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.


Cowboys Stadium gives the Lions a big stage

It’s been just 10 months since the Lions got their first look at the sparkling and glittery Cowboys Stadium.

So it seems to be a consensus that their second trip back on Sunday, they will feel a little more comfortable.

It will be the third trip there for wide receiver Nate Burleson. He can’t wait.

“The first time I was blown away by what was going on. It took me about a quarter to really get a hold of myself — you’ve got dancers, you’ve got cheerleaders, you’ve got the go-go girls up top, it’s like a party every minute of the game,’’ Burleson said. “You have to separate yourself from that and focus on what’s at hand, that’s going to work. ... It’s going to be funny watching the young guys, if you’re not ready for it that place will overtake you quickly.’’

Burleson, a showman of sorts, loves the fact that the Lions will be on the big stage in Dallas. They’ll be featured as the top game on Fox, so it will air across much of the country. Now more NFL fans will get a look at the upstart 3-0 Lions.

“I’m excited because I know a lot of people will be watching. To be honest Jerry Jones did a great job. The glitz and glamor of that place makes it more than just a football game. If you embrace the experience and know you might not be able to play in that kind of atmosphere again you’ll elevate your game. I think most of the guys in this locker room will do that on Sunday,’’ Burleson said.

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Calvin Johnson, Delmas return to practice

ALLEN PARK — Calvin Johnson (ankle) was back at practice today (Thursday). It appears Johnson might be on the same rest schedule as Kyle Vanden Bosch who gets Wednesdays off each week.

Also returning was safety Louis Delmas (abdomen) and John Wendling (knee).

Still missing in action from the part of practice open to the media were Justin Durant (concussion), Rashied Davis (foot), Nick Fairley (foot) and Jason Fox (foot). Davis is seeing a specialist in Charlotte, N.C., today.

Kicker Jason Hanson was named the NFC special teams player of the month.

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Injury list grows to 15; Calvin Johnson optimistic about ankle

ALLEN PARK — Wednesday’s injury report for the Lions is as lengthy as it has been with a few new injuries to report.

Nine Lions did not practice at all, while five had limited practice.

QB Matthew Stafford is listed on the report with a right forearm but had full participation in practice.

WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) didn’t practice but said, “Just trying to stay healthy.’’ In other words, expect him to play vs. Cowboys.

Safety Louis Delmas, who has played every game but has been nursing a hip pointer, is now listed with an abdomen injury.

LB Justin Durant is out with a concussion and S John Wendling with a knee.

WR Rashied Davis, who missed Sunday with a hamstring injury, has his right foot in a boot and will go to a specialist in South Carolina on Thursday to have it checked.

Rookie first-round pick Nick Fairley (foot), who practiced on a limited basis on Friday for the first time, did not go at all on Wednesday which isn’t a good sign for his progress.

Others who did not practice are CB Aaron Berry (groin), T Jason Fox (foot) and Kyle Vanden Bosch (rest).

Those who had limited participation were: DE Lawrence Jackson (hamstring), TE Brandon Pettigrew (shoulder), LB DeAndre Levy (knee), WR Maurice Stovall (hand) and CB Eric Wright (groin).

LB Isaiah Ekejiuba was placed on injured reserve so he’s done for the season. He said during Sunday’s game he had his left arm outstretched and got his shoulder popped from behind which caused a separation. On the turf the trainers slid it back into place but he wasn’t able to finish the game. He said it will take rest and rehab. It’s possible he could need surgery down the road.

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Fairley does not practice; also 4 starters out

ALLEN PARK — Anyone who thought rookie DT Nick Fairley was close to playing, guess again. After practicing for the first time on Friday since breaking his foot in training camp, he did not practice today (Wednesday).

Four starters didn’t practice including Calvin Johnson (ankle), Louis Delmas (hip), Justin Durant (unknown injury) and Kyle Vanden Bosch who does not practice on Wednesdays for rest purposes.

Rashied Davis, who was out with a hamstring injury last week, was on the sidelines wearing an orthopedic boot on his right foot.

Also out were Aaron Berry and Jason Fox.

CB Anthony Madison, one of the Lions’ final cuts on Sept. 3, was at practice wearing No. 30. Look for him on special teams to replace LB Isaiah Ekejiuba who was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

Practice squad moves: WR Owen Spencer was signed while Tim Toone was released. TE Cornelius Ingram who was on the practice squad injured list has also been released.

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Are the Lions for real? Even ESPN believes, moves them up to 4th in power rankings

OK, here’s the question of the day: Are the 3-0 Detroit Lions for real?

My answer is yes, but don’t plan the Super Bowl parade route just yet.

Before the season started I predicted a 9-7 record and I thought if they came out of the first four games (three on the road) with a 2-2 record that would be a good thing.

Well, they’re 3-0 and could be 4-0 heading into the Monday Night Football game on Oct. 10 vs. the Bears.

However, Sunday at Dallas will provide a multitude of challenges. It’s a tough place to play as we saw on Monday night when they beat the Redskins. And Tony Romo is one tough guy. However, the Cowboys will be coming in with one less day of rest and preparation which is an advantage for Detroit.

Bigger yet, is that the Lions believe in themselves. Obviously that showed after they were down 20-0 at the half and came back to win 26-23 in OT at Minnesota.

Nationally the Lions are getting recognition too.

ESPN hadn’t bought in after the first two wins putting them at 11th in their weekly power rankings. This week they’ve jumped up to fourth behind the Packers, Saints and Patriots. Nice company to keep.

John Clayton comments: “It’s starting to look like the Lions have enough to finally make a playoff run.’’ goes one better with the Lions at No. 3 behind the Packers and Saints. They have the Cowboys at 13th while ESPN has Dallas at 11th.

It’s a great start for the Lions who have been NFL doormats way too long. How long will it last? They’re going to lose at least a few. But if they stay healthy they should be on their way to the playoffs.

What are you thinking? So many of you wrote in that I was way off base when I picked them to finish at 9-7, thought I was being too generous. Still thinking that way?

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5 things we learned from Lions' 26-23 OT win over Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS — Five things learned from the Lions’ 26-23 comeback overtime win over the Vikings on Sunday.

1. Trust doesn’t win football games, but it helps. The Lions proved that they belief in themselves and their teammates. Down 20-0 at the half? Stay the course, stick with your bread and butter. Don’t give up. Trust. It’s a good thing when you have it. And the Lions do.

2. Matthew Stafford is no china doll. The young quarterback was sacked five times (he hadn’t been sacked at all in first two games) and got up ticking. In fact he played his best in the second half and overtime. Afterward he said he was “unbelievably unsore” well that might change on Monday. But he’s 23, he’ll heal quickly.

3. Calvin Johnson is amazing. We knew it and he proved it again on Sunday. We’re running out of adjectives. But there is no doubt he’s the Real Deal.

4. The Lions defense can take care of business as long as they don’t try to do too much. DeAndre Levy said they were so focused on Adrian Peterson in the first half, they sometimes did too much -- didn’t stay in their own gaps, tried to help when help wasn’t needed. Once they figured out they just needed to play their game, they were fine. Peterson had five carries for five yards in the second half.

5. Jim Schwartz and the coaching staff understand their players. While you might imagine that Schwartz went into half-time screaming and yelling about being down 20-0, it wasn’t like that at all. Several players agreed it was just going about their business — much different than the recent past. No panic. That made it easy for them to take the field in the third quarter and take care of business.

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Levy, Pettigrew active; no other surprises among Lions inactives

MINNEAPOLIS — Linebacker DeAndre Levy (knee) and TE Brandon Pettigrew (shoulder) had been listed as questionable but will play today against the Vikings.

Calvin Johnson (ankle), Louis Delmas (hip) and Cliff Avril (knee) are active. All three had been listed as probable.

Lions out for today’s game are CB Alphonso Smith, WR Rashied Davis (hamstring), G Jacques McClendon and LB Doug Hogue. Davis had been listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report.

DT Nick Fairley and T Jason Fox were listed as out on Friday’s injury report.

Out for the Vikings are Brandon Burton, Mistral Raymond, Xavier Adibi, Brandon Fusco, DeMarcus Love, Greg Camarillo and D’Aundre Reed.

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5 things the Lions must do to beat Vikings

Five things the Lions (2-0) must do to beat the Vikings (0-2) on Sunday at the Metrodome in Minneapolis:

1. Run the ball. With a healthy Jahvid Best the run game has been efficient in the first two games. While the Lions rely more on the pass, they need the Best to continue to play well along with Jerome Harrison, Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams.

2. Get the ball to Calvin. It’s no coincidence that Matthew Stafford is finding ways to get the ball to Calvin and the Lions are 2-0. Not much doubt that the Stafford-Calvin connection is strong and growing stronger each week.

3. Get early start and take the crowd out as much as possible. The Metrodome is loud, the fans are close, the horn is annoying and it all makes it a tough place to play for any opponent. One way to silence the Vikings’ fanatics is to jump out to a good start. It’s always important to start strong, even moreso in this situation.

4. Stay aggressive on offense and defense. Not only does the philosophy make the Lions a fun team to watch, but the aggressiveness on both sides of the ball makes them tough to play against.

5. Don’t let up, keep coming in waves. Coach Jim Schwartz seemed offended and did not agree that the Lions had run up the score 48-3 against the Chiefs on Sunday. What’s a comfortable winning margin in the NFL? There really isn’t one because the tide can turn at any moment.

Prediction: Lions 31, Vikings 17.

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Fairley practices, but has long way to go

Rookie DT Nick Fairley practiced for the first time on Friday since breaking his foot early in training camp.

Don’t get too excited about seeing him soon. While he’s been attending meetings and working on conditioning, it’s not the same as practice.

Also, there’s no rush to get him in with Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams starting and getting relief from Sammie Hill and Andre Fluellen. All four have been playing well. Kyle Vanden Bosch was credited with a sack against the Chiefs, but he said he wouldn’t have gotten it without pressure from Hill.

Fairley is listed as out on Friday’s injury report. It will probably be at least a few weeks before he plays.

Don’t look at him as an automatic starter when he does return. First-round pick or not, he’ll have to earn his playing time.

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Injury report: Johnson, Delmas, Avril probable for Sunday

Calvin Johnson (ankle), Louis Delmas (hip) and Cliff Avril (knee) are listed as probable for Sunday’s game at the Minnesota Vikings. All three practiced on a limited basis on Friday.

DeAndre Levy (knee), Brandon Pettigrew (shoulder), Maurice Stovall (hand) and Rashied Davis (hamstring) are listed as questionable. They also saw limited practice.

Rookie Nick Fairley practiced for first time on Friday since breaking his foot in practice early in camp. But don’t get too excited, he’s got a long way to go and is listed as out for Sunday, along with Jason Fox (foot).

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Lions will be ready for Vikings' Kevin Williams

When the Lions watched film of the Minnesota Vikings’ opening two losses, there was no sign of Kevin Williams who has been suspended. Williams will make his 2011 debut on Sunday against the Lions at the Metrodome.

The Lions will be ready.

The defensive tackle was suspended two games for testing positive for the banned diuretic StarCaps in 2008. Prior to the suspension he suffered with plantar fasciitis during camp. His feet could have benefited from the break.

“All that stuff about him being out of shape and him saying he hasn’t been working out, nice try, smokescreen,’’ Lions center Dominic Raiola said. “We’re getting ready for All-Pro Kevin Williams.’’

The 6-foot-5 Williams presents challenges in a variety of manners. He led NFL defensive linemen last season with 10 pass breakups.

“When he puts his hands up, you have to punch him in the chest and get him down, that’s O-line 101. He’s one of the best at doing that, he’s 6-5 first of all, you have to try to lock him up,’’ Raiola said. “That’s what makes him the best he’s the complete package — he can hit the quarterback, he can sack the quarterback, knock balls down, runs screens down, plays the run. You’re talking about complete player, you’re talking about Kevin Williams.’’

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Five starters return to practice; Pettigrew still out

ALLEN PARK — They say time heals all wounds, well for many of the Lions’ starters it just took a day.

Six starters missed Wednesday’s practice and five of them returned on Thursday. Back at work were Calvin Johnson (ankle), Louis Delmas (hip), DeAndre Levy (knee) and Cliff Avril (knee).

Kyle Vanden Bosch was back, as expected, after taking his regular Wednesday off for rest. Apparently it worked. When players were lined up to jog down the field before drills, he and Matthew Stafford had a foot race. Vanden Bosch won in a squeaker.

Brandon Pettigrew (shoulder) was still out along with Rashied Davis (hamstring, Nick Fairley (foot) and Jason Fox (foot).

Gosder Cherilus was lining up with the offensive line starters for the second straight day. On Sunday Corey Hilliard started at right tackle.

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Six starters sit out Lions' practice today

ALLEN PARK — Nine Lions sat out practice today (Wednesday) including six starters.

WR Calvin Johnson (who had rolled ankle last week), S Louis Delmas (who had hip pointer last week), DE Cliff Avril, TE Brandon Pettigrew (shoulder) and OLB DeAndre Levy were out.

DE Kyle Vanden Bosch was out as expected. He will not practice on Wednesdays this season.

WR Rashied Davis didn’t practice.

Also, Nick Fairley and Jason Fox have yet to start practicing. Each had a broken foot.

In practice squad moves WR Tim Toone (Mr. Irrelevant) was re-signed while CB Donovan Warren (Michigan) was released.

In earlier news today, Jason Hanson was named the NFC special teams player of the week for the 11th time in his career. He kicked two field goals and six extra points on Sunday in his record-breaking 297th game with the Lions.

The Lions plan at the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. They haven't won there since 1997.

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Stafford nominated for air player of week

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is in good company as a finalist for the FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week honors for games played Sunday and Monday. He was nominated along with New England’s Tom Brady and Dallas’ Tony Romo.

Stafford completed 23 of 39 passes for 294 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the Lions’ 48-3 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. The 45-point margin of victory is the largest in Detroit team history for a regular season game. Combined with his three Week 1 touchdown passes, Stafford’s four-score performance helped him tie a 1962 Lions team record for most touchdown passes in the season’s first two games.

Brady completed 31 of 40 passes for 423 yards and three touchdowns in the Patriots' 35-21 win over the San Diego Chargers. Romo completed 20 of 33 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns in the Cowboys’ 27-24 overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers.

Running backs LeGarrette Blount of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Fred Jackson of the Buffalo Bills and Michael Turner of the Atlanta Falcons are the finalists for the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week.

Fans can vote for one player in each category on through 3 p.m. on Friday. The winners will be announced Friday on NFL Total Access on NFL Network and on

Also as a reminder, Stafford was wired for sound by NFL Films on Sunday and will be featured on Sound FX Wednesday at 9:30 p.m on NFL Network.

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

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5 things we learned after Lions beat Chiefs 48-3

1. Matthew Stafford is clearly the real deal. In these first two games this season he’s thrown seven touchdown passes and two interceptions. Nate Burleson made a good point afterward by saying that Stafford will throw passes that other quarterbacks wouldn’t attempt. Stafford is not only confident in his arm, but teammates are confident in him. And why wouldn’t they be? He delivers on the money.

2. Scott LInehan, the offensive coordinator, trusts his players and proves it by going for a touchdown on fourth down when they already hold a 17-point lead. This aggressive game-calling is fun for the fans, players and probably Linehan too. He’s got plenty of talent surrounding Stafford so why not use it.

3. These Lions are having fun. Witness the touchdown dances by Tony Scheffler who you wouldn’t necessarily think of as a showman. He said they work on them at practices which just makes it more fun (there’s that word again). They’re focused and serious about getting the job done, but working on a few dance moves never hurt anyone as long as the priorities are straight and there is no doubt they are.

4. The defensive line is as good as advertised. They had a pair of sacks against the Chiefs, but they were in quarterback Matt Cassel’s face all during the game. It’s not just the line playing well, but they set the tone. Chris Houston has improved as has Amari Spievey. Louis Delmas (hip pointer) was a game-time decision and he played like a maniac (in a good way). In the first two games the Lions’ defense has allowed just one touchdown.

5. It’s going to take a while longer to know how good the Lions really are. They have now beat two teams that each won 10 games last season. They got better from week one to week two. And the mistakes they made in week one were corrected. The win over the Chiefs wasn’t a perfect game — the Lions got off to a sluggish start. But once in gear, they were impressive. They haven’t won in Minnesota since 1997, they haven’t started a season 3-0 since 1980. The Vikings are 0-2, the Lions are 2-0 and still hungry.

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Lions win a big one for Gun

DETROIT — Gunther Cunningham, who spent 11 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, was treated to a Gatorade shower on the field immediately after the Lions blasted the Chiefs 48-3 on Sunday.

The Lions defensive coordinator tried to downplay the connection through the week, but his players and everyone else knew this game was especially important.

“I know he was emotional. He didn’t say much. I know this game was important and what it meant to him. He made this game about the players and didn’t make it about him this week. But we understood and we felt it,’’ Kyle Vanden Bosch said.

“We as players, I know probably more than any coach I’ve played for, he cares about the players. In turn, the players care about him. It became really important for us, especially in the second half, to finish it the right way. It’s important for this team, as opposed to last week, we didn’t put them away. It was important for us, but we knew it was important for Gun as well.’’

Louis Delmas agreed.

“You knew it was a special game for him just by the energy, he didn’t say much throughout the week, you could look at his eyes ...’’ Delmas said.

It just wasn’t about his history with the team. Last season the Chiefs brought up tampering charges against the Lions which were believed to have involved Cunningham and Jarrad Page. Neither Cunningham or the team has ever commented on the charges. It cost the Lions a draft pick.

On Sunday the Lions let the players do the talking on the field. They embarrassed the Chiefs who have been outscored 89-10 in their first two losses.

It was a big win for the Lions, a big win for Gun.

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Delmas, Calvin Johnson will play; Stovall out

DETROIT — WR Calvin Johnson and S Louis Delmas will play today against the Chiefs. Both were listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report.

Johnson rolled his left ankle a week ago at Tampa. He had limited practice on Friday.

Delmas sustained a hip pointer at Tampa. He was also questionable on Friday’s injury report.

Also no changes to starting lineup.

WR Maurice Stovall, whose right hand is in a cast, is inactive. Other inactives are LB Doug Hogue and G Jacques McClendon.

DT Nick Fairley, T Jason Fox and CB Alphonso Smith were announced as inactives on Friday.

Out for Chiefs are Ricky Stanzi, Reshard Langford, Steve Maneri, Keary Colbert, Jonathan Baldwin, Brandon Bair and Jerrell Powell.

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5 things Lions must do to beat the Chiefs

Five things the Lions (1-0) must do to beat the Kansas City Chiefs (0-1) on Sunday at Ford Field:

1. Keep the upbeat tempo on offense that they used in the first half in the win at Tampa. Unbelievably they had 49 snaps in the first half. Matthew Stafford reduces his chances of getting hit by getting the ball out quickly. He’s done it in preseason and the opener, all he needs to do is continue the pace. Expect to see plenty of no-huddle.

2. Get the ball to Calvin Johnson. It’s so obvious, but doesn’t always happen. The Stafford-Calvin connection is off to a good start with a pair of TDs in the first game. Johnson had a half-dozen catches for 88 yards.

3. Run the ball well just like last week. Coach Jim Schwartz isn’t looking for a balanced offense, he’s just looking to score whichever way. Still Jahvid Best, Maurice Morris and Jerome Harrison must find success for the sake of the passing game. And Morris, who is usually good with ball control, must hold onto the ball. He fumbled twice at Tampa.

4. Stop the Chiefs’ running game. It’s their bread and butter with Jamaal Charles leading the way and Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster chipping in. Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham calls it “very, very different. It’s not normal; it’s a lot of one back stuff and the problem that they present — it could be second-and-15 and (Charles is) going to run the ball and try to gain it.’’

5. Take advantage of the strong safety who will be replacing Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry who was lost for the season early last week. He was one of their top three defensive players without question. The Chiefs’ defense will be getting used to playing without him, so the Lions know the weak spot.

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


Delmas, Calvin Johnson return to practice

ALLEN PARK — Safety Louis Delmas (hip pointer) and wide receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle) returned to practice today (Friday). Neither practiced on Wednesday and Thursday.

Delmas, who was practicing on a limited basis, said on Thursday he expects to be a game-time decision, although his recovery pace has been good so he thinks there’s a good chance he will play.

Johnson said earlier this week that he expects to play on Sunday.

Wide receiver Maurice Stovall (hand) and cornerback Alphonso Smith (foot) have been practicing all week on a limited basis.

The only absentees were DT Nick Fairley and T Jason Fox. Both are coming back from broken feet.

The Lions host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at Ford Field.

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Delmas: Good chance for Sunday, could be game-time decision

ALLEN PARK — Safety Louis Delmas said today there’s a good chance that he will play on Sunday vs. the Chiefs at Ford Field. He expects it will be a game-time decision.

Delmas suffered a hip pointer late in Sunday’s win at Tampa, but said it’s not too serious. He’s had worse.

He didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday. Even if he can’t practice on Friday he could still play.

Delmas was giving the media the old run-around — literally. Despite the injury he was moving quickly and fluidly.

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Calvin Johnson, Delmas miss second day of practice; Vanden Bosch returns

ALLEN PARK — Calvin Johnson (ankle) and Louis Delmas (bruised hip) missed the second straight day of practice today (Thursday).

Johnson said on Wednesday that he rolled his ankle and it was not a big deal. He also said he expects to play on Sunday vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.

Delmas was nowhere to be seen on Wednesday. On Monday coach Jim Schwartz said Delmas had bruised his hip in the win on Sunday and he was in “we’ll see” mode.

Veteran DE Kyle Vanden Bosch will have Wednesdays off of practice during the season. He returned today as expected.

Nick Fairley and Jason Fox, who both had broken feet, are getting closer to healthy, but neither practiced Thursday.

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Lions vs. Chiefs: Soak up these numbers

ALLEN PARK — By the numbers, the Lions have everything on the Kansas City Chiefs, the opponent for Sunday’s sold-out home opener.

Soak these NFL numbers up:

— The Lions rank fifth in NFL in total offense while the Chiefs rank 18th in total defense.

— Detroit had the 10th best rushing effort, while the Chiefs had 27th best defense against the rush (in other words they stunk).

— The Lions had eight best passing game while the Chiefs had 11th best pass defense.

— Kansas City’s offense was ranked 30th while Detroit’s defense was tied for 12th. The Chiefs ranked 30th in passing offense while the Lion had 11th best pass defense.

— Of course, it was just one week. The Lions beat the Bucs 27-20 and the Chiefs were humiliated at home by the Bills 41-7.

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Delmas, Calvin Johnson miss practice; Sunday's game sold out

ALLEN PARK — Three starters missed practice today (Wednesday).

Safety Louis Delmas, who bruised his hip late in Sunday’s win at Tampa, was out along with WR Calvin Johnson. His injury is not known, but he fell hard on his back making one catch on Sunday.

Also missing was DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, but that was expected. Coach Jim Schwartz said that Vanden Bosch, a veteran, would be rested on most Wednesdays.

Lions president Tom Lewand announced that Sunday’s game vs. the Chiefs has been sold out which lifts the local TV blackout.

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Running game passes first test, shows room for improvement

In the NFL preseason it’s tough to judge the running game and there was some hand-wringing from Lions’ fans. It didn’t look as pretty as the passing game which was stellar.

At Tampa on Sunday though, the running game passed the test when the Lions amassed 126 rushing yards in the 27-20 win over the Bucs.

Coach Jim Schwartz said on Monday that it was spotty the whole game and he wants to see less negative-yardage plays.

“Overall we did a lot of things we wanted to do with our run game — 126 yards rushing, it was lopsided when you compared that to Tampa’s run stats (56 rushing yards). I think we took advantage of our run opportunities,’’ Schwartz said.

“Their defense was definitely geared toward stopping the pass but we still had a good day passing the ball and I think Matt (Stafford) for the most part got us in plays to be able to run the ball,’’ the coach added.

It was different in the fourth quarter when the Lions had a 14-point lead and were trying to run the clock. Schwartz said Stafford couldn’t move much at that point due to leg cramps from the heat.

Jahvid Best had 21 carries for 72 yards, Jerome Harrison had eight for 27 yards — that’s 3.4 yards per carry for each.

“It was a good start for us, the biggest thing is just getting the win and we went out there and did that so that’s the biggest thing,’’ Best said.

Maurice Morris had two carries for four yards, but fumbled twice. He’s coming off a broken hand which was an issue.

No one denies there’s room for improvement, perhaps that will come on Sunday against the Chiefs at Ford Field.

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Lions win: Attitude has changed and results too

TAMPA — After a few hours to digest the Lions’ 27-20 win over the Bucs and a Big Mac Meal (life on the road is so glamorous), here are my thoughts:

— Maybe it’s too much to say the Lions have turned the corner after one win, but too bad. I’ll say it anyway. And it’s not just one win, it’s the four wins they ended last season on. I’m not picking them to go to the Super Bowl, but I think when they get in close games they have figured out a way to win. It won’t always happen, but it will more often than not. I’m officially declaring the Lions over the hump after the 0-16 and 2-14 seasons.

— The Lions had a few costly late penalties and eight penalties for 68 yards total. Too much and I suspect this will be part of Jim Schwartz’s message to the team on Monday. This is something that should be corrected easily and immediately.

— Calvin Johnson is having fun and it shows. Matthew Stafford has said it’s easy to connect with Calvin, he just has to throw in the general vicinity. But don’t let Stafford’s humility throw you, he threaded the needle on a few passes on Sunday.

— Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan called an impressive game especially taking the chance with the fourth-and-3 at the Bucs’ 36. He’s having some fun with all the weapons at his disposal and looks like he knows how to get the best out of them.

— While the Lions sacked Josh Freeman just twice (Stephen Tulloch, Kyle Vanden Bosch), they got in his face and caused problems all day. Think they’ll be itching to pick up a few more sacks next Sunday? Me too.

— The Lions open their home schedule at Ford Field on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs who were blown out 41-7 by the Bills at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. Beware of a wounded animal. Still the Lions should feel confident heading into the match-up on Sunday.

— Liked the tone that Schwartz set after the win Sunday. He didn’t want to downplay the win, but he didn’t want anyone to think that’s the best the Lions have got.

— It will be easy for fans to get more excited about these Lions with the win on the road. I’d expect a full, rockin’ house at Ford Field on Sunday. Heck, there were plenty of Lions’ fans at Raymond James Stadium and the Lions could hear them. There weren’t that many Bucs fans and can’t imagine the loss will be good for ticket sales.

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No surprises among Lions' inactives vs. Bucs

TAMPA — No surprises among the Lions’ inactives for today’s game vs. Bucs.

Lions out are: QB Drew Stanton, RB Keiland Williams, LB Doug Hogue and G Jacques McClendon.

No changes on depth chart for starters.

On Friday it was announced that DT Nick Fairley, T Jason Fox and CB Alphonso Smith would be inactive.

It’s hot and steamy at Raymond James Stadium with chance of showers later this afternoon.

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Suh: Lions stole Lawrence Jackson from Seattle

ALLEN PARK — Perhaps Ndamukong Suh said it best. He feels the Lions hoodwinked the Seattle Seahawks when they got DE Lawrence Jackson in a trade during training camp a year ago.

“Lawrence is one, a good friend to me and a guy I felt we stole from Seattle, we got a major steal from that. I think our front office did a great job with that,’’ Suh said.

Jackson, who was dealt for a draft pick, was injured when he arrived in Detroit a year ago which slowed his development.

“It’s one thing being traded to a team where the philosophy of lifting is so much different, and the preparation for the style of play is so much different. This offseason. it gave me a chance to get more explosive more in-tune with the play style that they like to use here,’’ Jackson said. “I think coming in healthy made a tremendous improvement in my game because I was out there every practice, didn’t miss anything, I was able to improve on things everyday.’’

He became stronger as the 2010 season wore on. He’s not a starter, but will see plenty of playing time when the Lions use a heavy rotation for the D-line.

“He’s a starter, he’s just unfortunately not in a starting role at this particular point. The great thing about our defense is that we rotate at any point in time, all eight of us, like Kyle (Vanden Bosch) said, we’re all starters. It’s just some guys start the game and some guys come in five plays later and play like a starter,’’ Suh said.

“So he’s a starter in my eyes, he’s a guy who’s going to have a big effect, a guy that a lot of teams are going to have to respect, look forward to and game plan for,’’ Suh said.

They weren’t saying those things about Jackson, who played at USC, back in Seattle. He just didn’t fit into their defensive scheme.

“Being on a team like this with players like we have on a D-line and them understanding the type of player that I am and appreciating my talent makes me feel good,’’ Jackson said.

And why wouldn’t it?

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Stovall, a former Buc, could be Lions' secret weapon

ALLEN PARK — It turns out wide receiver Maurice Stovall could be a secret weapon of sorts on Sunday when the Lions open the season in Tampa.

Stovall spent his first five NFL seasons with the Bucs.

And with the philosophy of “Let no stone go unturned’’ the Lions’ coaching staff picked his brain in preparation for Sunday’s opener.

“They asked about different things — offense, defense, special teams — and I told them what I thought I could help them with,’’ Stovall said.

The 26-year-old receiver said he hasn’t give much thought to playing his former team.

“Playing this team, a lot of people ask me, ‘Are you going to have revenge on the Bucs?’ I’m like no you approach each team the same way each week, know to be a professional, don’t treat them any different, play hard like we do each week, prepare the same way and we’ll have the outcome we want,’’ said Stovall who signed as a free agent on Aug. 2.

He joined the team a few days after wide receiver Rashied Davis and neither has disappointed.

“When (Stovall) was available, along with Rashied, to have two guys like that who can pretty much do anything for us offensively, gives us a little more of a luxury,’’ offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said.

“We have a couple more receivers available on game day, guys who can play and have experience. That does so much for you. Those guys have to be ready to play without much reps during the week, they’ve got to do some show team stuff but they have to be able to step in if we need them.’’

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Vanden Bosch back at practice

ALLEN PARK — Kyle Vanden Bosch was back at practice today (Thursday) after missing Wednesday’s practice. He was listed on the injury report with a non-football related injury.

The veteran defensive end injured a shoulder in the second preseason game and was held out of the last two weeks of camp. In the offseason he underwent neck surgery.

No other surprises at practice. Nick Fairley and Jason Fox still out.

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Vanden Bosch does not practice; no other surprises

ALLEN PARK — Kyle Vanden Bosch did not practice today (Wednesday). The defensive end was on the field, but not taking part in drills. He practiced on Monday.

The veteran defensive end, who underwent neck surgery in the offseason, sat out last two weeks of camp. He said on Monday that was with the goal of being ready for the opener on Sunday at Tampa.

He was injured in the second preseason game.

Coach Jim Schwartz will talk to the media after practice. However, he's usually mum on injuries.

No other surprises at practice. Alphonso Smith was back at it. Nick Fairley and Jason Fox still were not practicing.

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Weather not a factor in Schwartz's game prep

Following a chilly outdoor practice on Monday, coach Jim Schwartz opened with a quip about the cooler weather.

“We had a good November practice, back on Wednesday, 96 on Saturday, 55 today, interesting,’’ Schwartz said with a smile.

He could have held the session indoors and cranked up the heat to closer simulate the conditions the Lions will face in their opener on Sunday at Tampa Bay. The outlook calls for a high of 89, but it could be 20 degrees warmer on the field.

That’s not Schwartz’s style.

While many coaches like to replicate the conditions they will face (Bo Schembechler was famous for this), Schwartz is not among them.

“That’s foolishness. We don’t pipe in crowd noise, we don’t open up the doors and make it cold and we don’t try to smoke the team out. Our team’s in good shape, we’ll be hydrated and ready to go, we’ll be ready to play the game,’’ Schwartz said. “We’ll worry about playing the game not stuff like that.

“We open the season down in Tampa, our last game of the season is in Lambeau. We have to be ready for a lot of different things this year,’’ Schwartz added.

It’s not like the Lions can’t handle the heat especially after some steamy days during training camp.

Obviously Schwartz’s goal is to have them more focused on the Bucs, than on Mother Nature.

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Vanden Bosch: Sunday can't get here quick enough

ALLEN PARK — Kyle Vanden Bosch was back at practice on Monday after sitting out for the last two weeks with a sore shoulder.

The Lions veteran defensive end will play in the opener at Tampa on Sunday.

“The emphasis was to be ready for the opener,’’ Vanden Bosch said.

Even while he was out he worked with the trainers to stay in shape.

“I felt great today like I hadn’t missed a beat. Sunday can’t get here quick enough,’’ Vanden Bosch said.

Cornerback Alphonso Smith practiced Monday for the first time since training camp started. He had broken his foot three weeks before camp.

He will not be playing on Sunday. Coach Jim Schwartz said it could take at least a few weeks to get him in a game.

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Newest Lions Keiland Williams, Jacques McClendon practice

ALLEN PARK — New faces at Lions’ practice on Monday morning included running back Keiland Williams and guard Jacques McClendon. Both were claimed by the Lions on Sunday.

Williams (5-foot-11, 230 pounds) was signed as an undrafted free agent signed by the Redskins in 2010. He played at LSU.

McClendon (6-foot-3, 324 pounds) was a fourth-round draft pick by the Colts in 2010. He played at Tennessee.

Aaron Brown and Chris Thomas were released on Sunday.

CB Alphonso Smith practiced for first time since camp started on Monday. Nick Fairley and Jason Fox, who both have foot injuries, still didn’t practice.

Four who were signed to the practice squad are safety Ricardo Silva, T Casey Bender, C Dan Gerberry and WR Nate Hughes. Expect four more to be added.

Three players have changed their numbers. Justin Durant now wears 52, Doug Hogue 57 and Brandon Pettigrew has changed to 87.

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Lions to honor Tom Kowalski in three ways

DETROIT — The Lions will honor the late Tom Kowalski, a long-time beat writer, in three ways. Lions president Tom Lewand made the announcement on Friday at the celebration of Kowalski’s life at Cheli’s Chili Bar. Kowalski died suddenly on Monday. He was 51.

The press lounge at the Allen Park practice facility will be named for Kowalski. Also the Lions will start a scholarship in Kowalski’s name for Lions’ media interns. In addition, the Lions will donate a portion of the concession proceeds from the home opener on Sept. 18 to Kowalski’s favorite charities, Team Joseph and Our Children’s Fund.

Bill Keenist, a Lions’ vice president also announced they had received a $1,000 check from Roger Goodell and the NFL for the Our Children’s Fund in Kowalski's name.

In lieu of flowers the family asked that donations go to Team Joseph (for supporting research for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy), 3050 Union Lake Rd. Suite 8F, Commerce Twp, MI or Our Children's Fund (for Christmas gifts for local children in need) c/o West Bloomfield Schools, 5810 Commerce Rd., West Bloomfield, MI 48324.

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Don't be shy, share your predictions for the Lions' regular season

With the preseason just about behind us, it’s finally time for predictions.

Tell me what you think the Lions’ final record will be this season and I’ll run your picks in a story in the Lions’ special preview section that comes out before the Sept. 11 opener.

What do I think? I’ll tell you, but I want to hear your predictions first.

Send me record and a short sentence or two to explain. Thanks.

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

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