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.


Delmas to start Lions camp on PUP list

Safety Louis Delmas was not at practice today (Saturday). Coach Jim Schwartz said he was excused for personal reasons, but had he been in attendance he would not have practiced because he’s still coming off a groin injury that happened during minicamp five weeks ago.

Tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Will Heller also started camp on the physically unable to perform list while coming off injuries, as did cornerback Jack Williams, safety Ko Simpson and defensive end Jared DeVries.

DeVries, who missed all of last season with an Achilles tear, didn’t have much to say about starting training camp on the sidelines. Clearly, he was a little frustrated.

Schwartz said he was erring on the side of caution and some of the PUP guys could be back in a day or two.

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Progress made but no contract for Suh

ALLEN PARK -- As long as there are talks there is progress. That’s Lions president Tom Lewand’s take on the negotiations with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the second overall pick in the draft.

“We’ll keep diligently working at it until we have a deal done,’’ Lewand said as training camp got under way today (Saturday).

Suh is the only first-round pick who has not been signed. It was thought that once top pick Sam Bradford was signed by St. Louis, it would be easier to fit Suh into the slot behind him

“The more reference points we have the more helpful it becomes, but at the same time every deal is unique, every deal is its own deal. The only thing we can do is continue to work hard to get a fair deal done for Ndamukong Suh and our club,’’ Lewand said.

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NFL hands Lewand a harsh penalty

ALLEN PARK -- It's quite clear with the punishment handed down to Lions team president Tom Lewand that the NFL is making a statement. The 30-day suspension and $100,000 fine for violating the NFL personal conduct policy combine for a harsh penalty.

No one should drink and drive, we all know that. But Lewand pled to a lesser charge and was fined less than a $1,000 going through the judicial system.

He admitted guilt and that he had made a huge mistake. He had the support of team owner William Clay Ford.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell met with Lewand on July 16 and this was the punishment he accessed. Goodell has made an effort to police the players so he could not overlook the Lewand situation. The announcement was made early Friday evening.

Lewand, who was worked so hard to rebuild this team, can be nowhere near it from Aug. 25 until Sept. 24. He'll miss the first two games, including the home opener.

This will not just be a lesson learned for Lewand, but also for team officials throughout the league. It would seem that is exactly Goodell's strategy.

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Lions sign Jahvid Best to 5-year deal

ALLEN PARK -- Now that the Lions have agreed to a five-year deal with running back Jahvid Best, the 30th overall pick, they just have one more first-round pick left to sign.

A deal was announced with Best shortly after the 6 p.m. deadline for players to report for training camp which opens on Saturday.

NFL players usually are slotted according to draft order. Best was a good possibility to get into camp on time because the 27th, 28th and 32nd picks have been signed.

It's likely Ndamukong Suh, the second overall pick, will not be signed until the St. Louis Rams agree to a deal with Sam Bradford, the top pick.

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Lions' Best could be signed before Suh

ALLEN PARK -- Coach Jim Schwartz expects he might see running back Jahvid Best in camp before Ndamukong Suh makes an appearance. Both were first-round draft picks, but Suh was second and Best was the 30th overall pick.

First-round players are basically slotted into position. So now that the 27th, 28th and 32nd picks have been signed, it easier to see where Best's contract would fit in.

"Suh is a little different. ... When one domino falls all of a sudden you start getting a lot more. I think the biggest domino in this draft is obviously Sam Bradford at No. 1. Once that domino falls the others will fall pretty quickly,'' Schwartz said today (Friday).

Bradford has yet to agree to a deal with the St. Louis Rams. Schwartz shrugged off the notion that Suh could fall too far behind if he misses the first few days of camp which opens Saturday.

"An extended period of time he would miss would be significant, missing a few days here or there, it's part of this business,'' Schwartz said. "Guys deal with injuries, guys deal with all kind of different things. I don't think that would set him back, but an extended period would definitely set him back.''

Follow me on Twitter @paulapasche.

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Schwartz uncertain which Lions will be on PUP list

When players report to Lions training camp on Friday they'll go through a conditioning station that will play one factor in deciding which players will start the season on the physically unable to perform list. Players will also go through conditioning tests on Saturday morning before the first session of training camp at 3 p.m. Decisions on placing players on the PUP list will be made around lunchtime on Saturday.

Coach Jim Schwartz said today (Thursday) that safety Ko Simpson, who didn't finish the season due to a knee injury, is one candidate for PUP. Originally it was thought Simpson's knee injury was not as serious as some of the others. Schwartz admitted it has lingered, but also the coach has not seen him in a month.

Schwartz said any of the players who weren't able to finish last season are PUP candidates. That list includes three who underwent ACL surgery -- TE Brandon Pettigrew, RB Kevin Smith and CB Jack Williams.

"We'll probably err on the side of caution on some of those also. When we have injured players, when they get back into practice, they don't just get released into the general population right away. We ease them in,'' Schwartz said. l

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If Bradford signs, then Lions' Suh could be close

The news that the St. Louis Rams could reach an agreement with first overall pick Sam Bradford by Thursday is a positive sign that the Lions may get Ndamukong Suh signed in time for training camp.

Suh, the second overall pick, has said from the day he was drafted he does not want to miss any time in training camp. He has reiterated his stance since and said his agents knew from the get-go he wanted a contact done on time.

It’s critical that the rookie defensive tackle does not miss any time or he could fall behind quickly.

The only first-round picks who have signed so far are Dez Bryant, the 24th overall pick by Dallas, and Devin McCourty, the 27th overall pick by New England.

The Lions also have yet to sign running back Jahvid Best, their other first-round pick (30th overall).

Lions players report on Friday with conditioning tests on Saturday morning followed by the first training camp workout session.

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Can't wait? Check out Lions training camp

If you can’t wait until the preseason to see the new-look Lions, you can watch them at selected training camp sessions at the practice facility at Allen Park. Seating at the practice facility is limited to 700 so it’s first-come, first get in the gate.

Both are free.

“We are thrilled to welcome our fans back to training camp this year,” Lions president Tom Lewand said. “Our fans provide outstanding support throughout the year, and training camp is another excellent opportunity for them to come out and watch this team gear up for a new season. As excited as they are to see us, we share that same enthusiasm as they generate a great atmosphere throughout camp.”

At Ford Field the 45-minute autograph session starts at 3 p.m., with practice at 4 p.m.

Practice dates and times (subject to change and weather conditions) for general public at the Allen Park facility are:

-- Wednesday, August 4 (9 a.m. and 3:15 p.m.) -- Thursday, August 5 (9 a.m.) -- Friday, August 6 (9 a.m. and 3:15 p.m.) -- Sunday, August, 8 (9 a.m. and 3:15 p.m.) -- Monday, August 9 (9 a.m.) -- Tuesday, August 10 (9 a.m. and 3:15 p.m.) -- Wednesday August 11 (9 a.m.) -- Thursday, August 12 (9 a.m. and 3:15 p.m.) -- Monday, August 16 (3:15 p.m.) -- Tuesday, August 17 (9 a.m. and 3:15 p.m.) -- Wednesday, August 18 (9 a.m.) -- Thursday, August 19 (9 a.m. and 3:15 p.m.)

Gates open 30 minutes prior to each practice session. Check for more information. Training camp opens on Saturday, July 31.



Ford Field food service questioned in ESPN report

Seventy percent of food vendors at Ford Field have been issued critical health violations according to an ESPN report on food safety at stadiums and arenas nationwide.

An excerpt from the report on Ford Field said: "Inspectors cited one location 11 times in the past six years after seeing employees who didn't wash their hands. At another stand, they found an employee's half-eaten hamburger in a warming unit."

Ford Field and Levy Restaurants, which operates the food service at the stadium, issued a joint statement on Monday:

“Ford Field has always been committed to the highest food service standards in the industry. In conjunction with Levy Restaurants, our food service partner, we will continue to make food safety, food quality and service to our customers our top priorities.

“Over the past year we served more than 1 million fans at Ford Field. Our commitment to those fans is to provide memorable and safe dining experiences each time they visit Ford Field.

The reply continued that Ford Field, through Levy Restaurants, uses a third-party external vendor to audit food safety and sanitation operations regularly.

“These unscheduled reviews are considered an industry best practice. We also take immediate action to address and correct any suggestions for improvement the Health Department provides. The safety of our guests and our team members is our top priority and we follow a strict food safety and sanitation program."

In the report Joe Louis Arena, Comerica Park and The Palace of Auburn Hills were also shown to have violations, but less than at Ford Field.

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Trade for TE Scheffler one of Lions' top moves

With all the offseason moves the Lions have made, the trade for Denver to bring Tony Scheffler back to Michigan should prove to be one of the best moves.

Scheffler, a 6-foot-5 tight end, is a multidimensional player that coach Jim Schwartz can't seem to say enough good things about. Scheffler has good hands, amazing speed for his size and can fit in most anywhere. On one play, the Lions have him line up at fullback. When he's paired with 6-foot-5 tight end Brandon Pettigrew, that could be a very impressive sight unless you are the opposing defense.

Scheffler gives the Lions even more options on offense.

He got a slow start when he moved here because of a bum ankle, but since he's been 100 percent he's been impressive throughout the OTAs and minicamp.

Scheffler might provide a surprise to Lions fans. He didn't get all the publicity when he was traded here, but he has made the most of his opportunities.

And, he's happy to be back home. He grew up in Chelsea as a Detroit Lions fan.

(This is the final segment of the series of 20 players to watch in training camp which opens on July 31. Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche. And don't forget continual daily updates on my Lions Lowdown blog at

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It's up to Rob Sims to earn a starting spot for Lions

Left guard Rob Sims couldn’t be happier to be in Detroit where football matters even when the team is 2-30 over the past two years. He arrived in a trade from Seattle where coffee matters more than the Seahawks.

Now all he has to do is earn a start. His main competition is Manny Ramirez who started a dozen games last season at guard. Left guard was a problem area and Ramirez never fully claimed the left guard spot.

Sims started all 14 games he played last season in Seattle and in his four-year NFL career has started a total of 34 games. If the Lions didn’t think there was a need at left guard they would not have pulled the trigger on the trade.

He will definitely be in the mix at left guard and will be one crucial player to watch during training camp.

(This is a part of a series of 20 players to watch in training camp which opens July 31. Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions' WR Burleson knows his role

Nate Burleson might be the best-dressed Lion on game days -- or maybe not. One thing for sure is that the Lions wide receiver will make an impact on the field. He's had a solid offseason in Detroit during OTAs and the recent minicamp.

Burleson's job is to create headaches and mismatches for opposing defenses. In doing that, Calvin Johnson should become more of a factor in the game. If he's not double-covered, he's even more dangerous. Last year getting Johnson open was a huge problem.

Burleson, who signed as a free agent, is coming from Seattle. But he has worked with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan when both were with the Minnesota Vikings along with Randy Moss. They figured a way to get Moss open for the Vikings, now that needs to translate to the Lions and there's no reason to believe it won't.

Burleson calls Johnson the most "freakishly talented" athlete he has seen since Moss.

(This is a part of a series of 20 players to watch in training camp which opens July 31. Follow me on Twitter @paulapasche.)

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Lions' Avril can learn from Vanden Bosch

Cliff Avril started in 11 of the 13 games he played last season at defensive end, finishing with 41 tackles, three forced fumbles and 5.5 sacks. He’s hoping to hold onto the starting role on the left side this season.

He’s got competition from Jared DeVries who missed all of last season after tearing his Achilles in training camp, along with Jason Hunter and Turk McBride.

This could be Avril’s time. Kyle Vanden Bosch, who will hold down the right defensive end spot, has said it took him about four years to get comfortable in the position.

This will be Avril’s third season.

Even though they play on different ends, Avril should be able to improve his game by watching and listening to Vanden Bosch.

(This is a part of a series of 20 players to watch in training camp which opens July 31. Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions' Cherilus must step up

Gosder Cherilus is getting his chance to start at right tackle again this year. After a somewhat disappointing season in 2009, now is his time to step up and take control of the position.

The first-round pick in 2008 was working with the top group in the recent minicamp and is expected to get the chance in training camp.

Veteran Jon Jansen has also seen work at right tackle as has Corey Hillard who is flipping back and forth from the right to the left side.

Coach Jim Schwartz likes to keep competition open at all positions and right tackle is no different. At minicamp he said the only offensive line positions that are pretty well set are Dominic Raiola at center, Jeff Backus at left tackle and Stephen Peterman at right guard.

After last season, general manager Martin Mayhew said Cherilus needed to have a good offseason. He’ll be a good one to watch in training camp.

(This is a part of a series of 20 players to watch in training camp which opens July 31. Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions' Pettigrew doesn't expect full work load

Tight end Brandon Pettigrew’s rookie season was cut short last year when he tore his ACL. He expects to be cleared for training camp, but he thinks the coaching staff will ease him in. He doesn’t expect a ton of work. He’s probably right. Coach Jim Schwartz’s philosophy on injuries is to err on the side of caution.

With a healthy Pettigrew, the offense gains another 6-foot-5 weapon. He and Tony Scheffler, who is also 6-foot-5, will present a powerful pair of tight ends and good targets for Matthew Stafford.

Pettigrew was a first-round pick last year for a reason. He’s got speed and good hands. If he can ease his way into the lineup and be ready to go full-out when the season starts, the offense will definitely benefit.

Like Kevin Smith, he participated in the OTAs and minicamp on a limited basis.

(This is part of a series of 20 Lions to watch in training camp which starts July 31. Follow me on @PaulaPasche.)

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Attitude is key for Lions RB Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith had a bit of a disadvantage last season when he was the No. 1 running back. The offense had so many holes that it would have been tough for anyone to run the ball effectively. Then to make matters worse, Smith tore his ACL.

His rehab has been right on schedule and during OTAs and minicamp you could see him progress from individual drills to occasional 7-on-7s.

Smith should be cleared for training camp, but still might not be at 100 percent. He’s been a good teammate by helping rookie running back Jahvid Best who the Lions picked up late in the first round.

Best is likely to be the starter, but Smith should have an active role in the running game if his knee heals and he maintains a good team-first attitude.

(This is part of a series of 20 Lions to watch in training camp which starts July 31. Follow me on @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions' WR Derrick Williams must prove himself

Wide receiver Derrick Williams was drafted for his speed. In his rookie season a year ago, the Lions did not have super-high expectations. They thought he could maybe return kicks and then gradually become a wide receiver.

Williams struggled through his rookie season. He got off to a slow start due to an injury in training camp and never really caught up.

Expectations are higher for this training camp. If Williams is to become a regular with the Lions, he has to prove he wants it with a good showing at training camp.

The third-round pick out of Penn State, was highly recruited coming out of college. He has the speed and the hands. Now he has to figure how to put it all together to cobble together an NFL career.

(This is part of a series of 20 Lions to watch in training camp which starts July 31. Follow me on @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions CB Spievey should be 100 percent at camp

Rookie cornerback Amari Spievey, a third-round draft pick, got off to a slow start in the season with tight hips (the muscles around his hips were pulled when he was training for the Combine).

But as he felt better, he looked more comfortable on the field. At the final minicamp before summer break he had two picks in one session including one thrown by Matthew Stafford and targeted for Calvin Johnson.

It was not a completely good day for Spievey, who played at Iowa, because he made some mistakes early on. But it showed signs of progress and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Spievey is fighting for a starting cornerback job but he has a lot of competition. He’s speedy and has something to prove so look for him to fight for a roster spot.

During minicamp he said his hips were close to being 100 percent and he planned to work out hard in July, so he can come into training camp flying. That is exactly what the Lions would like to see.

(This is part of a series of 20 Lions to watch in training camp which starts July 31. Follow me on @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions' QB Shaun Hill knows his role

Quietly, veteran quarterback Shaun Hill has gone to work, learning the Lions’ offense.

During the OTAs, he’s made some nice passes. Not always pretty, but quite often complete.

It’s a totally different situation than the Lions had with Daunte Culpepper who was fighting for the starting job with Matthew Stafford last year.

Hill, who came to the Lions via a trade from San Francisco, knows his role and is fine with it. He just works hard. And because he’s been in the league for eight seasons, he can provide advice to Stafford.

“(Shaun has) worked his way up from the bottom of the league. I’ve got a lot of respect for guys who have done that. It doesn’t always look pretty. ... He finds a way to get it done and this is a results- oriented business. Nothing flaps him,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said.

(This is part of a series of 20 Lions to watch in training camp which opens on July 31. Also, follow me on @PaulaPasche.)

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No holding back Lions' Stafford this season

Just like last year in training camp, all eyes will be on Matthew Stafford.

A year ago he was fighting for a starting job. Now he’s the man, no question. But still training camp will be important.

The Lions will have most of their offense installed, but he will be working to get the timing down with his receivers, tight ends and running backs.

The unflappable Stafford — we learned that about him last season —will have so many more pieces to the offense that his job should be easier.

We also learned that last season that actually Stafford had to be held back. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan didn’t simplify the offense for Stafford, he simplified it because Stafford didn’t have the bodies around him to make it work.

With WR Nate Burleson, RB Jahvid Best, TE Tony Scheffler and RG Rob Sims added to the mix, along with a healthy TE Brandon Pettigrew, Stafford should have all the pieces he needs to make it work.

(This is part of a series of 20 Lions to watch in training camp which starts July 31. Follow me on @PaulaPasche.)

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Mr. Irrelevant has a shot with Lions

Tim Toone, who signed a three-year contract last week, is in the mix for spot on the roster. Coach Jim Schwartz said so weeks ago.

As the 255th and final pick in the NFL draft, Toone picked up the Mr. Irrelevant title. But that does not mean he’ll be irrelevant for the Lions.

He played at a small college, Weber State. He’s not a big guy, he’s 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds. But he has speed and some intangibles that caught the eye of the Lions’ scouts. Since then Schwartz has been positive about Toone, who at age 25 is older than your average rookie. (He took two years off from college ball to go to West Africa on a Mormon mission.)

Training camp will be huge for Toone. It’s his shot to show he’s relevant.

(This is part of a series of 20 Lions to watch in training camp which starts July 31. Follow me on @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions fans will get to know DT Corey Williams

Defensive tackle Corey Williams almost got lost in the many deals made by Martin Mayhew at the start of free agency.

It’s likely he won’t be forgotten long once Lions training camp starts and he puts his stamp on the defensive tackle position next to Ndamukong Suh.

Williams, who is 6-foot-4, 320 pounds, came to Detroit in a trade with Cleveland where the Browns’ change to a 3-4 formation, did not suit his style of play. When he played with the Green Bay Packers in a 4-3, he was all of that.

Coach Jim Schwartz has told the story repeatedly of how when he was trying to convince Kyle Vanden Bosch to sign as a free agent with Detroit, he mentioned the Lions had just traded for Williams. That got Vanden Bosch’s attention. He knows full well who Corey Williams is and soon so will Detroit Lions fans.

(This is part of a series of 20 Lions to watch in training camp which starts July 31. Follow me on @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions' Vanden Bosch makes presence known

Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch will be hard to miss at Lions training camp.

He’ll be the big guy (he’s 6-foot-4), wearing No. 90 and knocking bodies here and there.

He may also be one of the hardest working guys on the field. It was his reputation with the Tennessee Titans and it has not changed. During the offseason he showed up early at the practice facility and even Ndamukong Suh admitted he taught him a few things about working out.

Vanden Bosch was signed as a free agent because he’ll be solid at the right end. As a bonus, he’ll be a mentor for some of the younger guys like Suh who will be getting their first taste of an NFL training camp.

(This is part of a series of 20 Lions to watch in training camp which starts July 31. Follow me on @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions' Jahvid Best a multidimensional RB

Jahvid Best played at Cal with Zack Follett who says Best is the fastest guy he’s ever seen on a football field.

Best’s speed was one reason the Lions moved up into late in the first round to draft him. They didn’t want to wait and find that he was unavailable. In fact, coach Jim Schwartz was not shy about saying just how much he wanted Best on his team.

Training camp will be big for Best. Not only will he likely be the featured running back, but he’ll line up in the slot too. Along with blazing speed, he has good hands too.

He will also be in the mix to return kicks which he did at Cal.

Best won’t be out to prove himself at training camp. The Lions have a good idea of what he can do. It will be a learning time for him, an important few weeks in his development as an NFL running back.

(This is part of a series of 20 Lions to watch in training camp which starts July 31. Follow me on @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions sign CB Dre Bly, a familiar face

Thanks to GM Martin Mayhew the Lions always seem to have one more roster move up their sleeve.

Friday they signed veteran CB Dre Bly to a two-year deal. Bly played four seasons with the Lions after signing as a free agent in 2003.

It will be interesting to see what the 33-year-old cornerback has left. Last season he played in all 16 games with the 49ers, but started just six.

The secondary is an issue with the Lions with only one job secure -- Louis Delmas at free safety.

Training camp, which begins on July 31, just got a little more interesting.

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All eyes will be on Lions' DT Suh at camp

Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will undoubtedly be one of the most watched Lions in training camp. The second overall pick in the draft comes in with huge expectations.

During OTAs and minicamp he didn’t seem to do anything to make the Lions think they had made the wrong decision.

After just a couple OTA sessions, coach Jim Schwartz laughed when asked if Suh had shown improvement. He was so good to begin with, there wasn’t much to improve on.

Still he has to get used to the defensive scheme which is different from what he played at Nebraska. He’s smart which is another reason he was the second overall pick, so Schwartz expects he’ll be fully acclimated when training camp starts.

He’s so big and takes up so much room on the defensive line, Suh is hard not to watch.

Suh has said all along he plans to be at camp from the start. We'll see.

For some players, training camp is a way to get on the 54-man roster. For Suh, it’s to get used to the NFL where he is expected to shine. It's critical he is there from Day One.

(This is part of a series of 20 Lions to watch in training camp which starts July 31. Follow me on @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions' Caleb Campbell has a shot at roster spot

Linebacker Caleb Campbell is one of the best stories in the NFL. He was drafted out of West Point by the Lions in 2008, then the Army changed the rules and forced him to complete two years of active duty before he could sign with an NFL team.

It was a long two years for Campbell. He served stateside and has often mentioned how he was able to keep up his workouts to keep him in shape for football. It wasn’t typical training — for a while he worked with the U.S. bobsled team — but he kept it up.

When he got word this spring that he could play football and serve in the reserves, he returned to the practice facility. He was bigger, stronger and faster than he had been when he was drafted. He’s now 6-foot-2 and 237 pounds. The Lions are moving him from safety to linebacker.

Even though he’s learning a new position, he has fit right in. Coach Jim Schwartz has been nothing but complimentary about the first lieutenant who is from Texas.

Despite the odds, the 23-year-old Campbell has a shot to make the roster. It would likely be mostly on special teams, but it would be a start. If not perhaps he’ll land on the practice squad.

He made some nice plays in the OTAs, but training camp will provide a huge opportunity for him.

(This is part of a series of 20 Lions to watch in training camp which starts July 31. See more on Campbell and his journey at West Point in Sunday's Oakland Press and on on Sunday. Follow me on @PaulaPasche.)

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