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.


Three reasons why Lions' WR Calvin Johnson is the best at what he does

Cris Carter may not agree, but Calvin Johnson is the best at what he does. Even the NFL Network checked in this week ranking him No. 3 among all NFL players. Here are three reasons that Calvin Johnson is the best receiver in the NFL.

1. Despite double- and sometimes triple coverage he comes down with the ball. His height, strength, concentration and athletic ability put him heads above most everyone else.

2. Johnson remains humble. He says with a straight face that he knows he can get better and puts in the work to make that happen.

3. He’s got a great quarterback in Matthew Stafford to get the ball thrown his way. The best receivers still need someone to get them the ball. This best receiver has one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks throwing to him.

(Until the start of training camp, the Lowdown lists will appear daily, Monday through Friday. Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Email her at

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Three reasons the Lions' running game will improve this season

Three reasons the Lions' running game suffered last season: Injuries, injuries, injuries.

Enough of that. What are the odds all three will be injured again this season? Here are three reasons the running game should be better.

1. Jahvid Best gained weight and strength in the offseason, coming off a concussion. He’s rarin’ to go after playing in just six games last season.

2. Mikel Leshoure is one talented, solid running back who has amazed his teammates. It’s just that fans haven’t had a chance to see him run since he tore an Achilles’ early in training camp last year. During his first team drills of the offseason at minicamp he got cheered by his teammates and seemed to create a buzz when he got his mitts on the ball. Of course he’ll be suspended for the first two games and will have to catch up after that. His suspension will open the door for ...

3. Motivated? That’s Kevin Smith. He was humbled a bit last year when the season started without him. He kept working out and finally got a call from the Lions in November. In his second game back he had 16 carries for 140 yards in the win over Carolina. He just couldn’t keep the ankle healthy.

(Until the start of training camp, the Lowdown lists will appear daily, Monday through Friday. Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Email her at

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3 reasons Stafford could come up short of 5,000-yard passing mark this season

Last season Matthew Stafford became one of only five quarterbacks in NFL history to surpass 5,000 passing yards in one season. He finished with 5,038.

Here are three reasons Stafford might not reach the 5,000-yard mark in the 2012 season. (Hint: It has nothing to do with his health.)

1. The Lions don’t particularly like the word “balanced” to describe their offense, but they want to have a better running game which will give them more offensive choices. If Jahvid Best, Mikel Leshoure and Kevin Smith stay healthy this should happen. Big if, but even if two of the three could stay healthy the running game will get a huge boost.

2. Don’t get me wrong, I think Stafford will have another excellent season — was going to say Pro Bowl season but remembered he was overlooked. He will just have more options.

3. This season perhaps the Lions won’t be in so many situations where they are so far down that they are forced to throw to catch up. They will be too talented to fall in a deep hole early.

(Until the start of training camp, the Lowdown lists will appear daily, Monday through Friday. Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Email her at

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Three reasons Shaun Hill is one of NFL's best backup QBs

Quarterback Shaun Hill was a perfect fit for the Lions from Day One. Entering his third season in Detroit, he’s a solid backup. Here are three reasons he is one of the best backups in the NFL.

1. He knows his role will always be as Stafford’s backup. There’s no drama that comes along with Hill. Of course he wants to be the best, but he knows Stafford is the franchise guy. Attitude is everything in an NFL backup quarterback. He and Stafford seem to be good buddies even away from the football field.

2. Hill is a darned good quarterback. He proved it in the 2010 season when Stafford missed most of the season with shoulder issues.

3. Hill prepares as if he’s going to start every game. Some guys say that, but Hill does it because he never knows. Because he’s got more experience than Stafford, he’s helped in his development too.

(Until the start of training camp, the Lowdown lists will appear daily, Monday through Friday. Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Email her at

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Three reasons the Lions could include Kellen Moore on 53-man roster

Kellen Moore was signed immediately after the draft to be the Lions third quarterback, if they keep a third quarterback.

If Moore (Boise State) had a stronger arm, he would have been drafted since he was the winningest quarterback in college football with a record of 50-3.

Here are three reasons the Lions could keep Moore on the 53-man roster.

1. He is never going to throw 65- or 70-yard bombs like Matthew Stafford, but he knows his limits and is generally able to move the chains. He knows what he has to do to move the ball down the field.

2. Moore picked up the offense quickly. During minicamp when he was running the drills, the pace didn’t slow down. Stafford said that’s a good sign for a rookie.

3. During minicamp he completed a high percentage of passes and was able to move the offense down the field. He’s a coach’s son, is smart and is well liked by Scott Linehan, the offensive coordinator.

(Until the start of training camp, the Lowdown lists will appear daily, Monday through Friday. Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Email her at

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Tom Kowalski honored with PFWA's McCann Award

Tom Kowalski was well respected in the Detroit area for his coverage of the Detroit Lions. But he was hardly a Michigan secret.

Kowalski, who covered the Detroit Lions for 30 years, has been named winner of the Professional Football Writers of America McCann Award which is given annually to a reporter who has made a long and distinguished contribution to pro football through coverage.

Kowalski died unexpectedly at age 51 last August.

As a member of the PFWA I nominated him for the award. As I stated then, I wasn’t putting him up for the award because he died, but rather because he did such a great job on the Lions’ beat for 30 years.

He had started as a sports writer at The Oakland Press in 1978 and then moved to Booth Newspapers in 1997.

He first started covering the Lions at age 21 and was there for the good years in the 1990s and many, many losing seasons.

Kowalski, also known as Killer, was well-known in the Detroit area for his writing, along with his WDFN radio show and appearances on WJBK Fox 2.

Also nominated were Bob Glauber, national football columnist for N.Y. Newsday; Ron Borges, Boston Herald columnist; Vinny DiTrani, retired from The Record; and Dave Goldberg, retired NFL writer for the Associated Press.

Kowalski’s friends have started a foundation in his honor. The first event will be a golf outing on Aug. 27. For more information, see

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Three reasons Nick Fairley needs to prove himself this season

Expectations are high for Nick Fairley entering his second season. His rookie season was a disappointment. After he broke his foot in training camp, he was never a full-go.

Three reasons he needs to prove himself this season.

1. After a pair of arrests within a month (marijuana possession, suspicion of drunk driving), he has to prove to the coaching staff and management that he has grown up. They have his back even after two arrests, but he’s got to stay clean now. Coach Jim Schwartz said he’s on a program and must stick with it.

2. Fairley got off to a good start in the Organized Team Activities and the mandatory minicamp. GM Martin Mayhew listed him as one of three standout players (along with Willie Young and Jahvid Best). He has to continue that when training camp starts on July 27.

3. Remember he was a first-round pick, so much is expected. While it’s expected Corey Williams and Ndamukong Suh will start at defensive tackle, look for some new looks on the line this season. Suh is expected to line up on the end more than last season. Plus the tackles are rotated in and out regularly so they’ll remain fresh. Fairley could play a huge role, he just has to earn it.

(Until the start of training camp, the Lowdown lists will appear daily, Monday through Friday. Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Email her at

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Three challenges the Lions' Ndamukong Suh faces this season

After an amazing rookie season Ndamukong Suh’s sophomore year did not match up. His sack numbers were down from 10 to 4, but it was more than that. Three challenges Suh faces this season.

1. He needs to get back to being the dominant player on the defensive line. Last year arguably he was third best behind Cliff Avril and Corey Williams. Coaches and management have defended him and said that stats don’t tell the whole story. That’s true, but still he wasn’t the dominant player he was as a rookie. Expect to see him get moved around more this season — will play more on the end than he did last year. That should put more fear in the eyes of the opposing offense.

2. Suh needs to prove he can play within the NFL rules like everyone else. Remember that he was suspended for two games last season when he lost control and stomped the Packers’ Evan Dietrich-Smith. The two games was because he had previous fines and was not a first offender. It was costly for him and the team. More is expected from a second overall pick who signed a $60 million contract.

3. He needs to prove he’s a good teammate. Part of that is not getting suspended. Also, he was the only high-profile member of the Lions not to participate in at least one of three recent team charity events — bocce, the golf outing and the fishing tournament. It’s all a part of being a team player.

(Until the start of training camp, the Lowdown lists will appear daily, Monday through Friday. Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Email her at

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Three reasons CB Aaron Berry will start for Lions this season

Cornerback has been an issue of concern for the Lions for at least a few seasons. Chris Houston is a lock to start, best guess is that he will be joined as a starter by Aaron Berry. Three reasons Berry will be a starting cornerback this season.

1. Berry has had trouble staying on the field due to injuries. He started the season opener in 2010 as a rookie, but then re-aggravated a shoulder injury and missed the rest of the season. He earned that start as an undrafted rookie out of Pittsburgh.

2. In an effort to get stronger, Berry added pounds and muscle in the offseason. Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham has joked that he started at 115 pounds. He’s now 190 which should help with durability.

3. Berry is just 23, way too young to be written off. He played in 11 games last season and started three in weeks 12, 13 and 14. In week 14 he injured his shoulder and missed the next three games. Now is his time to step up.

(Until the start of training camp, the Lowdown lists will appear daily, Monday through Friday. Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Email her at

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Three reasons the Lions need to sign Avril to long-term deal

Three reasons the Lions need defensive end Cliff Avril to return, either with the franchise tag or a long-term deal. Both sides are still talking looking for a deal that will keep Avril in a Lions’ uniform for years to come. General manager Martin Mayhew said last week it is the Lions' goal to get him signed to a long-term contract. He also said he's not surprised it hasn't happened yet.

1. Avril was the best player on the defensive line last season, finishing with 11 sacks. He was a beast. The Lions have two good ends in Willie Young and Lawrence Jackson, but they aren’t the same.

2. Avril is a good teammate and even though he’s young — he's 26 — he has helped develop the younger guys.

3. He’s considered one of the core younger players on the Lions’ roster and could be a solid player for several more years.

(Until the start of training camp, the Lowdown lists will appear daily, Monday through Friday. Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Email her at


Five things we learned about the Lions this week

After three days of minicamp, this could be 55 things we learned about the Lions this week. However, I’ll narrow it down to the usual five:

1. Titus Young has clearly been a standout on the field. If he’s trying to make up for his transgression of punching teammate Louis Delmas, he’s doing a good job. Last year he was injured in training camp and gradually improved as the season wore on. With his first full offseason behind him, he could be something special.

2. Nick Fairley has had a good offseason at least in the eyes of GM Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz. That’s good enough for me. Fairley’s off-field problems haven gotten more publicity, but he has been impressive so far. Good thing, because eventually he’s likely to be suspended for at least a few games which means he could lose a little ground during that time.

3. Make no mistake, the Lions need Cliff Avril back, but Willie Young has taken advantage of the extra reps. He’s lined up on the right and left sides. He was one of three players who have stood out in the mind of Mayhew. Defensive linemen take time to mature and it appears Young, a seventh-round pick in 2010, is trending in the right direction.

4. Mikel Leshoure is close to being all the way back following his Achilles’ surgery last August. He got the ball in team drills on Thursday and as Schwartz said, “He looked like a running back.” That’s opposed to a rehab patient which he had been for so long. Too bad he’ll miss the first two games due to suspension. Although in the long run, it might be wise to have the extra rest for his Achilles’.

5. This team is in a great spot as it prepares to start training camp on July 27. They have the schemes installed and they have the rookies up to speed as much as possible. The consistency factor is huge. The wheel is not being re-invented. They just have to tinker, add a few new wrinkles and then determine the best 53 players.

(During the next five weeks, I’ll blog daily Monday-Friday with Lions’ lists of three. It’ll be a fun thing. Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)


Lions Mikel Leshoure says he's learned his lesson, ready to move forward

ALLEN PARK — Mikel Leshoure handled the situation perfectly today (Thursday) when he talked to the waiting media as he stepped off the field after minicamp.

The day after he found out he would be suspended for two games, the Lions running back didn’t shy away from questions.

“You have to face what you do wrong. I know one thing for sure, one thing for certain I’ve learned from my mistakes, still putting it behind me. You’ve got to accept it and move forward, come back that third game and put it in the past,’’ Leshoure said.

He missed all his rookie season after tearing his Achilles’ tendon early in training camp. Thursday was the first day he participated in team drills during camp.

“The Achilles feel real good. Today was my first pretty much full action as far as getting some runs and actually having to react from the defense,’’ Leshoure said. “It felt real good, I feel good now, I felt like I made some cuts, I wasn’t thinking about anything out there, just going out there playing and reacting.’’

Leshoure was arrested twice in February and March for marijuana possession in western Michigan. A suspension was expected, the question was the length. He got two games plus he’ll lose an additional two game checks.

“My reaction was it’s out of my hands. I can’t do anything about it, don’t sit here and linger over it just put it in the past, keep getting better this offseason and come back ready to play,’’ Leshoure said.

He said he hasn’t decided whether to appeal the length of the suspension.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Email her at

Lions announce Coach's Kickoff at Ford Field on Aug. 5

The Lions announced this morning plans for Coach’s Kickoff event on Aug. 5 at Ford Field.

It will include an autograph session by Lions players, followed by a team practice. A concert with country music’s Randy Houser will wrap up the event.

“I’m a Randy Houser fan, but missed him the last time he came through town,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “I am thrilled he is going to be the headliner for our first event.

“I’m a big country music fan so it’s going to be really cool that Lions fans will be able to combine both experiences (music and football) at Ford Field.’’

Tickets go on sale on June 22 at or by phone at 800-745-3000.


Lions LB Doug Hogue grows up

Ask Doug Hogue about his growth spurt and he just laughs. The numbers don’t lie.

The Detroit Lions linebacker is nearly an inch taller and 15 pounds heavier than last season when he was a rookie.

“It’s very rare that you see (a growth spurt) with guys who are 22 years old, 23 years old like Doug,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said. “It’s been documented. He was saying he grew and the heights we had from the Combine — it wasn’t quite an inch but it was more than three-quarters of an inch that he grew. We talked about him having a lot of upside and he’s proven it.’’

Hogue, entering his second season, is feeling much more comfortable on the field. After all last season, he had no offseason work due to the NFL lockout.

Now he is taking advantage of the work.

“That’s one thing I had that was a progression for me, diagnosing plays and players and things like that,’’ Hogue said. “Being out here, working with these guys actually getting some team play is working well for me I’m taking great strides right now.’’

He did miss a few sessions of the Organized Team Activities due to a cut on his right arm that took 46 stitches to close.

On Memorial Day weekend he was helping his sister move, carrying a big mirror up the stairs and it fell on his arm.

His first thought was not about the Lions.

“I was thinking I hope my arm doesn’t fall off,’’ Hogue said.

Schwartz told him next time to hire somebody.

Hogue is back on the field working during this week’s minicamp and broke up a nice play on the goal line on Wednesday.

His added height had nothing to do with making the play.

“He didn’t knock it down by three-quarters of an inch,’’ Schwartz said. “Here’s the thing, he was in the right spot. It was exact the same coverage and pretty much the exact same play that we got beat on in the 49er game, that fourth-and-goal play. No. 1, he was in good position, but No. 2 it’s not the fact that he’s grown or gotten stronger, his knowledge of the scheme has really advanced and it’s given him a chance to be in the mix for things. That’s the jump guys going into their second year make.’’

Lions' Mikel Leshoure suspended for 2 games, fined for 2 more

Lions running back Mikel Leshoure, who has yet to play in a game, has been suspended for the first two regular season games by the NFL for violating the substance abuse policy. In addition, he’s been fined two additional game checks.

The suspension was a move that was expected following his two arrests for marijuana possession. The only question was the length of time.

He will be able to practice and play in preseason games and will be eligible to return to the Lions active roster on Sept. 17.

The team released the following statement: “We support the Commissioner’s decision regarding Mikel and appreciate the dialogue that we have had with the League office concerning the matter.

“As we have previously stated, we expect every member of our organization to uphold a greater standard of behavior.

“If that standard is not upheld, those responsible will be held accountable.

“Our belief and expectation is that Mikel will continue to learn from this experience and use it as positive motivation moving forward.”

Leshoure was arrested twice in western Michigan for marijuana possession on Feb. 18 and March 12.

The running back tore his Achilles’ tendon early in training camp last August and missed the rest of the season.

He is still recovering from the surgery, although has been participating in the mandatory minicamp this week.

Lions Jim Schwartz calls Titus Young's recent play 'outstanding'

ALLEN PARK — One way to make others forget off-field transgressions is to be outstanding on the field.

That’s the tactic taken by Lions wide receiver Titus Young who wasn’t allowed to participate in Organized Team Activities when they started in May because he has sucker-punched his teammate Louis Delmas.

Young is making up for lost time in the last few weeks of OTAs and again this week in the mandatory minicamp.

His play is off the charts and it’s not just the media that has noticed.

“He’s had a good run since he’s been back with the team,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said. “He’s made big plays in just about every practice, he’s worked hard, he’s been a good teammate.

“He’s looked the best I’ve ever seen him look in this couple week span. We just need to keep him on that track because he’s been, he’s been outstanding the last couple weeks,’’ Schwartz said.

The coach hesitated before using the word outstanding, but he said it.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Email her at

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Five injured Lions miss first day of minicamp

ALLEN PARK — Five Lions sat out the first day of the mandatory minicamp with an assortment of injuries. None appear to be serious.

Jason Fox, who had participated in all the organized team activities, was sidelined Tuesday.

“Anybody that didn’t practice today was injury related. Everybody is in town and here. we have a lot of things we’re trying to make sure they don’t roll up on us,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said. “Jason has had a good offseason, but his knee was getting a little sore so we decdied to shut him down.’’

Also missing were linebacker Stephen Tulloch, who has tendonitis in his knee; Louis Delmas (ankle): Sammie Hill and Chris Greenwood’s injuries are unknown. Cliff Avril was not present due to a contract dispute.

Tuesday’s session last just over an hour, but they’ll be on the field for about twice that time the Wednesday and Thursday, and then there will be rookie sessions after practice.

“Each step along the way, we’ve increased a little more. There have been different phases to our offseason program. This is a different phase.’’ Schwartz said. “... We’ve added just about everything in, we even walked through some goal-line stuff. We want to get everything that we’re going to install in training camp in by the time we’re doine here in minicamp so that everything in training camp is competition and physical, less trying to learn the system.’’

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Expect the first tweets out of minicamp about 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700. Msg & Data Rates May Apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel.)


5 things to watch as Lions open minicamp

Five things to watch during the Lions’ mandatory three-day minicamp which opens Tuesday morning.

1. Let’s keep an eye on running backs Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith. Mikel Leshoure sat out last week after he was having some trouble coming off his torn Achilles. Actually it was the other foot that was bothering him because of compensation. Not sure how active he will be at this minicamp. Best looks bigger and stronger. Smith is always a beast physically, he just hasn’t been able to stay healthy.

2. First-round pick Riley Reiff has practiced solely at offensive tackle — no guard work. So it will be curious to see which side he lines up on most often. It won’t be a true indication of where he will play, but it might provide a little insight into the situation. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said Reiff is coming along well and will be ready to play “very early.”

3. Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham has liked what he’s seen from veteran linebacker Ashlee Palmer (who’s been working in the middle). Of course the starters are projected to be the same as last year — Stephen Tulloch, Justin Durant and DeAndre Levy. But nothing is set in stone.

4. With three rookie cornerbacks (Bill Bentley, Chris Greenwood and Jonte Green) and a new free agent in Jacob Lacey there should be plenty to watch as they go one on one with Calvin Johnson and company.

5. Just for fun — the connection between Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. It’s still there, just a beauty to behold.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Expect the first tweets out of minicamp about 9 a.m. on Tuesday. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700. Msg & Data Rates May Apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel.)

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Five things learned about the Lions this week

Five things we learned about the Lions this week:

1. Gunther Cunningham, the defensive coordinator, is smiling more than usual. He even admitted it himself. No matter what fans may think, he’s not afraid to say it — he loves his cornerback situation.

2. Left guard Rob Sims isn’t the only Lion who beefed up (on purpose) in the offseason. Cornerback Aaron Berry is bigger at least in Cunningham’s eyes.

3. Nick Fairley took a big step toward healing by issuing an apology on Facebook. It’s a start.

4. Titus Young is a bit of a goofball. Oh wait, we already knew that. The wide receiver tried to explain himself and move on from his fight with Louis Delmas that kept him out of OTAs for a while. He was smiling and ready to move on.

5. It’s hard to evaluate offensive linemen during OTAs which are non-contact. But offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has seen enough from first-round pick Riley Reiff (who has practiced at right and left tackle, not at guard) to say he will play “very early.” Still they love Jeff Backus and Jim Schwartz has said they think Backus has more left in his tank.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700. Msg & Data Rates May Apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel

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Suh's ranking of 38th among top 100 players is a head-scratcher

It’s clear that Ndamukong Suh’s peers see something in him that wasn’t clear to this reporter last season.

The Lions' defensive tackle been ranked No. 38 in the list of top 100 NFL players for 2012 as presented by the NFL Network. The voting is done by NFL players.

Matthew Stafford rated 41st, one spot behind Cam Newton who came in at 40th. (Don't get that one either.)

There should be no question in anyone’s mind that Stafford meant more to the Lions than Suh did last season. Certainly at this point the quarterback has proven his worth while there are still questions about Suh.

Lions’ management defended Suh at the end of the year — his sack production was down from 10 in his rookie season to four in his second season. Numbers don’t tell the whole story. He was suspended two games for the Thanksgiving stomping accident after being repeatedly reminded and fined because of his inability to follow NFL rules. It was a selfish act.

Not only that, but you can easily make the argument that last season Suh was the Lions’ third best defensive lineman behind Cliff Avril and Corey Williams. It was a career year for Avril who topped his personal best of 8.5 sacks in 2010 with 11 sacks in 2011. It helped that he played in every game.

Suh is more high profile due to his ads for Subway and Chrysler. And now his appearance on “The Choice” — a television dating show. He's shown in this photo with Kid Rock at the Detroit Grand Prix last weekend where Suh was the grand marshall.

He needs to step it up on the field to deserve that No. 38 ranking.

The rankings have been released through No. 31. It will be interesting to see how high they place Calvin Johnson.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700. Msg & Data Rates May Apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel.)


Lions' Calvin Johnson sees room for improvement

So how does one improve on perfection?

OK, so Lions’ Calvin Johnson is not exactly perfect, he’s pretty close.

That doesn’t mean the Pro Bowl wide receiver isn’t working hard to improve this offseason.

“There’s always room for growth,’’ Johnson said on Wednesday. “If you feel you’ve reached your point of where you don’t have anything to work for more any more ... Just myself I always know there’s something I can work on every year. That’s my motivation.’’

Johnson had a career season in 2011 with 1,681 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns.

Not perfection, but closer than anyone else.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700. Msg & Data Rates May Apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel.)

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At this point, Lions seem unconcerned about plight of NFL officials

DEARBORN — A year ago we were in the midst of an NFL lockout. It all worked out so the season did not have to be shortened.

This season, it’s not the players who are locked out, it’s the officials and NFL who may not have an agreement when the season starts.

Speculation is that at least a few games early in the season could be officiated by replacement officials.

This doesn’t seem to be high on the priority list of concerns for the Lions organization.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz said it’s too early to comment about that.

“We’ll play the games, we’ll have officials, whoever is officiating the game will do the best they can and we’ll do the best we can playing it,’’ Schwartz said before the golf outing on Wednesday.

Lions president Tom Lewand said he’s not allowed to talk about it.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford said he just heard about it on Tuesday and doesn’t really know what to think.

“We’re going to play games, that’s all I know. Whoever is out there reffing is going to be out there reffing. Obviously the guys we know and have been with in the past, it would be nice to have them out there but if not we’ll have to adjust and keep moving,’’ Stafford said.

When asked if the players association will support the officials’ union he had a quizzical look on his face and said, “I have no idea.”

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700. Msg & Data Rates May Apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel.)


Lions to host 2 youth football camps in June

The Detroit Lions will sponsor a pair of camps for young football players this month.

First is the four-day Detroit Fundamentals Camp June 18-21 at Ford Field. It will focus on offensive and defensive fundamentals, along with special teams basics. Lions starting left guard Rob Sims will appear at the camp, sign autographs and answer questions. The camp is for boys and girls ages 6 to 14. The cost is $159.

Former Lions kicker Eddie Murray will coach a two-day Detroit Kicking/Punting Academy June 20-21 at Ford Field. It’s open to boys and girls ages 12 to 18. Cost is $99.

Space is limited. Register at or call (313) 262-2248.

Lions rookie OT Riley Reiff on track to play 'really early'

With first-round draft pick Riley Reiff, an offensive tackle, there are two questions: Where will he line up and when will that happen?

The where is still up in the air, but sooner rather than later seems to be the answer for when.

“Riley is on track to play a lot of football for us really early,’’ offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “He’s an exceptional talent, he’s a great kid, he’s going to really help us on the offensive line.

“Where he ends up this year hasn’t been determined yet, but we’re just happy with what we’ve seen so far. We think he’s going to be a heck of a player,’’ Linehan added.

Reiff has lined up at left and right tackle during rookie camp and the organized team activities.

When Reiff was drafted, it was assumed that he would eventually take over the left tackle position for Jeff Backus who is 34.

But Backus is having a good offseason coming back from biceps surgery.

“He never, from the end of the season until now, he never left this building. He was in here rehabbing and getting himself back out there,’’ Linehan said. “... He’s been out there doing pretty much everything.’’

Like Linehan pointed out the offensive line is entering its fourth season together with the exception of left guard Rob Sims who will return for his third season.

“With that added depth and competition, we’re just going to be a better football team because we’ve added some good young players and getting (Jason) Fox back healthy and obviously we drafted Riley,’’ Linehan said. “I really feel good about that group. The way the group has progressed and played in our three years, going on four now.’’

One thing is for sure, all eyes will be on the offensive line during training camp.

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Lions defensive coordinator Cunningham excited about rookie linebackers

Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham has been in the coaching business a long time, but he said he’s always struggled evaluating linebackers based solely on their college play.

So he wasn’t sure about Tahir Whitehead before the draft, but he certainly likes the fifth-round pick now.

“He’s much better than a fifth-round draft choice, he’s something,’’ Cunningham said on Monday.

Also seventh-round pick linebackerTravis Lewis, one of the three Oklahoma Sooners drafted by Detroit, has caught Cunningham’s eye.

“He doesn’t have the long speed at the Combine but he is really quick, he’s a very balanced athlete. He does a great job moving side to side, he’s brilliant,’’ Cunningham said.

Wide receiver Ryan Broyles, another Sooner, told Cunningham that Lewis is like that every day and he should know after playing with him for four years.

“They ran a conditioning test at the end of (Lions) rookie camp,’’ Cunningham said. “Travis was about 5 yards behind the leaders. Broyles looked at me, and Travis hit overdrive and won the thing. He said, ‘Coach that’s him, everyday he’s like that.’’’

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Lions: Delmas, Leshoure sit out OTA

ALLEN PARK — Safety Louis Delmas was held out of the organized team activities this morning (Monday) as a precaution. Delmas rolled his ankle last Tuesday. He didn’t appear to be limping, but that didn’t matter.

Coach Jim Schwartz said quite often in the NFL players have to push through injuries, but OTAs are not one of those times.

Also sitting out was running back Mikel Leshoure who is coming off a torn Achilles. He participated last week, but was having issues with his other ankle as a result of compensation. It is not considered a setback.

Wide receiver Ryan Broyles, who is coming off ACL surgery, participated in most of the practice. He did a drill with all three quarterbacks and then had his left knee iced and he was done. This is protocol for Broyles. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said he is ahead of schedule in his rehab.

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5 things learned about the Lions this week

Five things learned about the Lions this week:

1. Nick Fairley needs to grow up. His actions are a bad reflection on a team that is mostly full of guys who get it. Look he’s a young guy and if he wants to go drinking on his days off in Mobile, Ala., fine. He has to arrange for transportation ahead. He can afford it. And after his first arrest on April 3, he should have gotten his act together. His arrest for suspicion of drunken driving was absolutely inexcusable. He was back on the practice field on Monday, but this is not over for him. He’ll be suspended by the NFL for probably four games and the Lions will make him earn his time even on the practice field. Last year because of his injured foot, he was behind Sammie Hill on the depth chart. I don’t expect that will change anytime soon. He was lining up with the second group during OTAs on Monday.

2. The draft class of 2011, with the exception of Doug Hogue, has been disappointing off the field. Other players say it’s not a distraction, but it is taking away from an offseason where fans should be talking about their expectations for the season, not about possible suspensions for immature players.

3. All that hand-wringing after WR Ryan Broyles was drafted in the second round might have been for naught. Broyles was back on the field in OTAs this week and caught a deep ball that was an eye-opener. He’s not at 100 percent, but he’s darned close. He was practicing with no wrap or bandage on his knee which underwent ACL surgery six months ago

4. While it’s way too early to know how things will shake out for the cornerbacks, Aaron Berry was lining up with Chris Houston during OTAs on Monday (the only day they were open to the media this week.) Berry, who was signed in 2010 as undrafted free agent out of Pittsburgh, played in 11 games, starting three last season. He missed the final three regular season games, but was back for the playoff loss at New Orleans. He’s just 23, still plenty of time to develop.

5. It was good to see Jim Schwartz, Matthew Stafford and Shaun Hill at the media day for the U.S. Senior Open at Indianwood. They weren’t just there to get a look at the historic old course, it was a good gesture to get out in the community and promote the event.

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