops have been due to trying to do too much. He feels a tremendous responsibility to make plays. I think that (Cleveland game) was  a big step for him mentally,’’ Schwartz said.

Rookie's knee an issue

ALLEN PARK — Rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew's status for the remainder of the season is uncertain at this point. Pettigrew injured his left knee when it appeared to buckle without contact from other players during the Lions' first possession in Thursday's loss to Green Bay. Coach Jim Schwartz said that Pettigrew underwent an MRI Friday morning and the results still were not in.

Schwartz also said that quarterback Mattew Stafford made it through the game with no further damage in his separated left shoulder.


Thanksgiving Day game live blog

Stafford to start

DETROIT — Matthew Stafford will get his chance to play on national television after all. The Lions rookie quarterback will start today’s game against the Green Bay Packers. Stafford separated his shoulder in Sunday’s dramatic 38-37 win over Cleveland. He was listed as doubtful on Wednesday’s injury report.

Inactive for the Lions are: WR Derrick Williams, S Kalvin Pearson, FB Terrelle Smith, LB Ernie Sims, C Melvin Fowler, T Ephraim Salaam and DE Dewayne White.


Another DB on IR

As expected the Lions have placed starting safety Ko Simpson on Injured Reserve which means his season is over. Simpson injured his knee in the 38-37 win over Cleveland on Sunday. On Tuesday coach Jim Schwartz indicated that Simpson’s injury was significant. Simpson is the sixth defensive back to be placed on Injured Reserve.

Marvin White is likely to get the start. Another safety, Kalvin Pearson (hamstring), is listed as “out” on the injury report for Thursday’s game.

Stafford, Johnson possibilities

Quarterback Matthew Stafford (left shoulder separation) and wide receiver Calvin Johnson (hand/knee) still have a chance to play in the Thanksgiving matchup with Green Bay.

On Wednesday’s injury report Stafford is listed as doubtful. Not good, but better than being out. Johnson is listed as questionable. For the Lions to have a better chance to win, they need both to play.

The rest of the Lions’ injury report: S Ko Simpson (knee), S Kalvin Pearson (hamstring) and LB Ernie Sims (hamstring) are out.  DE Dewayne White (toe) is doubtful. S Louis Delmas (ankle) and T Daniel Loper (back) are questionable. DT Joe Cohen (ankle), LB Zack Follett (neck), DT Grady Jackson (knee), RB Kevin Smith (hip) and Jordon Dizon (neck) are probable.

Schwartz, Mangini clear air

The air has been cleared between Jim Schwartz and Browns coach Eric Mangini. After the Lions edged the Browns 38-37 on Sunday, Mangini accused the Lions’ defensemen of faking injuries to slow down play because Cleveland was going with a no-huddle offense.

Schwartz said on Monday that Mangini was “way out of bounds.”

The two coaches, who go back years to their beginnings in the NFL, have talked it out.

Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported today that Mangini and Schwartz had talked. “We cleared the air. I like Jim. Always had a good relationship. The bottom line is we didn't do enough to win the game. Jim and I are fine,’’ Mangini said.


NFC honors Stafford

ALLEN PARK — Matthew Stafford was named the NFC offensive player of the week today for his five-touchdown performance in Sunday’s 38-37 win over the Cleveland Browns.

“It’s a huge honor, it’s awesome. I didn’t expect that one to happen. I’m just thankful, you have to give a lot of credit to the guys catching the ball and blocking in front of me too. Without those guys it wouldn’t have happened,’’ Stafford said.

The rookie quarterback suffered a separated left shoulder on the second-to-last play of the Sunday’s game. He didn’t practice today. Afterward he said it’s getting better, but if the game was today he probably couldn’t play.

Will he play on Thursday?
“I have no idea,’’ Stafford said.

Stafford, Johnson watch practice

ALLEN PARK — As expected, quarterback Matthew Stafford (shoulder separation) and wide receiver Calvin Johnson (hand, knee) did not practice today, but were on the sidelines. The pair is unlikely to play in the Thanksgiving game against Green Bay, although coach Jim Schwartz has left the door cracked to the possibility of their participation.

Safety Kalvin Pearson and linebacker Ernie Sims, who both have hamstring injuries, were at practice but did not participate.


Stafford unlikely for Thursday

ALLEN PARK — Matthew Stafford has not been ruled completely out for Thursday’s game against the Green Bay Packers. But it’s probably unlikely he will play after sustaining a left shoulder injury in Sunday’s 38-37 win over Cleveland. Coach Jim Schwartz described it as an AC (Acromioclavicular joint) separation.

“Most of the tests have come back where it shouldn’t be anything I’d like to label significant. He’s sore. I would say if that continued he’d be unlikely to play,’’ Schwartz said.

“There’s a chance that goes away in the next couple days. Structurally everything  is good. I don’t think there’s any lasting damage, but he’s extremely sore as you can expect. We’ll see (about Thursday). You don’t want to close the door on anybody,’’ the coach added.

Stafford did not talk to the media on Monday.

It looks better for Stafford than for safety Ko Simpson who injured a knee in the game and didn’t return.

“He looks unlikely to play on Thursday. After more testing (we’ll know) if it’s going to be a season-ending thing or if he’ll be able to come back from it,’’ Schwartz said.

Schwartz would not be specific about hand and knee injuries to wide receiver Calvin Johnson who did not practice Monday.


It's a sell-out for Thanksgiving

The Lions’ Thanksgiving game against the Packers is officially a sell-out which means the game will be televised on local television (Fox-2). A few hundred tickets are available for the game.

This will be the Lions 70th Thanksgiving game and the 19th against the Packers.

The Lions (2-8) will be looking to extend their win streak to two games, coming off a 38-37 win over Cleveland on Sunday. They were embarrassed in Green Bay on Oct. 18 when they were shut out 26-0.

The Packers (6-4) beat San Francisco on Sunday. But it was announced today that they have lost cornerback Al Harris and linebacker Aaron Kampman for the season. Both were injured Sunday and will require season-ending knee surgery.

In elite company

Rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford’s five touchdown passes in Sunday’s 38-37 win over the Cleveland Browns put him in very elite company.

That is, if you consider Dan Marino and Joe Namath elite company.

According to ESPN research, Stafford is the youngest quarterback in NFL history to throw at least five touchdowns in a game. Stafford at 21 years, 288 days, improved upon the previous two highs by Dan Marino in 1984 (22 years, 353 days) and Joe Namath (23 years, 110 days.)

Pretty impressive. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve dug into the Lions media guide to check and re-check that Stafford is just 21 years old. And, indeed, he was born in February 1988.

Check back here later today for an update on Stafford’s left shoulder which he injured on the second to last play of the game on Sunday. Initial X-rays were negative, but he had more tests to undergo. I’ll post the information as soon as I get it.



Lions vs. Browns live blog

No surprises on inactive list

DETROIT — No surprises on the inactive list for today’s game against Cleveland. The injured who will not play are: wide receiver Derrick Williams (hip), safety Kalvin Pearson (hamstring), linebacker Ernie Sims (hamstring), and defensive end Dewayne White (toe). Healthy scratches are: fullback Terrelle Smith, center Melvin Fowler and tackle Jon Jansen.

Drew Stanton will serve as the third quarterback.

Pride charter class announced

DETROIT — At halftime of today's game the Pride of the Lions charter class will be announced. A permanent stadium display honoring 12 of the greatest players in team history will be unveiled.

The dozen to be honored were announced this morning: Lem Barney (1967-77), Jack Christiansen (1951-58), Dutch Clark (1934-38), Lou Creekmur (1950-59), Dick "Night Train" Lane (1960-65), Yale Lary (1952-53, 56-64), Bobby Layne (1950-58), Barry Sanders (1989-98), Charlie Sanders (1968-77), Joe Schmidt (1953-65), Doak Walker (1950-55), Alex Wojciechowicz (1938-46). All are members of the NFL Hall of Fame.


Culpepper added to injury report

Quarterback Daunte Culpepper was added to the injury report on Saturday as probable for Sunday’s game due to a migraine-type headache. If he’s unable to go, Drew Stanton will step up as the second quarterback.

Starting quarterback Matthew Stafford was listed as probable for the second straight week due to his knee injury. But he is fully expected to start. He practiced all week, although on a limited basis.

Resilience is key

It’s not just the Lions’ players who are frustrated with the 1-8 record, the coaching staff works mega-hour days and has one win to show for it. Coach Jim Schwartz said the key to dealing with frustration is resilience.

“Having responsibility and positions before — as a defensive or offensive coordinator, you’re going to feel the same type of pressure when a team isn’t doing well. I’ve been on teams that have started 0-5, teams that have started 4-0, and teams that have started 11-0,’’ Schwartz said.

It’s not like he took over a winning team. He took over the worst NFL team in the country. Remember no team had gone 0-16 previously.

 “There’s pressure associated with this job. This is a high-profile job, but it shouldn’t affect the way that you work. If you let it affect the way that you do your job, if you let it affect your philosophy — that’s where you end up in trouble. If you stay true to your ideals, stay true to your work ethic. You don’t change course midway, then you’re going to be OK,’’ Schwartz said.


Peterman placed on IR

As coach Jim Schwartz hinted earlier in the day, starting right guard Stephen Peterman has been placed on the injured reserve list, ending his season. Peterman, who had started all nine games, injured his right ankle in the third quarter of the loss at Minnesota on Sunday.

Daniel Loper, who has started two games this season at left guard, is expected to take Peterman’s spot.

The Lions signed wide receiver Eric Fowler off the practice squad to take Peterman’s place on the roster.

Peterman could be done

ALLEN PARK —  It appears starting right guard Stephen Peterman is out for the season after he injured his right ankle in the loss at Minneapolis.

“It looks like he’s going to have surgery, we’ll probably know more at the end of the day. He’s seeing a specialist,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said early Friday afternoon. “It doesn’t look good as far as him continuing. We’ll know more later today.’’

Losing Peterman for the final seven games is a blow for the Lions.

“Other than Chicago — Stephen himself will tell you he didn’t play very well against Chicago — but Stephen was very, very consistent. He played with great effort and you could rely on him every single week. Every week he’d look exactly the same, he wasn’t an up-and-down player, he didn’t bring that. He brought a steady, veteran player and that’s why we re-signed him last year. That’s going to be something we’ll have to overcome. We’re going to need these other guys to step up and to be more consistent because that’s what Stephen gave us, he gave us a rock over there at right guard.’’

Expect Daniel Loper, who has started two games at left guard this season, to step in for Peterman.


No surprises

ALLEN PARK — No surprises at practice today. The same bunch of injured Lions who sat out Thursday, were missing in action this morning. That includes: linebacker Ernie Sims (hamstring), right guard Stephen Peterman (ankle), safety Kalvin Pearson (hamstring) and defensive end Dewayne White (toe). None of these four are expected to play Sunday.

The Lions host the Cleveland Browns at Ford Field in a clash of 1-8 teams. The game will be blacked out on local television.

Stefanie Spielman dies at 42

ALLEN PARK — When Chris Spielman played for the Lions, toughness was the linebacker’s signature. His wife Stefanie approached her battle with cancer in the same fashion. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30 and fought it through continued returns. On Thursday she died at age 42, leaving Chris and four children.

Years ago, before the Spielmans were to speak at the Lions’ Courage House dinner, I interviewed Stefanie over the phone. She explained that breast cancer did not run in her family. She was diagnosed following a miscarriage. She said all her well-wishers were her inspiration, but really it worked both ways. Those who knew her were inspired by her.

She used the Spielman name to get the word out on fighting breast cancer and set up the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research.

“The Lions’ family is deeply saddened with the passing of a good friend,’’ Lions president Tom Lewand said in a statement today. “Stefanie touched the hearts of everyone who knew her. With her strong faith and Chris’ devoted support, Stefanie smiled in the face of adversity and used her battle with cancer to help countless others. She was and always will be an inspiration. Our heartfelt prayers and thoughts go to Chris and the family.”


Ins and outs at practice

ALLEN PARK — Linebacker Zack Follett, who plays mostly special teams, did not practice today due to a neck injury. He did practice on Wednesday.

Also missing practice were linebacker Ernie Sims (hamstring), guard Stephen Peterman (ankle), safety Kalvin Pearson (hamstring) and defensive end Dewayne White (toe). All four also missed Wednesday’s practice.

Sims, who missed Sunday’s game at Minnesota, and Peterman, who was injured in Sunday’s game, are not expected to play on Sunday.

 Defensive tackle Grady Jackson (knee) didn’t practice on Thursday. It’s not uncommon for him to miss a practice or two during the week and still play on Sunday.

Wide receiver Derrick Williams, who did not practice on Wednesday, was able to practice in a limited fashion today.

Sunday's game blacked out

ALLEN PARK — It’s official. The clash at Ford Field of the 1-8 teams — the Detroit Lions vs. the Cleveland Browns — will be blacked out on local television on Sunday. The game did not sell out by 1 p.m. today.

A team spokesman would not say how many tickets remain. Early on Wednesday afternoon, more than 7,000 tickets were still available. If it was close the NFL could have granted a 24-hour extension like it did for the home opener which did sell out.

This is the third home game blacked out this season. The others were the win over the Washington Redskins and the loss to the St. Louis Rams.

Apparently, a struggling team and a wretched economy are not a good combination for ticket sales.

QB impresses Mangini

Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini clearly remembers meeting with Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford during the draft process.

“He was really impressive. The handle he had on the Georgia offense, he could answer a question almost before they came out of our mouths and he’d answer in a way that was incredibly detailed, position by position, player by player, what their responsibility was. I’m sure he’s taken that same work ethic  and applying it to the offense in Detroit,’’ Mangini said in a conference call this week.

The Lions (1-8) host the Cleveland Browns (1-8) on Sunday at Ford Field. Check back here this afternoon to learn if the game will be blacked out  on local television.


Blackout a possibility

ALLEN PARK — The match-up of two NFL teams with identical 1-8 records has not sent fans in droves to the Lions’ ticket office. A television blackout appears likely for Sunday’s Lions game against the Cleveland Browns (1-8). As of early Wednesday afternoon, more than 7,000 tickets remain for the game at Ford Field.

The game must be sold out by 1 p.m. on Thursday for the game to be broadcast on local television. If it is blacked out, it will be the third time this season. The win over the Washington Redskins and the loss to St. Louis were both blacked out.

Ins and outs at practice

ALLEN PARK — Lions starting right guard Stephen Peterman, who left Sunday’s game with a foot injury, did not practice today. Daniel Loper will likely start in his spot. Peterman has started all nine games this season.

Others sitting out practice included defensive end Dewayne White (toe), safety Kalvin Pearson (hamstring), wide receiver Derrick Williams (hip) and linebacker Ernie Sims (hamstring).

Cornerback Phillip Buchanon, who was injured in Sunday’s game, practiced as did safety Louis Delmas who sat out Sunday due to a vicious tooth ache.

Offensive lineman Melvin Fowler, who was signed on Tuesday, practiced today.

Manuel on IR, Smith signed

ALLEN PARK — Defensive back DeAngelo Smith was signed by the Lions from the Chicago Bears practice squad and practiced today. He is the eighth defensive back the Lions have acquired since Sept. 4.

The Lions are thin at defensive back with safety Marquand Manuel (shoulder) being placed on Injured Reserve today. Manuel started six games and played in all nine. Also cornerback Jack Williams (knee) was placed on Injured Reserve on Tuesday. Williams had signed with the Lions on Nov. 10 and was injured on his first snap on the Lions' defense.


Two roster moves made

As expected, the Lions placed cornerback Jack Williams on Injured Reserve on Tuesday, ending his season. He suffered a significant knee injury early in the second half of Sunday’s loss at Minnesota.

The Lions signed offensive lineman Melvin Fowler to take Williams’ roster spot. Fowler was in the Arizona Cardinals training camp this year and spent the last few seasons in Buffalo. Starting right guard Stephen Peterman was also injured on Sunday. Signing Fowler could mean that Peterman will miss a few games although no announcement has been made.

Browns ready for the taking

The Lions (1-8) won’t have a better chance to win a game than they do on Sunday when they host the Cleveland Browns (1-8). The Browns are coming off a 16-0 loss to Baltimore on Monday night and have lost four straight. Their only win came on Oct. 11, when they won a barn-burner, 6-3, at Buffalo. The Browns have scored just seven touchdowns in nine games. The Lions have 15 touchdowns in that span. (In comparison, the Saints have 43, the Vikings 32.)

The Lions are banged-up, but this is a good chance to earn their second win. It’s their best shot since they lost to St. Louis, giving the Rams their first win of the season.


Another DB out for season

ALLEN PARK — Of all the Lions’ injuries in Sunday’s 27-10 loss at Minnesota, so far the only one of significance is to cornerback Jack Williams. He suffered a season-ending knee injury on the second play of the second half. Coach Jim Schwartz said they will fill his roster spot immediately. Williams was the seventh defensive back the Lions had signed since Sept. 4. Three defensive backs have already landed on the Injured Reserve list so far this season —  Daniel Bullocks, DeMarcus Faggins and Eric King.

Other injured players — including starting right guard Stephen Peterman — were undergoing tests today, so there could be more injury news in upcoming days.

Safety Louis Delmas, who missed the game due to an infected tooth, is getting treatment. It’s not expected to be a long-term deal.

The Lions are preparing to play Cleveland on Sunday at Ford Field.


Stafford inspiring in loss

MINNEAPOLIS — Quarterback Matthew Stafford got smacked around good in Sunday’s 27-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, but he impressed his teammates and coaches with his ability to hang in and make the best of the situation.

“You can’t ask for nothing more from somebody who is getting beat up, he’s getting hit, he might have made a couple mistakes but he’s going back out there, giving it all 100 percent, running down the field,’’ linebacker Julian Peterson said. “Most quarterbacks would have run out of bounds, he’s still trying to fight for extra yards. That’s showing the character and toughness that we drafted him for. That’s the reason he is the No. 1 pick. He’s going to be great we just have to do  a little more to help him out.’’

 Peterson said Stafford’s play fires up the defense and inspires the whole team. “I’ve been with some quarterbacks who wouldn’t do things like that, so it’s good to see from him,’’ Peterson said.

lions sider for 1116 eds

Of The Oakland Press
MINNEAPOLIS — Lions cornerback Phillip Buchanon’s football days go back to when he was 8 or 9 years old playing for the Riverdale Wildcats in Fort Myers, Fla.
   He’s been working on his game ever since.
  Buchanon had one of the Lions’ best defensive plays — saving a sure Adrian Peterson rushing touchdown — in Sunday’s 27-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
  With Peterson in full gear running toward the end zone with no one in his way, Buchanon ran up from behind and punched the football out of his arms.
 Peterson who had 18 carries for 133 yards gave kudos to Buchanon.
 “He made a great play. I was open and swinging the ball and he came up and punched it out,’’ Peterson said. “You got to give him credit, he made a great play.
 For Buchanon it was a natural reaction.
“I learned it at a young age, I’ve been doing it for a long time. In that situation, once he got in front of me that was the first thing that flashed in front of me was (to knock out) the ball,’’ Buchanon said.
  Lions’ linebacker Jordon Dizon was able to recover it in the end zone for a touch back. The Lions were down 10-0 at the time. It was a play that kept them in the game.
  “The one play that Phillip Buchanon made, that’s a great hustle play, a great effort play to punch that ball out or that’s another big gain,’’ Schwartz said.
  It was a solid day for Buchanon who had seven tackles. He has bounced back from injury and from being benched. The 29-year-old veteran cornerback had fought back and started the last four games.
 Buchanon injured his knee and it was being taped on the first play of the second half when Jack Williams, who was filling in, was injured. Buchanon couldn’t finish the game because of the injury.


Foote in; inactives listed

MINNEAPOLIS — The good news for the Lions is that linebacker Larry Foote will start today against the Vikings. Foote had been hampered by a knee injury throughout the week. 

As expected rookie DeAndre Levy will start for middle linebacker Ernie Sims (hamstring).

Other inactives for today are: DE Cliff Avril, DT Landon Cohen, CB Anthony Henry, RB Aaron Brown, T Ephraim Salaam and G Daniel Loper.


Three in 12 days

Sunday’ game at Minnesota (7-1) is the start of a tough stretch for the Lions (1-7). It will be their first of three games in 12 days. That’s a ton. It happens every November due to the traditional Thanksgiving Day game.

Next Sunday (Nov. 22) they’re home to the dysfunctional Cleveland Browns (1-7) and then they face the hot-and-cold Green Bay Packers (4-4) on Turkey Day.

The Lions lost to the Vikings 27-13 on Sept. 20 and were embarrassed by the Packers 26-0 on Oct. 18. This would be a tough schedule for a veteran team with a few wins under its belt. It will be yet another huge challenge for the rebuilding Lions.


Foote practices, Favre too

Linebacker Larry Foote (knee) practiced on Friday for the first time all week although it was on a limited basis. He’s listed as questionable for Sunday on the injury report, along with Jordon Dizon (neck) and Dewayne White (toe). Ernie Sims (hamstring) is out. Everyone else is probable.

Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre (hip/groin) had a full practice on Friday after limited practices earlier in the week. He’s listed as probable. No one expects him to miss Sunday’s game against the Lions. It will be his 300th straight start, including playoffs.

Faith in Stafford

If you’re doubting the abilities of rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford, you haven’t talked to Lions’ offensive coordinator Scott Linehan lately. He’s the man who must lead Stafford through the minefield of his first NFL season. Know this, Linehan has faith in Stafford.

Linehan said all quarterbacks have peaks and valleys, but rookies have more than veterans. The difference in what makes a good quarterback is the ability to deal with adversity. Linehan thinks Stafford has a short memory which is a good thing. He has to learn from his mistakes (like the five interceptions at Seattle), but move on and not be hampered by past mistakes.

Stafford’s in an unenviable position on a rebuilding team with a new offensive scheme. The offensive line could use some shoring up. The receivers have dropped way too many balls and the running backs have yet to find their “explosive” gear.

 Linehan has faith in the kid quarterback, so does coach Jim Schwartz. When will Stafford have a break-through game? That’s why we keep watching.


Favre expected to start

Vikings quarterback Brett Favre (hip/groin) was limited in practice on Thursday for the second straight day. However he is expected to start his 300th straight game (including playoffs) on Sunday against the Detroit Lions, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Favre has dealt with the injury since Oct. 28. This will be the second meeting between the Lions and Vikings this season. Minnesota won 27-13 at Ford Field on Sept. 20. — PAULA PASCHE

Sims out, Foote uncertain

ALLEN PARK — Starting middle linebacker Ernie Sims said he’s out for Sunday with a hamstring injury. He’s not sure how many games he might miss. He’ll continue to get treatment and see how he progresses.

Along with Sims, linebacker Larry Foote (knee) did not practice today for the second straight day. Foote also avoided the media. And coach Jim Schwartz is mum, as usual, on injuries so it’s uncertain if Foote will play on Sunday at Minnesota.

 Rookie DeAndre Levy will likely get the start for Sims in the middle. If Foote is also out, look for Jordon Dizon to step in on the outside.

“I feel pretty comfortable, I feel I have the defense down. Actually getting game time has helped me a tremendous amount just to relax and play football,’’ Levy said.

Levy has played in all eight games and started three of them while Dizon has been in all eight games also.

The brutal truth

ALLEN PARK —  While Lions’ fans may be losing their patience (and for good reason), it’s going to take the Lions (1-7) a while to dig out of the hole that was dug by Matt Millen in his eight years as the Lions’ general manager.

Want proof? Millen’s five drafts from 2002-2006 yielded just one player  (Ernie Sims) who is still with the team today. That’s atrocious. NFL teams build through the draft. The top picks are, of course, important, but the middle- and late-round picks are what differentiate the NFL’s elite teams from the bottom feeders. (Of course, Millen wasted top picks too.)

Players drafted from 2002 to 2006 should be in the peak of their NFL careers. And what do the Lions have to show for it? One guy.

Under Martin Mayhew in April, the Lions drafted what appears to be a quality class. All nine draftees are on the regular roster or the practice squad. Safety Louis Delmas, a second-round pick, is arguably the best player in the secondary. Linebacker DeAndre Levy, a third-round pick, has excited the coaching staff, along with fourth-round pick Sammie Hill, a defensive tackle. Matthew Stafford and Brandon Pettigrew were gimmes.

It appears the Lions are heading in the right direction with Mayhew and his gang, along with the coaching staff. But it’s going to take a while to overcome the damage that Millen incurred on this team. No one wants to hear that, but it’s the brutal truth.



Sims hurting

ALLEN PARK — Since linebacker Ernie Sims has never suffered a hamstring injury, he went to the internet to learn more about what ails him.

“They say it takes about a good two to three weeks, depending on how severe it is,’’ Sims said.

He  pulled the hamstring in Sunday’s loss at Seattle. He had a magnetic resonance imaging test on Tuesday and was to speak to a doctor and learn the results later Wednesday. He thinks it is a tear.

From his research Sims thinks it’s good news that there is no swelling or bruising. He said it’s just real tight.

“I’m taking it day to day now, I’m hoping God blessed me. I hate the feeling being away from football and not being on the field,’’ Sims said. He missed the win over Washington on Sept. 27 with a shoulder injury.

If he can’t go, it’s likely that rookie DeAndre Levy will get the start in his place. Levy has started two games this season.

Stafford regroups

ALLEN PARK — Life doesn’t get easier for the Lions (1-7) or rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford. On Sunday, the Lions play at Minnesota (7-1) where they have not won since 1997. Stafford is coming off his worst game, after he threw five interceptions in the loss at Seattle.

 “Our defense played definitely well enough to help us out and get us a win. I can’t turn the ball over. If we limit the turnovers, it could be a different story,’’ Stafford said on Wednesday.

The final interception was returned for a touchdown which sealed the win for the Seahawks.

“Just looking at the mistakes I made, there’s definitely some things I could have corrected, and definitely could have played better,’’ Stafford said.

For more on Stafford, see Thursday’s Oakland Press.

Two LBs sit out practice

ALLEN PARK — Starting linebackers Ernie Sims (hamstring) and Larry Foote did not practice today. Foote has been dealing with a sprained wrist since he injured it against Pittsburgh, but it’s unclear if that’s the reason he sat out practice. Also Dewayne White (hamstring) did not practice.

Safety Louis Delmas, who injured a knee during Sunday’s game, was full-go at practice.

Also, the Lions signed linebacker Danny Lansanah (UConn) to the practice squad.

Lions swap out corners again

The Lions continued their revolving door for retread cornerbacks on Tuesday, picking up second-year corner Jack Williams off waivers from the Denver Broncos, and cutting Jason David.

A former fourth-round pick who spent all of his rookie season and the first seven games of 2009 with the Broncos, Williams had 14 tackles — including two special-teams stops — and two passes defensed. Williams was sixth on the Broncos a year ago with five special-teams tackles.

The Lions continue to look for help not only in the defensive backfield, but on special teams, where a kickoff return to midfield in Sunday's loss at Seattle started the flip-flop in momentum after the Lions rattled off a 17-0 start to the game.

David was with the Lions less than a week. The former Colt, who was on the team's 2006 Super Bowl team, was signed last Wednesday, but was inactive for the game in Seattle.

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Sims' injury may be significant, Delmas' isn't

The Lions came out of Sunday's game at Seattle with two worrisome injuries on defense: a hamstring injury to linebacker Ernie Sims, and a knee injury to rookie free safety Louis Delmas.

According to head coach Jim Schwartz, Sims' injury "has a chance to be" significant, while Delmas leaving the game with a twisted knee may have been more in the realm of a scare.

"We’ll see on Wednesday, but it’s more into the short-term, bumps-and-bruises type thing," said Schwartz of the rookie's status.

Sims had tests on his injured hamstring Monday morning, then went through meetings with his teammates, before heading to the hospital for more tests Monday afternoon.

"I’ve never had a hamstring injury before, so I’m just hoping that it’s not that bad, so I can get back on the field," Sims said in the locker room, before heading to the hospital.

Delmas missed time in training camp with injuries, but has started every regular-season game so far in his rookie season, one of just two — along with tight end Brandon Pettigrew — of the Lions' prized rookies to do so. Sims, who had started every game in his first three seasons with the Lions, injured his shoulder against Minnesota in Week 2, then was inactive against Washington in Week 3, and limited in effectiveness the next three games. Rookie DeAndre Levy started in Sims' place against Washington, Pittsburgh and Green Bay.

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Schwartz: No rift between Calvin, Stafford

Amidst all the frustration of Matthew Stafford nearly doubling his career interception total in three quarters Sunday, as the Lions managed to waste a 17-0 lead in a 32-20 loss to the Seahawks, the Fox cameras captured a icy moment between the rookie quarterback and his star receiver, Calvin Johnson, on the sidelines.

The shot showed Stafford trying to explain something to Johnson, who was trying very hard to ignore the rookie, spawning a short-lived controversy about the presumed lack of chemistry between the two players.

According to Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, who addressed the subject with both of the principals, it's not an issue.

"There’s no issue there. I’ve talked to the players, I haven’t looked at TV copy, or anything else," Schwartz said in his Monday news conference. "Good gracious, if there was a camera on every single person, on every single play, you could read between the lines on a million different things. ... You want to be happy and cheerful, and win football games, and there’s things that you’ve got to work through, and there’s gonna be times where you need to talk things out. I don’t even see it as being an issue. I know it’s not for the players, and I don’t understand why someone would make it an issue. It’s not even an issue."

Johnson agreed.

"There’s no problem with us, you know? People are just blowing that out of proportion," said the third-year receiver, who admitted he hadn't seen the footage in question. "I don’t care to see it, because I know there’s nothing out there, there’s no problem."

Whatever the issue, real or imagined between the two, both had to be frustrated with the performance of the offense, as a whole.

After seven interceptions in his first five starts, Stafford finished with five in Sunday's game alone, including an interception returned for a touchdown in the fourth, as the Lions were trying to drive for a go-ahead score. In his return from a knee injury which cost him two full games and most of another, Johnson had just two catches for 27 yards, despite being targeted nine times.

"Frustrated with the loss, you know? You win, all that’s out the window. Just frustrated with losing," said Johnson, when asked about the source of his frustration. "It’s a loss, and no one’s going to be happy about that. Something’s wrong with you, if you are. It’s been a while now, definitely. Since I’ve been here, we haven’t gotten enough wins. It’s definitely frustrating."

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Emotional loss for Peterson

SEATTLE — Julian Peterson knew he would be in for an emotional game on Sunday. After all he played the last three seasons for the Seahawks. It was his first trip back since the veteran linebacker was traded from Seattle to Detroit in March.

Peterson played a key role in the Lions’ early 17-0 lead. He stripped the ball out of the hands of fullback Justin Griffith and the ball bounced into the hands of Detroit safety Ko Simpson.

“You know how my emotions are. I was feeling good. I’m just disappointed because we didn’t win. That’s the way the game goes sometimes,’’ said Peterson who finished with four tackles.

Of course the Seahawks turned the momentum by jumping on Detroit mistakes and rode Matt Hasselbeck’s arm to a 32-20 win.

“We didn’t do a good job of closing the game out. That was the biggest thing,’’ Peterson said. “They made some plays and we couldn’t make any more plays after that. That was the biggest thing.’’

Peterson was selected by coach Jim Schwartz to join captains Dominic Raiola and Larry Foote at midfield for the coin toss.

Overall Peterson was disappointed with just one thing in his return.

“It was cool. It was good. I was happy,’’ Peterson said. “The only thing I’m mad at is we didn’t win, that’s all.’’

Grady Jackson out

SEATTLE — Defensive tackle Grady Jackson, who was listed as probable on Friday’s injury report, is inactive for today’s game against the Seahawks. Landon Cohen is expected to start in his place. Jackson started six of the first seven games.

Other inactives are: safety Marvin White, cornerback Jason David, fullback Jerome Felton, linebacker Vinny Ciurciu, offensive lineman Jon Jansen and guard Daniel Loper. Drew Stanton is listed as the third quarterback.



Johnson, Smith questionable

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson (knee) went through limited practice on Friday for the third straight day. He’s listed as questionable for Sunday’s game at Seattle. Coach Jim Schwartz has said he expects Johnson will be a game-time decision.

Running back Kevin Smith (shoulder) and fullback Jerome Felton (ankle) are also listed as questionable. Smith aggravated his shoulder in Sunday’s loss to St. Louis. He practiced on Thursday and Friday on a limited basis.

For more on Calvin Johnson, see Saturday’s Oakland Press.

Jansen earns respect

ALLEN PARK — The experiment with Jon Jansen at left guard may be over, but Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan can not find enough good words for Jansen.

“He never played guard, he’s been a tackle his whole life. What he did, he went out there and gave us everything he possibly could and all that leadership and attitude you need to have. We’re trying to find a solution in that spot,’’ Linehan said. “I’ve got as much respect for him as anybody who’s ever played from a preparation and a passion for the game. What he’s doing for our team and our group is really positive.’’

 Linehan and coach Jim Schwartz would not say who will start at left guard on Sunday at Seattle.

 Jansen, who grew up in Clawson and played at the University of Michigan, was signed as a free agent in the offseason after spending his first 10 NFL seasons with the Washington Redskins.

Throughout training camp he had been practicing at right tackle with the second group. And Jansen’s message has been constant: He’s here to help the Lions win and will do anything asked of him.

 He graded his first stint at left guard as average.

 “There are some things I did well and there are some areas I really need to improve on,’’ Jansen said. “We looked at the film, pass blocking is one of the things I have to get more comfortable doing and keep moving forward.’’



Megatron, Kevin Smith headed toward returns

The Lions receivers didn’t get it done against the Rams, coming up with a total of just two catches — and six drops.

A big reason for that shortfall was the continuing absence of star Calvin Johnson, who missed his second straight start with a knee injury.

Johnson practiced again on Thursday, and appears on schedule to play on Sunday, but head coach Jim Schwartz warned that he is — along with running back Kevin Smith — still a game-time decision.

"I’m out there practicing, you know, so that’s always a positive sign. Just being careful, being on the cautious side of everything, don’t want to injure it — I’m trying to get out there on Sunday, and play," Johnson said. "We’re just being cautious, being smart about it, and getting some reps in this week."

Johnson missed just one game as a rookie, then played in all 16 games last year, but hasn't played since early in the Pittsburgh game on Oct. 11, missing nearly three-quarters of that game, then both the game at Green Bay and the home game against the Rams, sandwiched around the Lions' bye week.

“We’re just going to keep on taking it like we are. Like I said, we’re just going to be careful, do what I can do. As long as I don’t have any setbacks, things look brighter for Sunday,” said the third-year star, noting that he doesn’t feel pressured to hurry back. “There’s no pressure, at all. First thing, I’ve got to look out for myself, because I don’t want to have this thing lingering for the future. I just want to get this thing back as close to 100 (percent) as I can, and get back on the field.

“It’s tough, sitting out there, watching your team go, knowing that you could be a factor, if you were out there. That’s always rough.”

The Lions did get rookie QB Matthew Stafford back from a knee injury against the Rams, but Smith left the game with a shoulder injury, and was held out of practice until a limited appearance Thursday.

“It was football. It’s nothing broken, or anything like that. It’s just part of the game. I just needed a day for it to calm down, and get back to where it was,” he said. “It’s gonna be a football thing. I’m not going to make it seem like I’ve got to go out there and fight through blood, like a gladiator, but — I mean, I’ll probably feel it, but not to the extent that I’ll worry about it.”

Smith appeared more concerned about an apparent insinuation that he would be losing carries to backup Maurice Morris. The former Seahawk (who will be going against his former teammates Sunday) finished the Rams game in Smith's absence, getting more carries (14) than he'd had in the Lions' first six games combined.

While Schwartz said Smith's his lead dog, when and if healthy, the second-year running back wants to prove that on the field.

“Because I get the ball first, I want to be that tempo-setter, that lead dog, and I think enough’s enough. I take it personal, but I don’t wanna go out there and try to do too much. I just want to go out there and do my job, and do it well,” he said.

“My personal heat-pack, I don’t know if anyone else feels it. And more of it’s on myself. The coaches have expectations, and of course you want to prove to them that you want to do your thing, but the most pressure’s coming from myself, because I didn’t come in this league to be a bottom-list rusher. ... I’ve gotta stick with it, because it’s not going my way, obviously. There’s two things you can do: You can give up, or you can get better. There’s only one option for me.

“Together, you know, I think we want to have our first solid game, and like I said, I take it upon myself, and I take it real personal. I want to get it going, and ... you know? Let’s not really talk about it. Enough’s enough. You go out there, and you get it done, or you don’t.”

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Calvin's status uncertain

ALLEN PARK — Coach Jim Schwartz said that wide receiver Calvin Johnson is making progress while attempting to come back from a knee injury. Johnson practiced today in preparation for Sunday’s game at Seattle.

“Every day he’s done a little bit more. We’ll probably give him a little bit more tomorrow than we give him today and probably a little bit more Friday.  It’s probably still going to be a game-time decision,’’ Schwartz said.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford, who played on Sunday after missing two games, said his knee was a little sore after the game but nothing too bad. He said he’s past the point where he has to worry if he’ll be healthy enough to play.

Smith sits; David signed

ALLEN PARK — Running back Kevin Smith, who injured his shoulder in Sunday’s loss to the Rams, did not practice today. However, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who missed the last two games with a knee injury, did practice. Johnson was a game-time decision on Sunday and is expected to be back this Sunday at Seattle.

The Lions placed defensive back Demarcus Faggins, who was injured on Sunday, on the Injured Reserve list.

They signed veteran defensive back Jason David (Washington State) to take his spot on the roster.  David was the starting cornerback on the Super Bowl Championship Colts in 2006. He spent the last two seasons with the Saints and was waived in August.

Also Taurus Johnson was cut from the practice squad and wide receiver Eric Fowler (Grand Valley State) was added.


Lions vs. Rams live blog

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Lions inactives for Rams game

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said all week that his two injured stars, WR Calvin Johnson and QB Matthew Stafford, were game-time decisions to play today against the Rams.

One hour before game time, and we now know that Stafford is at least active for the game, while Johnson (knee) is not. Dennis Northcutt will start opposite Bryant Johnson at wide receiver, as the Lions will be without their biggest receiving threat for the majority of a third straight game. Drew Stanton is the third quarterback for the contest, meaning that — barring a last-minute reversal — Stafford will start for the first time since his knee injury nearly a month ago (Oct. 4).

In other lineup changes, free-agent tackle acquisition Jon Jansen will indeed get a chance to settle the revolving door at left guard, starting in place of the rotation of Daniel Loper and Manny Ramirez, both of whom are inactive for the game. Terrelle Smith will start at fullback in place of Jerome Felton, who is inactive, as well.

On defense, Cliff Avril returns to the starting lineup at left end, replacing Jason Hunter, who is out with a high-ankle sprain. Ko Simpson is back in the starting lineup at strong safety, as well, while corner Anthony Henry did not dress for the game.

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