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.


NFL Combine: Poll shows support for Suh

INDIANAPOLIS — Interesting poll on asks what the St. Louis Rams should do with their top overall pick. Of course this concerns the Lions who have the second pick.

This afternoon, with 77,000-plus votes, drafting Ndamukong Suh was the best option for 35 percent while 31 percent want a quarterback, 27 percent want the Rams to trade down and just 7 percent think Gerald McCoy is the best option.

Surprised there’s such a difference between Suh and McCoy. Some NFL analysts have McCoy ahead of Suh in mock drafts.

NFL Combine: Top pick could be Bradford

INDIANAPOLIS — With the draft just less than two months away, it’s a mistake to automatically assume that Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy will be the top two picks. It’s just too early.

St. Louis, which has the top pick, needs a quarterback and Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford could be too good to pass up. Originally, there were questions about Bradford’s shoulder — he underwent surgery for a reconstruction of the AC joint — but it was not major surgery and his recovery seems to be going well. He’s not throwing here at the NFL Combine but most quarterbacks don’t. Bradford’s pro day at Oklahoma is March 25 and he expects to be full-go.

So if the Rams take Bradford, then that leaves the Lions at No. 2. They could take Suh or McCoy or they could trade down.

Either Suh or McCoy could help anchor the Lions’ defensive line for years to come, but they would be paying top dollar for a defensive tackle if they take one at the second spot. Would it be worth it? That’s the question the Lions have to answer.


Combine: Lions first team to meet with Suh

INDIANAPOLIS — The Lions were the first team to meet with Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. He said he had a quick brunch with Lions’ management on Friday morning and a 10 p.m. meeting that night.

“I met everybody. Had an opportunity, more or less last night was really to talk to the defensive coordinator and the defensive line coach going over Xs and Os and what they would expect from me if I played there,’’ Suh said.

As of 4 p.m. Saturday he had not talked to the St. Louis Rams who have the No. 1 overall pick or Tampa Bay which will draft third. But Suh said he had four meetings scheduled Saturday night.

Suh is widely considered to be one of the top two players in April’s draft along with Gerald McCoy, a defensive tackle from Oklahoma.

McCoy did not meet with the media on Saturday.

NFL Combine: U-M's Graham aims for Top 10

INDIANAPOLIS — Michigan’s Brandon Graham hopes to build on his impressive performance at the Senior Bowl while at the NFL Combine.

His goal is to be drafted in the Top 10.

“I’m going to show everybody when I go out there and run and do everything, I’ve been working hard,’’ Graham said today (Saturday).

While he played defensive end for the Wolverines, his size (6-foot-1, 268 pounds) will make him an NFL linebacker.

Graham, who played at Detroit Crockett, often gets compared to LaMarr Woodley who has made an impact with the Steelers.

“I get compared to him a lot. That was somebody who taught me a lot and showed me the ropes when I got up there (to Michigan). I thank him because a lot of other guys wouldn’t help you as much as he helped me. I give a lot to him. I feel good that they compare me to him because he’s doing great in the league,’’ Graham said.

While Graham is aiming for Top 10, other projections have him going between 20 and 30. He’s not likely to be around when the Lions use their second-round pick (34th overall).

NFL Combine: McCluster could help Lions

INDIANAPOLIS — Would Dexter McCluster look good in Honolulu blue and silver? Maybe we’ll know one day, maybe not.

McCluster, who played at Ole Miss, is working out at this NFL Combine as both a running back and wide receiver.

Of course, the Lions need help in both areas. But perhaps McCluster’s greatest value to the Lions would be as a kick and/or punt returner. His special teams play is a highlight of his resume.

“It’s been a big impact. A lot of people say they see me at kickoff return, punt return. They ask me, ‘Which do I like best?’ I told them punt return. I love that you have to think a little quicker. I love that,’’ McCluster said this morning (Saturday).

“My quickness and ability to stop and go, I believe, is a big aspect of my game. I always want to be a gunner on the punt team. I love doing that. I tried to get on it this year, but coach wouldn’t let me do it to save me. But that’s something I love,’’ he added.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said on Friday he has guys who can return including Derrick Williams, Aaron Brown and Dennis Northcutt. But last season there was no consistency on returns. A returner must be somewhere on Mayhew’s lengthy wish list.


NFL Combine: MSU's White looks to future

Michigan State wide receiver Blair White started his Spartan career as a walk-on. This weekend he’s at the NFL Combine trying to impress NFL coaches and scouts. It’s a nice rags-to-riches story, but he is all about the present.

“It’s been a nice trail, you have to kind of view it as a job interview. Once you get to this level you can’t be reflecting on about how far you’ve come,’’ White said on Thursday.

He said he’s had good feedback, along with some mixed feedback.

“One thing I’ve heard is a lot of people think I’m just a possession receiver at the next level. I think I’m better than that and I disagree,’’ White said.

CMU's LeFevour ready to follow MAC tradition

INDIANAPOLIS — Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour will work out at the NFL Combine this weekend, but he will not throw to wide receivers. He’ll save that for his pro day on March 24 at Mount Pleasant. LeFevour will participate in the rest of the Combine workouts.

LeFevour did not apologize for the decision. He said the fact he was the first quarterback to sign up to play in the Senior Bowl shows that he is not afraid of competition.

Many of the quarterbacks at the Combine are going the same route as LeFevour who played the spread offense at Central and is adjusting to playing under center.

“Going to the Senior Bowl was a great experience, getting under center 11-on-11 you can really replicate anything but that. That was a great experience for me,’’ LeFevour said on Thursday.

He is well aware that NFL quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich and Chad Pennington have given the MAC a good reputation.

“There’s been a lot of guys who have had success from the MAC. I think it really boils down to just having a lot of playing experience and playing in some offenses that allow you to wing it around a little bit and have some experience throwing the ball,’’ LeFevour said.

He’s hoping to add his name to the list.

Mayhew: Lions will be aggressive in free agency

INDIANAPOLIS — Martin Mayhew, the Lions general manager, said today that the Lions will be aggressive but selective when free agency opens on March 5.

“I think there are always quality guys out there at every position. I think we’re going to be aggressive in free agency, but be more selective,’’ Mayhew said today.

The unrestricted free agent pool will be smaller than usual this year because the 2010 season will be uncapped because a new collective bargaining agreement has not been reached. As part of the deal, players must have six years of NFL experience to be unrestricted, instead of the normal four years.

“I think things are going to happen fast this year. With a smaller group of players I think things are going to happen pretty fast,’’ Mayhew said.

Of course he, would not be specific. He wouldn’t name players or position groups that would be a priority.

The Lions do need a veteran quarterback as a backup to Matthew Stafford, but Mayhew said that is not something that necessarily needs to be addressed early in free agency.

Lions' Mayhew takes time adjusting the roster

INDIANAPOLIS — Last year, immediately after the Super Bowl, the Lions dumped a number of players. This year they are cutting the roster with a scalpel, not an ax.

There’s a good reason for that according to Martin Mayhew, the Lions general manager.

“The team we have now (are) guys that I brought in, guys that I like for whatever reason, our coaching staff likes, ‘’ Mayhew said today. “We brought them in together. We don’t have as many holdovers from the previous regime and they have been guys we’re comfortable playing with.”

Pretty simple, but an accurate description.

Lions' Mayhew does double-duty at Combine

INDIANAPOLIS — While the NFL Combine is the reason Martin Mayhew, the Lions general manager, is in town. It also gives him an opportunity to meet with agents of some of the Lions who could hit the open market on March 5.

Mayhew said this morning (Friday) that he had talked to tight end Will Heller’s agent on Thursday night.

“We had a good talk last night on will. We’ll talk more before I leave here. I’m cautiously optimistic about having him back,’’ Mayhew said.

He was planning on meeting with the agent for offensive tackle Jon Jansen today. Jansen signed a one-year deal to play last season for the Lions. He brought a veteran presence and stepped in when needed on the line.

Mayhew said he will also be talking to agents for safety Marquand Manuel and cornerback Will James.

“I thought (James) was a great veteran presence in the locker room, I thought he was a hard worker, worked very hard, I thought he had some production, made some plays on the ball, he’s getting a little older,’’ Mayhew said of the 30-year-old James.

“... He’s a guy we’d like to have back at the right price, we’ll have him compete and see how it all ends up,’’ Mayhew said.

He has not spoken to the agent of tight end Casey FitzSimmons, but plans to do so. FitzSimmons missed the final four games with a concussion. “That is a concern,’’ Mayhew said.


ESPN analyst expects Rams to draft Bradford

INDIANAPOLIS — In a radio interview on Thursday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter predicted that the St. Louis Rams will take Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with the first overall pick.

According to, Schefter said: “... And I believe ultimately, when all is said and done, that the Rams’ No. 1 pick on April 22, two months from now, will be Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford. I’m willing to take all bets on that one right now.’’

Schefter also said he had not talked to the Rams about it.

If he is right, that would leave either defensive tackle — Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy — for the Lions with the second pick.

With about 400 members of the media at the NFL Combine here, rumors are flying big-time. (In case you’re wondering, there are more media members than players.)

Stay tuned for Day Two coverage of the Combine on Friday. Lions general manager Martin Mayhew is expected to check in early in the day with his thoughts. And, even though the Lions aren’t specifically seeking a quarterback, it could be a circus at Lucas Oil Field when the quarterbacks — including Bradford, Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow — meet the media.

Lions' Schwartz : LBs, TEs toughest to evaluate

INDIANAPOLIS — In his 18th NFL season, Lions coach Jim Schwartz knows something about player personnel. This week’s NFL Combine is hardly his first.

In his opinion there are two positions where the players are the toughest to judge.

“I think historically linebackers and tight ends are very difficult to judge because every team uses those guys in so many different ways. What you see in college isn’t necessarily what they’re going to do in the NFL,’’ Schwartz said.

“... When they’re being asked to do something that may be totally different than what they did in college, that’s a hard evaluation,’’ the Lions coach added.

That said, the Lions drafted two starters at those positions last season and got it right — linebacker DeAndre Levy and tight end Brandon Pettigrew. The two were among five rookies who started the majority of the games last season.

Lions could buy dinner for Okung

INDIANAPOLIS — Last year during the NFL Combine the Lions coaching staff was spotted by reporters at dinner with Matthew Stafford. We know where that led.

What they didn’t see were coach Jim Schwartz’s meals with other potential draftees, including Mark Sanchez who was drafted by the Jets.

So who is Schwartz dining with this week?

It’s not like he’s going to spill his guts, but when asked if offensive tackle Russell Okung (Oklahoma State) might be dining with him, he said, “We will sometime this week, probably.”

Okung, who is projected to be drafted in the top five, said he had no immediate plans for dinner with Schwartz.

“As far as I’m concerned, (Friday) we bench press,’’ Okung said.

Even though he’s projected to be drafted early, he is still going through the workouts.

“I’m here to compete and show what I’ve got,’’ the 307-pound Okung said. “I don’t want to shy away from competition.’’

It’s nice to see. Not every player feels the way he does.

Tomlinson to Lions? Probably not

INDIANAPOLIS — Coach Jim Schwartz and the Lions are looking under every rock, exploring every possibility, to improve the rebuilding team.

There’s not one position that they are keying in on, there are several. That includes running back.

LaDainian Tomlinson, who was just released by the San Diego Chargers, will be a consideration.

“We’re looking at every way we can to improve the team. I don’t think we make any decisions and blanketly say, ‘No, we’re not interested.’ Every player has something they bring, If they can help us win we’ll look at just about everything,’’ Schwartz said today (Thursday) at the opening day of the NFL Combine.

The coach said he has a tremendous amount of respect for Tomlinson who he faced regularly as defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans.

It makes for a good fairy tale, but you would think that Tomlinson would want to go to a contender, not a rebuilder.

For now, Lions hold onto second draft pick

INDIANAPOLIS — Coach Jim Schwartz said today at the NFL Combine that’s it too early to say whether the Lions will trade down with their second overall pick in the draft.

Rumors this week have had the top four teams, including the Lions, looking to trade down.

“I think any rumor like that is way premature. It’s one thing philosophically to say you’re open to it, but before you even go through draft physicals, workouts, those kind of things, it’s hard,’’ Schwartz said.

“Most of those moves are made with a very specific person in mind. There’s a team that’s moving toward a very specific person. Nobody’s evaluations are 100 percent done right now. ... I think everybody is open to just about everything,’’ he added.

Schwartz also noted that he didn’t remember any draft trades that were made until the team was either on the clock or just before the draft.

Today is the opening day of the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Field. For more coverage come back to Lions Lowdown throughout today and through Sunday.


Former Lions QB to be inducted into EMU Hall

INDIANAPOLIS — With the NFL Combine starting in a matter of hours and NFL free agency 8 days away, we can’t overlook other NFL news.

It was announced today that former Lions quarterback Charlie Batch will be inducted into the Eastern Michigan University Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Smile, if you will, but Batch led the Lions to their last playoff appearance in 1999. The Lions drafted him in the second round in 1998 and he was with the team through the 2001 season. He passed for 9,016 yards in that stretch.

Obviously Batch moved on to the Pittsburgh Steelers where he won a pair of Super Bowl rings (2006 and 2009) as a backup.

Batch was not the only quarterback who couldn’t make a go of it with the Lions, but he did better than most. And, all the time, he was a nice guy. That must count for something.

Lions must make most of NFL Combine

INDIANAPOLIS — After the NFL Combine, which starts Thursday, we’ll know a little more about the 2010 draft class. More than 600 team personnel will evaluate 329 NFL hopefuls.

It's not just about the first-round picks. The Lions own the second overall pick and will likely pick a defensive tackle (Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy). But it's more about getting to know the potential NFLers who are not household names. Hidden gems are rare, but they can only be unearthed through hard work. The Combine provides a good chance to get to know players — it's not all about speeds and stats.

At this point, it appears to be stronger for defensive players which is good news for the Lions — although the Lions are needy at most positions.

“On defense it’s probably the deepest draft I’ve seen in eight years,’’ said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock in a conference call this week. He sees particular strength at defensive tackle and in the defensive backfield.

Mayock said typically seven or eight defensive tackles go in the first three rounds. This year he thinks it could be almost double that.

Offensively he sees it as a bad year for quarterbacks and interior offensive linemen. He expects a lot of movement with offensive tackles early in the first round. He also likes the tight ends, running backs and wide receivers.

(Come back to the Lions Lowdown blog for coverage of the NFL Combine through Sunday. Also, follow me on Twitter @paulapasche.)


Lions release veteran DE Jared DeVries

Veteran defensive end Jared DeVries was released today (Tuesday) by the Lions. DeVries was drafted in the third round by Detroit in 1999 and has been with the team ever since. Tom Lewand, team president, made the announcement in a conference call.

DeVries did not play in the 2009 season after he tore an Achilles’ tendon during training camp. Lewand said that DeVries’ rehab has been “very, very good.”

DeVries had a roster bonus coming up in a few weeks. “That’s something that prompted the discussion,’’ Lewand said. DeVries base salary for 2009 was $1.3 million.

He said the release came after discussions with DeVries and his agent. “In response to their request to have (the release) happen now rather than later,’’ Lewand said.

This does not mean the Lions have closed the door on DeVries making a return to the team, according to Lewand.

DeVries and his agent want to see what is out there for him.

“We think the world of Jared. He was the epitome of a professional and has been throughout his career,’’ Lewand said.

DeVries, who played at Iowa, played in 119 games for the Lions with 31 starts and 269 tackles.

(Follow the Lions at the NFL Combine through the Lions Lowdown blog and also on Twitter @paulapasche.)

Analyst weighs in on Lions No. 2 pick

With the NFL Combine starting Thursday in Indianapolis, the draft analysts are weighing in. Once again the top of the draft order is key since the Lions have the second overall pick.

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said Tuesday in a conference call that he has defensive tackle Gerald McCoy ranked first and DT Ndamukong Suh at second.

Mayock said he had McCoy at first because he sees the NFL as a “pass-first league.

“I want the more disruptive guy. (McCoy) is disruptive against the pass and can stop the run,’’ Mayock said.

Suh is considered the top pick by many analysts, including ESPN’s Mel Kiper, and Mayock likes him too, but doesn’t seem him as abrupt as McCoy. He’s convinced both have what it takes to become Pro Bowl tackles.

While St. Louis, the team with the top pick, needs a quarterback desperately, Mayock thinks it would be tough to pass over McCoy and Suh for Sam Bradford who is considered the top quarterback available.

“I’ve always said a franchise quarterback tops everything. But it’s going to be hard to trump those two defensive tackles,’’ Mayock said.

(Follow The Oakland Press coverage from the NFL Combine on Lions Lowdown. Also follow it on Twitter @paulapasche.)


Lions' Mayhew, Schwartz face crucial two weeks

For Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz, the next two weeks will be crucial to the success of the team in the fall. Once again, it is critical that the Lions draft well. That was clearly evident last season when five draftees became starters — quarterback Matthew Stafford, safety Louis Delmas, tight end Brandon Pettigrew, defensive tackle Sammie Hill and linebacker DeAndre Levy. Three of the draft picks — Derrick Williams, Aaron Brown and Zack Follett — also contributed and their roles could grow as they gain experience. Yes, the Lions finished with just a pair of wins, but they would not have done that well without such a talented draft class. They know it. We know it. So onward and upward. With scouting reports in hand, the Lions will meet the future starting Thursday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. While all players won’t work out, most who have something to prove will. Also the GMs and coaches will have a chance to talk with the players and get a handle on their personalities which is huge. The Lions don’t want any surprises when they make a draft choice. If they can match the success they had last April, they will take another huge step forward in rebuilding the team. When the Combine is complete, up creeps the first day of free agency on March 5. Because this year players must have six years experience to be unrestricted (usually it’s four years), the pool of free agents will be smaller and the players in that pool will be older. Don’t expect big signings from the Lions in free agency. It’s another reason why they must draft well in April. (Follow the news from the NFL Combine in this Lions Lowdown blog Thursday-Sunday from Indianapolis. Also follow me on Twitter @paulapasche.)


Unlike Bears, Lions play it smart

When the Lions announced this week that they were dropping some season ticket prices and freezing others, it was such a smart move. Tom Lewand, Lions president, said they want to fill Ford Field not just to make money, but to give the team a true home-field advantage. Plus, you know they took the economy and high jobless rate into consideration, along with the 2-30 record over the past two seasons. So it was surprising to hear that the Chicago Bears, who have not been to the playoffs in three years, announced a ticket price increase. They did it on the same day as Tiger Woods’ apology to the world, but still word got out. Club seats at Soldier Field will increase between $10 and $20 per ticket, with a $2 to $17 increase for non-club seats. The economy isn’t that much brighter in Chicago. And the Bears? They’ve now got two former members of the Lions coaching staff in key positions — Rod Marinelli as defensive coordinator and Mike Martz as offensive coordinator. Will be interesting to see how this all shakes out.


Keep an eye on Culpepper

One of the more interesting unrestricted free agents to watch in the next few weeks will be QB Daunte Culpepper. His contract with the Lions is done, kaput, finished. While Martin Mayhew, the Lions general manager, said not to count out a Culpepper return to Detroit, it seems highly unlikely. It’s not so much that the Lions wouldn’t want him, but I never got the feeling he was too happy with the Lions’ situation. Culpepper still sees himself as an NFL starter. In Detroit, he’s behind Matthew Stafford. He never had a good game — or a win — with the Lions but that wasn’t all exactly his fault. Still, he had opportunities and did not take advantage. That said, the Lions need a veteran backup quarterback in case Stafford is injured again. Drew Stanton will be back, but he’s not ready for that role.


Lions add linebacker

Not much action out of the Lions’ Allen Park facility recently, but management made a move on Thursday when they acquired linebacker Ashlee Palmer off waivers from the Buffalo Bills. The 23-year-old Palmer played in 14 games, starting two of them, and racked up 24 tackles last year for the Bills in his rookie season. The 6-foot-1, 236-pound linebacker played college ball at Mississippi. Linebacker is one of the most solid positions for the Lions and Palmer could be a depth addition.

Kiper firm on 1-2

Since October, Mel Kiper has not wavered on his top two picks for April’s draft. In his newly released mock draft, he still has defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh as No. 1 and Gerald McCoy as No. 2. He said they’ve both been steady and solid since the fall. The Lions have the second overall pick. St. Louis is first. Kiper loves both Suh and McCoy. He thinks either would be a good fit for the Lions and/or Rams. “They both gave you one thing — consistent productivity,’’ Kiper said during a conference call on Wednesday. Kiper, the NFL draft guru, said that McCoy would give a team more versatility since he can play the 3-4. He’s a little more sudden and explosive. But he’s had Suh at the top spot for a reason. He sees him as a tackle who is strong, powerful and an outstanding bull rusher. “He’s a warrior,’’ Kiper said. It’s expected the Rams will pick one of them, although they could also opt for a much-needed quarterback. It seems like no matter what St. Louis does, this will be a win-win situation for the Lions.


Kwan finds work

Stan Kwan has been hired as an assistant by new Buffalo Bills special teams coach Bruce DeHaven. Kwan served two seasons as the Lions’ special teams coordinator, after spending several seasons in Detroit as an assistant to Chuck Priefer, the dean of special teams coaches. Kwan started during the Bobby Ross era and lasted through many regimes. The Lions special teams started slow and never gained much traction during the 2-14 season. It wasn’t all Kwan’s fault, but somebody had to go. He was the only Lions’ coach relieved of his duties following the season. Kwan was one of the few coaches Jim Schwartz kept on when he arrived in town a year ago.

Stallworth goes to Ravens

The Lions will not be adding wide receiver Donte Stallworth to their roster. Stallworth has signed a one-year, $900,000 contract with the Baltimore Ravens, according to Stallworth was to have worked out with the Lions last week. The team would never comment on if he did. Stallworth was reinstated by the NFL commissioner a week and a half ago following a one-year suspension after pleading guilty to driving under the influence and second-degree manslaughter after striking and killing a pedestrian in Miami Beach, Fla., in March 2008.

Season ticket prices reduced

The Lions have reduced prices on 19,000 of their season tickets which are now on sale. The pricing for the remaining season tickets will remain the same as last year. It’s a smart move by the Lions, and in reality, the only one they could wisely make. Their team is coming off a 2-14 season and, as you may recall, is 2-30 over the last two seasons. It’s a team that seems on the rise, but it’s going to take time to rebuild it the right way. Even diehard fans could have trouble coming up with ticket money due to the high unemployment rate and the lousy Detroit-area economy. “We are very appreciative of the extraordinary support of our fans,’’ said Tom Lewand, Lions president. “Their passion for this team is among the best of any professional sports franchise. Over the past two seasons we have offered several ticket options with the hope that more Lions’ fans will have the opportunity to attend games at Ford Field. We believe this is another positive and more affordable option for our fans.’’ The seats with reduced prices include 3,000 club seats and 16,000 in the lower and upper levels. Savings range from $80 to $140 per season ticket.


Decisions to be made

One of the few positions that is not a huge concern is the Lions’ linebacking corps. However, there are questions. DeAndre Levy proved toward the end of the season he’s ready to take over the middle linebacker spot. Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham was high on the rookie from the start and Levy did nothing to prove him wrong. Veteran Larry Foote started the season in the middle and the Lions had no beef with him. In fact, he brought exactly what they needed to the equation — skill and leadership. Foote was only signed for a year. Do they re-sign him? Julian Peterson also played well, but he’s scheduled to make $7.5 million next season. The Lions must determine whether he’s worth it. They've also got Ernie Sims who is still under contract. We’ll know more in the next few weeks.


Delmas sponsors fundraiser

Although the shock of the earthquake in Haiti has waned, the need for more funding has not and will not for months or years to come. In response, Lions safety Louis Delmas, who has family ties with Haiti, has joined with We R Love, a non-profit Detroit group, to hold a fundraiser on Feb. 27. The event will be at Bookies Bar in Detroit and 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to assist with the relief efforts in Detroit. Tickets range from $15 to $25 for general admission to $40 for VIP tickets. “Seeing this amount of disaster in my home country has been heart- wrenching. I feel that it is my responsibility as a Haitian and an athlete to help where I can and this event is one of many ways I see that goal being accomplished,’’ Delmas said in a statement. For information contact Sherrie Handrinos at


Back to school

While some NFL players soak up the sun in tropical locales during the offseason, others go back to school. Three of the Lions will participate next week in league-sponsored business programs. Lions wide receiver Dennis Northcutt and guard Dylan Gandy will be participating in the NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program at the Harvard Business School beginning Monday. Lions defensive end Copeland Bryan will be a part of the program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania starting on Tuesday. Congrats to them for taking advantage of such an opportunity.


Will it be a guy named Suh?

The NFL draft is just nine weeks and six days away, but who’s counting? Well, just about anyone with a blog or any fan of a team with a Top 10 draft pick. Now there’s talk that perhaps Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh will not be the first overall pick or the first defensive tackle chosen. NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock has rated Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy ahead of Suh. Mayock is not alone. ESPN’s Todd McShay also has St. Louis taking McCoy with the first overall pick, in part because McCoy is quicker and more disruptive which fills a need for coach Steve Spagnuolo. Suh is generally considered stronger with better instincts. Meanwhile ESPN's Mel Kiper has Suh at the top of his mock draft. With the second overall pick, the Lions should get a quality starter. Maybe it will be a guy named Suh. Or, perhaps the Rams will go with Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with their No. 1 pick to fill a huge need. We’ll know the answer on April 22. But who’s counting?


Stallworth working out for Lions?

Donte Stallworth is a wide receiver looking for a job now that he’s been reinstated by the NFL. He was forced to sit out the 2009 season after pleading guilty to driving under the influence and second-degree manslaughter after striking and killing a pedestrian in Miami Beach, Fla., in March 2008. Stallworth was to work out for the Lions on Wednesday according to The Lions had no comment. Lions management must look at the risk-reward factor here. Stallworth’s best season was in 2005 and since then he’s been hampered by hamstring injuries. Perhaps a year off was just the cure, perhaps not. Also, is he the kind of character guy they want? For more on Stallworth, see Thursday’s Oakland Press.

A little tweaking

The Lions haven’t made any cuts to their roster yet this week — Monday was the first day cuts could be made. But there was a little movement today when four players were removed from the Injured Reserve list. Defensive end Jared DeVries (ruptured Achilles tendon), safety Daniel Bullocks (knee), linebacker Cody Spencer (torn right ACL) and tackle Damion Cook (torn triceps) are all back on the active roster — at least for now.


Lions sign Dorsey

Needing help at running back, the Lions have signed DeDe Dorsey according to Dorsey, who has not played a regular season NFL game since 2008, was the most valuable player in the United Football League’s championship game while playing for the Las Vegas Locomotives in November. After playing in college at Lindenwood, an NAIA school in Missouri, the 25-year-old running back was signed by the Bengals in 2006. After they cut him he played with the Colts as a rookie. He returned to Cincinnati and played there is 2007 and 2008. With top running back Kevin Smith coming back from ACL surgery (and shoulder surgery), the Lions are filling a need. It is uncertain if Smith will be a full-go when training camp starts.

High risks, Super reward

After analyzing the New Orleans’ Super Bowl win, it seems that Saints coach Sean Payton should have been named the Super Bowl MVP. Although technically impossible, he called the winning game plan with its high-risk elements. He fought like an underdog and it paid off. Obviously the Saints had to keep the ball away from Peyton Manning and the Colts if they wanted to win. To accomplish that, they needed to take risks. Payton called smart plays, even if they weren’t carried out. His decision to start the second half with an onside quick was gutsy and perhaps key to the win. Even though near the end of the first half, Payton went for it on fourth-and-one from the Colts’ 1-yard-line and failed, they still got the three points before The Who took the stage. Down 10-6 at the half, Payton decided to try to get the ball back to start the second half. Manning could just sit and watch. Brilliant move on Sean Payton’s part. What affect could this have on the NFL next season? Will coaches open up a little and take more risks? Who knows, but It would be great for the game. From watching him for a season, it seems Lions coach Jim Schwartz has a little Payton in him. Once he gets his Lions where they can have a chance to win, don’t be surprised to see Schwartz call a trick play here or there.


The odds are ...

Apparently it’s never too early to think about next year’s Super Bowl. The Colts are the early favorites — at 13-2— to win Super Bowl XLV, according to The Saints are tied for third with the Patriots at 10-1, while the Chargers are at 8-1. Gee, no mention of the Lions? Ah, yes. The Lions are tied with the Browns, the Chiefs, the Raiders, the Rams and the Buccaneers with the longest odds on the board at 100-1. Sounds about right.


Saints have it, Lions don't

One reason the Saints went from an 8-8 team in 2008, to the Super Bowl this Sunday is a key stat — turnover ratio. New Orleans finished the regular season with a plus-11 turnover ratio which was third best in the NFL behind the Packers (plus-24) and the Eagles (plus-15). The Lions owned the NFL’s worst turnover ratio at minus-19. Creating takeaways was a focus of Saints’ practice every day all season long according to published reports. It was part of the game plan under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. He was obsessed with takeaways and soon it was an obsession for the whole defense. They finished the season with 39 takeaways, compared to 22 in 2008. In 2008, the Saints had the league’s top passing game, but the defense was lacking. Their turnover ratio was minus-4. The turnaround in that one category isn’t the only reason they’ll play in Sunday’s Super Bowl, but it is a factor. The Lions need much more than just a better turnover ratio to get to the Super Bowl, but it would be a good start.


Predictions true to form

When Barry Sanders and Matthew Stafford appeared on ESPN2 on Wednesday on different shows with differing agendas, both were asked to make a Super Bowl prediction. Both hesitated and wouldn’t pick the Saints or Colts hands down. Sanders said he was leaning toward the Saints because they have a more balanced running attack. Stafford was politically correct too, although he said it’d be great to see Peyton Manning win another Super Bowl. Let’s see a Hall of Fame running back dwells on the running game and a quarterback favors one of the best QBs of all time. Too funny.


Stafford on girl-approved hair

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was a good sport this morning as a guest on ESPN2’s “First Take” when the conversation went to “girl-approved hair.’’ “It’s hair that’s so irresistible, girls they can’t get enough of it, get their hands in it smell it and get some hair action. It’s a good deal,’’ the 21-year-old Stafford said. He’s a spokesman for a hair product, so it’s not like he wasn’t expecting the question. Actually a stylist must have gotten to him before the show because his hair looked much different than it did during the season. Stafford wasn’t given much time to talk football, but he did share his favorite moment of the season. For many, including Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew, the season highlight was Stafford’s winning touchdown pass against Cleveland. But not for the young quarterback. For him it came weeks earlier — the win over the Washington Redskins. “Ending the losing streak was huge for me and huge for the team. I think it was probably my favorite moment of the year. Obviously getting a chance to throw five touchdowns (against) Cleveland was fun, being able to end that streak and get a win on the board was huge,’’ Stafford said. He wouldn’t make a Super Bowl prediction, but did say it would be special to see Peyton Manning win another.

Barry Sanders speaks

Barry Sanders never looked for the limelight while he was playing and it hasn’t changed much since he retired. So it was a rare delight to see him on the “Mike and Mike Show” on ESPN2 this morning. While unfortunately the 10-time Pro Bowler and Hall of Famer couldn’t share any tales of playing in the Super Bowl, he gave a little insight into playing during his 10 seasons with the Lions. Most of the time he wasn’t free-lancing with the ball. “You do have a little bit of a thought because that was my game. I think most guys knew, and I certainly knew, I wasn’t going to run through a guy in most cases, unless it was a little guy. There was a little thought of how I’m going to get around this guy. ... There was some sort of preplan most times,’’ said Sanders who still lives in the Detroit area. He wouldn’t be pinned down to a pick between the Colts and Saints, but it wasn’t surprising his heart is leaning toward the Saints because, for one reason, they have a more balanced running attack. “I think the Saints, to see where they’ve come in the last four years from the time Coach (Sean) Payton has taken over the team is just miraculous,’’ Sanders said. “Being a lifelong fan of the NFL and all the years of seeing the Saints at the bottom and to see them in the Super Bowl is amazing. Then to see Peyton Manning, they’re the new dynasty in the NFL.’’ Sanders, wearing a shirt with a Miller Lite logo, was on the show for a good reason. Miller Lite is running an online auction where you can bid to have Barry Sanders come to your house (with food and drinks) to watch Sunday’s Super Bowl. All proceeds benefit the V Foundation for cancer research. If interested, go to The deadline is 1 p.m. Thursday.


Action on the way

Waiting for something, anything to happen with the Lions? Typically NFL roster cuts are made after the Super Bowl. So there could be some action next week. Here are a few dates to keep in mind: -- The NFL Combine runs Feb. 24-March 2 in Indianapolis. -- Free agency opens on March 5. -- The draft, which has been expanded to three days, takes place April 22-24.


Think defense first

Until the Lions make their first pick in the NFL draft on April 22, there will be chatter about who it will be. Martin Mayhew, the Lions general manager, said a few weeks ago that they will take the best player on the board regardless of position or if he’s an offensive or defensive player. That’s GM talk and not surprising to hear. He’s not going to tip his hat. But here’s the deal, the Lions need more help on defense. It’s likely St. Louis will take defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh out of Nebraska with the first overall pick. That would leave the second-best defensive tackle — and perhaps the second-best player — in Gerald McCoy out of Oklahoma. The draft is months off, but it would seem crazy if the Lions didn’t go to a defensive player first and McCoy fits a need.