Source: Lions sign head coach Jim Schwartz to a new multi-year contract extension

Posted by ttwentyman on June 29, 2012 – 4:12 pm

The Lions and head coach Jim Schwartz have agreed on a new multi-year contract extension, according to a league source. The length of the contract and financial terms were unknown.

The Lions and Schwartz have been steadfast in their refusal in not commenting on his contract this offseason.

“The next time I comment on my contract will be the first time,” Schwartz has said a number of times.

It always seemed like it was just a matter of time before the Lions and Schwartz would come to an agreement on a new deal, though. Schwartz, 46, has transformed an 0-16 organization to a 10-6 playoff team in only three seasons on the job. The Lions have gotten incrementally better in each of Schwartz’ three seasons, playing to a 2-14 record in 2009, 6-10 in 2010 and 10-6 in 2011. The Lions are expected to compete for a NFC North title and playoff spot this season.

Schwartz was entering the 2012 season in the final year of a four-year contract he signed back in January of 2009.

Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 38 Comments »

Matt Burke Travel Blog: “I spent the last few days in Siem Reap, the home base for exploring the temples of Angkor Wat.”

Posted by Tara Altman on June 28, 2012 – 4:03 pm

“The first thing that I noticed about Cambodia is the smell. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. There is something always burning here (for cooking and who knows what else) so the air has a pleasant smoky smell to it. It reminds me of people burning leaves in a New England fall. Probably the second thing is how nice the people are here. Everyone was much more friendly and helpful than the start of my trip.

“I spent the last few days in Siem Reap, the home base for exploring the temples of Angkor Wat.  I won’t do justice to what I have seen here, it’s hard to capture in words. The only thing I have come across in my travels that is comparable to the scale and grandeur of it is Machu Picchu in Peru. The massive ruins of temples built 1,000 years ago with intricate stone carvings are something to be witnessed. People will sometimes spend weeks here exploring all the sites. I effectively had only 2 full days, so I had to really work it.

“The first day I hired a remork driver and a guide to hit the main circuit. These include Angkor Thom, highlighted by the central temple called Bayon, which has over 200 giant stone heads carved into its walls and towers. Next up is Ta Prohm, ruins that have been overrun by the jungle, with massive tree roots engulfing some of the buildings. It is referred to as the Tomb Raider temple since some of the movie was filmed there. Finally, you end up at Angkor Wat the name sake of the entire area. It is long and expansive and has five towers stretching into the sky as its trademark. I spent a full day there (about 9-5) in some fairly oppressive heat but it was well worth it.

“The next day I awoke at 4 a.m. to get up and see the legendary sunrise over Angkor Wat. Since it is the start of the rainy season and fairly cloudy in the morning the sunrises have been hit or miss. I was lucky enough to get a decent day, not some of the spectacular reds and pinks and oranges they get sometimes, but a still impressive way to start the day. From there I took a remork again out to some temples about 40 kilometers away. Banteay Srei was a small temple but known for its finely detailed carvings, and also the fact that it was made with pink sandstone giving it a striking color.

“I followed that up with a trip to the River of 1,000 Lingas. After about a mile hike up into the mountains you come to a river and waterfall. The actual stone in the river bed is carved with fascinating designs of Hindu gods and symbolism. They believed the water washed over them and was blessed. I was fortunate that I got such an early start in that I was literally the only person up there except for the park ranger who walked me around and showed me some of the hidden carvings and took some pictures for me. I enjoyed the hiking and being out alone in nature for a bit.

“Again a few paragraphs is not the proper due for this experience. If I can get some of my pictures loaded hopefully that can help! Once again met some great fellow travelers to share some downtime with. I just embarked on a seven-hour bus ride down to Phnom Penh so not feeling great about that!”

Posted in Matt Burke Travel Blog | No Comments »

Fairley trying to make amends by attending Rookie Symposium

Posted by ttwentyman on June 28, 2012 – 11:25 am

Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley wasn’t able to attend the NFL’s Rookie Symposium last year because of the lockout.

After two offseason arrests for marijuana possession and DUI, Fairley probably would have benefited from the league’s four-day orientation that advises the NFL newest players on everything from the NFL’s legacy and tradition, character and leadership, player safety and financial planning as well as social and professional responsibility.

In the wake of his offseason run-ins with law enforcement, Fairley placed a special request to the NFL to attend the second half of this week’s symposium for AFC rookies in Cleveland. The NFC rookies, including the Lions’ seven draft picks, completed their session on Wednesday. Fairley was granted special permission by the league to attend as a second-year player and began the symposium on Wednesday.

“Nick knows that his actions will speak louder than his words in accepting responsibility and moving forward,” Lions president Tom Lewand told Thursday. “Asking to attend this year’s symposium is clearly a positive action and a step in the right direction.”

According to reports, Fairley’s attorney electronically filed an appearance on Fairley’s behalf for an arraignment Thursday morning in Mobile, Ala., on his DUI charge. Fairley plead not guilty with a trial date set for 30-45 days. It’s now clear why Fairley couldn’t attend that arraignment himself.

Fairley is facing a possible suspension by the NFL for his offseason choices. Lions running back Mikel Leshoure was suspended two games by the league and docked two additional game checks for two citations for marijuana possession this offseason.

Attending the symposium is a good move by Fairley, which could be viewed by the league as him taking a proactive approach to his troubles this offseason. Hopefully, Fairley learns something being there, and if his attendance could possibly reduce his potential penalties from the league, it’s a win for the Lions, too.

Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 13 Comments »

Stafford checks in at No. 14 on Jaworski list of top QBs; Do you agree?

Posted by ttwentyman on June 27, 2012 – 12:51 pm

ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski has put together a list of his top 30 NFL quarterbacks. ESPN has been counting down his list – one per day – over the last couple weeks.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has checked in at No. 14 on Jaworski’s list. That means Stafford is a middle-of-the-road quarterback in Jaworski’s book.

Do you agree?

Jaworski defended his selection by saying Stafford hasn’t yet proven his durability. Jaworski is right, Stafford missed 19 games due to injury his first two seasons and played an entire 16-game schedule for the first time just last year.

But in that one year, Stafford became just the fourth quarterback in NFL history to throw for than 5,000 yards in a season (5,038) and chipped in 41 touchdowns. He also led the Lions to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

Stafford’s sample size is small, but it was a pretty impressive sample size. Was it enough to get him into the top 10? I think so.

I look at it this way, if I were starting a franchise and was looking for a quarterback to lead it, are there 13 quarterbacks I’d want before Stafford. My answer to that is certainly no.

On the Twentyman list (which doesn’t mean a whole lot), Stafford falls in at No. 6 right behind Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.

Jaworski said another season like the one Stafford had last year, though, and he’d shoot up his rankings next year.

Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 58 Comments »

Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford nominated for ESPYS

Posted by Tara Altman on June 27, 2012 – 9:49 am

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson and quarterback  Matthew Stafford  have been nominated for ESPYS. Johnson is in the running for Best NFL Player and Stafford is up for Best Comeback Athlete.

Fans have the chance to select the winners by voting online or by mobile device at

Voting begins today, July 27, and the winners will be announced during The ESPYS on Wednesday, July 11 at 9 pm on ESPN.

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Lions find veteran safety help in Sean Jones

Posted by ttwentyman on June 25, 2012 – 1:59 pm

The Lions have found themselves some veteran help at safety.

The team signed  veteran Sean Jones to a one-year contract. Jones passed his physical with the team on Monday and signed the deal soon after. An unrestricted free agent, Jones, 30, visited the Lions’ practice facility in Allen Park in early May, but left without a contract.

He started 32 games at strong safety for the Buccaneers over the last two years.

The Browns selected Jones in the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft, but he missed his rookie season due to a knee injury suffered before the season. He made his debut the following season, playing mostly on special teams, and finished with 23 tackles. He assumed the Browns’ starting strong safety spot in 2006 and had 14 interceptions and 263 tackles from 2006-2008 with the team.

He played one season with the Eagles in 2009 (replacing Brian Dawkins at strong safety) before signing with the Buccaneers as a free agent before the 2010 season. Jones had 92 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble last year.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said during the team’s mandatory minicamp two weeks ago that he wanted to get a good look at some of the younger safeties on the roster before making any moves with a number of veteran free agents the Lions brought in this offseason. Mayhew obviously didn’t see what he wanted in those younger players, so he made the move to sign Jones.

Jones will likely compete with Amari Spievey, Erik Coleman and Don Carey for the other starting safety spot opposite Louis Delmas.

Spievey, who’s started most of the last two years at safety for the Lions, has been inconsistent over his tenure, which prompted the team to seek out veteran help this offseason. The Lions also brought in veteran free-agent safeties O.J. Atogwe and Chris Crocker for visits.

Jones is an eight-year veteran with a bevy of experience who’s played in 107 career games with 85 starts.

The team released undrafted rookie free agent safety Sam Proctor to make room for Jones on the 90-man roster.

Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 21 Comments »

Matt Burke Travel Blog: A lot to catch up on

Posted by Tara Altman on June 25, 2012 – 11:49 am

“A lot to catch up on…

“So, I spent the last few days in the city of Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand. I really enjoyed my time there. It was a lot less hectic than Bangkok was. It is the jumping off point for a lot of adventure-based activities, so there is a lot to do.

“Did a fairly typical trek for that region on Friday. After about an hour drive up into the mountains you go to an elephant camp where you can ride one for about an hour. Then you hike further into the mountains/jungle (about an hour hike) until you get to a waterfall, where you can refresh underneath it, totally necessary since it was about 90 degrees and humid. You hike part of the way back and then raft the rest of the way, half as a whitewater excursion and then the last part as a slow-float on a traditional bamboo raft.  It is definitely a full day. I was really looking forward to the elephant ride but was slightly disappointed in it — it was a little rushed and commercialized. But the rest of the day was great, just spending it in the jungles and mountains and on the river. We almost lost a British girl out of the boat into the rapids but other than that it was a relaxing day.

“The next day, the hostel I was staying at arranged a “driver” for the day for me.  I questioned my decision when he showed up in what looked like about a 1983 Datsun hatchback that had seen better days. Sometimes you just gotta go with it, so I jumped in.  Driving here is crazy — lanes are just a suggestion apparently and there are motorbikes and tuk-tuks coming at you from all directions. He turned out to be a great guy and we had a good time together. He first took me to Doi-Suthep, which is a temple on top of the highest peak that overlooks the city. There are over 300 steps you have to climb to reach it. It again was pretty impressive and with some great views.

“I also somehow wandered into a room where I ended up getting blessed with some holy water by a Buddhist Monk. I am not sure if I was supposed to be there or not but the monk didn’t seem put off by it. The only English he spoke to me was “ok, good luck” so hopefully that comes true.

“Next I was off out of town a ways to a park where they raise tigers and you can go into the cage with them. Definitely a great trip. I had heard mixed reviews based mostly on rumors that they drug and/or beat the animals to keep them docile enough for humans to interact with them, but I didn’t see anything to suggest that. It was certainly one of the highlights of my trip so far. You can choose which size you want to be with so I decided on the “big cats.”  Just a day full of good decisions. Being in an enclosure with 4 tigers all around 2 years old is definitely nerve-inducing!  Won’t forget that for a while.

“That’s it for now. I am currently en route to Cambodia, so I will check in more from there.

“It would take me too long to document all the fantastic people I have met and spent time with here. Probably one of my favorite things about being out in the world is meeting other travellers and swapping stories or sharing adventures. I did want to pass along a couple of random meetings. The first American I really met here was staying in my hostel in Chiang Mai travelling with her two friends from Toronto and low and behold she is from Bloomfield Township. Then I am sitting in a mostly empty airport waiting to leave Chiang Mai and the only other person within a mile of me is this girl who went to Dartmouth College (my alma mater). She was great company — we ended up sitting together and then killing time in the airport before we both went our separate ways. Never ceases to amaze me when I have connections with people I meet half way around the world.  “

Posted in Matt Burke Travel Blog | 3 Comments »

Day 4: Burleson finishes boot camp and is selected to be a guest co-host on SiriusXM NFL Radio

Posted by Molly Mita on June 23, 2012 – 2:59 pm

Wide receiver Nate Burleson was one of 23 current and former players who was chosen to attend an intensive four-day broadcast boot camp in Mount Laurel, NJ.  At the end of Day 4 Burleson earned a guest co-hosting spot on SiriusXM NFL Radio this season. He filled in after each day.

Day 4:

“Today went great. We did our play-by-play. I was commentating and that was interesting. That was the most nerve-racking experience of the week. That’s something I never had experienced before. It was a really role reversal to commentate on what other players are doing out there and a lot fun to do.”

“It was just a one shot deal. Once I put the head set on you just go.”

“After that we networked and exchanged numbers. We had one last opportunity to get to know the staff and everyone who participated at the boot camp.  Then there was one last meeting. They announced who was awarded the opportunity to co-host the show.

“I don’t know what the criteria was but I was selected by the staff and the people from SiriusXM NFL radio to be a guest co-host on the show. I’m really excited for that it’s a big honor. I’ve been on the show before but this will be a great opportunity for me.”

“I learned a lot the past few days, I really did. One thing I learned is in order to get your point across it is better to slow down and be articulate rather than to just rush through it.”

“Second I learned to just be myself. If you’re original, authentic, and the same guy you’ve always been you give people the opportunity to like you or not. You can be the absolute best you can be but you can only be the second best version of someone else.”

“I would encourage anyone who wants to do this to submit their tapes and go through the screening process to try and get selected for this “Broadcast Boot Camp. It’s a one of a kind experience. I have to thank the NFL on what they put together. It isn’t just a bunch of people and a microphone. It’s a true boot camp. You’re well taught. It was just a really great experience.”


Posted in Nate Burleson Blog | 2 Comments »

Day 3- Burleson gets creative at “Broadcast Boot camp”

Posted by Molly Mita on June 22, 2012 – 7:22 pm

Wide receiver Nate Burleson was one of 23 current and former players who was chosen to attend an intensive four-day broadcast boot camp in Mount Laurel, NJ.  At the end of Day 4 Burleson earned a guest co-hosting spot on SiriusXM NFL Radio this season. He filled in after each day.

Day 3:

“Today was really great. I was able to get creative and do some writing and I learned a lot from the feedback I got.”

“We did live interviews with another “Broadcast Boot camp” player. It was about the mandatory use of pads that the NFL brought down on the players for 2013. We did that at Sports Authority. That was pretty fun. We went to the local Sports Authority so we were “live on location.” What they did was act as though they were pitching the new use of pads to us. We had to take that and write our own questions.”

“I wrote my own intro and outro. That’s my thing. I love to write and get creative. It’s fun for me to tell a story in my own way. I got some great feedback on my introduction specifically on how I was able to draw my audience in. My outro I tried to be clever with. It went really good.”

“Tonight we have the whole roster of the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburg Steelers. We watch the game tomorrow and then we break down nine minutes of play-by-play. We are going to be the analysts in the studio. I’m going to have fun with that and see what angle I can speak the game through. That is something that will be new for me. I have never done play-by-play before. I was always the one playing the game.”

“The whole experience has been really interesting and a great opportunity. Tomorrow is our last day. We get out a little earlier. I don’t know what to expect but I’m excited to see how it goes.”

Posted in Nate Burleson Blog | No Comments »

Lions claim CB Dontrell Johnson; waive S Alonzo Lawrence

Posted by ttwentyman on June 22, 2012 – 8:34 am

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew continues the building process of the 90-man roster before training camp July 26. The Lions have claimed undrafted rookie free agent cornerback Dontrell Johnson from the Jaguars. Johnson still has to pass a physical on Monday.

The team released undrafted rookie free agent safety Alonzo Lawrence to make room for Johnson on the roster.

Johnson, who played collegiately at Murray State, had 11 pass breakups last year. Also an explosive return specialist in college, Johnson averaged 16.2 yards per punt return for Murray State last year. As a junior, he averaged 22.8 yards per return and had two touchdowns in 15 attempts.

Lawrence never asserted himself into the safety rotation in the offseason after the Lions signed him as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Gulf Coast Community College following the draft.

Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 4 Comments »