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.


Stanton goes for MRI

ALLEN PARK — Swelling in the knee of quarterback Drew Stanton kept him out of this afternoon’s practice. His knee was not swollen after Saturday’s game. He had a little swelling on Sunday, but nothing major. Then when he arrived at the practice facility today he had much more swelling. He was sent for an MRI. No results were immediately available. He was not at the facility during practice.

Daunte Culpepper has eight stitches in one of his toes after tripping on carpet at home on Saturday night. He was on the field for practice, but did not participate and chose not to comment. He has not been ruled out for Thursday night’s preseason game at Buffalo.

With Matthew Stafford as the only healthy quarterback, coach Jim Schwartz cut practice time by about 20 percent. “We put a want ad on Craigslist for a quarterback for today for practice. Nobody answered, so we had to go with one quarterback for practice,’’ Schwartz said.

Culpepper sits out practice

ALLEN PARK — The Lions quarterback situation has taken a new twist. Daunte Culpepper sustained a minor cut to his toe at home on Saturday evening. It required eight stitches and is not considered serious, according to a team statement just released.

He is not practicing this afternoon. His status for Thursday’s final preseason game will be determined later this week. Third-stringer Drew Stanton also was missing from practice without explanation, though coaches said they would explain his absence after today's practice.

Culpepper started Games 1 and 3 of the preseason. Prior to his toe injury, coach Jim Schwartz said there was “a good chance” that Matthew Stafford would start on Thursday night at Buffalo in the final preseason contest.

Stafford and Culpepper are vying to be the Lions starting quarterback when the season opens on Sept. 13 in New Orleans.


Roster moves made

ALLEN PARK — Today the Lions placed cornerback Dexter Wynn on Injured Reserve which means his season is finished.

Also they cut wide receiver Demir Boldin, linebacker Robert Francois, safety LaMarcus Hicks and defensive end Ryan Kees.

The roster must by cut to 75 on Tuesday. The final cut to 53 is due at 4 p.m. Saturday.


Offense looks good in win

DETROIT — Daunte Culpepper and Matthew Stafford each played a solid game in today’s 18-17 preseason win over the Indianapolis Colts. Neither stepped up and grabbed the starting job. Neither stumbled big-time either.

Coach Jim Schwartz was mum on the situation after the game. He said he liked the way all three quarterbacks played, including Drew Stanton who engineered the winning drive.

"Our offense was able to control the ball. When you play the Colts, when you play Peyton Manning you better be able to control the football and limit his chances. I thought Scott (Linehan, offensive coordinator) and his staff did a great job of that in the first half,’’ Schwartz said.

The Lions have a short-turnaround until their final preseason contest on Thursday night at Buffalo.

Which quarterback will start that game? On Friday, Schwartz said there’s a good chance it will be Stafford since Culpepper started today. But following the game he was non-committal. The debate rages.

Six on inactive list

DETROIT — The Lions just listed six on the inactive list for this afternoon’s preseason game. None were surprises. Out are: K Jason Hanson (knee), CB Phillip Buchanon (neck), CB Anthony Henry (shoulder), LB Ernie Sims (ribs), WR Dennis Northcutt (thumb) and WR Glenn Holt who was signed on Friday.

Among the players out for the Colts is RB Mike Hart (Michigan).



Revolving door

The Lions continued to work on the lower portion of their roster, adding a pair of players Friday.

The Lions cut running back Allen Ervin on Thursday, and left his roster spot open until Friday, adding kick returner Glenn Holt after their waiver claim went through in the afternoon. Holt was waived by the Vikings Thursday.

Friday, the Lions dropped wide receiver Billy McMullen, and replaced him with linebacker Rufus Alexander. A cousin of former Lions safety Gerald Alexander, Rufus Alexander was a sixth-round pick of Minnesota in 2007, but spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons on the practice squads of the Vikings and Colts.

Holt, who spent three seasons with the Bengals before signing with Minnesota, has a career 24.3-yard average on 122 kickoff returns.

Three out for Saturday

ALLEN PARK — Three Lions are definitely out for Saturday’s preseason game against Indianapolis at Ford Field. Cornerback Anthony Henry (shoulder), cornerback Phillip Buchanon (neck) and wide receiver Dennis Northcutt (thumb) will not play.

Running back Kevin Smith (bruised hip) and linebacker Ernie Sims (ribs) will be game-time decisions. Coach Jim Schwartz said Smith has a better chance of playing than Sims.

Rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew, a first-round pick, will see his first preseason action as will veteran wide receivers Calvin Johnson and Bryant Johnson.


Starting quarterback named

ALLEN PARK — Quarterback Daunte Culpepper will get the start Saturday against Indianapolis in the Lions’ third preseason game. Culpepper started the preseason opener while rookie Matthew Stafford started last week at Cleveland.

Coach Jim Schwartz said there’s  “a good chance” they will flip and have Stafford start the final preseason game on Thursday in Buffalo. But don’t hold him to it.

Schwartz warned that nothing should be read into this decision. It has nothing to do with who will start in the regular season opener on Sept. 13 in New Orleans.

“You can read whatever you want into it. We’re trying to get guys reps, we’re trying to get them into a lot of different situations. We do want to get in a position where Daunte and Matt both get situations where they’re with Calvin Johnson and Bryant Johnson. We’re going to rotate (receivers) and do things that way,’’ Schwartz said this morning.

Culpepper will play until midway through the second quarter. Stafford will pick it up and play through the third and Drew Stanton will play the fourth quarter. Schwartz said there will be some fluidity there depending on the number of snaps each quarterback gets.


Three could sit out

Three potential starters are questionable for Saturday’s third preseason game against Indianapolis at Ford Field. Running back Kevin Smith (bruised hip), cornerback Phillip Buchanan (neck) and linebacker Ernie Sims (ribs) sat out Thursday’s practice and are listed as day to day by coach Jim Schwartz.

On the bright side, tight end Brandon Pettigrew, a first-round pick, is expected to see his first preseason action after practicing with the team all week. He is returning from a quad injury.

Also, the Lions signed place kicker Billy Cundiff because Swayze Waters has a hamstring issue. Waters was released. He was signed to kick in the preseason while Jason Hanson recovers from minor knee surgery. The Lions claimed defensive end Orion Martin off waivers from Miami.

Starting QB still a question mark

ALLEN PARK — Coach Jim Schwartz said today that he will wait until Friday to name a starting quarterback for Saturday’s third preseason game against Indianapolis at Ford Field. Daunte Culpepper started the opener and rookie Matthew Stafford started a week ago. The starter for Saturday will not necessarily be the regular season starter.

Schwartz also would not say how long each quarterback will play. He did say the receivers will rotate in and out of the game. That way both Stafford and Culpepper will have a chance to throw to top receivers Calvin Johnson and Bryant Johnson and rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew. It will be the first preseason action for all three of them.



Seeking a kicker

ALLEN PARK —  Place kicker Swayze Waters (hamstring) is a no-go for Saturday’s preseason game, so the team brought in kickers for tryouts today.

 Wide receiver Dane Looker can kick and kicked field goals again at practice. Schwartz even let him try it from 53 yards out which he missed twice

“We’re giving Dane a lot of stuff, but that’s asking a little much of a position player to have to do double duty,’’ Schwartz said. “We’ll see what happens after this.’’

 Waters was signed to temporarily fill in for Jason Hanson who had minor knee surgery two weeks ago. Hanson’s timetable for a return is unknown.

Missed tackles a huge issue

ALLEN PARK — Gunther Cunningham, the defensive coordinator, will not put up with missed tackles like the ones he saw in the second preseason game on Saturday. He made his point clear to the media today when the more he talked, the more heated he became.

“One of the messages I sent to the defensive guys is they’re not going to play here if they can’t tackle. What I was disappointed in the game, early on they got us a little bit, but we settled down and we were playing really good then a couple guys went in there and let the whole defense down,’’ Cunningham said. “I think there were two plays for 103 yards. Our coaching staff is not going to tolerate it and I told them what I thought.

“If you can’t tackle, you can’t play defense and you definitely are not going to play here on defense. They picked up and worked at it this week and they looked better,’’ he added.

For more on Cunningham's thoughts about the defense, see Thursday's Oakland Press.


Offense adjusts

ALLEN PARK — Running back Aaron Brown may be a rookie but he’s no fool when it comes to the Lions’ offense.

With Calvin Johnson and Bryant Johnson back on the practice field after returning from injuries, the offense has a new look.

“They’re definitely the playmakers on the offense, we’ve been missing them these last couple of weeks,’’ Brown said. “In preseason games and even in practice they bring a different element when they’re out there. They definitely get the respect and they give us a little bit of a chance on the perimeter to work some better things in our favor on offense. It was even different out there today.’’

For more on the offense, see Wednesday’s Oakland Press.

Looker shows versatility

ALLEN PARK — Dane Looker, the Lions newest wide receiver, has never kicked a field goal in a game, but today he was four for four in the morning session of camp. That included a 43-yarder.

Looker got the chance because kicker Swayze Waters, who was signed following Jason Hanson’s minor knee surgery two weeks ago, woke up this morning with a stiff hamstring.

Coach Jim Schwartz said they could use Looker in a game to kick off and kick field goals if they have to.

“We’ll see how Swayze is, if he’s to the point he can’t play then maybe we’ll have to do something rosterwise,’’ Schwartz said.

Hanson is right on schedule following surgery, but is not able to kick yet. Looker, a veteran free agent, signed last week.


Receivers need to step up

ALLEN PARK —  With Calvin Johnson, Bryant Johnson and Dennis Northcutt — the Lions’ top three wide receivers — missing so much training camp due to injury, it’s given the other receivers increased reps and more of a chance to shine. But no one has cemented one of those coveted roster spots.

Even last week, the Lions signed veteran free agent Dane Looker who impressed Martin Mayhew, the Lions' general manager, in Saturday's loss at Cleveland.

“There are still areas people can jump up and take charge. What we can’t have is what we had last week — five drops. When there are jobs open we need to see players capitalize,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said.

Both Johnsons and Northcutt participated in today's practice and, if they stay on track, should see their first preseason action on Saturday when the Lions host Indianpolis at Ford Field. For more about the Lions' offense, see Tuesday's Oakland Press.


Hanson on schedule

ALLEN PARK — Kicker Jason Hanson said he’s right on schedule following minor knee surgery two weeks ago. Of course he’s not sure what the exact schedule is, but he’s past the ice and elevation stage.

“It’s doesn’t seem like it’s going fast enough for me.  ... It feels like baby steps right now, especially with kickers kicking 50 yarders during the game. It’s like, ‘Oh, I have to get better,’’’ Hanson said following this afternoon’s practice.

His temporary replacement, Swayze Waters, kicked a 51-yard field goal in the 27-10 loss at Cleveland on Saturday.

About a week before the preseason opener in which Hanson kicked a 47-yard game-winning field goal, he said he felt some stiffness in his right knee, but wasn’t overly concerned because he could still kick.

“The decision was made that it was not something that would get better on its own. If they didn’t fix it, it would break down later in the season. I was a little surprised — it didn’t feel right — but I was kicking. ... It’s a real bummer, I didn’t expect it. It’s a step backward right after you feel you’re getting in great shape,’’ said Hanson who is in his 18th season with the Lions.


Mayhew sees ups and downs

ALLEN PARK —  Martin Mayhew, the Lions general manager, said today he thought Saturday’s preseason loss to Cleveland was hard to judge offensively because the top three receivers (Calvin Johnson, Bryant Johnson and Dennis Northcutt) did not play due to injury.

Mayhew said quarterback Matthew Stafford did nothing that surprised him. He knows all eyes are on Stafford who is trying to win the starting job over Daunte Culpepper. Stafford has thrown an interception that was returned for a touchdown in each of his first two preseason games.

“Any time you draft a guy first overall I think there’s a high level of expectation and I think that Matthew has done some things that have been really exciting, people have seen him do some things that are really exciting on the practice field and on the game field,’’ Mayhew said. “You want to see that consistently every single play and that’s something to be excited about. He has a chance to be a really, really good player. We just have to develop him and put good players around him.’’

   Two roster moves were made today. Rookie free agent receiver Kenneth Harris, who injured his ankle last week, was placed on the waived/injured list. To take his place the Lions signed rookie free agent running back and return specialist Tristan Davis who played at Auburn.



A big step backward

The 27-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Saturday night was not a step in the right direction for the Lions. Imagine it was a long — and possibly very quiet — bus ride back to Allen Park afterward.

The Lions got beat soundly on offense, defense and special teams. Penalties were an issue for the second straight week. The offense couldn’t find a rhythm and the defense allowed the Browns to score on their first three possessions (one touchdown, two field goals). Throw in the punt return for a touchdown and Detroit was down 20-0 in the first quarter. That’s Detroit’s starting offense against the Browns’ starting defense. That’s a little scary. After all, these are the Browns.

Matthew Stafford started, but looked like a rookie against Cleveland’s No. 1 defense. He was 5 of 13 for 34 yards. His first pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. This week he could get nothing going to get past that. He threw a few high passes and had a few dropped by John Standeford. Veteran Daunte Culpepper looked more in control and Drew Stanton impressed in mop-up duty.

Jobs are on the line, but it seemed no one stepped up. Wide receiver Dane Looker, who signed on Monday, caught a few nice passes. Rookie linebacker Deandre Levy made a few noteworthy plays on special teams and defense.

The Lions’ starting offensive line did give Stafford and Culpepper some time, but neither was able to do much with it.

It’s just the second preseason game, but more was expected all the way around on this one. It will be interesting to see how coach Jim Schwartz and this squad handle the adversity that goes hand in hand with a loss such as this one.

There’s plenty of work to do before the Lions play Indianapolis on Saturday at Ford Field.



Calvin Johnson will sit again

ALLEN PARK — No one will be happier to see wide receiver Calvin Johnson return to the field than quarterback Matthew Stafford.

“He’s a pretty easy target to hit. It will be great when he gets out there and makes some defenses adjust to him,’’ Stafford said.

Johnson didn’t play in the preseason opener a week ago and will sit out Saturday night’s preseason game at Cleveland.

 Still, coach Jim Schwartz does not seem too concerned. Johnson has missed most of training camp with a bum right thumb.

 “There’s been no setback, he had a bruised thumb and we were very cautious with it. ... The one thing we didn’t want to do was turn it into a lingering problem,’’ Schwartz said.

  Johnson, who no longer wears a cast on his hand, participates in many of the individual drills but has not caught passes — other than a few soft ones — on a daily basis.

“You never have to worry about him work ethic-wise, he’s going to get all his work in,’’ Schwartz said.

Stafford to start

ALLEN PARK — Rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford will get the start on Saturday at Cleveland in the Lions second preseason game. Coach Jim Schwartz made the announcement this morning.
Last week Daunte Culpepper got the start.
Stafford will play into the second quarter when Culpepper will take over and play late into the third or early in the fourth. Drew Stanton will finish the game.
Rookie safety Louis Delmas will also start after missing the preseason opener with a knee injury.


Bullocks clears waivers

ALLEN PARK — Injured safety Daniel Bullocks cleared waivers late Thursday afternoon and was placed on the Reserve/Injured list which means he’s out for the season.
Because he is not vested — he’s been in the league less than four years — the Lions were not able to just place him on injured reserve because he would have counted against the 80-man roster.
During the 2007 preseason he tore his anterior cruciate ligament and the surgery ended his season.
Last year he bounced back with a career-high 121 tackles and played in all 16 games, starting 15 of them. However, he didn’t seem to have the same zip in his step as before the surgery.
That same knee has bothered him in the offseason. A week into camp he went to Birmingham, Ala., to see Dr. James Andrews, his surgeon. He had not practiced since then and is expected to have more surgery.
 He's in the final year of his contract with the Lions.

The fight for a roster spot

ALLEN PARK — The new Lions regime has made it clear that every one has to earn a roster spot, they have no loyalty to the past.
That includes tight end Casey FitzSimmons who has played the last six seasons with the Lions.
FitzSimmons is in a tough spot because he injured an ankle early in training camp.
This morning he participated in team drills for the first time since the injury and said, barring a setback, the ankle is getting close to 100 percent.
Competition at tight end includes veteran Will Heller and Carson Butler (Michigan). Also the Lions drafted Brandon Pettigrew late in the first round and Dan Gronkowski in the seventh round.
FitzSimmons wanted to be back practicing sooner rather than later and not just because the other tight ends were practicing so well.
“I really don’t view it that way. I’m a guy, I don’t like to be hurt, no matter what. It doesn’t mater how the other tight ends are doing, that’s out of my control,’’ FitzSimmons said. “I’ve got a lot of stuff I can work on myself, so for me to judge those guys, I try to help those guys out ... It’s a new staff you want to prove yourself and establish yourself so that’s what I’m trying to do.’’


Schwartz mum on starter

No starting quarterback has been announced for Saturday even though a week ago when Daunte Culpepper was named the starter for the preseason opener, coach Jim Schwartz said they would flip that for this week and have Matthew Stafford start. The coach will make the announcement on Friday.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who has missed most of camp with a sprained thumb on his right hand, was ruled out of Saturday’s second preseason game by coach Jim Schwartz this morning. The coach said they are aiming to get Johnson back for the third preseason game on Aug. 29.

Tight end Casey Fitzsimmons, who has been out with an ankle injury, participated in team drills on the scout team this morning.  He hasn’t practiced in pads so doubts he will play on Saturday.

Injured safety Daniel Bullocks has until 4 p.m. to clear waivers. The team will then make an announcement on his future. He’s expected to have more surgery on the same knee that required season-ending ACL surgery two years ago. He played last season, but didn’t have the same zip as he did prior to the surgery. Bullocks has missed most of camp with the knee woes.

Two skirmishes on the field this morning showed Schwartz one thing — his team is ready to go up an opponent. Fitzsimmons and James Hunter got tangled after a play in team drills. Then Terrance Metcalf and Landon Cohen had to be pulled apart a few plays later.


Lions waive safety Bullocks

Unable to get safety Daniel Bullocks healthy from a lingering knee injury, the Lions Wednesday placed the former second-round pick on waived/injured list, according to published reports, likely ending his tenure with the team.

If no team claims him, the 26-year-old Bullocks will revert to the injured reserve. Bullocks, who has not practiced since the first days of camp, started 22 of his 31 games with the Lions, including 15 last year after coming back from the ACL tear that cost him the entire 2007 season.

It's the second high draft pick at that position that the Lions have let go during training camp. The team traded 2007 second-round pick Gerald Alexander to the Jacksonville Jaguars on July 1.

Wednesday's move leaves the Lions with six safeties, five of them — Stuart Schweigert, LaMarcus Hicks, Marquand Manuel, Kalvin Pearson and the newly-signed Calvin Lowry — likely competing to start next to this year's second-round pick, Louis Delmas.

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Delmas crunches Brown

ALLEN PARK — Aaron Brown, the Lions’ back-flipping rookie running back, took a hit this morning that was heard across the field and maybe across the Southfield freeway too.
 After catching a pass from Daunte Culpepper, he was blindsided by rookie safety Louis Delmas with a bone-rattling, open-field tackle in what was the biggest hit of training camp so far.
  Coach Jim Schwartz said Delmas crossed the line.
  “When a guy is not expecting it and is in a vulnerable position, he was motoring to get there, I appreciate the effort but  we need to be smarter about that,’’ Schwartz said.
   Gunther Cunningham, the defensive coordinator, looked at it a little differently.
 “We’ve really been working hard to become a physical team. Having Louis Delmas back out — he shouldn’t do that in practice — but I turned around and smiled. I loved every second of it, boy he blew him up. That’s the kind of tackling we’re trying to get out of him,’’ Cunningham said.
   Brown, who was not hurt, and Delmas were smiling about it afterward.
   Delmas missed a week and a half of camp with a bum knee. Today was his first practice back in full pads.



Lions will face Favre on Sept. 20

ALLEN PARK —  With Brett Favre signing with the Vikings today, the Lions season opener against Minnesota on Sept. 20 just got a little more interesting.
Sort of.
“I’m worried about tomorrow,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said after today’s afternoon practice. “I can’t worry about Sept. 20. Obviously that’s something of interest to us because of the division, not only a division team we play twice, but a team that’s on the schedule. It’s going to change that game a little bit, but we’ve got a lot of ground to cover before we get there.’’
   Schwartz has game-planned as a defensive coordinator at Tennessee to play Favre -- twice when he was at Green Bay and last season when he was with the Jets.
“You can defeat the play and he can still make a play, meaning you can do everything right on defense and he’s a guy who can still fit a ball in, or he can create and he can make something out of nothing,’’ Schwartz said.
   Lions’ defensive tackle Grady Jackson played in Green Bay with Favre and considers him a friend.
  “I figured he was coming back because it’s hard for a guy like him to just lay it down. If he has something in the tank I felt like he was going to come back,’’ Jackson said.

Linebacker placed on IR

ALLEN PARK — Linebacker Cody Spencer was placed on injured reserve today, ending his season.
  Spencer, a five-year NFL veteran who signed with the Lions as a free agent in March, tore an ACL during Saturday’s preseason opening win.
“It’s disappointing for him. He’s a guy who has been around the league a little bit, he’s had a good run and he was fitting in well with what we wanted him to do,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said. “He’s strong, gave us a little different dimension at linebacker. So it’s disappointing to lose him — No. 1 from a personal standpoint for him, No. 2 from a team standpoint.’’
   Without Spencer, rookie Deandre Levy (third-round pick out of Wisconsin) should get more opportunity to prove himself.
   “Deandre has done a nice job of being physical in camp and doing the physical things. His biggest challenge is, just like all rookies, is being good with the scheme, not just good with the scheme in the meeting room or out here in practice, but when the real stuff starts happening -- when the other team is a different color -- all of a sudden it becomes a little bit harder to try to get through. That’s his challenge,’’ Schwartz said.

Hanson out after minor surgery

ALLEN PARK — Kicker Jason Hanson underwent a minor surgical procedure on his knee this morning and will be out indefinitely.
  Kicker Swayze Waters was signed to fill in.
  “(Hanson) did really well with it, the doctors are pleased with it. We’re optimistic we’ll get him back on the field pretty quickly,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said. “We brought Swayze back in to handle kicking for this preseason game and until Jason’s back to full speed.’’
    The coach wouldn’t be specific about which knee or the exact type of procedure done on the 39-year-old Hanson who is in his 18th season with the Lions. The coach said he had been bothered for over a week and was trying to work through it. Obviously he still had some strength because he kicked a 47-yard field goal in the preseason opening win on Saturday.
“The idea was rather than let it linger and turn into something that was going to nag him all season, which it most likely would have, we decided to do it now while we had a little bit of time and give him some time to recover and take the pressure off of having to handle that during the season,’’ Schwartz said.
   Waters had been with the Lions during minicamp.
   Room was available on the roster because linebacker Cody Spencer was placed on injured reserve after tearing his ACL in Saturday’s game.



Lions sign two veterans

ALLEN PARK — The Lions signed veteran wide receiver Dane Looker and veteran offensive guard Terrance Metcalf today.
Looker, who played college ball at Washington, played the last eight seasons for the St. Louis Rams.
  Metcalf played the last seven years with the Chicago Bears.
To make room on the roster they released wide receiver Bobby Sippio and offensive tackle Kirk Barton who had been sidelined with a hamstring injury.
  Injuries have been a story for the Lions who played Saturday without 16 of their 80 roster players.
   LB Cody Spencer suffered a serious knee injury in the game, but Martin Mayhew, the Lions general manager, said more tests were being done.
    SS Daniel Bullocks has missed most of the offseason workouts and much of camp with knee woes. It’s the same knee that he tore up in the 2007 preseason.
   TE Casey Fitzsimmons, who has been out with an ankle injury, was involved in some individual drills today. Coach Jim Schwartz said he’s still not day to day, but he’s getting closer.
   Wide receivers Calvin Johnson (sprained thumb) and Bryant Johnson (road rash) saw limited work in individual drills.
  RB Kevin Smith missed practice for personal reasons.

Still too early to call

ALLEN PARK — The decision on whether quarterback Matthew Stafford or Daunte Culpepper will get the nod to start in the opener on Sept. 13 at New Orleans is still way too early to call.
 After Saturday’s 27-26 win in the preseason opener over Atlanta, Lions coach Jim Schwartz said of his quarterbacks: “They all did some really good things, but they all could have done some things better.’’
  Stafford will get the start on Saturday in Cleveland if Schwartz sticks to what he told the media on Friday.
  Due to storm forecasts, the Lions were forced to practice inside today for the first time since camp started. Practice starts at 3:15 p.m. Check back for post-practice notes.


A rocky start

    The Jim Schwartz era got off to a rocky start at Saturday's preseason game when Theo Spight, the national anthem singer, first tried to sing into a microphone that didn’t work at all.
  A new mic was run out to him and it was faulty, skipping seconds here and there. So the fans helped him out.
 “I got goosebumps when Jason (Hanson) hit that thing through the end (to win the game),’’ Schwartz said.
 “The only thing that overshadowed that for me was when the national anthem was playing. Obviously the national anthem didn’t go off the way it was supposed to. ... I got chills on the sideline when I heard the crowd start singing and the guys on the sideline started singing. It was something I’ll remember the rest of my life.
“There are a lot of good Americans all around the country, no finer than here in Detroit,’’ the coach said.
  Of course all ended well when the Lions walked off the field with a 27-26 win over Atlanta.

16 not dressed for game

DETROIT — The Lions have 16 players listed who will not play in the preseason opener today due to injury. The Falcons have two.
  No real surprises for the Lions. DT Grady Jackson, who has been easing his way into training camp, will not play.
  Wide receivers Calvin Johnson (sprained thumb) and Bryant Johnson were not expected to play and won’t.
Others who won’t dress are: WR John Standeford, CB Keith Smith, S Louis Delmas, S Daniel Bullocks, RB Maurice Morris, S Marquand Manuel, LB Zack Follett, LB Jordon Dizon, C Dylan Grandy, T Kirk Barton, TE Casey Fitzsimmons, TE Brandon Pettigrew and WR Dennis Northcutt.


Injuries change roster

    If you’re looking for wide receiver Calvin Johnson at Saturday’s preseason opener your best chance might be to watch him in pregame warmups. Johnson hasn’t practiced full-out since Sunday due to a protective cast on his right hand protecting a sprained thumb. Coach Jim Schwartz wouldn’t rule him out, but he’s questionable at best. He has nothing to prove and there are three more preseason games for him to get into game shape.
   Same goes for rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew who has been limited because of a thigh injury. He’s fun to watch and hard to take your eyes off when he’s on the field, but it would be a surprise to see him out there against Atlanta.
  Schwartz would only rule out three players — safety Daniel Bullocks (knee), tight end Casey Fitzsimmons (ankle) and cornerback Keith Smith (groin).
   But the new coach has also been careful to err on the side of caution when it comes time to get injured players back on the field.

Culpepper gets start

ALLEN PARK — Quarterback Daunte Culpepper will start the Lions preseason opening game on Saturday against Atlanta at Ford Field.
 Coach Jim Schwartz made the announcement this morning after the team’s walk-through. But he cautioned not to read too much into the decision.
“It’s not like somebody’s ahead of somebody on the depth chart. We’re going to give them reps and probably flip it the next week,’’ Schwartz said.
Rookie Matthew Stafford will go in during the second quarter and Drew Stanton will take over sometime during the second half.
“We don’t have an exact number of plays or an exact number of series or an exact number of throws or something like that. We’ll play it by ear,’’ Schwartz said.
 Stafford said he was good with the decision. And, like Schwartz, is not reading much into it. Stafford said he’s excited to get in a game and play for the first time since Jan. 1.
  Culpepper would not talk to the media after this morning’s walk-through.


No decision on the starter at QB

Neither offensive coordinator Scott Linehan nor head coach Jim Schwartz would divulge the plan for which quarterback — veteran Daunte Culpepper or rookie Matthew Stafford — would start Saturday’s preseason opener.

“We haven’t told any position, any player, what their playing time is going to be, much less the quarterbacks,” Schwartz said. “So it’s not just the quarterbacks, and it’s not like we’re keeping it from you, or anything. It’s just part of the progress that I want us to make.”

Schwartz said he would announce the starter this afternoon.

Roster additions

The Lions added a bit of depth on both the offensive line and in the secondary Thursday, signing offensive guard Milford Brown and safety Calvin Lowry.

To make room on the roster, the Lions cut tight end Jake Nordin and defensive tackle John Gill.

"Both of those guys are veteran players — young veteran players — who have experience in the league. We're in a situation with some injuries that we need guys that can get up to speed pretty quickly," said Lions head coach Jim Schwartz. "And we won't be afraid to put either of those guys in the game on Saturday."

The 6-foot-5, 330-pound Brown should give the Lions another option on the line to replace Damion Cook, who had season-ending surgery to repair a torn triceps. A seven-year veteran, Brown has 47 career starts with four teams, earning starting roles with the Cardinals, Rams and most recently the Jaguars, after spending the first four years of his career in Houston.

Another refugee from Jacksonville — those are starting to add up on the Lions' roster — Lowry finished last season with the Jaguars after starting it in Denver. A former fourth-round pick of the Titans, Lowry spent his first two years in the league playing for Schwartz, starting 11 games at safety in 2007.

Even heroes have heroes

Read any good football cliche, and you're bound to get some reference to warfare.

That sort of rhetoric can get a bit over the top, even to the guys who are usually spewing it out.

"You know, in this business, we throw around words like 'warrior,' and 'battle' and 'battle plan' and things like that pretty loosely, and it was just an honor today to be in the presence of some real warriors," said Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, whose seemingly daily list of training camp included nearly 30 members of the elite 127th Security Forces Squadron, headquartered at Selfridge Air Force Base, who joined the team's huddle at the end of Thursday's morning practice.

"These guys are getting ready to be deployed soon. They're going on about a six-month journey, we're going on about the same journey. So we just wanted them to know how much we appreciated them, and give them a chance to come out today," said Schwartz, who showed up at his press conference, wearing a tan T-shirt, autographed by members of the 127th SFS. "We've had a lot of visitors, a lot of VIPs, out at practice, and those guys haven't been in our circle. It was important, as they start their journey and we start ours, that we all sort of broke down together. We were honored to be in their presence today."

Schwartz has made it an emphasis to bring special guests into practice — whether it be former Lions, local celebrities, or members of the armed forces — to help drive home points.

"Sometimes, when you're trying to make it through a two-a-day, you're getting up early in the morning, you're trudging over for practice, you're going in for a nap, and coming back for the afternoon practice, sometimes it might be a little bit easier if you switch shoes with somebody else," Schwartz said. "These guys are getting deployed, and they're going to be away from their families for six months. It gives you a different perspective, and maybe it helps you make it through some tough times in training camp. Anything that can help us make it through, and give us a little different perspective, I embrace that."

Still the punch line

One year after deservedly being the punch line for jokes from nearly every stand-up comic, late-night talk show host, and ESPN talking head as they marched toward the worst kind of history possible, it seems like the shelf-life of jokes about the hapless Lions should be just about played out.

Apparently not.

When Chelsea native and nationally renowned actor Jeff Daniels visited Lions training camp Wednesday (along with former U-M coach Lloyd Carr), nearly every local media outlet reported the fact. In doing so, most mentioned Daniels' work on Broadway, or his Purple Rose Theatre Company, or his current, Tony-winning play, "God of Carnage," or his work in films like the Civil War epics "Gods and Generals" and "Gettysburg." The last one was the obvious reference, especially since head coach Jim Schwartz relayed a story of using the film for motivation in his days as defensive coordinator of the Titans.

Leave it to people outside Detroit to make the one of Daniels' other films, "Dumb and Dumber," the reference of choice, keeping the Lions' status as a laughingstock alive and kicking. Granted, the film is a classic (and a personal must-watch whenever it's on cable), and the outlet in question,, is refreshing for its often-irreverant humor in reporting the news of the NFL, but the allegory they make doesn't necessarily play out, primarily because the two additional Stooges in question — Matt Millen and Rod Marinelli — aren't even with the team, anymore. Nice try, though. The joke's just a year too late.

If the Lions organization truly wants to shed the image of the perpetual buffoon, however, there's a pretty easy remedy: Win a game.

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Pure Michigan

ALLEN PARK — It was pure Michigan at training camp today.
   Two of Michigan’s higher profile citizens -- actor Jeff Daniels and former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr -- were on hand to watch the Lions go through their paces.
  Daniels, wearing a golf shirt with a Detroit Tigers logo, is a long-time Lions fan and met coach Jim Schwartz for the first time.
  Daniels, who lives in Chelsea, is probably a bigger deal in New York than he is here. He’s currently starring in the play “God of Carnage” which just won a Tony Award for best play. They’re on break and he’ll go back Labor Day and it will continue through the middle of December. Daniels said he hopes to get to a Lions game once he gets returns to Michigan in December.
  He compared “God of Carnage” to being the Super Bowl of Broadway because it’s sold out nightly. Daniels also said the economy has definitely hurt Broadway attendance overall.
     Carr watched the entire practice in the presence of Tom Lewand, team president, who is a Michigan alum. Carr could also be seen chatting briefly with rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford.
      Carr was visiting a few of his former players including Larry Foote and Jon Jansen, two of the newest Lions.
 “Anytime I see coach, anytime he says anything positive it raises my spirits. The same thing happened in college. Any time he said, ‘We need you  to do something better’ I was crushed,’’ Jansen said. “I respect him so much and what he’s done and what he still does. He’s like a father figure to me. It’s always good to see him.’’
     Carr and Daniels know each other. Daniels said they both have places on the same lake.


Back in limited action

ALLEN PARK — Veteran wide receiver Bryant Johnson participated in individual drills at this morning’s training camp session where the players were in full pads. It was the first time he had worked out since training camp started after suffering injuries in a golf cart accident near his Atlanta home in July.
   Johnson has been able to keep up on his cardio and said he feels he can work himself into full team drills. He’s unsure if he’ll be ready to play in the preseason opener on Saturday against Atlanta at Ford Field. He suffered a variety of open wounds and will not talk about the incident.
 Calvin Johnson remains out with a cast on his right hand due to a sprained thumb.


Bullocks out of action

   Safety Daniel Bullocks will be shut down for a while due to some issues with the same knee he tore up in the 2007 preseason.
   Coach Jim Schwartz said there was no new injury, but Bullocks went to Birmingham, Ala., on Monday to see Dr. James Andrews, his surgeon.
 “He’s not day to day, he’s a little big longer than that. I’d rather get him on the field sooner rather than later,’’ Schwartz said.
    Bullocks missed all of the 2007 season, but played in 15 games last season even though he wasn’t the same as he was prior to the surgery. He missed most of this offseason because of the knee.

-- Wide receiver Billy McMullen was signed on Tuesday and practiced in the afternoon. The 6-foot-4 receiver played for Seattle last season. Offensive lineman Toniu Fonoti was released.

Coach decides on Saturday's starter

ALLEN PARK — Coach Jim Schwartz said today he knows which quarterback will start the preseason opener on Saturday against the Atlanta Falcons at Ford Field.
  He said not to read too much into that.
 He also said he wouldn’t share the name. Schwartz said he hasn’t talked to Matthew Stafford and Daunte Culpepper about it yet.
   The coach said he’ll probably let each get in for a certain number of plays. But he won’t reveal his plan before the game because it could change during the game.

Shaun Smith practices

ALLEN PARK — Defensive tackle Shaun Smith, who signed with the Lions on Monday after being released by Cleveland on Saturday, participated in his first practice this morning.
 He had made a visit to St. Louis. Tampa Bay and Buffalo were also interested. But once he met with the Lions he was convinced this was the place for him.
“(The Lions coaches) I met with said I was going to have the opportunity to play. Plus it’s close to Cleveland, my son is in high school, my wife and kids are back there. I want to go back on Fridays and see my son play high school ball,’’ Smith said.
   The 37-year-old Smith played in 11 games for the Browns last season, starting in nine.
   Smith allegedly had an altercation with Cleveland quarterback Brady Quinn in December and reportedly punched him in the face.
  “There’s nothing to address about it, what was said was said. People have their opinions, there’s always two sides to a story,’’ Smith said. “You know you guys, the media, that takes something and runs with it sometimes. That’s the nature of it, until you know the facts, it’s the past. I’m happy for a new fresh start and I want to help the Lions win some games and get to the playoffs.’’
    Coach Jim Schwartz said they did their due diligence and talked with Smith. The coach said he likes to have players with character and also a few characters.


Lions sign DT Smith

The Lions didn't waste any time getting defensive tackle Shaun Smith signed after losing defensive Jared DeVries to a ruptured Achilles' tendon earlier Monday afternoon.

The Associated Press reported that the Lions inked Smith — who had been cut by the Browns just two days earlier after starting 19 games in two seasons in Cleveland — to a one-year, $1 million contract.

The 6-foot-2, 325-pound Smith had been playing defensive end in the Browns' 3-4 alignment, but will play inside for the Lions. Pending more moves, that likely pushes Ikaika Alama-Francis — who had been practicing primarily at tackle — back to end to bolster the numbers on the outside.

DeVries, who started 29 games the past three seasons for Detroit, will have surgery to repair the injured tendon.

In other moves, the Lions cut linebacker Curtis Gatewood and brought back Eastern Michigan grad Spenser Smith, giving them a whopping total of five Smiths on the roster.

Replacing DeVries

With starting defensive end Jared DeVries gone for the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon, coach Jim Schwartz isn’t certain how he will be replaced. He was expected to start at left end.
 “We’ll start experimenting around trying to find the best combination of guys. The one thing is, the way we play our defensive end, there are not a whole lot of differences between the right and the left. With a lot of teams, the left is a little bit bigger and things like that, but our team isn’t a whole lot bigger on that side,’’ Schwartz said.
 See Tuesday’s Oakland Press for more on the defensive line woes.

Schwartz on Shaun Smith

    DT Shaun Smith, who was released by the Cleveland Browns, visited the Lions’ practice facility today.
   His arrival came before the injury that ended the season of defensive end Jared DeVries who ruptured an Achilles tendon at practice.
     “I think (Shaun Smith’s) talent fits us and I think that whether we can get something done or not, we’re still in the beginning stages. We wanted to get to know him. We wanted to give him a physical. There’s a lot more that goes past that but I think it was important to get to know him a little bit and have him get to know us a little bit,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said.
   Smith was released Saturday after he clashed with Browns defensive line coach Bryan Cox on Friday, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
   Also last December Smith reportedly punched quarterback Brady Quinn in the face.

DeVries out for season

  Defensive end Jared DeVries is out for the season after he ruptured an Achilles tendon in this morning’s practice.  It will require season-ending surgery.
 DeVries went down late in this morning’s practice during a goal-line drill. He was carted off the field. After practice coach Jim Schwartz said it didn’t look good, but he had no medical prognosis.
  This is not good news for the Lions. The defensive line is a weak spot and without DeVries the situation is magnified.
  During practice the Lions had DT Shaun Smith, who was released from the Cleveland Browns on Saturday, in for testing.


DeVries goes down

ALLEN  PARK — Defensive end Jared DeVries went down late in this morning’s practice during a goal-line drill. Trainers tore the tape off his right foot, got him up with the help of his teammates and he was carted off the field.
“It didn’t look real good on the field. It’s down around his ankle. I don’t want to make speculation, but right away we’re going to get some tests done,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said.
 Safety Marquand Manuel went down earlier in practice. An ice bag was taped to his right calf and he stayed on the field to watch the finish of practice.


Johnson deals with jam

 Wide receiver Calvin Johnson didn’t finish practice on Sunday afternoon due to a jammed thumb.
“He’s the kind of guy we have to pull out of practice, he doesn’t want to stop, he wants to finish. Sometimes it’s best to take his helmet away from him and say, ‘Let’s let this thing rest,’’’ coach Jim Schwartz said.
  Johnson was bothered by jammed fingers last week, but kept on practicing.
“Unless I hear something different it’s just a little jam. ... When you come out here twice a day and you catch bullets from some of these quarterbacks, and you’ve got defensive backs banging on your hands, that comes with the territory for those guys,’’ Schwartz said.

Knee is an issue

ALLEN PARK — Safety Daniel Bullocks missed Sunday’s practice because he was visiting orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., to check on his knee. Bullocks sat out of practice for the past few days.
 He tore his ACL in the same knee in the 2007 preseason which ended his whole season.
“I don’t know if it’s any worse, but he’s the guy who did the operation and he wanted to look at it,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said.
Bullocks started 15 of 16 games last season after coming back from that injury.


Black Sundays

   Last season five Lions games were blacked out on local television because Ford Field did not sell out.
   The Lions now have a double-whammy of trouble selling tickets between the fact they’re coming off an 0-16 season and they’re trying to do business in a shaky economy.
  Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, was asked on Saturday if the blackout rules would change. He said he understands about the local economy, but it’s a long-term policy that won’t change.
  “The economy is suffering all over the country. Obviously it’s getting  particularly hard hit here in the Detroit area. ... There are challenges in some markets. Clubs have to work harder. We recognize what our fans are going through, the challenges they have and all the clubs have been very responsive,’’ Goodell said.
   But don’t expect the NFL to ease up on its black-out rule.

Talking turkey

  DETROIT — While the Lions haven’t even played one preseason game yet, at least one person had Thanksgiving on his mind today when the Lions practiced at Ford Field in front of 15,387 fans.
   In his brief comments to the audience prior to practice coach Jim Schwartz talked about the tradition of the Lions playing at home every Thanksgiving.
  “Any time I hear somebody around the country talking about taking that game away from Detroit I will remind the commissioner about 15,000 (fans) standing in the rain for two hours to watch practice,’’ Schwartz explained afterward. “I think that says something about our fans  and I think it needs to be rewarded.’’
   NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was in attendance and said there are no plans to take the Thanksgiving Day game away from Detroit.


Learning the right lessons

Kids can learn plenty from youth football programs, things like how to block, how to tackle, how to punt pass and kick.

Kids from one local program learned another valuable Friday: How rewarding it is to give someone else a helping hand off the ground.

When the Detroit Cobras of the Think Detroit Police Athletic League had its equipment stolen, putting this fall's season in jeopardy of cancellation, members of the North Oakland Youth Football League's Oxford Junior Wildcats came to the rescue, donating 120 sets of shoulder pads to help replace the missing gear.

To honor that giving spirit, the Detroit Lions — who sponsor Think Detroit PAL and helped facilitate the exchange — invited nearly 60 players and coaches from the two squads to Friday afternoon's session of training camp.

“Obviously, there's the opportunity to see some of their idols,” said Jeff Miller, one of the coaches who were on hand with almost a dozen of their players. “But what I've also stressed to them is to watch what they're doing to prepare for the season, because we've just started our practices, and we're in that portion of the season where it's like, ‘Why are we doing this coach? Why are we running laps? Why are we doing this hitting drill?’ So we're trying to bring it all home for them.”

While reality may not have hit home for kids from either team, it had set in for the coaches and parents of the Cobras, who hadn't told their kids about the theft.

“We never told them, because we didn't want to get them down,” said Calvin Turner, one of the Cobras coaches on hand with nearly a dozen players of their own.

The relief was palpable when the Lions organization — led by vice president Bill Keenist, an Oxford resident — put the two organizations in touch with each other. The Wildcats program had raised enough funds to replace its own equipment, and was looking for someone to give it to.

And the Cobras were in need, and didn't want to have to forfeit the season.

“It wasn't gonna happen. We wouldn't have let it. We would have done whatever it took to make sure we played,” Turner said. “It was like an angel came down. I was like, ‘See, when you do good, good things happen to you.’ It was poetic justice.”

So was the fact that the thieves were caught when they tried to sell the stolen equipment to other PAL teams.

Emphasis on the fans

Every true Detroit Lions fan is holding his or her breath, waiting to see if the optimism of training camp is just a mirage.

Then again, if they really want to know, there's every opportunity for them to come out and judge for themselves.

Through the first week of practice, the Lions have already opened up a number of the practice sessions to fans, and the turnout — if not surprising — has at least been inspiring.

“No, I wasn’t surprised. I got in early this morning and there were a lot of fans that beat me here. Believe me, as a head coach, you appreciate that. As a player, you appreciate that. As an organization, you appreciate that strong of a response," head coach Jim Schwartz said after Wednesday's practice.

"I think we had the biggest crowd we’ve ever had for a practice here (a record 1,612). I mentioned that a while ago, that as a kid I used to go see the Baltimore Colts practices. I went with my dad and it was something we could do in the afternoon, it didn’t cost us anything. We’d go, get a soda, and watch the game. I watched the practice and had a father-son moment.

"I wanted the people in Detroit to be able to have that, what I had as a kid, so we tried to get it opened up as many times as we could. We had a great turnout and like you said, it can’t help but bring up the intensity level. Guys like to perform, you know. It’s one thing trying to prove yourself to new coaches, to the other players in the locker room, but you have to prove yourself to this city," Schwartz continued. "That feedback and stuff, it’s awesome to have those guys out here.”

The fans have gotten their chances to ooh and ahh at big plays, catch some rays, and get some autographs. Saturday's practice will be no different — with the exception of the rays.

The two-hour, open-to-the-public workout — dubbed Lions Uncaged — will be held at Ford Field at 1 p.m., preceded by a 45-minute autograph session. Doors will open at noon, and everyone will be admitted, whether or not they've picked up a free ticket from an outlet of SVS Vision, the exhibition's sponsor.

“It’ll be a normal practice. We’re going to have pads on so it will probably resemble more like Tuesday’s practice. We’ll get after it a little bit, the juices will be flowing a little bit. Fans will be there, the players will be excited about that. It’ll be a change in atmosphere. Rather than coming out to the same practice field, we’ll be down there so that will bring some excitement to it," Schwartz said. "You have a lot of the same drills; you see a lot of the same situations. We’re going to end with a ‘move the ball’ period, which will be a little bit more like game situations. Maybe we’ll do a couple of plays live here and there just to get calm. It’s more like a regular practice, just with full pads.”

And bringing out the pads — as well as the fans — brings out the best in the players.

"That's what we're trying to sell to the players: who we're here for. We're not here for the money, we're here for the city and to make the fans cheer. Because, if you see the fans out here, just watch the defense. When they come out, it's a whole different deal. If the fans aren't out here, and you guys (reporters) are out here, practice is kind of lethargic. The minute they (fans) come out, the tempo picks up," Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said. "You can say NFL players play for the money — (heck) they do, they play for those people cheering. That's what they want to hear. And, to be honest with you, that's what I want to hear."


Turning up the heat

ALLEN PARK — It's not hard to figure out where Gunther Cunningham is coming from.

Unless you're an opposing quarterback.

Then, you're not entirely sure where the next blitzer is going to be coming from.

The new Lions defensive coordinator has been preaching his blitz-happy ways to a receptive audience so far in the offseason, but the results aren't exactly where he wants yet.

In an effort to mask some of the defense's deficiencies — and to satisfy his own preference for intensity — Cunningham has been preparing to turn up the heat on opposing offenses by installing a multitude of blitz packages.

"That's what we're looking for, how to cover up every area. What's the best option for us, to get us through the game?" Cunningham said. "We're heading down the road on the packages. Jimmy (head coach Jim Schwartz) says the other day, 'Gun, you've got every coverage in football.' And, in some respects ... yeah, we are experimenting with what fits us the best, but we have a multitude of defenses in, both up front, and in the secondary, and we must have 40 blitzes in already."

But Thursday's lone practice session — for the second straight day in full pads — didn't quite provide Cunningham the results he wanted to see.

"We're still not good enough in blitzes," Cunningham said. "I'm not used to guys coming slow. When we send them, they have to get there, and we're going to have to have a little attitude adjustment meeting after this practice. They're going to hear it, loud and clear.

"When you put pads on, you find out the real men. There's lots of frauds around. You know, the coaches are, too. They talk a good game, then you watch them coach, and they don't do it. Players do the same thing. And sometimes, the guys you don't expect to be the real tough guys they show up, and you go, 'My god, was I wrong on this guy.' The game is with pads on. We're gonna look for all areas, and keep studying those guys that fit the packages best."

And Cunningham isn't opposed to testing the facility of his players to pick up the nuances of those packages. When the defense ran 140 snaps in 20 minutes during a recent blitz walkthrough, the reaction of backup middle linebacker Cody Spencer gave Cunningham a chuckle.

"Cody Spencer walked up to me, and he goes, 'I almost just died.' I said, 'Was it hard?' He said, 'My god, Gun, you tried to kill my brain.' Because, you have to think," Cunningham said.

Some of the installation is still a work in progress, like four-linebacker formations and using linebacker Julian Peterson as a hand-on-the-ground, pass-rushing end in some situations. Just as much is both Cunningham and Schwartz learning the tendencies and abilties of their players, and how to utilize them best.

"There's a fine line, and I think we're learning how to get to that line, without crossing it. If you want to be known as a tough, physical football team, you'd better be ready to be a tough, physical football team in practice, when you have the pads on," Schwartz said of the trial-and-error process in camp.

"That's what training camp's for. You have a lot of situations that come up. We had a situation that I put guys in in practice yesterday that didn't come out the way that I wanted, from a defensive standpoint. And there was a lot of discussions, late into the night on what we're going to do in those situations. But what I don't want to do is have those discussions on Monday after a game on Sunday. Training camp's the time to put the team in those situations, to challenge the staff."

CAMP NOTES With the injuries to Brandon Pettigrew (thigh) and Casey FitzSimmons (ankle) limiting the Lions at the tight end position, the team added another familiar face on Thursday, signing former U-M standout Carson Butler. The team cut kicker Swayze Waters to make room on the roster.

Sharing practice reps with free-agent addition Will Heller, Jake Nordin and camp surprise Dan Gronkowski, Butler showed up well in Thursday’s drills, drawing applause when he caught a short play-action pass from Drew Stanton and turned it into a long gain.

INJURY REPORT The Lions didn't have any additions to the laundry list of injuries Thursday, but they didn't have any subtractions from it, either.

Defensive backs Keith Smith (groin), Louis Delmas (knee) and Daniel Bullocks (knee) all sat out practice, as did linebacker Jordon Dizon and wide receivers Bryant Johnson and John Standeford.

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Safety's injury not serious

  The good news for the Lions is that rookie safety Louis Delmas’ knee injury is not serious. An MRI done on Wednesday morning confirmed that he should be day to day.
  “Usually what happens in training camp around this time you get guys who (come up with) a sore groin, sore hamstrings, sore feet. There’s nothing that’s going to be a significant amount of time,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said.
 Defensive end Jared DeVries was given the Wednesday afternoon session off for personal reasons.
 Defensive tackle Grady Jackson is being eased into camp. His first session was on Tuesday. He had Wednesday morning off and participated in individual drills along with some team action during the afternoon session.



Injuries add up

 Injuries — mostly minor — are catching up to the Lions in their fifth day of training camp.
 Tight end Casey Fitzsimmons will be out longer than first expected with a an ankle sprain that coach Jim Schwartz described as “not a high ankle (sprain), but it has some components.’’ Fitzsimmons is wearing an orthopedic boot on his injured left foot. His return will be determined on how it quickly responds to treatment. He  injured the ankle on Sunday.
Cornerback Keith Smith sat out practice with a groin injury. He will be out a little longer than day to day.
 Schwartz said the rest of the injured are on day-to-day status.
 That includes rookie safety Louis Delmas who missed his first practice this  morning with a sore left knee. He had it tested this morning as a precaution and the results were not in at noon. Delmas said he didn’t injure it on a specific play on Tuesday, but it started swelling up during team meetings Tuesday afternoon. Delmas said there’s no history of injury with that knee.
 Safety Daniel Bullocks was out with some knee soreness.
 Rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew remains day to day with a thigh issue.


Checking out the draft picks

Here’s an early look at a few of the Lions draft picks just four days into training camp:
 -- Quarterback Matthew Stafford (first overall) looks like he belongs. He doesn’t act like a rookie, he presents himself well. And, on top of that, he’s got a wicked spiral and can connect with receivers on a regular basis. He seems to have earned the respect of his teammates already.
 -- Tight end Brandon Pettigrew (first round) was a standout the first few days until he pulled up with a thigh issue and missed the last two days. He’s 6-foot-5 and can catch the ball. He wears No. 84 -- Herman Moore’s old number -- and at times he reminds me of the former Lions’ receiver.
 -- Safety Louis Delmas (second round) is having a blast and it shows. Safety is a tough position to learn, especially for a rookie, but he seems to be excelling so far. He looks like a starter, but the coaches won’t say that just yet.
 -- Running back Aaron Brown (sixth round), the speedy one, shows flashes but needs to put his whole game together. Once he becomes a reliable pass rusher opportunities could increase for him. There is no doubt he possesses pure speed.
-- Tight end Dan Gronkowski (seventh round) is making the most of his increased reps. With two tight ends injured, his number is being called often and he has stepped up with some nice receptions. Regulars at camp know who’s wearing No. 47.

Stafford draws compliments

 -- Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said this morning that he doesn’t feel like he’s coaching a rookie when he’s working with Matthew Stafford. But he also clarified that the quarterback situation is still in its infancy. Read more about Linehan’s observations in Wednesday’s Oakland Press.
 -- DT Grady Jackson participated in individual drills, his first appearance in a Lions’ workout. The veteran is coming off knee surgery in February. Coach Jim Schwartz said they will ease him into training camp since he missed the whole offseason.
 -- It was the first day in full pads and the intensity crept up a notch or two.
 -- Tight ends Casey Fitzsimmons (ankle) and Brandon Pettigrew (thigh) sat out again. Schwartz said both are still day to day.


Quarterback theater

   Watching Daunte Culpepper and Matthew Stafford compete during camp provides good theater.
   The two share reps along with Drew Stanton.
   Some drills Culpepper gets first crack and other times it’s Stafford. Coach Jim Schwartz has said not to read anything into that.
  One has not noticeably pulled away from the other just yet.
 Occasionally it’s Stanton who steals the spotlight. He threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to a diving Adam Jennings on Monday.

Bring it on

  Bring it on. Coach Jim Schwartz has not eased his Lions into training camp. They hit the ground running on Saturday and haven’t slowed down since. But he has gradually introduced pads by adding shoulder pads twice in the first five sessions.
   Tuesday morning for the first time they will practice in full pads.
   The players are looking forward to it and so is Schwartz. In certain areas, particularly along the offensive and defensive lines, it will give him a better idea of how certain players can perform.

More physical than Steelers camp

 Larry Foote spent the last seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but apparently their training camps were nothing like the first few days of Lions camp under new coach Jim Schwartz.
“It’s a lot more physical (here) I’ll tell you that. They’re dysfunctional around here, they’re intense, they’re fired up. That’s the way they should be in training camp,’’ Foote said, meaning all of that as a compliment.
 He said the level of physical play isn’t even close in comparison and the Lions have yet to practice in full pads.
 “Coach Schwartz is going to take care of us. He’s not one of those old school coaches, he wants us to be fresh going into the season. That’s smart, that’s the best approach,’’ Foote said.
The veteran linebacker also has a message for Lions’ fans.
  “Tell the fans to stop bringing Steelers stuff. I’m not signing Steelers stuff, that’s in the past,’’ Foote said after today’s morning session.
  He suggested that fans buy Lions gear and then he’d be happy to sign that.

Three sidelined with injuries

   The Lions were shy two tight ends at today’s morning practice session. Rookie Brandon Pettigrew has a thigh issue and Casey Fitzsimmons rolled his ankle in practice on Sunday.
   Cornerback Eric King also sat out with a foot injury.
   Coach Jim Schwartz said they are not serious.
  “Eric and (Fitzsimmons) both tried to come out and do it but they weren’t able to. Both want to be back as quick as they can. I don’t anticipate any of them being more than day to day,’’ Schwartz said.
   Fitzsimmons was wearing an orthopedic boot on his left foot and he called it a high ankle sprain.



Johnson wows the crowd

  Rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew had a quadriceps muscle tighten up during today’s afternoon training camp session. Coach Jim Schwartz said it was nothing serious.
   Ephraim Salaam practiced in the morning, but not the afternoon. Schwartz said the veteran tackle is on a one-practice-per-day schedule.
 Wide receiver Adam Jennings who missed the morning session for personal reasons, participated in the afternoon.
  Wide receiver Calvin Johnson wowed the crowd of season ticket-holders in the afternoon with a few long receptions and a touchdown catch in a red zone drill. Read more about Johnson in Monday’s Oakland Press.

A teaching moment

  Coach Jim Schwartz had plenty to say to his team after this morning’s training camp session. He kept the team on the field for an extended period, but it wasn’t because he was displeased. Instead he used it as a teaching moment.
  To wrap up the session each of the three quarterbacks had a chance at a drill with one minute and 10 seconds to go 70 yards for a touchdown with two time-outs. It was heavily weighted toward the defense.
  Even so each group had shots at the end zone.  Daunte Culpepper’s long pass to Calvin Johnson would have been the highlight except rookie safety Louis Delmas broke up the play.
    “There’s some things in those situations, sometimes an incomplete pass is OK. You’d rather throw an incomplete pass than take a sack or get a 1- or 2-yard gain with the clock running,’’ Schwartz said.
   -- The three who didn’t pass the conditioning tests on Saturday — Sammie Hill, Ephraim Salaam and Demir Boldin — passed and participated in practice this morning.
    Wide receiver Adam Jennings was excused from the morning session for personal reasons.


Five sit out camp opener

  Rookie defensive tackle Sammie Hill, who could be fighting for a starting job, was held out from today’s first training camp workout because he didn’t pass the conditioning drills earlier in the day.
 He wasn’t alone. Tackle Ephraim Salaam and wide receiver Demir Bolden also did not pass the conditioning tests.
“They’re going to re-take and hopefully you’ll see them on the practice field Sunday. We’ve said from the time we got here we’re going to be accountable for our conditioning,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said.
   Defensive tackle Grady Jackson and wide receiver Bryant Johnson also didn’t practice.
   Johnson is on the non-football injury list while recovering from a golf-cart incident in early July. His return date is unknown.
    Jackson, who is on the non-football illness list, is not far away from being ready to play, but there is no timetable for his return.

Conditioning a huge facctor

Before the Lions hit the field this afternoon for their first training camp session, they will undergo conditioning tests. All will participate in the bench press and vertical jump testing. Some will run a 300-yard shuttle. A significant number have earned the right to sit out the shuttle run because they participated fully in the offseason workout program.
“Guys worked extremely hard. We had great participation in our offseason program, but they’ve been away for about a month,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said.
   The coach expects his team to be in their peak physical conditioning today. Training camp is not a time to get into shape.