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.


Final roster cuts due Saturday, here's my projection

The final cuts to get the Lions’ roster to 53 will be made on Saturday.

A lot of hand-wringing occurs about the guys knee-deep on the depth chart, but keep in mind that the roster will not be set in stone. Martin Mayhew will tinker with it throughout the season, starting Sunday by possibly picking up players who have been cut from other teams.

Here are my projections, let me know what you think.

Defensive line — Ndamukong Suh, Cliff Avril, Corey Williams, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Lawrence Jackson, Willie Young, Nick Fairley, Sammie Hill, Andre Fluellen.

Linebackers — DeAndre Levy, Justin Durant, Stephen Tulloch, Bobby Carpenter, Ashlee Palmer, Isaiah Ekejuiba, Doug Hogue.

Defensive backs — Chris Houston, Eric Wright, Brandon McDonald, Alphonso Smith, Aaron Berry, Louis Delmas, Amari Spievey, Erik Coleman, John Wendling.

Offensive line — Jeff Backus, Rob Sims, Dominic Raiola, Stephen Peterman, Gosder Cherilus, Corey Hilliard, Jason Fox, Dylan Gandy, Rudy Niswanger.

Tight ends — Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Scheffler, Will Heller.

Quarterbacks — Matthew Stafford, Shaun Hill, Drew Stanton

Wide receivers — Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Titus Young, Maurice Stovall, Rashied Davis

Running backs — Jahvid Best, Maurice Morris, Aaron Brown, Jerome Harrison

Kicker — Jason Hanson

Punter — Nick Harris

Returner — Stefan Logan

Long snapper — Don Muhlbach

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700.)

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Lions release FB Jerome Felton, Vanden Bosch back at practice

ALLEN PARK — Fullback Jerome Felton was released by the Lions on Tuesday.

Felton, who had played 41 games for the Lions over the past three seasons, did not seem to be a fit with the offense. The roster has been cut to 80 for today’s deadline. On Saturday the final cut to 53 will be made.

The Lions are likely looking at keeping the following running backs: Jahvid Best, Maurice Morris, Aaron Brown and Jerome Harrison.

Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch was back at practice Tuesday morning for the first time since injuring his shoulder in the preseason game at Cleveland.

The Lions play on Thursday at Buffalo, but it’s unclear if Vanden Bosch or any of the starters will get playing time.

Offensive lineman Jason Fox (foot) still is not practicing but he is out of the orthopedic boot so another step closer to a return.

WR Nate Burleson was out for the second straight day. He needed stitches in his right elbow after Saturday’s game. A hit on the elbow opened up an incision from offseason surgery to remove a bursa sac.

CB Alphonso Smith (foot) still is not practicing.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700.)

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Enough already with comparing these Lions to 2008 bunch that went 4-0 in preseason

OK, I’m a patient person, but I am getting sick and tired of hearing, “Yeah, but the Lions were 4-0 in 2008 preseason and finished 0-16.”

Stop it.

Of course it’s true, but it has no relevance to today’s version of the Detroit Lions. Zero, zilch, none.

They are NOT going to finish 0-16. I’ll be shocked if they don’t win more than they lose and find themselves in the playoffs.

Yes, it’s the preseason and no one should get TOO excited, but what we’ve seen is mostly positive. The offense has scored 30 or more points in each win while the defense has allowed a little less than 14 points per game.

There’s room for improvement, although I’m not sure how Matthew Stafford could be much better.

Don’t buy Super Bowl tickets, but forget about 2008. The roster has been totally revamped, new coaching staff, new management. More importantly the attitude has been adjusted.

Please stop with the “yeah, buts” — I just can’t take it any more.

Enjoy the Lions, don’t foul it up with the horrors of yesteryear.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700.)

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Mike Bell only surprise inactive; Calvin Johnson, Titus Young are active

DETROIT — Running back Mike Bell is inactive for tonight against the New England Patriots in the third preseason game for both teams. He’s the only Lion who will be inactive who had not been ruled out on Friday.

Wide receivers Calvin Johnson and Titus Young are active. Not sure how many reps Johnson will get, he has been slowed in practice with a sore shoulder. Both were game-time decisions.

Those who were ruled out on Friday are: Jahvid Best, Kyle Vanden Bosch (sore shoulder), Jason Fox (foot), Nick Fairley (foot), Mo Morris (hand) and Alphonso Smith (foot).

Best sustained concussion in previous game, so he’s being kept out as a precaution.

Aaron Brown will start in place of Best, while Lawrence Jackson will start in place of Vanden Bosch.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700.)

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Fans more concerned about Stafford's shoulder than he is

OK, so last season quarterback Matthew Stafford got sick and tired of answering questions about his injured right shoulder.

Oh, he was polite but under Jim Schwartz’s orders he couldn’t spill any details. The media had to ask and he took it all in stride.

Well the shoulder is surgically repaired, so the question has changed.

Nearly every day he gets asked if he’s looking forward to/worried about taking his first hit this season. He’s been unscathed in the first two preseason contests and, like all quarterbacks, is off limits during camp.

“I don’t think about it, I just play football and whatever happen, happens,’’ Stafford said Thursday.

It’s a good answer and suggests that the fans are more worried about his shoulder than he is.

Interesting ...

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700.)

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Titus Young to see first preseason action vs. Patriots on Saturday

ALLEN PARK — After his first full week of practice, rookie WR Titus Young will see his first preseason action on Saturday when the Lions host the Patriots at Ford Field.

Young had been kept out of most of training camp with a hamstring injury. Sunday and Monday he had limited practice. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday he was a full-go.

“I don’t know if he’s over the hump yet but he’s close to it, was able to put a week of practice together and able to finish practices,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said. “... He’s at the point he can get through a whole practice and be able to play in the game.’’

Those ruled out for the game include Jahvid Best who missed two days of practice following a concussion received last Friday in the win at Cleveland. It’s a precautionary measure for Best who had concussion issues in college.

Also ruled out are Nick Fairley, Jason Fox, Alphonso Smith and Maurice Morris.

“I think just about everybody else has a chance,’’ Schwartz said.

(Follow me on Twitter @Paula Pasche. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700.)

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Monday night game vs. Bears sells out in less than an hour

ALLEN PARK — Less than an hour after Lions' individual regular season tickets went on sale Wednesday morning, the Oct. 10 Monday night game against the Chicago Bears was sold out.

At that point just a few tickets were left for the Thanksgiving game against the Green Bay Packers.

Around 5 a.m., 400 or 500 people were lined up at the Ford Field box office even though tickets were available by phone or online, according to Lions president Tom Lewand.

“I think they’re voting with their pocketbooks and they’re making an investment in us and that’s an investment that we have to honor and respect. Now it’s up to us to deliver a return on that investment,’’ Lewand said.

The Lions announced late Tuesday night that Saturday’s nationally televised preseason game against the New England Patriots is sold out. That means it will be televised locally on CBS. Kickoff is 8 p.m.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700.)

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Jahvid Best, Titus Young questionable for Saturday vs. Patriots

ALLEN PARK — Two key offensive players are iffy for Saturday night’s sold-out, nationally televised preseason game against the Patriots at Ford Field.

Running back Jahvid Best and wide receiver Titus Young both practiced on Wednesday, but Saturday is questionable.

Best suffered a concussion in Friday night’s win at Cleveland. He said it wasn’t bad and when he showed up on Sunday he expected to practice. But he was shut down until Wednesday. Afterwards he said he felt fine. Earlier in the week, coach Jim Schwartz said Best might not play Saturday just as a precaution. Best had concussion issues in college so they are taking it easy bringing him back.

Young, who missed most of the start of training camp with a hamstring injury, has practiced for four straight days. Tuesday and Wednesday he made it through the full practice after easing in on Sunday and Monday. He’s itching to play, but said he doesn’t know whether he will see his first preseason action on Saturday.

Kyle Vanden Bosch and Calvin Johnson, who both have sore shoulders, did not practice again on Wednesday. There is no reason to rush the veterans back out onto the field for Saturday’s game.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700.)

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Titus Young makes it through full practice; Jahvid Best medically cleared to return

ALLEN PARK — Several players were missing from Tuesday’s practice with injuries or soreness. However, the good news for the Lions was that rookie Titus Young, who had been out with a hamstring injury until Sunday, made it through his first full practice.

RB Jahvid Best did not practice but was medically cleared from his concussion and coach Jim Schwartz said he expects to see him on the practice field on Wednesday. He doesn’t expect Best to play on Saturday.

DE Kyle Vanden Bosch missed his third straight day of practice. This is a guy who would never miss three practices for “rest.” In fact, Schwartz admitted today that Vanden Bosch has had a sore shoulder since the game on Friday and had a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday morning. Schwartz is unsure if Vanden Bosch will play on Saturday but looks unlikely.

Calvin Johnson also did not practice with a sore shoulder but it isn’t considered serious. He’s day to day.

Gosder Cherilus and Rashied Davis had the day off to rest.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700.)

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Titus Young's hamstring: Tweaked or OK?

ALLEN PARK — After transcribing nearly every word that coach Jim Schwartz had to say after Monday’s practice, four words stood out.

“I think he’s OK.”

That was in reference to WR Titus Young who didn’t complete practice. It was his second day back after sitting out most of the first three weeks of camp with a hamstring injury.

He was taken out before team drills and on the field a trainer re-wrapped his left leg. He appeared to be walking with a limp afterward. If he did tweak the hamstring, it is certainly not good news.

It was the first thing Schwartz was asked about and he said after a late afternoon practice on Sunday, then an early-morning practice on Monday, Young was held to 34 reps. He went through 24 on Sunday.

“I think he’s OK. Again we’re doing a little more each day. Hopefully we can pass the point of counting his reps and puling him out. Right now it’s the smartest way to do it,’’ Schwartz said.

Schwartz is consistent with erring on the side of caution when it comes to bringing back players who have been injured. Jeff Backus probably could have been back sooner, but why risk it.

Don’t have my medical degree, can’t read minds. But it just seems Schwartz would have been more definitive if Titus Young really was OK. Or maybe it was too soon to tell.

We’ll see on Tuesday. Practice starts at 9:15 a.m. and so do my Twitter updates.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Titus Young eased back into practice; Backus back at full speed

ALLEN PARK — WR Titus Young and LT Jeff Backus were back at Lions practice for the second straight day.

Backus, who had been out with a torn chest muscle, was full-go with no signs of missing the first three weeks of camp.

Young, who was out with a hamstring, is being gradually brought back. He did more Monday than Sunday, but isn’t close to being unrestricted. He was out of Monday’s practice prior to team drills and had a trainer rewrap his leg. He stood out and watched until the end of practice.

Kyle Vanden Bosch missed his second day of practice, but said it was simply for rest.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700.)


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Backus, Titus Young return to practice; Best out with concussion

ALLEN PARK — Jeff Backus and Titus Young made their return to Lions practice on Sunday afternoon.

So far, so good.

It wasn’t such good news for running back Jahvid Best who left Friday’s game early. Coach Jim Schwartz confirmed it was a concussion but said they don’t believe it’s too serious but he’ll need medical clearance to get back to practice.

For Backus, the veteran left tackle, it was his first practice of training camp after reporting with a torn pectoral muscle. Backus, who has started 160 straight regular season games, said he’s not used to sitting out practice more than two days so it felt good to get back. He knows the offense and doesn’t need to learn technique, but Sunday was a good day to start shaking off the rust.

It’s a little different for Young because he’s a rookie and had no offseason team workouts. He’s been out at practice every day, and with the exception of two days more than a week ago when he did a few drills, he’s mostly just been watching.

He did individual drills and lined up with the starters in seven-on-sevens before he left the field. That was the plan. Coach Jim Schwartz said if all goes well he could go through a full practice on Monday.

It was extra special for Young whose parents had flown in from Los Angeles to help him celebrate his birthday which was Sunday.

It’s too early to know if these three will play on Saturday when the Lions play the New England Patriots at Ford Field. But it’s definitely a step in the right direction for Backus and Young.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700.)


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Five things we learned from Lions' 30-28 preseason win at Cleveland

NFL preseason games are so tough to decipher.

It’s not always ones vs. ones.

The Lions didn’t do any game-planning. So how does it all shake out?

My five observations from the Lions’ 30-28 win at Cleveland on Friday night:

1. Matthew Stafford continues to impress. He was six of 10 for 85 yards and a touchdown. He escaped unscathed. He was pressure more by the Browns than the Bengals the week before but found a way out of it without throwing an interception.

2. Penalties should be a concern. Yes, it’s preseason. But Detroit amassed 14 penalties costing them 123 yards. Way too sloppy even for the preseason.

3. Still tough to judge veteran running backs Mike Bell and Jerome Harrison who got most of their work in the second half, not against the Browns’ starters. They were better than last week, but that was expected since they’ve had another week to learn the offense. As a whole the offense had more balance with 176 rushing yards and 231 passing.

4. Safety Erik Coleman was a solid offseason acquisition. He’s tough. Even if he doesn’t start (Louis Delmas and Amari Spievey have the edge at safety), he’ll have an impact when he is in and on special teams.

5. Lions’ secondary needs to gel or perhaps just tighten up. The defensive line should make their job easier, but they have to take advantage of it. They were without Chris Houston, however.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700.)

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Fights at training camp a fact of life, not due to lack of discipline

ALLEN PARK — On the last day of training camp a year ago, Lions’ practice got chippy with a few fights here and there.

The players dismissed it as boys being boys. They said it doesn’t carry over into the locker room, it’s not personal. In fact, one of them (I think it was Dominic Raiola) said it was actually a good sign because it meant players weren’t mailing it in on the last day of training camp. Good point.

So on Wednesday, Willie Young and Matt Clapp got into it. They were followed by friction between Corey Hilliard and Kyle Vanden Bosch whose motor is at top speed during practice.

Coach Jim Schwartz got tired of separating guys, so he had the whole team run gassers. It was brutally hot and humid making the gassers more miserable.

Should we look at this as a sign of something horrible going on at Lions’ camp?

Absolutely not. This is training camp in the NFL. It will have no carryover into the locker room or Friday’s game.

It has nothing to do with discipline and everything to do with the dog days of camp. You might be a little irritable if you were three weeks into camp and a guy held you once too often.

Fans last year got all in a dither about the fights. Cool it. Please. It’s no big deal.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700.)

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Lions' Suh apparently fined $20,000 for hit on Dalton

ALLEN PARK — Apparently the NFL is sending an early message to Lions’ DT Ndamukong Suh.

According to a tweet from Suh, he has been fined $20,000 for the hit on Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton in Friday night’s preseason opener. No official word on the fine yet.

Suh’s tweet: $20,000REALLY???!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He was called for a roughing the passer penalty which cost the Lions 15 yards. On Sunday, Suh said he doesn’t think he’s crossed the line and become a dirty player.

He’s aggressive and was fined twice in his rookie season.

“It’s a fine line and you don’t want to take aggressiveness away, but you also need to be aware and we need to do a better job with that,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said on Sunday.

More to come after practice. Hopefully with fresh comments from Suh and Schwartz.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions' Fairley another step closer to return; other camp injury news

ALLEN PARK — Rookie Nick Fairley has taken another step toward getting back to practice. The cast has been removed from his left foot and replaced with a walking boot. He watched Tuesday's practice from the sidelines on the field.

He had surgery two weeks ago. At the time the Lions said the fist-round defensive tackle would miss a significant portion of training camp.

He couldn’t be on the field with his teammates while in a cast and walking with crutches, it would be too dangerous.

Fairley said he’s taking it day by day, doing rehab and hopes to get back as soon as possible.

In other practice news on Tuesday, Calvin Johnson who didn’t practice on Sunday or Monday with a bruised shoulder was back at it.

Cornerbacks Chris Houston (groin) and Eric Wright (groin), along with DT Corey Williams (ankle) did not practice. Their injuries are not considered long-term.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700.)

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Injury report: Calvin Johnson out again; Houston joins him on sidelines

ALLEN PARK — Calvin Johnson didn’t practice for a second straight day with a bruised shoulder.

The Lions wide receiver said it’s a day-to-day situation. He wouldn’t speculate whether he’ll be able to play in Friday’s preseason game at Cleveland.

Cornerback Chris Houston didn’t practice Monday and cornerback Eric Wright left practice early. Coach Jim Schwartz called both situations training camp groins and said neither is serious. DT Corey Williams left practice early with a rolled ankle, but that is not serious either according to Schwartz.

Quarterback Drew Stanton was back on Monday after sitting out on Sunday. He said he got hit in the elbow with a helmet during Friday’s game. It took a divot out of his right elbow, his throwing arm, and he needed a few stitches.

Sunday he was kept out as a precaution.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700.)

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Lions injury report: Calvin Johnson, Stanton don't practice

ALLEN PARK — Neither Calvin Johnson (bruised shoulder) or QB Drew Stanton practiced on Sunday, but neither condition is serious.

Both were on the practice field with their teammates.

Johnson bruised his shoulder early in Friday’s preseason win over Cincinnati.

Coach Jim Schwartz said Stanton got a puncture wound in his elbow that required two stitches. It was preventative to keep him out. If the wound got sweaty it could cause infection.

Rookie WR Titus Young (leg) remains out after making a brief comeback early last week.

Tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who missed three days of practice and the game Friday night with an ankle injury, was back at full speed. Schwartz pointed out the solid practice that Pettigrew had. Also returning, on a limited basis was CB Aaron Berry.

Others out of practice were T Isaac Sowells, DT Andre Fluellen (hand), S Randy Phillips, DT Quinn Pitcock, Jason Fox (foot), DT Nick Fairley (foot), RB Maurice Morris (hand), CB Alphonso Smith (foot) and LT Jeff Backus (torn chest muscle).

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700)


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Five observations from Lions' 34-3 preseason win

Five observations from Friday night’s 34-3 In the preseason win over Cincinnati:

1. Overall, a good performance for Detroit. Matthew Stafford and the passing offense get A's. The Bengals were held to a pair of field goal attempts and made just one. No preseason jitters apparent. In the scheme of things preseason wins are worthless, but the domination of Cincinnati is worth something. It’d be much worse to be on the losing end of a 34-3 preseason score.

2. The weak spot on offense is the running game. The Lions finished with 350 offense yards, just 70 of them rushing. Of course Jahvid Best had just four carries (12 yards), he looked fine but could not break a big one. Not unexpected with just four carries. He did have a pair of receptions for 17 yards. Jerome Harrison, who signed as a free agent on Tuesday and had just three practices, was the second choice finishing with half-dozen carries for 8 yards. Ian Johnson, who has had a good camp, got in late but had the most opportunities with nine carries (21 yards). This isn’t a shocker. The Lions lost Mikel Leshoure who would have been the second guy in. Also veteran Maurice Morris, who did a good job last season, is out with a broken hand. Also, while camp can be used to evaluate many positions, it’s tough to tell what you have at running back until the hitting is for real. It’s too early to panic.

3. You would never want to stand between Ndamukong Suh and a quarterback. This isn’t breaking news, we saw it all last season. On Friday, Suh got to starter Andy Dalton, and knocked his helmet off as he was driving him to the ground. He got called for roughing the passer and the NFL could fine him like they did twice last year. Jim Schwartz defended Suh by saying that he’s so strong that when he drives a quarterback to the ground it looks bad. Suh is a player that you love if he plays for your team and you hate if he doesn’t.

4. The defense against the run is one area that needs work. The Lions allowed Cedric Benson to run for 35 yards in five straight carries in the first quarter. The Bengals couldn’t make anything out of it, but Benson was able to get through with a long run of 16 yards on a first down. Cincinnati threw for 135 yards with Dalton, the starter, finishing with 69 yards. His first pass attempt was intercepted by Chris Houston. Welcome to the NFL.

5. The Lions could have a tough decision looming. Kicker Jason Hanson, entering his 20th season in Detroit, was spot-on, but so was Dave Rayner who is fighting for the roster spot. Hanson and the field goal unit managed to add three points to the score despite having just 13 seconds to get the 37-yard attempt off at the end of the first half. There were no hiccups on either’s part. Rayner kicked a 42-yard field goal in the fourth.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700)

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Calvin Johnson active for tonight; inactive list includes Pettigrew

DETROIT — WR Calvin Johnson, who missed Thursday’s practice, is active for tonight’s preseason opener against Cincinnati at Ford Field.

Also active is right tackle Gosder Cherilus who has practiced on a limited basis while coming back from microfracture knee surgery.

No surprises among the inactive Lions — WR Titus Young, CB Alphonso Smith, T Jason Fox, LT Jeff Backus, TE

Brandon Pettigrew, DT Andre Fluellen and DT Nick Fairley.

Tony Scheffler will start in place of Pettigrew while Corey Hilliard will take Backus’ spot at left tackle.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700)

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Lions injury report: Pettigrew still out, Titus Young too

ALLEN PARK — Tight end Brandon Pettigrew missed his third straight day of practice with a tweaked ankle. It looks unlikely he’ll play in the preseason opener on Friday. Coach Jim Schwartz will release a list later Thursday naming all those who will not play for sure.

Also missing from Thursday’s practice was rookie WR Titus Young. It was his second day out. He’s got a leg injury that has forced him to miss most of camp.

RT Gosder Cherilus was back at practice which is a good sign after he missed a week of camp coming back from offseason microfracture knee surgery.

Also missing from practice were Aaron Berry, Randy Phillips and the usual suspects (Maurice Morris, Jeff Backus, Alphonso Smith, Nick Fairley, Jason Fox).

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche throughout Friday’s game and for daily updates.)

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Lions' Calvin Johnson gets a rest, will play Friday

ALLEN PARK — When Calvin Johnson doesn’t practice, inquiring minds want to know why.

The Lions wide receiver was on the field Thursday, but had no helmet and didn’t participate other than stretching.

Afterward he said he was healthy.

“I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine,’’ Johnson said.

He said he would find out later on Thursday just how much he’ll play in the preseason opener on Friday night against Cincinnati at Ford Field.

“I’m definitely looking forward to a little competition, getting out there on the field,’’ Johnson said. “Been away for it for a minute, to finally get some live action it’s going to be good for us.’’

Other than Thursday, Johnson and Matthew Stafford have provided most of the offensive highlights during camp.

Johnson said as long as he gets in the right spot, Stafford will get him the ball.

Game is set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday. It will be tape-delayed on ABC-Channel 7 with a 9 p.m. pre-game and 9:30 p.m. kickoff. It will re-air on the NFL Network at 10 a.m. on Saturday. (Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche throughout the game.)

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Keep an eye on Jahvid Best in Lions' preseason opener

Just took my temperature to make sure I’m not sick. What other reason could there be to explain this: I’m actually looking forward to Friday’s night preseason opener against Cincinnati at Ford Field.

Even with the absence of Mikel Leshoure, there’s more of a buzz at training camp in recent years. Martin Mayhew has quietly built a solid team and added depth along the way. The Lions aren’t there yet, but they are much closer.

I expect if Matthew Stafford stays healthy they will find themselves in the playoffs.

But first things first.

On Friday I’m looking forward to seeing RB Jahvid Best. It’s tough to judge running backs in camp, but what we’ve seen has been very good. Dominic Raiola called him “lightning in a bottle.”

Also the two new backs — Jerome Harrison and Mike Bell. Each seems to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder which, of course, is good news for the Lions.

If Stafford connects on a few long bombs to Calvin Johnson it will be good to see, but I’ve seen it every day in camp. Those two are definitely on the same page.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions' Schwartz blasts tampering connection, calls it 'ridiculous'

ALLEN PARK — On Tuesday, Lions coach Jim Schwartz said trying to connect offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to tampering charges was “ridiculous.”

Ricky Williams and Linehan exchanged pleasantries last December after Detroit had beaten the Dolphins in Miami.

It’s a common everyday occurrence for coaches and opposing players to have a few words especially if they have a history.

Nothing wrong with that.Williams talked to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Monday after he was signed by Baltimore and said, ““For me, last year when we played the Lions, Scott Linehan, who was the offensive coordinator here with coach (Nick) Saban, he came up to me after the game, and he said that if you need a home, we’d love to have you on our team.”

Well, took it a step further and said the comments, if they were made, “violate the letter and spiriting of the tampering rules.”

Linehan issued a statement on Tuesday through the Lions that said: “I have great regard for Ricky as a person and a player, but my recollection of our exchange is not what was reported. Like most coaches do after games, I briefly talked to one of my former players and wished him well. It was no different than what goes on after every NFL game between coaches and their former players.’’

Coach Jim Schwartz has Linehan’s back on this.

“I’ve talked to Scott about it. The conversation that Scott had there was nothing more to it than well-wishing after a game,’’ Schwartz said. ‘Coaches after every single game you see players you’ve coached before and wish them well and things like that.

“I think it can end there. It’s pretty ridiculous that somebody could consider that, I know its just a reporter, that somebody would consider that anything more than well wishing,’’ he added.

Schwartz said coaches who have worked with Williams respect him, that’s how it was with Linehan

The Lions were involved in a tampering issue last year involving the Kansas City Chiefs.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche)

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Injury report: No surgery needed for Jason Fox; Cherilus, Titus Young back at practice

ALLEN PARK — The Lions got relatively good news Tuesday on tackle Jason Fox who went to a specialist in Charlotte, N.C. on Monday.

His injured left foot will not require surgery, according to coach Jim Schwartz.

Fox was at practice hobbling around on crutches with his foot in a cast. The coach said it will be in a cast for a week, followed by a week in an orthopedic boot. After that it will go day by day.

During Tuesday’s practice guard Jeff Maddux (Central Michigan) appeared to roll his left ankle. He was carted off the field, but Schwartz said early indications are that it’s just a rolled ankle. Further tests were set.

Right tackle Gosder Cherilus (knee) and rookie wide receiver Titus Young were each participating in their second straight practice although on a limited basis.

Cornerback Alphonso Smith who reported to camp with a broken foot did not practice but did some running which is a sign he’s getting closer to practicing.

Linebacker Bobby Carpenter, who did not practice on Monday because of the flu, was back on the field Tuesday.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions sign pair of veteran running backs

ALLEN PARK — With rookie Mikel Leshoure out for the season with a torn Achilles' the Lions have signed a pair of veteran running backs.

Jerome Harrison played last season for the Eagles and the four seasons prior to that for the Cleveland Browns. He had 330 rushing yards in 2010 for Eagles and Browns. He’s accumulated 1,516 rushing yards in five seasons. The Kalamazoo native played at Washington State and was drafted by the Browns in the fifth round in 2006.

Mike Bell, 28, played for Cleveland last year after he and Harrison were swapped between Eagles and Browns. In five games for the Eagles he had 28 rushing yards and in 11 for the Browns he had 71. He’s also played for the Broncos, Saints, Texans and Eagles.

To make room on the roster the Lions released FB Preston Dial. They waived injured CB Maurice Leggett.

No word on putting Leshoure on Injured Reserve yet.

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Lions injury report: Leshoure out for season while Cherilus, Titus Young eased back into practice

ALLEN PARK — Before rookie RB Mikel Leshoure tore an Achilles’ and was declared out for the season at Monday’s practice, there was some good news. RT Gosder Cherilus and WR Titus Young were back on the practice field.

Neither had practiced for a week.

Cherilus is coming off microfracture knee surgery and has had some lingering soreness which is not surprising. Cherilus lined up in some team periods, but was far from practicing 100 percent.

“We didn’t want to overdo it and not be able to manage it,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said.

Young has been out with a leg injury. Schwartz said he ran a little on Sunday so they were going to ease him into practice on Monday.

“He didn’t compete against other players where he had to adjust. We’ll take it slow with him and give him a little more each time. It shouldn’t be a long-term thing,’’ Schwartz said.

OT Jason Fox, who went down Saturday with a foot injury, is visiting Dr. Bob Anderson in Charlotte, N.C., today. Schwartz said they had not received word on his condition.

Rookie DT Nick Fairley underwent surgery on his broken foot last week in Charlotte.

LB Bobby Carpenter didn’t practice Monday because he’s sick with the flu.

RB Maurice Morris is still out with a broken hand but said he expects to be back before the start of the regular season.

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Saturday kids day at Lions training camp

ALLEN PARK — Saturday has been designated as kids day at Lions training camp. Roary the mascot, facepainting, inflatables and more. Players will sign autographs for kids only.

Practice starts at 9:15 a.m. with gates opening at 8 a.m.

It’s free but on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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Lions' injury report: Fluellen, Delmas out

ALLEN PARK — Andre Fluellen is the second Lions’ defensive lineman to be sidelined with an injury this week.

Fluellen got his right hand caught in a face mask on Thursday and had it in a cast on Friday. Coach Jim Schwartz confirmed it is broken, but had no timeline on his return.

Rookie DT Nick Fairley broke his foot on Monday and is expected to miss most of camp.

At Friday’s practice, CB Alphonso Smith had shed the orthopedic boot from his broken left foot and was just wearing regular footwear. It’s a good sign that he’s on the right path.

S Louis Delmas had a screw removed from the ring finger of his right hand on Thursday and had a cast on it on Friday. Schwartz said he’ll miss a couple days because he can’t let the incision get sweaty for fear of infection.

RT Gosder Cherilus didn’t practice and neither did rookie WR Titus Young.

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With addition of free agents, camp takes a new turn

Today’s Lions’ practice, set for 4:15 p.m., will be the first where all the free agents are allowed to participate. It should be interesting to see how coach Jim Schwartz blends them in.

Since camp started on Friday, he’s had Amari Spievey and Louis Delmas at safety as the starters, with Erik Coleman and Ricardo Silva as the twos.

On Thursday they’ll be adding safeties John Wendling and Randy Phillips.

At cornerback it’s been Nathan Vasher and Aaron Berry as the ones.

On Thursday he’ll work Chris Houston, Eric Wright, Prince Miller and Brandon McDonald into the cornerback rotation.

At linebacker Isaiah Ekejiuba and rookie Doug Hogue have been getting plenty of reps with DeAndre Levy. Hope they took advantage of them because there will be an influx of linebackers including free agents Stephen Tulloch and Justin Durant who are expected to start.

Bobby Carpenter will compete for a starting role starting Thursday along with Ashlee Palmer and Caleb Campbell.

Expect a shorter practice since it will be the first for 20-plus guys, but they’ll get longer in upcoming days because they are no longer allowed to have two-a-days. Schwartz said he might work on keeping young players for extra reps once the vets are done to help them catch on and catch up.

Practice is open to the public. It’s a 4:15 p.m. start. Friday’s practice is scheduled to start at 9:15 a.m.

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Fairley has surgery, expected to miss 'significant portion of training camp'

Rookie DT Nick Fairley, a first-round pick, underwent successful surgery on his injured left foot on Wednesday afternoon.

Fairley’s foot was stepped on during a pass-rush drill in Monday’s practice. On Tuesday his foot was in an orthopedic boot and on Wednesday he traveled to Charlotte, N.C., to meet with specialist Dr. Robert Anderson.

The team just released this statement:

“The examination of Nick Fairley’s foot today by Dr. Bob Anderson resulted in a diagnosis consistent with that of Lions’ team physicians that surgical correction was required. Accordingly, surgery was successfully performed this afternoon in Charlotte, N.C., by Dr. Anderson. Nick is expected to miss a significant portion of training camp.”

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Lions injury report: Fairley sent to N.C., Titus Young closer to return

ALLEN PARK — Rookie defensive tackle Nick Fairley was sent to a specialist in Charlotte, N.C. on Wednesday for a further diagnosis of his injured left foot.

It was stepped on during a pass-rush drill on Monday. He was wearing an orthopedic boot on Tuesday.

Rookie WR Titus Young hasn’t practiced all week due to a leg injury, but he’s getting closer according to coach Jim Schwartz.

“One thing about Titus, he’s doing a really, really good job of being involved in everything,’’ Schwartz said. “He’s getting every single mental rep. He might be getting as good of work mentally as if he was out there. The challenge is going to be physically, he’s missed a little time.’’

Right tackle Gosder Cherilus, who had offseason microfracture knee surgery, remains out due to soreness. Schwartz said they don’t want to rush him back and they don’t want him back on the field until the soreness is gone.

“You don’t want to put a guy in a situation where it snowballs,’’ Schwartz said.

Also, running back Maurice Morris had his right hand in a cast Wednesday after injuring it in practice on Tuesday.

“(It’s a) crack in his hand, no surgery (needed), we’ll just hold him out till it makes sense to get him in there,’’ Schwartz said.

Left tackle Jeff Backus (chest) remains sidelined.

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Lions sign Chris Houston, Bobby Carpenter

ALLEN PARK — Chris Houston and Bobby Carpenter, two key players from the end of last season, signed contracts with the Lions on Wednesday.

Both watched the end of practice from the sidelines and will be on the practice field Thursday with the rest of the free agents.

Houston said two or three other teams had interest in him, but he didn’t visit any other team. He knew all along he wanted to return to Detroit after his first season with the Lions last year.

“Being here with my teammates, my coaches, knowing the scheme and the way we were on the upside of Detroit it was kind of a no-brainer. You want to assess the market and see what’s out there, but I feel comfortable here,’’ Houston said after practice.

Carpenter had been in contact with the Lions since the lockout ended. He got the call Tuesday at his home in Columbus, Ohio, and drove up Tuesday night.

The Lions called him after they released Zack Follett on Tuesday.

Carpenter was signed on Oct. 20 last season due to a rash of linebacker injuries. He fit in right away, played in 10 games. He finished on a good note with 10 tackles in the Dec. 26 win at Miami and eight tackles in the final game.

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Zack Follett's career appears to be over

It appears Zack Follett’s career with the Lions is over.

Follett sent this tweet about 9:45 Tuesday night: Respect to Schwartz Mayhew Lewand didnt want to risk a life threatening injury after seeing my pain, Someone had to make the tough decision!

Then about 45 minutes later he tweeted this: Much as I fought to give it a go just wasnt in His plan. No longer a Lion. God has me filled with plenty of Joy #Godbetheglory Thanks!

Follett didn’t practice on Tuesday when the team was in full pads for the first time. He said the coaches were looking out for him and didn’t want to say much more.

When coach Jim Schwartz was asked why Follett didn’t practice he said it was just day-to-day stuff.

Follett severely injured his neck in the sixth game last season. He was carted off the field at the New Meadowlands and hospitalized.

He was hoping to make a comeback and had started working out about halfway through the lockout. He said the risks he was taking were the same as any player. But one wrong hit and he could have been paralyzed.

a tough special teams player, Follett is a fan favorite.

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Lions' rookies Fairley, Young lose valuable training camp reps

ALLEN PARK — Missing time at training camp is especially crucial for a rookie. Even more so this year. Thanks to the NFL lockout, rookies have been thrown into the fire at training camp.

Two of the Lions five drafted rookies — DT Nick Fairley and WR Titus Young — have come up with injuries less than a week into training camp.

While Fairley didn’t seem to think his foot injury was too serious after someone stepped on it during a pass-rush drill on Monday, coach Jim Schwartz couldn’t declare it short-term or long-term on Tuesday. That isn’t a great sign for Fairley whose left foot was in an orthopedic boot on Tuesday.

“(We’re) having a lot of different people look at his stuff. He’s down for now,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said after practice.

Young practiced on Friday and has been out ever since with a leg injury.

Both are missing valuable time and lessening their chances to make an immediate impact on the team.

Running back Mikel Leshoure, a second-round pick, seems to be fitting in quickly with the Lions’ offense.

Doug Hogue, a fifth-round pick linebacker, is making the most of camp so far. With many free agent linebackers unable to practice until Thursday he’s getting plenty of reps.

“It’s fast, I’m still earning the system and things like that. These guys know where they’re going. An inch off makes the difference, I’m getting the gist of it, learning the speed,’’ Hogue said.

Offensive tackle Johnny Culbreath, a seventh-round pick, is also getting plenty of reps with both starting tackles — Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus — sidelined with injuries.

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Lions' injury report from Tuesday; Fairley, Follett, Cherilus don't practice

ALLEN PARK — Rookie DT Nick Fairley watched practice Tuesday with his left foot in a boot. Tests are still being done on the first-round pick who injured his foot during a pass-rush drill on Monday.

“(We’re) having a lot of different people look at his stuff. He’s down for now,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said after practice.

The coach said he’s not sure at this point if it’s a short-term or long-term injury.

Fairley had company on the sidelines.

Gosder Cherilus didn’t practice fully for the third straight day. He practiced on Friday, the first day of camp, and then was limited on Saturday.

The starting right tackle is coming off microfracture knee surgery.

“I’d like to see him bounce back, hopefully we can get him back,’’ Schwartz said. “... When you have a guy with a knee, particularly one he’s been rehabbing, you know it’s going to get sore but you don’t want to put him out there when it’s still sore,’’ Schwartz said.

Linebacker Zack Follett who had a good practice on Monday, sat out. Schwartz said it was just day-to-day stuff. Follett is coming off a serious neck injury so he could have gotten rest because it’s the first day the team practiced in full pads.

Running back Maurice Morris injured his left hand during Tuesday’s practice and was not able to finish. Schwartz said he’ll undergo tests.

Rookie Titus Young (leg) and cornerback Alphonso Smith (broken foot) remain out.

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Lions' S Louis Delmas gives the fans some love

Monday was the first day that Lions’ practice was open to the general public. At least 1,000 were in attendance and they got a good glimpse of safety Louis Delmas who ran along the fence line on his way out to warm-ups.

During practice he couldn’t help himself, Delmas was chirping back and forth with fans.

He loves them and it appears mutual.

“You have no idea, everyday out here with the fans is like game day. They bring energy and enthusiasm. I appreciate the fans so much and I love them to death,’’ said Delmas who missed most of last year’s camp with a groin injury that bothered him all season.

That is no longer an issue following offseason surgery and rehab.

“It’s resolved, I’m 100 percent,’’ Delmas said. “My groin injury is not a factor any more.’’

No wonder he’s in a good mood.

Tuesday and Wednesday practices are open. They start at 9:15 a.m., with gates opening at 8:45 a.m. The Lions practice facility is at 222 Republic Drive, Allen Park.

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Lions don shoulder pads, still no firm date for a full padded practice

ALLEN PARK — Lions coach Jim Schwartz would never say he’s “pleased” with a practice, but on Monday he admitted that his team looked like they were in their third week of practice instead of just the third practice.

The Lions donned shoulder pads for the first time.

Schwartz is still not sure when they will have a full padded practice. As of now, the free agents who have signed can’t practice until Thursday per NFL post-lockout rules. That leaves the Lions with 23 players who are signed, but can’t practice.

Schwartz can’t decide whether to put the guys he has in full pads before the influx on Thursday or just to hold off.

Obviously he wouldn’t put the new guys in full pads on their first day of practice.

The lockout may be over, but the residuals are still there.

Linebacker Stephen Tulloch, wearing No. 55, watched practice after agreeing to a deal with the Lions on Sunday.

Stay tuned for more on the Lions’ linebacker situation.

Rookie DT Nick Fairley injured his left foot on a pass rush play and went in for X-rays. Fairley said it's not a big deal.

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