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.


Lions' 7th-round pick an offensive line project

ALLEN PARK — A four-year starter at South Carolina State, offensive tackle Johnny Culbreath said he’s excited to get to Detroit and play for the Lions who drafted him in the seventh round (109 overall).

Culbreath, who is 6-foot-5 and 322 pounds, was not invited to the Combine, but the Lions were impressed enough at his pro day that they brought him in for a visit.

“He had a really, really good workout, his tape was good. We brought him in here, he spent some time with our coaches,’’ Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “We like his size, we like his athletic ability, (he’s) a little bit of a developmental project. He’s a guy that our coaches are very anxious to work with.’’

The coach said it's too early to tell if he will play tackle like he did in college or if he'll move to guard.

Culbreath was the Lions final pick.

They also drafted DT Nick Fairley, WR Titus Young, RB Mikel Leshoure and OLB Doug Hogue.

Schwartz said it’s not a big draft class, but he likes the quality.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions fifth-round pick seen as a project at linebacker

ALLEN PARK — In the fifth round, the Lions drafted OLB Doug Hogue out of Syracuse. He’s a project who made the transformation from running back at Syracuse where he played strong side linebacker in his junior year and weakside his senior year.

“(He’s got) inexperience at the position, but he’s got a lot of potential and he’s shown a lot of things when he’s played linebacker at Syracuse. A little bit of a work in progress, but we think a guy we can work with that fits exactly what we’re looking for in a linebacker and has a chance to really develop for us,’’ Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “(He) can be a special teams player and has a possibility to develop into a linebacker role also.’’

The 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker sees his speed as his strength. In a conference call he said he was unsure where he would be drafted and was just happy to be drafted at all.

Unless there’s a trade, the Lions have one more pick today. That’s in the seventh round (209 overall).

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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It's fifth- and seventh-round picks today for Lions; other notes

ALLEN PARK — It’s a light agenda on the final day of the NFL draft for the Detroit Lions. After trading a third- and fourth-round pick to add another second-round pick on Friday night, today they have just a fifth-rounder (157) and seventh-rounder (209).

Of course if there’s someone they like they could try to make a deal, but they don’t have too much to work with and I’d be a little surprised if they’d trade 2012 picks. Remember because of the labor situation in this draft they can only trade picks.

— I sense lots of hand-wringing over the drafting of WR Titus Young in the second round. Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz thought they had enough of a need for a third WR that they went with Young. If you look at which CBs and OLBs were available then you would be underwhelmed. Also my hunch is that fans will love Young. His mom grew up in Detroit so it feels it will be like coming back to his roots. He was emotional, and broke down crying a few times during a conference call after he was selected. Also, he’s funny. And from what Mayhew and Schwartz say he can catch the ball.

— The Lions didn’t draft Nick Fairley 13th overall because he has a good personality, but he does. From the brief time the media spent with him it appeared he will fit right into the defensive line group.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Like it or not, Lions consistent with draft philosophy

ALLEN PARK — The thing about the NFL draft is no one will know whether the Lions — or any team — was successful until a few years out.

While the Lions have glaring holes at cornerback and outside linebacker, in the second round on Friday night they went with WR Titus Young (Boise State) and moved up in the second round to grab RB Mikel Leshoure.

Let the second-guessing begin.

This should not be a surprise to anyone who has listed to general manager Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz.

“The draft is not the finish line for us as far as our personnel department. We have a lot of work to do, we have a lot of areas we can definitely improve, we’ll continue to work those things,’’ Mayhew said on Friday night.

Look at just which cornerback or outside linebacker was available in the second round and you will not be impressed. The Lions want to get the most for their money so they filled other needs with players who were rated high on their draft board.

“There’s a lot of time between now and the season begins to worry about our needs, let’s worry right now about talent, let’s worry about what works for us, let’s draft to our strengths,’’ Schwartz said.

The Lions have been consistent in this strategy. It’s too early to know if it will be a success. But the past two drafts operated by Mayhew and Schwartz have yielded good results.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Possibilities if Lions draft a CB in second or third rounds

ALLEN PARK — So after taking DT Nick Fairley in the first round, which direction will the Lions take tonight in the second round and third round?

Even though Fairley’s presence will in itself help make the secondary better, they could still use a cornerback in either second or third round.

Two corners from Miami are possibilities — Brandon Harris and DeMarcus Van Dyke who has been moving up the charts.

Van Dyke ran one of the fastest 40s in Combine history at 4.29.

The Lions brought in Ras-I Dowling from Virginia for an interview. Johnny Patrick from Louisville could also be available.

Because Lions general manager Martin Mayhew is a former NFL cornerback, you’d think he would have good insight into the kind of guy he wants to draft.

The Lions have the 44th overall pick in the second round and the 75th overall pick in the third round. In the second round teams have seven minutes to make each pick. In the third round it goes down to five minutes.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Fairley makes Lions' defense better immediately

ALLEN PARK — Everyone seemed to think the Lions would draft a cornerback with the 13th overall pick in the draft Thursday night. Particularly, Prince Amukamara if he was still available.

Well, he was. But so was defensive tackle Nick Fairley from Auburn.

The Lions were thankful four quarterbacks went in the first 12 picks, otherwise Fairley would not have been available. The Vikings drafted quarterback Christian Ponder with the 12th pick, just before the Lions. They thought the Vikings might nab Fairley.

“We were hopeful he would fall to us. ... He was very high on our draft board. I think he’ll help our defensive line, our defense as a whole,’’ Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said.

So instead of reaching, and getting a player at a needed spot, the Lions drafted to their strength. They’ll rotate Fairley, who will wear No. 98, in and out with Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams.

We should have seen this coming. The week before the draft Mayhew said the Lions would draft the best player on their board who was available. The only position he ruled out was quarterback.

The man was true to his word. It might cost Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers a restless night or two throughout the season.

This has got to be one of the deepest, strongest defensive lines in the league. All of a sudden the Lions’ secondary just got much better. Funny how that works.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Lewand: Lions start workouts Friday, first OTA set for Wednesday

ALLEN PARK — Several Lions are expected at the Lions practice facility on Friday morning for the first offseason workout for the 2011 season and first since the NFL lockout has been lifted.

“We’ve talked to everybody on the roster today,’’ Lions president Tom Lewand said an hour before the draft started on Thursday night. “We’ve reached out to everybody — the position coaches have talked to them, I’ve talked to a few guys, Jim (Schwartz) has talked to a few and our strength coach talked to everybody.

“I know a lot of guys are interested in coming back. Obviously a lot of them have other plans, I expect a good number (Friday) and obviously that number will increase starting Monday when guys have the ability to make their travel plans,’’ Lewand added.

The workouts will continue Monday and Tuesday with the first OTA (organized team activity) is set for Wednesday. All workouts are voluntary.

Lewand does not expect animosity between players and management.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for our players and the guys I’ve spoken with have been nothing but positive, they’re focused like we’re focused on the success of this organization and what we’re trying to accomplish on the football field,’’ Lewand said.

“Guys I’ve spoken to, in particular Kyle Vanden Bosch (the team’s union rep) understand that the organization is players, coaches, and front office working together to accomplish the goals we have as a football team ... We look forward to seeing those guys tomorrow,’’ he added.

Lewand said they had a plan and when notified by the NFL on Thursday afternoon that they could go ahead, they executed it. That’s why things are moving along quickly despite the three-day NFL draft.

(Paula Pasche covers the Lions. Follow her on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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And with the 13th pick, the Lions draft ...

Finally, the long, long wait is nearly over. Soon Wills and Kate will tie the knot. Just kidding.

Tonight about 10:20 p.m. the Lions will make their first-round draft pick, 13th overall. That is unless they make a trade to move up or down in the draft order.

My bet is if Prince Amukamara falls to 13th — and he very likely could — the Lions will draft the cornerback out of Nebraska. He’s a plug-and-play guy, an immediate starter who could help bolster their glaring weak spot in the defense.

If Amukamara is gone my other guesses are OT Tyron Smith (USC), CB Jimmy Smith, OT Anthony Castonzo (Boston College), DE Aldon Smith (Missouri) or DE Da’Quan Bowers (Clemson).

Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche for total draft coverage from Lions headquarters in Allen Park. Check out full coverage at which includes videos, and also my blogs at

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Lions' Stafford works out with Calvin Johnson, Ochocino

This and that:

— Matthew Stafford tweeted today reporting that he had just finished a good workout. Said he was throwing to Calvin Johnson and Chad Ochocinco who has declared his time with the Bengals is over. Wouldn’t expect to see Ochocinco in Detroit, think the three of them just met up in Atlanta to work out. Stafford is three months out from surgery. Expect him to be at full-speed for training camp whenever that may be.

— Sad to see that Jason Hunter, DE for the Broncos who spent 2009 with the Lions, was allegedly stabbed by his girlfriend in Detroit. He’s the second NFL player to be stabbed in a domestic dispute in the last five days. Miami’s Brandon Marshall was the other. Hunter , who played at Appalachian State, spent his first three NFL seasons with Green Bay before signing as a free agent with the Lions in May 2009. Reportedly Hunter is in stable condition.

— Lions are holding a draft party at the Hard Rock Cafe in Detroit on Friday from 4-8 p.m. If arrangements can be made, they’ll introduce their first-round draft pick to fans. You won’t see any coaches or management though. They’ll be hard at work at the Lions practice facility and headquarters in Allen Park.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche)

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Lions fortunate to have Stafford; no clear-cut top QB in this draft

The NFL draft is nearly here and still no consensus about who will be drafted with the first overall pick. Carolina owns the pick and they need a quarterback.

Cam Newton, the Auburn quarterback, is the name most mentioned but he has plenty of question marks including limited experience.

Rich Gannon, the former NFL quarterback who will be an analyst on the Sirius Radio coverage of the draft, said on a conference call Monday that it’s not just the concern about Newton’s ability to move up to the NFL that creates so many questions about the risk/reward of selecting him.

It’s also how prepared a team is to start and stay with a rookie quarterback. He mentioned that if the lockout continues, Newton or any rookie quarterback, will go into the season without the usual offseason work. It will clearly put them way behind the veteran quarterbacks on other teams (such as the Lions) who know their systems and can fare better without offseason work.

“The young quarterback needs as many snaps in the offseason program, training camp as he can get. He needs as much private one-on-one time with his quarterback coach and coordinator as possible. So the longer this lockout looms, the harder it will be for these young guys to come in and make an immediate contribution,’’ said Jon Gruden, former Tampa Bay coach, in a conference call last week.

“This is a very difficult year for a young quarterback to come in and make an immediate contribution if this lockout persists,’’ Gruden said.

It’s an interesting situation for the draft with so many teams needing to draft quarterbacks and so many quarterbacks who have red flags. There is not one clear-cut No. 1.

The Lions have to feel fortunate that they have Matthew Stafford, Shaun Hill and Drew Stanton who have game experience and know the system. Martin Mayhew has said they will not draft a quarterback in the first round with their 13th overall pick.

The NFL draft is Thursday (round 1, 8 p.m.), Friday (rounds 2-3, 6 p.m.) and Saturday (rounds 4-7, noon). Sirius will have radio coverage, while the NFL Network and ESPN will have the draft completely covered on television.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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For the Lions' top pick, Smith could be the answer

Smith is the easy answer.

The question is: Who will the Lions draft with the 13th overall pick?

The tougher part is figuring if it will be OT Tyron Smith (USC), CB Jimmy Smith (Colorado) or DE Aldon Smith (Missouri)?

Of the three I would out their chances of being drafted by the Lions in this order: Jimmy, Tyron and Aldon.

Of course, much of it depends on availability too. All three could go higher than 13, although it seems a little unlikely. All three could definitely go in the top 20.

Now that Kevin Smith will no longer be with the Lions, they currently only have one Smith (Alphonso) on the roster. Surely there’s plenty of room for another.

The draft starts at 8 p.m. on Thursday.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Tim Ryan: Lions should draft Tyron Smith over Amukamara

When Martin Mayhew said last week that the Lions’ pick at No 13 might not be a starter, the general manager opened the door wide for speculation.

Even before he said that though, taking an offensive tackle has been an option at that spot in the first round.

If it was up to Tim Ryan, who will do draft analysis on Sirius Radio, he would take OT Tyron Smith (USC) over CB Prince Amukamara (Nebraska), if there was a choice.

“I would take the offensive tackle, I’m protecteding the Wells Fargo truck who's at quarterback the next 10 years,’’ Ryan said in a conference call on Monday. Of course, the truck in this scenario is Matthew Stafford.

Ryan, a former NFL offensive lineman, really loves Tyron Smith (6-foot-5, 307 pounds) who at age 20 is obviously young, but athleticism is his upside.

“He’s a baby, you look at him from a maturity standpoint, from a physical standpoint, the guy is really young, he has room to put on a good 15-20 pounds. There’s no fat on the kid, he’s tremendously athletic. I know he had a little bit of a knee thing, everything I’ve heard is fine, I’ve talked to guys down at USC about it,’’ Ryan said during a conference call on Monday.

“He played right tackle, I think he’s got left tackle written all over him with a little bit of time, he’ll need to deveop,’’ Ryan said.

“The upside when you look at the ability is tremendous, I can’t thnk of an offensive tackle with his skill sets that has come out -- you can say Bruce Campbell but this is a whole different kind of player -- I think he can be really special based on his athletic ability and room to grow and learn the game,’’ Ryan added.

His Sirius colleague Rich Gannon agreed, noting Smith had the second widest wingspan at the Combine. His weakness was weight lifting, but as Gannon pointed out, you can teach that. Smith wouldn’t necessarily be a starter, but the Lions have Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus.

They’re looking to the future to replace Backus who is 33.

Of course there’s the possibility that Smith will be taken before the Lions have a chance. Same with Amukamara.

That’s what makes 13 an interesting pick for the Lions.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Lion to host draft party at Hard Rock Cafe

Thanks to the lockout, the NFL draft could have a dark cloud hanging over it. But the Detroit Lions are looking to make the best of the situation.

They will hold a draft party at Detroit’s Hard Rock Cafe on Friday, April 29 from 4-8 p.m.

Fans could have a chance to meet the first-round pick, who will be selected Thursday night if flights and scheduling allows.

The party will also see the kickoff of Round 2 of the draft at 6 p.m.

Admission is free and no ticket is required. Parking will also be free at the Compuware garage.

The Lions draft party will also feature several special giveaways to fans every 30 minutes throughout the event.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions GM: Expect impact player at 13, not necessarily a starter

ALLEN PARK — With eight days before the draft the Lions have narrowed their choices for the 13th overall pick to five to seven players according to Lions general manager Martin Mayhew.

While Mayhew obviously wouldn’t give put specifics about the Lions’ targets in the first round, he does think they will be able to draft an impact player.

“I think we’ll get a quality player who will be here a long time. Our philosophy the last couple years is we’re not drafting to get ready for the first game of the season, we’re drafting for the future of the franchise. We also don’t view the draft as the finish line,’’ Mayhew said at a Thursday press conference.

While he expects an impact player, he said it’s possible that the pick will not start right away.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (Colorado) is seen as a possible pick at 13 even though he has had off-the-field issues. Mayhew said that they done a lot of background work on Smith. For more on the Smith situation, check later today.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)


Kiper: Jimmy Smith a top 10 talent, no stretch for Lions to draft him at 13th

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper said on a conference call today (Wednesday) that he sees CB Jimmy Smith (Colorado) as a “top 10 talent” and doesn’t think it would be a stretch for the Lions to draft him at 13.

"If Philadelphia's looking at Jimmy Smith and Baltimore's looking at Jimmy Smith, why shouldn't Detroit?" Kiper asked.

A month ago the consensus was that there were two top cornerbacks — Patrick Peterson (LSU) and Prince Amukamara (Nebraska) — and then a dropoff. Now Kiper says there are four top corners adding Smith and Aaron Williams (Texas) to the top tier.

“It’s s a very intriguing cornerback group from top to bottom with Jimmy Smith moving up,’’ Kiper said.

While there’s some chatter about the Lions drafting an offensive lineman with the 13th pick, I don’t buy it.

The Lions’ most crucial need is cornerback and they should be able to address it at that spot.

If Amukamara doesn’t fall to 13, it’s likely that Smith will be available.

Smith had some off-the-field issues as a freshman that kept him down on the big boards, but his stock has been rising since teams have met with him and done their due diligence.

“Once they get to know this kid, looked into everything ... The teams I’ve spoken to feel very comfortable about Jimmy Smith, about breaking him in,’’ Kiper said. “Looking at talent, he’s a top 10 guy.’’

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions' should have no complaints with 2011 schedule

The Lions start the 2011 season with three of four games on the road and end it playing the Packers at Lambeau Field on New Year’s Day. In-between they'll play their first Monday night game in 10 years when they host the Bears at Ford Field on Oct. 10.

If they have a good season, the finale against the Packers could be huge. Lions president Tom Lewand appreciates that and apparently so did the NFL schedule makers.

The Lions have no excuses when it comes to the schedule, not like they’ve ever used that excuse.

They open at Tampa Bay where last season they finally snapped that God-awful road losing streak. They play the Packers on Thanksgiving. And they get Christmas day off but playing on Christmas eve.

The only damper on the release of the NFL regular season schedule on Tuesday, is that the season is in jeopardy because of labor issues. Mediation resumed on Tuesday.

Roger Goodell said on TV on Tuesday night that they have every intention of playing every game on the schedule. Perhaps then they should have found a way to reach an agreement with the NFLPA instead of locking out the players.

Here’s a look at the full schedule. — At Tampa Bay Bucs, Sept. 11 — Kansas City Chiefs, Sept. 18 — At Minnesota Vikings, Sept. 25 — At Dallas Cowboys, Oct. 4 — Chicago Bears, Oct. 10, 8:30 p.m. — San Francisco 49ers, Oct. 16 — Atlanta Falcons, Oct. 23 — At Denver Broncos, Oct. 30, 4:05 p.m. — Bye week, Nov. 6 — At Chicago Bears, Nov. 13 — Carolina Panthers, Nov. 20 — Green Bay Packers, Nov. 24 (Thanksgiving) 12:30 p.m. — At New Orleans Saints, Dec. 4 — Minnesota Vikings, Dec. 11 — At Oakland Raiders, Dec. 18, 4:05 p.m. — San Diego Chargers, Dec. 24, 4:05 p.m. — At Green Bay Packers, Jan. 1

(All games at 1 p.m. unless otherwise noted.)

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions' Stafford looking at opening a restaurant

Matthew Stafford is looking to open a wings restaurant in Atlanta with his sister’s boyfriend, Chad Hall, who is a wide receiver for the Eagles, per ESPN’s Rick Reilly.

Would love to see the Lions QB at the deep fryer, but perhaps he’ll be more of a silent partner providing his name and a few bucks to the cause. He was a BMOC at Georgia so his name recognition has to be huge.

Hope he doesn’t wait tables. He could injure his shoulder carrying around those heavy trays.

Of course Stafford doesn’t need the money, but Hall does. He played 11 games for the Eagles last year and was paid the minimum. He told Reilly he’d be waiting tables and bartending if there isn’t a season.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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With the 13th pick, the Lions draft ...

With the NFL draft just 10 days away, it’s time to find out what you think.

The Lions own the 13th overall pick along with five other mid- and late-round picks.

The past two years when they’ve taken Matthew Stafford first overall and Ndamukong Suh second, it was fairy easy to predict what they would do.

But this year it’s so different because it depends in large part on what the dozen teams ahead of them do.

A few mock drafts, including Mel Kiper's, have CB Prince Amukamara (Nebraska) falling to the Lions. He’s the second-best corner in the draft behind Patrick Peterson (LSU) who could go top five. Pro Football Weekly’s mock draft has Amukamara going 11th and the Lions drafting CB Jimmy Smith (Colorado) at 13th.

If you were Lions GM Martin Mayhew would you draft Amukamara if available? If he was gone would you take Smith at 13 or do you think that’s too much of a reach? Is cornerback your biggest concern for the first round or would you go in another direction?

Let me know what you think.

Look for my Lions’ NFL draft preview which will start on Sunday online and in the print edition.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)


Hawaii RB Alex Green to visit Lions

Hawaii RB Alex Green will visit the Lions on Monday, per Jason LaCanfora of

Green is expected to be a later round pick, although might move up to the third or fourth round after running a 4.45 at the Combine. He led the nation with an average of 8.2 yards per carry last season for the Rainbow Warriors.

With Kevin Smith gone, the Lions need to beef up their depth at running back in the draft.

They’ve got Jahvid Best and Maurice Morris in the top two spots for now. Best was hobbled most of last season, his rookie year, with turf toe. Morris made the most of the opportunity when he got the ball.

Green, who is 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, will also visit the Falcons and Saints. The National Football Post has him ranked as the 26th best running back in the draft.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche)

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Brady special shows how draft is imperfect science

With the NFL draft less than two weeks away, ESPN’s special on Tom Brady is timely. “The Brady 6” is much better than just that.

It's a close look at Brady, a future Hall of Famer, who was selected in the sixth round -- 199th overall -- of the 2000 draft by New England. Six quarterbacks were drafted before him hence “The Brady 6.”

The quarterback, who has won three Super Bowls, is living proof that the draft is an imperfect deal. He was overlooked even though he had established himself as the Comeback Kid at Michigan capping off his Wolverines’ career with a big win over Alabama in the Orange Bowl in his senior season.

He was a flop at the NFL Combine -- ran a 5.2 40. Clips from the Combine are shown too.

The hour-long special has plenty of quotes from Brady and NFL officials including Steve Mariucci. And, of course, Michigan coach Lloyd Carr.

It’s clear that the draft snub by every NFL team except the Patriots bothered Brady. It still does. Perhaps some of that fire in his belly is still stoked by remembering that six quarterbacks were drafted before him.

Brady came name all six quarterbacks who were drafted before him. Can you?

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Stafford to participate in QB challenge at Georgia spring game

Matthew Stafford’s rehab has been going well and he has been throwing according to updates on his Twitter account.

Maybe the Lions quarterback will show off a little of his progress on Saturday at Georgia’s G-Day, their spring football game which is part of the “It’s great to be a Bulldog” weekend.

According to the school’s web site Stafford, along with D.J. Shockley, David Greene and Eric Zeier, will participate in the Legends Quarterbacks Challenge where the quarterbacks earn points for various skills. The game will be televised in Georgia, so maybe we'll see a clip.

The news release doesn’t offer more specifics, but I wouldn’t expect to see Stafford heaving the ball deep downfield. He’s not crazy.

He is coming back from shoulder surgery he underwent on Jan. 21 after starting just three games last season. If the Lions have a chance at improving their 6-10 record next season (if there is a season), they need Stafford healthy.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Will preseason action start on time? Lions release preseason schedule

Will the labor issues be settled in time for the NFL preseason to start the week of Aug. 8? My hunch is yes.

Of course, anything could happen between now and then. Come August or September the situation could still be in the court system.

But it’s encouraging that both sides will return to the mediation table on Thursday. Both sides are still waiting to see if Judge Susan Nelson will lift the NFL’s lockout of the players.

Despite all that, the Lions released their preseason schedule today (Tuesday).

The highlight is a nationally televised preseason game against the New England Patriots at Ford Field on Aug. 27 at 8 p.m. The game will air on CBS, but will be subject to a local blackout. The Lions haven’t played the Patriots in the preseason since 2000.

The Lions will open the preseason against Cincinnati at Ford Field (Aug. 11-15).

They will visit the Cleveland Browns Aug. 18-22 and will wrap up the preseason schedule in Buffalo Sept. 1-2.

Additional dates and times and individual game ticket information for Lions preseason home games will be announced at a later time.

Expect the full regular season schedule to be released before the draft. Possibly it will happen the week of the draft (April 28-30) which is when it was released a year ago

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Are the Lions serious about Da'Quan Bowers?

And with the 13th pick the Detroit Lions draft Da’Quan Bowers. Does that have a certain ring to it? Not really.

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King has reported that the Lions have an interest in


King has good sources all around the NFL, but Bowers to Detroit? Really?

No doubt that based on talent alone, Bowers is Top 10 talent. (Mel Kiper ranks him sixth on his big board.)

But he has knee woes. Rumors abound that he needs microfracture surgery which could set him back for part of all of a season if there is one.

Did we mention risk/reward is Bowers’ middle name?

Here’s the deal, the defensive line is one place where the Lions are set. DE Kyle Vanden Bosch is 32, but his age doesn’t show yet. DE Cliff Avril is just 25 and had his best season. Plus the Lions have Lawrence Jackson, Turk McBride and Willie Young. All three are 25 and the Lions like them all.

If Bowers falls to 13, and it’s quite possible, the Lions will have a big decision to make.

Will Bowers be worth it in the long run? Or will someone (maybe a healthy CB like Prince Amukamara) be there who could help immediately.

My guess is Bowers will not wear the Honolulu blue and silver.

What do you think?

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Avril: Draft and Combine over-rated

So Cliff Avril tweeted on Monday that “the draft and combine might be the two most over rated things I’ve been apart of ...’’

Later he noted he’d been getting some good comments on that.

The Lions’ defensive end was drafted in the third round (92nd overall) by the Lions in the 2008 draft out of Purdue.

According to draft reports prior to that draft Avril moved up the draft boards after a good showing at the Combine. So it’s not like he had a bad experience.

It’s hard to disagree with him on the Combine. It's part of the process, but a lot of weight is put on the results. But the draft? Maybe Avril was pulling our legs. The draft is what matters in the NFL. Don’t draft well, don’t win. It’s pretty simple.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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This draft's QB situation is of no consequence to Lions

Timing is everything in the NFL in every facet of the game, on and off the field.

So while Lions fans have been patient, they are beginning to see that Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz are building a solid roster step by step.

Clearly the key is quarterback Matthew Stafford who has shown flashes while healthy.

When they drafted Stafford with the first overall pick two years ago, afterward they said he was a consensus pick. No hesitation on the gunslinger from Georgia.

So what about the teams that need to draft a quarterback three weeks from now. It will be tough.

Christian Ponder (Florida State), Blaine Gabbert (Missouri), Jake Locker (Washington), Cameron Newton (Auburn), Ryan Mallett (Arkansas) are considered to be at the top of the heap

“These quarterbacks all have red flags, every one of them. There is no consensus quarterback in this draft that everyone agrees on,’’ ESPN analyst Mel Kiper said on a conference call this week.

Of course he was big on Jimmy Clausen who was drafted by Carolina a year ago and was a disappointment. Still Kiper hasn’t given up on Clausen.

“So Jimmy Clausen is supposed to be written off as a reject? I don't buy it. But remember, a lot of people didn't like Clausen. I was one of the few that liked Clausen. ... I was on that island last year all by myself almost. Find me another person in this evaluation business that liked Clausen. I don't know of any. So I'm out there. I’ll stay. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong,’’ Kiper said.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions get to know Virginia CB Ras-I Dowling

The secondary will be one of the Lions’ main concern heading into the draft. They brought in cornerback Ras-I Dowling on Wednesday for one of their 30 allotted visits by draft prospects.

Dowling’s size -- he’s 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds -- is something that sets him apart from other cornerbacks.

“I feel I can do a lot more things than a lot of what other corners can do. Just being physical, especially as a tackler. I do a lot of things well,’’ Dowling told the Lions web site.

He played four seasons at Viriginia. But his durability is a question. He only played five games in his senior year.

“It was frustrating, but I feel like things are going to happen. You’re not going to go out and play football and not get injured. Everyone’s going to deal with injuries,’’ he said.

There’s some disagreement where he ranks among prospects. The National Football Post has his ranked as the 20th best cornerback in the draft. While ESPN’s Todd McShay has him going in the second round (51st overall) and Mel Kiper has him going with the 61st overall pick.

If the Lions don’t get Prince Amukamara in the first round with the 13th pick, perhaps they’ll look at Dowling in the second round.

The 21 days till the draft.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Kiper: Amukamara falls to Lions at 13th

If CB Prince Amukamara and OT Tyron Smith are gone when the Lions come to their 13th pick, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper thinks they’ll have to ask themselves if OLB Akeem Ayers is worth that pick. If he isn’t Kiper thinks the Lions could trade down.

In his latest mock draft, released today, Kiper has the Lions taking Amukamara with the 13th overall pick. Cornerback is one of the Lions’ biggest needs, so if Amukamara, who is regarded as the second best corner in the draft, is there it could be a no-brainer.

“If you look at 13, will Prince Amukamara still be there out of Nebraska, if he is it makes it pretty easy to project. In the second round if you’re the Detroit Lions you look at an outside linebacker like Bruce Carter from North Carolina. Then in the third round get an offensive tackle like Marcus Gilbert from Florida. So you could conceivably come out with your cornerback, outside linebacker and offensive tackle in the first three rounds, if it felt that way,’’ Kiper said in a conference call today (Wednesday).

Because of all the red flags with the top quarterbacks available, this draft is tough to predict.

But ESPN analyst Todd McShay, who also released his latest mock draft today, also has the Lions drafting Amukamara with the 13th pick.

In his analysis of Amukamara, McShay wrote: “He's a plug-and-play prospect who would offer an instant upgrade.’’

Twenty-two days to the draft.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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OLB Akeem Ayers visits the Lions

The Lions brought in OLB Akeem Ayers today (Tuesday) for one of their 30 allotted player visits.

Ayers, who played both inside and outside for UCLA, is considered by some to be a better fit in a 3-4 system. But obviously the Lions saw something they like in the 6-foot-4, 255-pound linebacker.

“They’re good coaches and they definitely know what they’re doing. I’ve already seen a lot of (Lions) football and the organization, especially from a defensive standpoint, and as a defensive player, has really gotten things together around here,’’ Ayers told the Lions web site reporter.

The National Football Post ranks Ayers as the second-best OLB in the draft, but in the mock draft has him going late in the first round -- 30th to the Jets.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper has him going 21st in his latest mock draft. He has the Lions drafting OT Tyron Smith (USC) with 13th overall pick in the first round. The draft is set for April 28-30.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Court hearing crucial to 2011 NFL season

Wednesday, April 6, has been circled on the NFL calendar since the NFL owners locked out the players on March 12.

It’s the biggest day of the month for both parties. It could be more crucial to the season than the draft which runs April 28-30.

Wednesday U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson, in her Minnesota court room, will preside over a hearing on whether to issue an injunction to stop the NFL lockout.

Her decision could play a major factor in whether there will be an NFL season come September.

While NFL fans will be hanging on to the edge of their seats, she won’t necessarily announce her decision on Wednesday after both sides present their cases. She could make an immediate ruling or could take a few weeks.

Lester Munson, a Chicago lawyer and legal analyst for ESPN, expects her to issue the injunction. He wrote: “Injunctions are granted only in compelling circumstances, and they are extremely rare in antitrust cases. But, even in a court system that is reluctant to issue injunctions, the players have a powerful and persuasive argument. There is little doubt that the NFL is using its monopoly power to extract concessions from the players. There is little doubt that the decertification is real and will be upheld. And there is little doubt that the loss of an entire season is a serious and irreparable harm to the NFL’s 1,700 players.’’

No matter what her decision, the losing side will appeal and that is a process that could take us to early summer.

Although certainly during that time the owners and players could return to the bargaining table, nothing would be stopping them. In fact, nothing is stopping them now it seems except pride and pig-headedness from both sides. Fans don’t seem to have much sympathy for two sides who are trying to divvy up $9 billion in annual revenue. The numbers are so astronomical it just doesn’t seem to make sense that they can’t find common ground.

One tidbit of good news -- although we may be reading too much into it -- is that the Green Bay Packers president told season ticket holders this week to expect the season to open with a home game on Thursday, Sept. 8. We’ll see.

It’s up to the judge.

If Nelson issues the injunction and stops the lockout it will be a win for the players. If she doesn’t, the owners will gain more leverage.

Both sides have had their PR machines spinning at full tilt since March 12.

The spin will stop in Nelson’s court room.

(Paula Pasche covers the Lions. Follow her on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Read her Lions Lowdown blog at

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