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.
Detroit Lions — Joique Bell 'coming along quickly'
Detroit Lions — Nate Burleson part of preseason broadcast crew
Detroit Lions — Golden Tate on deflategate, integrity of the game
|Golden Tate speaks to media at his football camp on Thursday.|
Detroit Lions — Check out transcript from chat
With the start of training camp set for Monday, there was plenty to discuss.
We talked a little about most everyone including Matthew Stafford, Ryan Broyles, Haloti Ngata, Jeremy Ross and tons more.
Next week's chat will be at noon on Thursday because practice is at 2 p.m. that day. — Paula Pasche
Detroit Lions LB DeAndre Levy takes another wild trip
|Levy skinny dipping in the Amazon.|
|DeAndre Levy sledding down a volcano in Nicaragua.|
|Levy's earlier adventure, wing-walking on bi-plane.|
Detroit Lions single game tickets on sale Wednesday
Detroit Lions – Five reasons Matthew Stafford will improve this season
- The quarterback is more familiar with this Joe Lombardi offense. I know you’ve heard that before but it’s true and it’s important. He’ll be able to operate at a faster pace because it will seem more natural to him — he won’t have to stop and think — he can just play.
- Stafford is a gunslinger, we all know it. Last year Lombardi seemed hesitant to give Stafford the freedom to go deep down field. Lombardi said in the spring — and he’s been consistent with this — that the goal is give Stafford the green light more often. If the running game is improved (as it should be) this will help the effort.
- After minicamp, coach Jim Caldwell again talked about Stafford’s hard work. The coach said between minicamp and training camp last year, it was obvious Stafford had been studying the playbook. He expects the same when camp starts on Aug. 3.
- He just looked more comfortable in the offense during minicamp with the new-look offensive line. Yes, there were no pads or no contact allowed — but he was moving the offense at a much quicker pace. His accuracy was on full display too.
- This will be Stafford’s seventh NFL season. All that experience in invaluable. He’s got great coaches in Lombardi and quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter who are setting him in the right path.
Detroit Lions — Five top position battles in training camp
- Kellen Moore and Dan Orlovsky will fight it out for the No. 2 quarterback spot. It was Orlovsky’s in 2014, but Moore had an impressive showing in the preseason games and throughout practices last season. The two were basically splitting reps with the second group through OTAs and mandatory minicamp. It will likely come down to who plays best in the preseason games.
- Manny Ramirez and Laken Tomlinson are the favorites to start at left guard. This coaching staff treats players equal once they are on the field. They will not hand the job to Tomlinson because he was the first-round pick. In minicamp, it was Ramirez that mostly worked with the starters.
- It’s a young group at defensive tackle hoping to start beside Haloti Ngata. Caraun Reid appears to have the edge heading into training camp. However Tyrunn Walker and Gabe Wright could have something to say about that.
- The Lions kept six wide receivers (including the Jeremy Ross, the returner) out of training camp a year ago. They’ve got more talent now which could put Ryan Broyles, Lance Moore, TJ Jones, Greg Salas and Andrew Peacock in a battle just for a spot on the 53-man roster. Plus, it’s not a given they will keep six again this year.
- While Jeremy Ross returned kicks and punts last season, that is not a given. This will be played out in training camp but the crucial tests will be in preseason games. Competitors include Ryan Broyles, Ameer Abdullah, TJ Jones and Lance Moore.
Detroit Lions – Five reasons Ryan Broyles could make 53-man roster
- This is the first of his four training camps with the Lions that he is not coming off major offseason surgery (two ACLs and Achilles). It appears he’s regained his speed and his explosiveness.
- Broyles had a good offseason and was solid in OTAs and the three-day minicamp. He was bunched in with the possible returners during both. Bringing that added dimension, could help him keep his job.
- He remains a bit of a mystery since the coaches didn’t use him much in the 2014 season. At one point coach Jim Caldwell said Broyles was trained to run the same routes as Golden Tate and since Tate was never injured Broyles didn’t get a chance.
- He can line up on the outside or in the slot. Versatility always a good thing.
- Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate are absolute locks. Lance Moore and Corey Fuller are favored to make roster. Other than Broyles, that leaves Jeremy Ross and Greg Salas as only veterans who have a solid chance.
Detroit Lions — Five reasons it's OK to be optimistic
- Yes, the Lions blew it in 2012 finishing 4-12 after a successful 2011 season and a trip to the playoffs. These are not the same Lions and it starts at the top with coach Jim Caldwell.
- The defense was ranked second in the NFL last year and will survive the loss of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley thanks to the effective coaching of coordinator Teryl Austin.
- The offense is already looking better because they are in the second year of the new Joe Lombardi style offense. Last year they were working to get the basics, this year even before the start of training camp they are working on the details.
- The run game will be better with Ameer Abdullah and a new-look offensive line. This will take some pressure off Matthew Stafford and let him stretch the field.
- It’s hard to explain but the right mindset is there thanks to Caldwell. Every team’s goal is the Super Bowl and Stafford admitted (when asked) that certainly it is the Lions’ goal too. But first they have to improve on a daily basis.
Detroit Lions — Five possible immediate starters from 2015 draft
- First-round pick Laken Tomlinson was penciled in as the starting left guard immediately after his name was called. He still has a chance to start but he’ll have to earn it in training camp by playing better than veteran Manny Ramirez.
- Running back Ameer Abdullah, the second-round pick out of Nebraska, could not have looked much better in minicamp. The big test will come when they put on pads in training camp. But so far Abdullah has impressed running the ball and catching it too.
- Cornerback Quandre Diggs has legitimate chance to start in the slot in the nickel package. He has football instincts with a high football IQ.
- Defensive tackle Gabe Wright is not a favorite to start beside Haloti Ngata, but that vacancy left by the departure of Nick Fairley is still up in the air. He’s a longshot, but he’s in the running.
- Cornerback Alex Carter got a late start missing time in OTAs because he was finishing classes at Stanford. He’s very much a longshot to start at outside cornerback. That is where he’s worked and Slay and Rashean Mathis seem to have the starting roles nailed down. We will see.
Detroit Lions — Five reasons defense will be fine without Ndamukong Suh
- Teryl Austin, the defensive coordinator, seems to get the best out of each player on defense. He knows their strengths and uses that knowledge in building the defense. Suh had his best season in 2014 and it was not a coincidence that it was under Austin. Last year Austin was forced to be flexible due to injuries — losing Stephen Tulloch, Bill Bentley and Nevin Lawson early in the season. Not only did the defense survive, it thrived and finished as the second-best defense in the NFL.
- Haloti Ngata was signed to replace Suh, sort of. Ngata is a different player and never would boast about replacing Suh snap for snap. But he’s a solid, veteran defensive tackle that was only available because the Ravens could not afford his salary cap hit.
- Ngata, of course, won’t do it alone. A few young defensive tackles like Tyrunn Walker, Caraun Reid and Gabe Wright (who wears Suh’s No. 90) look like they could be ready to take the next step.
- Word is that Ngata, who did miss some time at OTAs, has displayed leadership. This is key and it was not a strong suit for Suh.
- Ziggy Ansah at defensive end has continued to show improvement. He could really step up his game this season and make fans forget about the loss of Suh.
Detroit Lions — Three reasons Tahir Whitehead is key to defense
- He is good at what he does on defense. With Tulloch returning, Whitehead will be in the mix for a starting outside linebacker spot opposite DeAndre Levy. Because of experience Whitehead probably has the edge. It could be a training camp battle between him and Kyle Van Noy, a pass-rushing specialist.
- Whitehead might even be better on special teams. He was greatly missed on special teams last year when he played so much defense. Because the Lions run the nickel package so much, as the other outside linebacker Whitehead wouldn’t get as many snaps on defense which would give him more opportunity on special teams.
- He has emerged as a leader on defense as he enters his fourth season. He was a fifth-round pick in 2012.
Detroit Lions — Top three leaders on offense
- Matthew Stafford took on a leadership role as a rookie even though he was just 21. It’s part of the equation at quarterback. He’s grown steadily into the role each season and is now entering his seventh. He’s not afraid to speak up. He works hard to set a good example. Love the fact that he recently took the offensive line to a Detroit Tigers game as a group to get to know them and for them to know him. They all have to be on the same page. He knows it and is pushing it.
- Calvin Johnson, the quiet and humble one, is certainly a leader. He’s not a rah-rah guy. Like Stafford he leads by example. He’s also one of the guys and is always willing to help the younger guys learn the craft. Ask Corey Fuller.
- Golden Tate is just entering his second season in Detroit, but it seems like he’s been around forever. He’s vocal, a hard worker, helps the younger receivers, works in the community and will do whatever it takes to win.
Detroit Lions — How five offensive line positions are shaping up
- Left tackle — This is Riley Reiff’s job.
- Left guard — This could get interesting. Veteran Manny Ramirez, who was acquired during the draft in a trade, was with the starting group during the mandatory minicamp. First-round pick Laken Tomlinson is in the conversation for the start here but will have to earn it in camp.
- Center — It seems likely that Travis Swanson will get the start. There are three other centers on the roster at this point — veteran Taylor Boggs, Braxston Cave and Darren Keyton (Central Michigan). One of those three will have to step up big time in camp to over-take Swanson.
- Right guard — Expect Larry Warford to start for the third straight season. He’s humble and says he knows he has to earn his spot back as a starter, but he is the favorite.
- Right tackle — Again, if LaAdrian Waddle is healthy he probably will start. If not, Cornelius Lucas who started three games in 2014, is likely the favorite. They’ll all be pushed by Xavier Proctor (who moved from defensive end), Michael Williams (who moved from tight end) and seventh-round pick Corey Robinson.
Detroit Lions — Three reasons Travis Swanson likely to start at center
- Even though he’s a second-year guy he has experience on the line. Because of injuries, Swanson started five games last season. Four of them were at right guard and one at center when Raiola was suspended. Game experience is huge and the third-round draft pick has it.
- He was the starting center at Arkansas for three seasons. It appears he was drafted to eventually fill Raiola’s shoes.
- During mandatory minicamp in mid-June Swanson was in at center along with the starting group. Early in organized team activities Manny Ramirez took some snaps at center with the starters. But it looks like Ramirez will line up at left guard.
Detroit Lions — Five reasons Rashean Mathis rocks at age 34
- He is still effective as a starting cornerback and graded out as the 12th best cornerback by Pro Football Focus for the 2014 season.
- He is durable. Mathis played 1,050 snaps in 2014 and was in every game. In 2013 he missed just one game. “It’s uncommon. That’s why you don’t see a number of guys his age that are still able to perform in this league,’’ coach Jim Caldwell said during minicamp in June. “He’s an unusual guy, but I think that’s certainly a testament to the fact that he stays in tremendous shape. He takes care of his body and not only that, you know, God’s gift to him with a little bit more staying power than the next guy.”
- He’s not loud, but when he speaks he is certainly effective. “He’s tireless. He’s a very effective teacher, outstanding performer, but there’s probably not a time where you see him standing over there and he’s not talking to one of those other defensive backs, whether it’s a safety and talking about a call back there, working out between the split of a receiver, or just talking to some of the younger corners and just talking to them about work habits and body position and technique and fundamentals,’’ Caldwell said.
- His leadership skills on the field, carry over to life away from football as well. Mathis has been a huge help to Darius Slay on and off the field. It will likely be the same way for third-round pick Alex Carter whose family has been friends with Mathis for 10 or so years. “He’s one of those guys that you certainly can see what he does in terms of the impact on the field, but he has a tremendous impact in our classrooms, in the building, outside of the building,’’ Caldwell said. “He’s a competitive guy at every phase. He takes a few guys’ money too on the golf course from what I understand, but really a quality, quality guy.”
- He signed a two-year deal this spring and isn’t sure that will be the end of his career. No reason to doubt him.
Detroit Lions — Five injured players to watch when camp starts
- Joique Bell underwent surgery in the offseason to clean up a knee and Achilles tendon. It wasn’t considered major surgery. In February he said he planned to be at OTAs, but dodged the question on whether he would be 100 percent. He was on the field watching his teammates in OTAs and in minicamp, but wasn’t able to do individual drills which is usually the first step back.
- Jason Jones missed three days of minicamp with an undisclosed injury. Coach Jim Caldwell said he had something taken care of and he’ll be back in the fall. But when he says “in the fall” he means training camp.
- LaAdrian Waddle underwent ACL surgery in January so his timeline is probably right on. It generally takes at least six months for that type of injury to heal. Like Bell, he’s been on the field with his teammates but no drills of any kind.
- Nevin Lawson was injured in the second regular season game in September, so his foot has had plenty of time to heal. It was a serious injury. The cornerback has been at the offseason workouts participating in individual drills but has been held out of team drills.
- Joe Fauria injured his ankle in a freak puppy-related incident which forced him to miss seven games in the middle of the season. He was limited in OTAs and minicamp. At minicamp he said he’s “pretty close” to 100 percent and expects to be ready for training camp. He pointed out that every player goes through injuries and he seems fired up to return to action.