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Detroit Lions

Stadium: Ford Field | Coach: Jim Caldwell
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense18th87.4 (27th)255.2 (11th)
Defense2nd63.8 (1st)232.1 (13th)

Lions working out together

The Sports Xchange
 
Notes, Quotes · Strategy And Personnel · Lions working out together
 

The Lions are having four workout sessions this week, organized by defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch.

He said, "I'm a firm believer in the things you do in the offseason set you up to have a good season. We had a bunch of momentum at the end of last season and I was really happy about our draft. This is just another step for us. It shows the level of our player commitment.

"The guys are excited about getting back and getting around each other again and getting back to working."

About 30 players were in attendance at Birmingham Detroit Country Day High School. Added Vanden Bosch, "It's good to see that guys are willing to come in, put the team first and really just be accountable to each other. I didn't really know what to expect coming in, but I couldn't really be happier with how things went today. It seemed to go really smoothly."

Said quarterback Matthew Stafford, "You just want to get guys back together, see everybody again, see how everybody's doing. We finished the year with such a great run last year and without being able to come back in the offseason and kind of carry that momentum (over) we've been all in separate places. You want to get back together and realize how we played last year and the talent and the ability that we have coming back."

Stafford played in only three games last season and underwent surgery on his throwing shoulder. He says he now feels "as good as I ever have. I feel like I've done everything I possibly can this offseason to prepare to be healthy and go out there and play. I think if I can stay healthy and the rest of our team can stay healthy, that's a big part of it, we can be pretty good."

As for the surgery, he said, "I just felt like it was the best thing for me. I had the opportunity to kind of fix it and put it behind me and I wanted to go ahead and do it.

"It's always scary when you're facing surgery, but the good thing was, there was no rotator cuff or ligament damage. Nothing really major. They just went in and fixed it up. It felt bad for a week and then I got right after it. It has healed up really well."

Meanwhile, Vanden Bosch was pleased with the number of players present. "For guys to fly here and find a place to stay for a week, it does show a level of commitment and that's what it's going to take," he said. "We have some work to do to close the gap on some teams in this league and in our division. Things like this can help."

Guard Stephen helped the team find the place where the players are working out, an indoor facility at Country Day, a private school. One of Peterman's sons had played flag football there.

"It's unbelievable what these people have done for us," he said. "They've opened up the facility and let us work out without charging anybody."

How nice is it. Wide receiver Nate Burleson wrote on Twitter, "At Country Day HS ... I swear this is where they filmed 'Fresh Prince of Bel Air' lol."

--How do you like the defensive tackle rotation of Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams, Sammie Hill and Nick Fairley?

That's how the Lions will line up next year - though not necessarily in that order - after taking Fairley, the SEC defensive player of the year for national-champion Auburn, with the 13th overall pick Thursday.

"The philosophy here was, we drafted to our strength," coach Jim Schwartz said. "We won our last four games last season and I think you could have a quiz show to name our cornerbacks in those games. But we won because we were very good up front.

"He's an impact player at an impact position."

Schwartz doesn't see any problem rotating three defensive tackles.

"We play around 130 defensive tackle snaps a game," he said. "You rotate three guys at 45 snaps a person and you are going to be really fresh. We can keep rolling in waves and waves.

"I thought Suh played too much last year. Not that he wore down but it was too many snaps. You are taking on 700 pounds of man every time you take on a double team."

Mayhew agreed.

"I don't think you can have too many pass rushers, defensive tackles, defensive ends," he said. "We all saw late in the year the impact our pass rush had. It allowed us to win games."

Early on, Fairley was being touted as a top-three pick. But there were lingering questions about his attitude and work ethic, and when four quarterbacks were taken in the top 12, Fairley was available.

"I don't really know why he fell, I am just really glad he did," Mayhew said.

Still on the board were defensive ends Da'Quan Bowers and Robert Quinn, as well as defensive back Prince Amukamara. Both Bowers and Quinn had health issues and Amukamara slipped to the Giants at No. 19.

"Suffice it to say, we had Nick rated higher than those other players," Schwartz said.

Mayhew said he was worried that Minnesota would take Fairley at 12 and was prepared to trade down if that happened. But neither Mayhew nor Schwartz had any worries about Fairley's character.

"He's a defensive lineman," Schwartz cracked. "Those things might fall into bonus categories when you are talking about defensive linemen being grumpy and mean. Those are good things."

The Lions brought Fairley in last week.

"He was outstanding," Mayhew said. "He will do great with us. I played with his defensive line coach (at Washington) - Tracy Rocker - and spoke very highly of the young man. I spent a lot of time with him here in our building. He's a good player and a good person. He will fit in well here."

Several scouts and coaches in evaluating Fairley said he would need to be in an environment with strong coaches and veteran leaders. The Lions feel like they can provide that with position coach Kris Kocurek, defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham and veterans like Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril, Corey Williams, Turk McBride and Lawrence Jackson.

"I am a hard worker," Fairley said in a short telephone interview Thursday. "I am willing to come in, work my tail off and earn everything I get."

He said he wasn't bitter or bothered by slipping to 13.

"You never know what's going to happen on draft day," he said. "For Detroit to pick me, I mean, it's a blessing. I can't wait to get to town and get this thing started."

--The Lions might not have accomplished what their fan base expected them to, but they exceeded their own hopes.

"I think we had the discipline to stick with what we intended to do, which was stay with the talent on the board," coach Jim Schwartz said. "We combined talent on the board with a plan for those players and fit in our scheme.

"We didn't end up with a lot of players but I like the quality with what we came away with. We came away with players that can make an impact on our team."

The Lions believe they got a gift when Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, considered a top-five talent, fell to them at No. 13 Thursday. They added two young skill players in the second round Friday - Boise State wide receiver Titus Young and Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure, whom they traded up to get.

On Saturday they selected two developmental players - Syracuse linebacker Doug Hogue in the fifth round and South Carolina State offensive lineman Johnny Culbreath in the seventh.

"You start on Thursday feeling one way about your team and to be here now feeling even better, that's really exciting," said general manager Martin Mayhew. "I feel really great about our draft this year."

Mayhew reiterated that he had no regrets about not filling two of the team's primary needs - cornerback and outside linebacker.

"It wasn't hard for me at all," he said. "Our plan was to stick to the board and look for value. The draft is about value. I didn't feel any pressure to do anything else."

Martin said he believed the Lions would be able to upgrade the cornerback and linebacker positions either through trades or free agency, once the league settles the labor dispute.

BEST PICK

Defensive tackle Nick Fairley: Without question, Fairley was a bonus. Mayhew said he would have traded out of the 13th pick had Fairley been snatched up by Minnesota at No. 12, which he feared. The defensive line is the foundation of the team and the basis of their entire defensive philosophy. Adding Fairley to a defensive tackle rotation of Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams and Sammie Hill is about as good as it gets.

COULD SURPRISE

Wide receiver Titus Young: The Lions got virtually no production out of the third wide receiver position last season. With the speedy Young, they feel like they finally have a threat who can take the top off a defense and create space underneath for Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson and Brandon Pettigrew.

A closer look at the Lions' picks:

Round 1/13 -- Nick Fairley, DT, 6-4, 298, Auburn

The Lions added a mean, physical presence to an already mean, physical defensive line. The Lombardi Trophy winner had 60 tackles and 11.5 sacks last season at Auburn. He was the best player on the field in the national championship game.

Round 2/44 - Titus Young, WR, 5-11, 174, Boise State

"A stick of dynamite," Mayhew called him. He averaged over 15 yards a catch over three years at Boise State and amassed more than 4,938 all-purpose yards.

Round 2/57 - Mikel Leshoure, RB, 5-11, 233, Illinois

The Lions hope he's the power runner to complement the quick Jahvid Best. He amassed an Illinois record 1,697 yards last season. He is a very versatile and complete back.

Round 5/157 - Doug Hogue, OLB, 6-2, 235, Syracuse

He played linebacker only two years at Syracuse, but the Lions love his speed (4.6) and athleticism. He will contribute on special teams next season.

Round 7/209 - Johnny Culbreath, OL, 6-5, 322, South Carolina State

They aren't sure if he will end up a guard or a tackle, they just know that with his size and speed, they have something to work with.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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