Thursday, May 17, 2007

Mini camp notes

Lions Head Coach Rod Marinelli
On the mini-camp in general
: "I thought each day has been very good. The tempo has stayed the same all three days. I really like that part of it. I just believe it's going to be a very good team. I feel very strongly about that. I'm setting high expectations for them, and I believe in my heart they're going to meet them."

On how the team might change from year to year: "I think you start talking about the team chemistry—the chemistry of a unit changes. What brings chemistry, that cement that brings that chemistry together, is belief, fundamentals, working together—all those things. Because once they leave the building, everybody is different and likes different people. But when we're on that field, it's that energy, the work habits and that tempo. So it's just something that's part of the NFL, and they know what I want."

On changes in player positions and starting lineups: "I think some of it, a great trade did happen. We brought two quality players in on a trade. And then, like I told you guys, I was really looking interested in getting edge speed. I really wanted to add speed to the edge part of our defensive front. Dewayne [White] was out there, who's a good edge speed guy. We were able to get a real good guy out there. I think that is going to show some speed there, and the corners that we brought in. It was speed, looking for that tempo and speed."

On G Stephen Peterman and other players the team found last year: "He's a really good player. He came in, and it happened too with the amount of injuries we did have we were able to actually bring guys in that—you know, Blaine Saipaia comes in, we get a chance to get a great look at him. Frank Davis, opportunities—guys had some opportunities to kind of step in. Jonathan [Scott], and now Peterman comes in. We've been very fortunate to find some guys that I think their character of football is—especially Peterman—just loves this stuff. I mean he's out here all day. I think especially on that offensive line, if you really coach those guys well and they really love football, then it's not all athletic ability there. It's just these guys will take the proper step and block the proper guy, and that's that attitude. Boy, he [Peterman] brings a special attitude to us."

On TE Eric Beverly: "We're getting to know him still. I was excited because I competed against him for so long when he was with Atlanta, and he's a guy who's a classy veteran. He's a pro, and I'm hoping every guy I bring in is that: a pro or a young guy who is just looking to somebody to 'How do I do this?' And he comes in as a great veteran, has a great reputation. When we were bringing him in to have a chance to visit with him, this whole building, everybody who was here when he was here before, said, 'Wow, what a great person. You're going to love this guy.' And he comes in, he's tremendous. A tremendous worker, a pro and he really gives you a force that we're looking at that point of attack—a tight end who can really establish the point, the run part of it. We've brought some other guys in, Rudy [Sylvan] and some of these guys. We've got some big tight ends. Big, physical men. But he brings us a veteran that's a real pro."

On the difference between this year and last year: "I just think it's been a year-long process. Everything kind of just takes place that last day. Like I've told them, I believe that it was that last game that we played. The guys that were left standing at the end went out there on the road and just kept moving their pads up all the way to the end of the year. They just kept working. And we kept losing games all year by that much, and we finally won a game at the end by that much, which, they kept playing. I think that carries over into your off-season. At least I want it to, and then you start adding other pieces like that. Then it's just a slow process. Sometimes if you hadn't seen us for a year, you'd go 'Wow, they look different.' I just see process as it comes along."

On if he'd changed anything at all: "No. Everything is the same. We just want to try to do everything—it's not so much what you're doing, it's how you're doing it."

On his expectations for the team: "I've got high expectations for this team, and I can say that because I feel very good about it and they know that. We've got a team that is fast and explosive. We've got some key veterans who just keep coming. We've got the type of speed I've talked about on defense I like. We've got a great kicker, a great punter and a great longsnapper. That's a great start of it, and the more speed you add to your defense, the faster your special teams get. So there should be very good expectations."

On past coaches making lofty claims about the Lions:" It's okay. I mean it's just me. That's what I see. I'm out here, I look, I see it, and I believe it. I am not going to undersell, I'm going to overrate those men. That's the expectations. I've got great expectations for this team, and I like where they're working. You're seeing what I'm seeing—it's fast and explosive. We've got to just go out and keep working and one snap at a time and go to work."

On quarterback QB Drew Stanton: "I can tell you it's all the rookies. Their heads are rolling and spinning right now (with) the amount of information we've got. So sometimes a pro quarterback, it's just trying to get the information out in the huddle and learning all the new personnel and calls and those things. So it's just a process, and it takes some time for these guys."

On what coach Marinelli is looking to work on before training camp: "You're always looking outside. I want to be constant in doing that. But then you've got to keep looking at this team right now, how far some of these guys we can develop before training camp. Not everybody is going to go to training camp. Once our drafted players start signing, you only have so many numbers you can take, so guys are competing right now to get to camp. We have to do a great job of evaluating the guys that we have. We have to keep working right now on some of the injured guys who are going to come back in June for us at the start of June camp and get those guys ready to go. It's that same process. We're getting all the fundamental work. Some of them couldn't perform in team, so that's okay, but we're getting that basic fundamental, getting that 30, 35 or 40 minute period of individual work every day. So that's critical, (along with) the learning in the classroom. So we just keep working. To answer your question, if there is a guy out there, we're always going to keep looking."

On the depth of the team: "Right now I think overall the depth to it looks pretty solid right now. But I think what you look for is that this guy can come in and compete for this job. That's what you kind of look for at that point."

On if he has seen QB Drew Stanton and TJ Duckett's Michigan State pride in the locker room: "No."

On players that have jumped out at him during mini-camp: "Oh boy. The quarterback, Kit(na). He's really got a grasp on this offense. He really does. Now the weapons we have out there, the speed we have out there, I think that all has a chance to come together. I really like the play of some of our secondary guys. A lot of people won't know their names right now and that's good. They're just coming in, kind of a no name group back there, but they're just coming in everyday believing in their fundamentals and they're really starting to show up. I'm excited about that."

On if he is excited about the rookies or acquired free agents: "All of them, and the guys that were here last year. We're just coaching all those guys. In football you just keep coaching people and believing in them. They will start rising up to your expectations. They will if you coach them well and if they have enough talent, and they do, so it's on us to help them."

On what needs improvement: "Just our daily work. The number one thing I have to keep working on with our football team is not just the football part of it, but it's the certain blocks of mentality that you have to have. Playing one snap at a time. How are we going to face adversity if something happens and we get an injury or go on the road? How do we face those things? I'm facing them everyday. I try to get blocks in place for them on how to defeat those things when they do come your way. So we talk about these now. What I'm trying to give them is some tools and some fundamentals to deal with adversity. Adversity should energize you. If you really like this stuff and adversity hits, get energized with it. But to get energized, have a plan."

On if it is difficult dealing with the franchise's history of losing: "As soon as something happens, 'oh here it goes again'. No, we just have to keep going and keep believing and keep pushing straight ahead. Believe, have confidence, be energized with it, look forward to this process and have a tool to do with one snap at a time to deal with the job at hand."

On what his specific expectations are: "I just don't like to go out and make a statement about this and that. I just have great expectations. This is really going to be a good football team in my mind. I've said in team meetings what our expectations are and we've talked about that. I just believe in this team a lot. I love it. I feel better and better everyday that we're here. There are going to be bumps in the road, and so be it, but nothing changes. This is going to be a very good team."

On if he likes the play of quarterback Dan Orlovsky: "Yeah I do. He's been working at it and getting better. You can see he has a nice touch to his ball. He can really throw and nice ball. He is learning and he is hungry. He just wants it. With Kit(na) there, it really gives him a feel with a savvy veteran like that and he's learning every day with him. I'm excited about it."

On the mindset to run the football: "I think our o-line coach (Jim Colletto) really brings very strong mentality to that also (along with) his background with the Ravens—he was with the Ravens when they won the World Championship there. He's got a great background and he has a great background with Mike Martz. Mike, over the years, loves to run the ball. I think we have some explosive backs right now, really explosive backs. We really added to our line. But like I was saying after the draft, with our receivers out there, it is going to really open up some opportunity to run the football. It really is. It's tough now you get those two, three, four receivers at times and it's tough."

On the importance of running the ball in the fourth quarter: "Oh no question. It's all part of it. You don't just have two backs in the backfield or two tight ends to run the ball effectively. You can spread people out and run the football just as effectively. It's all part of it. I like some of the guys we got here too up front. We're just going to keep developing them."

On if he is happy with the attitude of the team: "Oh I'm trilled. To see these men put together five practices like this—the same tempo, the same pace, every practice. That is something you're working towards all the time as a coach. No matter what happens, if you're tired, rain, shine, doesn't matter. We just got to go out and keep doing those things right. At times coaches have to set the pace for practice. Right now the players are setting the pace. They're really setting the pace. At times I have to slow them down. They are knocking each other out, out there. But that is the biggest part, when they put the pack on their back, they start going forward. I've been impressed the guys we've brought in, but also in the players that are returning who were in that Dallas game."

On his thoughts of receiver Calvin Johnson after mini-camp: "He's a good player. He's a big athletic man. The thing I probably like about him as much as anything is what's inside the guy. I mean he's here early, he's studying, he works. There is a lot of stuff in this offense and boy he's on it. He's just another Lion just coming in and putting a good days work in. He's humble guy and just gets to work. It's exciting. He's very talented and very fast."

On his thoughts of RB T.J. Duckett: "He gets the ball and takes off down field. That's what you like, guys exploding down the field. They are all bringing something to the table right now, but we have a long ways to go – OTAs, summer, training camp, but so far so good."

On what type of role Duckett will play: "Right now, we hope, he's competing for the job back there. That's what we like, but that all takes care of itself over a period of time."

Kitna likes Calvin

Jon Kitna got his first look at Calvin Johnson on Tuesday. He was very happy with what he saw. The Detroit Lions quarterback got to work with the draft's No. 2 pick at the first practice of a three-day minicamp. "He's certainly going to be used to the best of his ability this year," Kitna said. "He's going to give us a lot of options." Kitna acknowledged he couldn't get too excited after one...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Post draft auction

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions fans have an opportunity to secure a part of Lions' history through the Lions' NFL Auctions website. The club is auctioning off autographed draft day hats from their 2007 draft picks, wide receiver Calvin Johnson from Georgia Tech who was selected second overall and quarterback Drew Stanton selected 43rd overall from Michigan State. The hats are the official 2007 Detroit Lions draft day hat and feature some of Johnson's and Stanton's first signatures as Detroit Lions. The Lions are also auctioning off an official NFL white panel ball signed by Johnson. Items were signed at the players' official introductory press conferences at the Lions' headquarters and training facility on Sunday, April 29.

The auction runs for a seven-day cycle on the NFL Auction website and is scheduled to end at approximately 10 p.m. EST on May 8, 2007. Bidders can access the site through the "Auction" link in the lower right corner of the teams' official website, or by going directly to

The Lions continue to auction rare, hard to obtain game-used items, autographs and memorabilia throughout the season and off-season through the NFL Auction site.

Net proceeds from the auctions will go to Detroit Lions Charities, the Lions' non-profit foundation that benefits charities in Michigan.  Since 1991, Detroit Lions Charities has awarded more than $4.3 million in grants to Michigan non-profits. Since 2001, auctions on NFL Auctions have helped to raise over $250,000 for Detroit Lions Charities.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Its Calvin

Day late and a dollar short with the post, but if you follow the Lions, you already know they took Calvin Johnson with their first pick in the 2007 draft (2nd overall). Was this a good pick? Probably.
(Fire)Matt Millen had this to say:

"We considered a bunch of different people. We loved the running back (Adrian Peterson); we loved Joe Thomas; we loved the pass rusher (Gaines Adams); but none of them compared to Calvin Johnson. I think Calvin Johnson was in a class by himself."

More interesting to me is the quarterback pick in the 2nd round of Drew Stanton. The Michigan State QB had some problems at his pro day, but hopefully he will shine in Honolulu Blue and Silver.

More Analysis TK

Friday, March 02, 2007

Lions ring trade Bell and say "Bly Bly"

Allen Park, Mich. - The Detroit Lions announced today that they have
traded CB Dré Bly and their 2007 sixth-round draft choice to Denver in
exchange for RB Tatum Bell, T George Foster and the Broncos' 2007
fifth-round draft choice.

Bly (5-9, 188) spent the past four seasons (2003-06) with the Lions
after signing with Detroit March 1, 2003. He has 33 career
interceptions (19 with Detroit) and led or tied for the team lead in
interceptions in each of his four seasons with the Lions. After his
first season in Detroit (2003), Bly became the Lions' first Pro Bowl
cornerback since CB Lem Barney (1977).

Bly came to Detroit in the prime of his career after his first full
season as a starter for the St. Louis Rams in 2002. While in St.
Louis, he played in seven playoff games and two Super Bowls, including
the Rams' Super Bowl XXXIV title games as a rookie (1999). He was
originally selected by the Rams in the second round (41st overall) of
the 1999 NFL Draft after a standout career at the University of North

Bell (5-11, 213) enters his fourth NFL season after Denver made him
its first selection in the second round (41st overall) of the 2004 NFL
Draft. Last season, he established a single season career-high with
1,025 rushing yards, including five 100-yard rushing performances,
while averaging 4.4 yards-per-carry.

In 2005, Bell rushed for 921 yards on just 173 carries and finished
with a NFL-best 5.3 yards-per-carry. He established a single-season
career high with eight rushing touchdowns and registered 18 receptions
for 104 yards. Bell played in 15 games with one start while sharing
the running back duties with Broncos' RB Mike Anderson.

As a rookie, Bell played in 14 games and led all 2004 AFC rookies
(fourth among NFL rookies) in rushing with 396 yards on 75 attempts
(5.3 avg.) and three touchdowns. He also had five receptions for 80
yards, including a career-high 58-yarder at Kansas City (12/19)

Bell was a three-year starter at Oklahoma State University and
finished with 3,409 career rushing yards (5.4 avg.) with 34 touchdowns
in 41 career games (29 starts). He also had 36 receptions for 258
yards and two touchdowns. He joined Terry Miller, Thurman Thomas and
David Thompson as the only players in school history to rush for more
than 1,000 yards in a season twice in a career. Bell was a consensus
first-team All-Big 12 selection as a senior in 2003, leading Oklahoma
State with a career-high 1,286 yards (6.0 avg.) on 213 carries with 16

At DeSoto High School in DeSoto, Texas, Bell was one of the fastest
high school players in the nation (clocked at 10.26 in the 100-meter
dash and 4.34 in the 40-yard dash). He was a two-time all-district
selection at running back while First Down Recruiting, PrepStar and
the Dallas Morning News listed him as a Top-100 player in Texas.

Foster (6-5, 338) comes to Detroit for his fifth pro season after
spending his first four seasons with the Broncos who drafted him in
the first round (20th overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft. He was Denver's
starting right tackle for most of the past three seasons (2004-06),
playing in 49 games with 45 starts. In 2006, he helped RB Tatum Bell
reach the 1,000-yard plateau for the first time in his career.

At the beginning of Foster's first training camp in 2003, he suffered
a sprained right foot which slowed his development and he was
subsequently declared inactive for each of the first 15 regular season
games. He saw his first NFL action at left tackle in a reserve role in
the final week of the season at Green Bay (12/28) but was inactive for
Denver's AFC Wild Card Game at Indianapolis (1/4/04)

Foster established himself as the Broncos' starting right tackle
entering his second season in 2004 and has since played in 48
consecutive games with 45 starts. In his first season as a starter, he
contributed to Denver allowing a franchise-low 15 sacks which was the
third fewest in the NFL. In 2005, he helped the Broncos post the
second-most rushing yards (2,539) in franchise history and rank second
in the NFL (158.7 ypg.) while setting a team record for most rushing
first downs.

While at the University of Georgia, Foster was a two-year starter and
provided valuable leadership and depth to the offensive line with his
ability to play either tackle position. He attended Southeast High
School in Macon, Ga. and was named Class 4-A first-team all-state by
the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Georgia Sports Writers

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Verba --out

All signs point to Lions drafting Wisconsin lineman ...

Allen Park, Mich.- The Detroit Lions announced today that they have released G Ross Verba.

Verba (6-4, 305) came to Detroit having spent four seasons with Cleveland (2001-04) and his first four NFL seasons with Green Bay (1997-2000). Verba did not play football in 2005 after leaving the Browns June 9. In his lone season with the Lions, he played and started seven games and was inactive for eight games with hamstring and groin injuries. Verba was drafted by the Packers in the first round (30th overall) of the 1997 NFL Draft.

As a rookie with the Packers in 1997, Verba played in all 16 games (11 starts) and took over as the starting left tackle (due to injuries) in the sixth game. He also started all three playoff games, including Super Bowl XXXII, when he became the first rookie ever to start at left tackle in the Super Bowl. Verba received all-rookie honors from the Pro Football Writers of America, Pro Football Weekly and Football News.

At the University of Iowa, Verba was a four-year starter (1993-96), starting 35 career games for the Hawkeyes after moving from tight end to offensive tackle prior to the start of the 1993 season. He was a first-team All-Big Ten selection as a senior when he started 12 games at left tackle.

Verba was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and played high school football at Dowling H.S. (West Des Moines, Iowa). As a senior, he was selected as Iowa's Player of the Year by Parade and earned all-state and all-conference honors while serving as a team captain. Verba was also named the team MVP.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lions re-sign Saipaia

Obviously Mike Martz had some influence in this signing:
Allen Park, Mich. - The Detroit Lions announced today that they have re-signed G Blaine Saipaia to a two-year deal. Additional contract terms were not disclosed.

Saipaia (6-3, 315) joined the Lions during the 2006 season (Sept. 26), playing in six games with four starts. He made his first start for Detroit vs. Buffalo (10/15) and helped the offensive line pave the way for RB Kevin Jones' first 100-yard game of the season (127 yards). Saipaia was placed on the reserve/injured list December 12 after re-aggravating a chest injury against Minnesota (12/10).

Before coming to Detroit, Saipaia spent the 2006 preseason with the St. Louis Rams where he had played the previous two seasons (2004-05). He played in nine games for the Rams in 2005 and started three (two at RT, one at TE). Saipaia entered the NFL in 2000, finishing that season on the New Orleans Saints practice squad.