Source: DT Andre Fluellen among Lions final cuts

Posted by ttwentyman on August 31, 2012 – 6:33 pm

In the end, it became a numbers game for defensive tackle Andre Fluellen and defensive end Everette Brown.

The defensive linemen are expected to be among the Lions cuts before Friday’s 9 p.m. deadline, according to a league source.

That will leave the Lions with nine defensive linemen at deadline with defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams, Nick Fairley and Sammie Hill and defensive ends Cliff Avril, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Willie Young, Lawrence Jackson and rookie Ronnell Lewis.

Fluellen has been a versatile component of the defensive line for the past four seasons with his ability to play both tackle and end.

Brown, who the Lions signed as a free agent this offseason, has shown flashes this preseason, but was too inconsistent in the end.

“He fits our scheme well,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of Brown after Thursday’s 38-32 victory over the Bills.

“He’s been a little bit up and down in the preseason, but he’s had also some times he’s really made big plays including the last play of this game. He also made a sack on another one. We have a good group on the D-line and he’s one of them.”

The team has also notified guard Rodney Austin, safety Reshard Langford, receiver Lance Long, cornerback Justin Miller and receiver Maurice Stovall of their pending releases.

Miller’s release leaves the Lions with five cornerbacks as of Friday night: Chris Houston, Bill Bentley, Jacob Lacey, Kevin Barnes and Jonte Green. The Lions might not be done adding to that position before the start of the regular season.

The release of Long and Stovall improve the chances of undrafted rookie free agent receiver Patrick Edwards making the roster.

The latest cuts give the Lions 19, leaving them two short leading into the 9 p.m. deadline.


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Ben Graham wins punting job; Lions inform 10 others of expected release

Posted by ttwentyman on August 31, 2012 – 4:05 pm

The competition between Ryan Donahue and Ben Graham for the Lions punting duties had been too close to call until Thursday’s preseason finale against the Bills. Now it seems Graham’s strong performance Thursday night has won him the job.

The Lions are expected to release Donahue before tonight’s 9 p.m. deadline to trim the roster from 75 players to 53.

Graham averaged 45.3 yards on three punts Thursday punts and flipped field position on a 49-yarder that angled just out of bounds with the Lions pinned deep in their own territory late in the fourth quarter.

“It was a great punt,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said after the game. “Ben bailed us out. Ben had a great punt. We were gassed on special teams. Those guys played a lot of football in the second half. We lost a lot of guys in the second half and a lot of guys were playing every snap on defense or every snap on offense and covering every kick and we needed him to paint the sideline on a ball and he did a great job of it.”

Graham played seven games with the Lions last year after Donahue suffered a quad injury and averaged 44.1 yards per punt.

Donahue, who won a training camp battle with Nick Harris for the punting job last year, averaged 42.7 yards a punt in eight games with the Lions as a rookie. He averaged 38.7 yards per punt in 12 attempts this preseason.

The Lions have also announced the expected release of  guard Pat Boyle, defensive end Ugo Chinasa, tight end Alex Gottlieb, wide receiver Nate Hughes, defensive tackle Edmon McClam, linebacker Carmen Messina, wide receiver Wallace Miles, defensive tackle Tracy Robertson, cornerback Ross Weaver, and tight end Austin Wells.

Additionally, ProFootballTalk sited a league sources in announcing Friday afternoon that cornerback Alphonso Smith will also be among the cuts.

The Lions traded tight end Dan Gronkoswki to the Broncos for Smith back in 2010.

Smith has had an inconsistent two seasons with the Lions. He looked great when he was intercepting eight passes over than span, but also earned a reputation as a gambler and was beat in coverage nearly as often.

That leaves 10 additional cuts for the Lions by tonight’s deadline.


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Stafford stars in ESPN Monday Night Football commercial

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on August 31, 2012 – 2:24 pm

Move over, Calvin Johnson. It’s Matthew Stafford‘s turn for the solo spotlight.

Johnson has made the rounds this offseason and preseason thanks to a 1,681-yard, 16-touchdown season in 2011. He won the Madden ’13 Cover vote, appeared on David Letterman, announced a Lions’ pick at the NFL Draft and has been a cover athlete for numerous magazines and features.

Now, days after the pair was released on a regional cover of Sports Illustrated, Stafford is starring in his own ESPN Monday Night Football commercial.

In the commercial, Stafford prepares to receive the Player of the Week award. Take a look and tell us what you think.

Watch Stafford's commercial

Watch the commercial on ESPN.com!


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Stafford to start tonight, but expect short work

Posted by ttwentyman on August 30, 2012 – 5:44 pm

Quarterback Matthew Stafford will start for the Lions when they host the Bills in tonight’s preseason finale.

Stafford isn’t likely to play long, though. If last year is any indication, in fact, it could be a very short night for No. 9. Stafford played a grand total of four plays last season at Buffalo in the team’s last preseason game.

Also starting tonight for the Lions is running back Mikel Leshoure, who will start in place of the injured Kevin Smith (ankle). Leshoure is the only change to the starting lineup on offense for the Lions.

On defense, fans will get to see Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley paired up at defensive tackle to start the game. Fairley is starting in place of Corey Williams, who’s been dealing with a calf injury.

Willie Young will start again at right defensive end for the injured Kyle Vanden Bosch (knee).

Ashlee Palmer will start at middle linebacker in place of Stephen Tulloch (knee).

Jacob Lacey and Justin Miller will start at cornerback as last week’s starters, Bill Bentley (shoulder) and Chris Houston (ankle), deal with injuries.

WR Titus Young will also not play tonight.


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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | No Comments »

Johnson Blog Q&A Edition: Barry on Calvin, Calvin on Barry

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on August 28, 2012 – 5:05 pm

Barry Sanders poses with Madden ’13 featuring Calvin Johnson.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson took a break from blogging to address the comments Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders made today while touring ESPN for “Madden ’13 Legends Week.”

Sanders spoke glowingly of the current Lions’ team, seeing tremendous upside with quarterback Matthew Stafford and, of course recognizing the overwhelming talent in Johnson.

Said Sanders, “He speaks for himself. The guy is nearly unstoppable.”

Johnson was clearly taken by Sanders’ comments of his talent.

“To hear that from Barry, that’s cool,” he said. “I had met him before, but I got to actually talk to him with my dad at the draft – that was a good time.  We always grew up watching him on Thursdays on Thanksgiving. He’s a really cool dude.”

Sanders joked on “Mike & Mike in the Morning” saying that if he had a “Calvin Johnson-type guy” when he was playing, he may not have retired.

Said Johnson, laughing, “I wouldn’t let him retire. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of back with the things that he did. I can’t even pretend to to act like I know what it’s like to have a back like that.”


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Twentyman: Mayhew wouldn’t be doing his job if he wasn’t calling around regarding a RB

Posted by ttwentyman on August 28, 2012 – 4:58 pm

I preface this blog by first saying I have no knowledge of – and have not been told by anyone within the Lions organization – that general manager Martin Mayhew has been putting feelers out to teams regarding a possible trade for a running back.

Jason La Canfora of CSBSports.com, however, tweeted Tuesday afternoon that Mayhew is actively trying to acquire another running back.

That being said, Mayhew should be making a few phone calls around the league to at least explore the possibility of getting additional help at the position, given the current state of the his running back corps.

  • The Lions placed running back Jahvid Best on the physically unable to perform list on Monday, which will prevent him from playing in least the first six weeks of the regular season.
  • Second-year running back Mikel Leshoure is facing a two-week suspension to start the regular season for two separate marijuana possession charges this offseason.
  • Running backs Kevin Smith and Stefan Logan are currently nursing ankle injuries.

If I were Mayhew, I’d certainly be making a few calls.

Don’t forget Mayhew tried to address the depth at running back last season when he faced a similar injury and depth problem last year after Best suffered his second concussion of the season and went on injured reserve soon after. Mayhew tried to trade for Ronnie Brown but that trade fell through, remember, when it was discovered Jerome Harrison, who the Lions were sending to Philadelphia in exchange for Brown, had a brain tumor.

There are a number of players who’ve been rumored to potentially be on the market over the last month, a list that includes Knowshon Moreno, Brandon Jackson, Leon Washington, Chris Ivory and Maurice Jones-Drew. The Lions have not commented publicly on any desire to trade or any player under contract with another team.

Now, before Lions fans get all excited about the last names on the above list, know that’s it’s highly unlikely the Jaguars would trade the NFL’s leading rusher from last year, and – if they did – he’d be too expensive to acquire for my liking.

I still believe the Lions have their answer at running back in Leshoure, but they won’t have him the first two weeks of the season and you can never have too much depth at any one position.

Mayhew could also choose to wait until final cuts on Friday to add a player to the roster.

Moral of the story is that if, in fact, Mayhew is making a few calls to see what’s out there, it is him simply being a diligent general manager and doing his job given the team’s current state at running back.


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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 31 Comments »

New cornerback Kevin Barnes on the practice field for the Lions today

Posted by ttwentyman on August 28, 2012 – 12:08 pm

New cornerback Kevin Barnes was on the field for the portion of practice open to the media Tuesday morning on his first official day as a Lion. The Lions  traded a conditional draft pick for the former Redskins cornerback on Monday.

Barnes (6-1, 190) played the nickel cornerback role in the slot last season, but was competing with second-year players Brandyn Thompson and veteran David Jones for a potential fifth spot, according to the Washington Examiner.

Lions have an obvious need for depth and talent at cornerback with starters Chris Houston (ankle) and Bill Bentley (shoulder) suffering injuries in Saturday’s third preseason game in Oakland. Both players have yet to return to practice.

Barnes, a former third-round pick out of Maryland, played in 15 games last season with one start. He had 26 tackles and two interceptions. He will wear No. 32.

Besides Houston and Bentley, the Lions practiced without a number of other players Tuesday.

Running back Kevin Smith remains out with that ankle injury suffered against the Raiders.

Also out were: receiver Titus Young, defensive ends Kyle Vanden Bosch and Lawrence Jackson and linebackers Stephen Tulloch and Travis Lewis.

Receiver Calvin Johnson, tight end Brandon Pettigrew, offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus and safety John Wendling returned to practice after missing Monday.

Running back Stefan Logan participated in a second straight practice.


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Broyles: “It gives us our chance to come out there with the first-half swag”

Posted by Tara Altman on August 28, 2012 – 11:15 am

“I definitely feel more confident, working hard on the practice field and actually getting into the games. It feels good to get out there and see how I can compete at a different level. I feel good about the reads that I’m making and I’m just blessed to be in this position, to be able to come off of an ACL surgery and be able to come in and contribute. The coaches believe in me, for the most part, as a rookie.

“They’re taking me on at an even pace. They’re upping my reps now, so that feels good with the season coming closer. I still have another week and then Thursday’s game to really solidify everything and move forward from there.

“This last preseason game is going to be a great deal, especially for the young guys coming in because the vets probably won’t play much. It gives us our chance to come out there with the first-half swag; we’ve been waiting off until the second half, so it’s going to be good to get out there and go through warm-ups and have that intensity gathered up and actually get to start the game with that. The coaches are definitely looking to see how guys compete during this last game.

“When you’re growing up it’s all football, it’s all fun and games; you basically go out and compete. Now, it’s the business side of it. You actually get to see that. They made cuts on Monday, and 15 other guys still have to get cut, and that’s definitely tough. It’s a business and it makes you want to come in everyday and work as hard as you can and let the coaches decide from that point on. I’m definitely blessed to be here, people might say that I’m safe as a rookie, but I come in and compete everyday like it’s my last game, or my last day to practice. This is the best of both worlds really.”


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Stafford back at practice; but no Houston, Bentley or Smith

Posted by ttwentyman on August 27, 2012 – 4:14 pm

Lions fans can rest easy, quarterback Matthew Stafford was back on the practice field Monday and seemingly feeling no effects of a left-hand injury that forced him to leave Saturday’s preseason game in Oakland in the second quarter.

Stafford participated in the portion of practice open to the media Monday afternoon and did not have his non-throwing hand wrapped or taped.

“I think what would have happened in a regular season game is right after it happened I would have run up for x-rays and if they said they were negative I would have come back in the game,” Stafford said after the game Saturday. “It feels okay right now; it feels fine really. Just scary looking down to your hand swelling up by the second.”

Stafford wasn’t the only Lions starter to leave Saturday’s game due to injury. Running back Kevin Smith (ankle) and cornerbacks Chris Houston (ankle) and Bill Bentley (shoulder) also left. All three of those players did not practice Monday.

Also missing practice were: receiver Calvin Johnson, linebacker Stephen Tulloch, linebacker Travis Lewis, defensive tackle Andre Fluellen, tight end Brandon Pettigrew and safety John Wendling.

Running back and kick returner Stefan Logan participated in the open portion of practice for the first time since injuring his ankle the second week of the preseason in a victory over the Ravens.


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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 2 Comments »

Hanson will be Lions kicker in 2012 with expected release of Derek Dimke

Posted by ttwentyman on August 27, 2012 – 11:26 am

Jason Hanson will be the Lions kicker for a 21st season in 2012 with the expected release of rookie kicker Derek Dimke. Hanson, 42, is the Lions all-time leading scorer as well as well as the all-time leader in field goals (463) and extra points (627).

“In four years I don’t know that he’s ever not said ‘I’m ready.'” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said this week of Hanson. “There have been some where we figure in pregame, ‘Hey we’re good from 55’ or from 56 and we might have one from 58 and look at him and he just nods and goes out. He’s old school that way. He’s just going to go out on the field and do his job. He’s had a very long career because he’s been consistent and he’s risen to challenges along the way.”

The Lions notified nine other players this morning that they are expected to be released today. No transactions are official until 4 p.m.

Among those players are fullback James Bryant, receiver Jarett Dillard, running back Stephfon Green, safety Sean Jones, guard Jacques McClendon, linebacker Slade Norris, guard J.C. Oram, defensive tackle Bobby Skinner and receiver Terrence Toliver.

The Lions have until 4 p.m. to get down to 75 players on the roster.


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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 19 Comments »