--Kevin Smith is expected to start at running back Sunday, his first opening-day start since 2009.
"I just feel blessed," he said, reflecting back on where he was at this time last year. "I was just home being a family man," he said, smiling. "I was just being a regular model citizen."
He was a restricted free agent last year and the Lions didn't offer him a tender; nor did any other team offer a contract until the Lions finally brought him during the bye week. Needless to say, being out of the game made him realize how much he cherished it.
"It did, it really changed my outlook," Smith said. "There was a point in my career where on the day of the final cuts, I didn't have no questions or no reason to worry about it. Now, I can say thank you when someone congratulates me on making the 53-man roster. I will never take that for granted again."
--So why was Drayton Florence cut loose by Denver after they made a big splash, signing him to a $4.5 million deal with a $1.5 million signing bonus?
"They wanted to go younger, so they released me," Florence shrugged. The Broncos kept two younger corners - rookie Omar Bolden and second-year man Chris Harris. They also kept fourth-year player Tony Carter. So, it appears the Broncos wanted to get younger and save some salary-cap space, which they did.
"We definitely looked at what he did in the preseason," Schwartz said. "We wanted to see what he looked like. (The Broncos) were in a pretty good situation at cornerback, but we liked the way he looked in preseason. He also, obviously, has an excellent body of work over his career."
--Schwartz was asked to justify keeping a third quarterback - Kellen Moore - on the 53-man roster when the third quarterback didn't dress at all last season and there were depth issues in the secondary.
"The year before that (2010), we used all three of our quarterbacks," he said. "You try to keep your best 53 players. We thought Kellen showed he was one of our best 53. Quarterbacks are a commodity. It's an important position and we liked what we saw in him."
--Running back Joique Bell did not take the traditional path to the NFL. He was a security guard at the Lions' practice facility during his freshman year at Wayne State. While there he talked with a scout.
"I asked him, I said, 'Do you think a guy from Wayne State can get drafted?'" Bell recalled. "He looked me in my eyes and told me, 'Hey, if they're good enough, they'll find you.' After that, that's all I needed to hear."
Finally, after being cut four times and playing for five different teams, Bell has made a Week-1 roster. He will be with the Lions, at least until Mikel Leshoure serves his two-game suspension.
"I'm healthy now, I don't have any injuries, and I can perform," he said. "So as long as I can perform, the only thing coaches said to me -- coach (Sam) Gash, I remember he told me this at the Senior Bowl (in 2010), he said there's only two things you can control, your effort and your attitude."
--The Lions are one of two teams that will return their entire starting offensive line intact. Left tackle Jeff Backus, left guard Rob Sims, center Dominic Raiola, right guard Stephen Peterman and right tackle Gosder Cherilus will start their third straight season together. None of those players missed any games due to injury last season, though Cherilus was benched in Week 2.
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