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Looking like Best will begin the season on PUP

The Sports Xchange
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--As running back Mikel Leshoure inches closer to full health, the Lions apparently are resigned to not having the services of Jahvid Best for at least the first six weeks of the regular season. Although the team wouldn't confirm it, ESPN reported that Best would start the season on the physically unable to perform list.

"There's no update there," coach Jim Schwartz said. "He's still week-to-week."

It's been nearly 10 months since Best had the last of four documented concussions in a span of three years. The Lions were surprised that he wasn't cleared for contact before training camp, after he was a full participant in the offseason program. The Lions have until Aug. 31 to submit their official regular season PUP list to the league.

--Meanwhile, Leshoure, who has been out since the second practice of camp with a hamstring strain, went through individual drills Wednesday and participated in the pre-game warmups at Baltimore Friday. He could return to practice this week.

"He hasn't taken any steps back, he just hasn't had two steps forward," Schwartz said. "He's been taking half a step forward. He's been making good progress, but the urgency for him to get on the field and be able to do some things, that window is starting to narrow."

--Defensive end Willie Young must be wondering what he has to do to impress his coach. After making a sack-fumble and subsequent recovery against the Browns, Schwartz said, "Let's not put him in the Hall of Fame just yet." Then, after another strong game Friday, including a blocked punt, Schwartz said, "He's still got a ways to go." Young is a third-year player with immense potential. Schwartz, no doubt, is merely trying to keep him grounded, keep him striving.

--Actor Jeff Daniels, who is from and still lives in Chelsea, Mich., visited practice last week. He has a fan in Jim Schwartz. "I have a lot of respect for guys as talented as he is," Schwartz said. "He can do comedy, he can do drama, he does music, he writes. In his world, he's every bit as talented as Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are in the world of football."

--The Lions spent considerable time last week working on blitz recognition. The work paid off. The first-team offense made the Ravens pay for excessive blitzing Friday.

"We see that same coverage and our mouths start to water," said receiver Calvin Johnson. "We get hungry. They blitzed a lot and left their corners on an island. That's what we live for."

Playing a little more than a quarter and a half, quarterback Matthew Stafford was 12 for 17 for 184 yards and two touchdowns. His passer rating was a brilliant 145.2. Johnson, playing one series less, finished with five catches for 111 yards. "We are an explosive offense," Johnson said. "It just takes that little spark to get us going and we got going today."

--Veteran special teams ace John Wendling is making a strong case to be in the rotation at safety this season. With Louis Delmas out all camp after knee surgery, Wendling has stepped up impressively. He helped limit two early Ravens' drives to field goals, one with a nifty pass breakup and another with a sack.

"He made a great play on that pass down the seam," Schwartz said. "He's had a good camp."

--Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham unveiled a couple new looks on the defensive line. He used defensive tackle Nick Fairley as a stand-up rusher in the first half and in the second, he had rookie defensive end Ronnell Lewis stand up and play linebacker, showing a 3-4 alignment.

--Earlier last week, rookie receiver Ryan Broyles was wondering if he would play at all in the exhibition season. Coming off major ACL surgery Nov. 21, the second-round pick hadn't been able to practice two days in a row. "It's just feeling good enough to go out there and prepare myself for the start of the season and then having to sit out," he said when asked what the toughest part of his recovery has been. "But it's protocol. I just listen to what they want me to do. I am still learning the offense. I don't feel like I am taking a step back by not practicing. As much as I want to be out there, I know it's smart to be off the field right now."

He finally got out there Friday and had two catches for 26 yards. His speed hasn't come back all the way yet, but he does understand how to find seams in the coverage.

QUOTE TO NOTE
"The emphasis is to win the game. As much as we took a beating over penalties last year, I'd much rather win the game and explain 10 penalties than lose the game and try to take solace in the fact that we only had one penalty." -- Coach Jim Schwartz, whose team won Friday despite 11 penalties.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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