Johnson: ‘Fans out at practice … means everybody steps up their game’

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on July 31, 2010 – 10:58 pm

“This is my fourth camp. Definitely everything is a lot slower to me. Since I know the whole offense, everything’s a lot easier – I know what to do on every play. I’m not thinking about everything, I’m playing fast.

“Not having coaching changes also helps out a lot. You get used to the system that you’re in and you can progress even more in the system that you’re in. You, your coach and the rest of your teammates can evolve even more with the current situation and I see that happening right now.

“Today was the first practice. I came out a little rusty. I dropped an easy ball in a one-on-one drill – it was right in my hands. Routes were okay, though. I was happy with my routes.

“My man-to-man routes were pretty good today, I felt real good about that. But just that one drop – that messed up my whole day. I try to be perfect when I go out and practice, knowing it’s not really possible. I’m working real hard on my blocking. It’s the first day – I’m a little rusty.

“The big thing about camp as a receiver is that you get to work a lot more man-on-man – on your man-to-man routes. Unlike in the offseason, you can’t do a lot of one-on-one stuff, but we can do it here and do it with pads on and stuff like that. It’s better to get used to that game tempo here with pads on.

“We also have the fans out at practice, which means everybody steps up their game. Nobody wants to look bad in front of the fans, so the competition level steps up and that’s great. It’s only going to make everybody better.”


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Posted in Calvin Johnson Blog | 33 Comments »

Lewand on Getting Suh Signed

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on July 31, 2010 – 8:18 pm

With RB Jahvid Best signed and at camp, the only player remaining is DT Ndamukong Suh.

Prior to the Lions’ first training camp practice on Saturday, Team President Tom Lewand spoke about current negotiations with Suh’s agent and the sense of urgency the team is placing on getting him signed.

Lewand transcripts from the interview:

On team negotiations with DT Ndamukong Suh: “We’re still talking – nothing to announce. We’re still working hard at it. I just got off the phone with Eugene (Parker) and Rosey (Barnes) and we’ll keep diligently working at it until we get the deal done.”

On whether it helps that deals are done for the No. 1 and No. 3 overall picks: “I think the more reference points we have, the more helpful it becomes but at the same time every deal is unique, every deal is its own deal and the only thing we can do is continue to work hard to get a fair deal done for Ndamukong Suh and for our club.”

On how close he can ‘gauge’ that a deal is to being done: “It’s hard to gauge. I really try not to gauge any individual deal because they are very different; negotiations are all very different. You can think that you’re very close and have something catch you late in the process and delay it, but you can also have something that seems like it’s very far away and then it gets done quickly. We just continue to work at it and work at it and with the idea of getting it done as quickly as possible.”

On whether he would say it’s closer because the No. 1 and No. 3 overall picks have signed with their teams: “Well, they’re reference points, but it really does take both sides to get a deal done. It takes the involvement of a player and his representatives and obviously the club to come to a meeting of the minds. Generally speaking, the more information that’s available, the more helpful it is but each negotiation and each contract is different.”

On it not being as easy as just ‘slotting him’ based on the other deals that have been done around him: “Again, it is a process – there are lots of variables in a contract in this process that take some time and it takes both parties having a meeting of the minds.”

On whether he is disappointed that Suh was not signed in time for the first practice: “It’s always our goal to have them here as early as possible and I think our track record suggests the importance that we place on that has been realized in most cases. Even when they haven’t, when players who we’ve selected particularly high in the draft haven’t been here for their first practice, it hasn’t been that long after. Our goal is to stop talking about contracts and start talking about football.”

On whether the contract the team did with QB Matthew Stafford last year is a reference point: “There are lots of deals that are done this year that looked towards a reference last year or the year before that. I don’t want to get into specifics, but there’s lots of different reference points whenever you’re dealing with a rookie contract.”

On Suh having stated previously how important it was for him to be at camp on time: “What I’m focused on right now is getting the deal done as quickly as possible and having Ndamukong (Suh) miss as little time as possible. Knowing him as I’ve gotten to know him over the last few months, I’m sure he’s feeling the same way about wanting to get our here as quickly as possible. As I said, I just got off the phone with those guys a minute ago, we had an extended conversation and I’m sure we’ll have another one here shortly and both sides are focused on trying to get this done as quickly as possible.”

On whether it could get done tonight: “Again, I don’t predict.”

On whether Suh is in town: “I believe he is but I’m not positive of that.”

On whether progress is being made: “As long as we’re talking, we’re making progress and we continue to talk. We are very, very focused on trying to get a deal done.”

On whether he has spoken to Suh at all during this process: “I have not talked to him (directly) for a few weeks and I wouldn’t try and negotiate with him at all – but I always welcome the opportunity to talk to the player directly.”


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Schwartz Says QB Improvement is Best Thing to Come Out of Offseason

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on July 30, 2010 – 6:55 pm

When asked what he thought of the offseason program, Head Coach Jim Schwartz first commented that he didn’t feel the offseason was over.

Schwartz: “To me, training camp is still part of the offseason. Anything that’s not part of the regular season is part of the offseason.”

He cited personnel moves as a key piece of this year’s offseason program, but the No. 1 thing the Lions got out of it, he said, was the further growth and development of second-year quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Schwartz: “He was here March 16 or 17, whatever day the first day of the offseason program was. He was here every single day. He was throwing on the field, he was working out, he was studying film, he was in the playbook – all those different things. He went into that day (the first day of the offseason program) as the starting quarterback.”

Last year as a rookie, Stafford wasn’t able to work with the team until early May. With the full offseason this year, Stafford was able to focus on football without the distractions every rookie encounters.

Schwartz: “His whole objective was just to learn and to get better and get better, not anything else. Not trying to find an apartment, not trying to find his way around the city, not trying to earn a starting job. He’s our starting quarterback.”

Additionally, the value of a full offseason with Detroit’s offensive skill players shouldn’t be overlooked.

Schwartz: “I think that’s probably been the biggest thing in this offseason is Matt’s ability to work with Calvin Johnson. His ability to go out there and throw with Nate Burleson and Bryant Johnson and (Dennis) Northcutt and Derrick Williams and all our wide receivers and tight ends. Just getting out there and doing it on a daily basis has made a big, big improvement of where we are offensively.”


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Kirwan Cites Lions as a Team to Watch During Camp

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on July 29, 2010 – 1:37 pm

NFL.com Senior Analyst and NFL Sirius Radio host Pat Kirwan posted his top 10 things to watch during Training Camp this year.

The Detroit Lions made his list for multiple reasons including Head Coach Jim Schwartz in his second year, free agent acquisitions and Detroit’s first-round draft choices, Ndamukong Suh and Jahvid Best.

Detroit also had an item all to itself when Kirwan cites the team’s defense as something to watch.

Says Kirwan, “If Schwartz can rush the passer effectively with his front four, that leaves seven players in coverage and the defense will start to rise from its last-place standing from last season.”

Read the full article at NFL.com.


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Follow Head Coach Jim Schwartz on Twitter

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on July 26, 2010 – 9:08 pm

As the Detroit Lions head into training camp, Head Coach Jim Schwartz is looking to connect with fans via Twitter.

Fans can now follow Schwartz at http://www.twitter.com/jschwartzlions.


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NFL.com’s Fantasy Football Sees Stafford, Johnson and Best as Prime Investments

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on July 15, 2010 – 6:09 pm

Detroit Lions fans can sign up free for NFL.com’s All-New Fantasy Football game and put some stock in three of Detroit’s top offensive players.

In articles ‘Special from NFL.com,’ quarterback Matthew Stafford is named one of the top-10 sleepers in this year’s fantasy draft. In his company are fellow quarterbacks Joe Flacco of the Ravens and Kevin Kolb of the Eagles.

NFL.com says of Stafford, “A talented young quarterback, Stafford should take the next step in his development into an effective NFL starter this season. Not only does he have a very favorable schedule, but Stafford also has new weapons in Nate Burleson and Tony Scheffler to go along with his top option, Calvin Johnson.”

Johnson is cited as one of the top-10 undervalued players of 2010.

Johnson’s 2009 season wasn’t what he would have liked, battling a knee injury throughout the year. Since Stafford also missed games due to injury, consistency was also lacking in the receiver-quarterback relationship.

Says NFL.com, “Things should turn for the better this season, though, as the man called ‘Megatron’ is past his knee [injury] and now has Nate Burleson and Tony Scheffler to help draw coverage from opposing defenses. Don’t be shocked if Johnson posts the same sort of numbers he had during his breakout fantasy season of 2008.”

Finally, running back Jahvid Best is listed as the No. 2 on NFL.com’s top-10 rookies of 2010.

“Best did have durability issues at the college level, but he has amazing potential in the Lions offense which should be much improved,” said NFL.com. “Best’s speed will only make him more lethal on the Ford Field turf, and he’ll have middle-round value as a potential flex starter in all formats.”

NFL.com’s complete list of top rookies is:

1. Ryan Matthews, RB, Chargers
2. Jahvid Best, RB, Lions
3. C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills
4. Ben Tate, RB, Texans
5. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys
6. Montario Hardesty, RB, Browns
7. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos
8. Arrelious Ben, WR, Buccaneers
9. Sam Bradford, QB, Rams
10. Toby Gerhart, RB, Vikings


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Posted in DetroitLions.com Blog | 30 Comments »