Detroit Lions sign a pair of defensive tackles

Posted by ttwentyman on August 16, 2013 – 3:51 pm

The Detroit Lions have boosted their defensive line depth with the signing of defensive tackles John Drew and Justin Bannan.

Bannan agreed to terms with the team Thursday, but the move became official Friday after he completed a physical.

Bannan, 34, started 15 games for the Broncos last year — he had 42 tackles and four deflected passes.

Drew is a 6-foot-2, 330-pound undrafted free agent out of North Carolina Central. He worked out for the Lions before training camp, but did not sign at the time.

As an undrafted rookie, his deal is automatically a three-year deal, per the collective bargaining agreement.

Both players will now compete for playing time behind Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and C.J. Mosley.

Also on the roster at defensive tackle are: Andre Fluellen, Jimmy Saddler-McQueen and Ogemdi Nwagbuo.

The team released cornerback Conroy Black and defensive end Braylon Broughton to make room for Bannan and Drew on the 90-man roster.


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Lions look sloppy in first half

Posted by ttwentyman on August 15, 2013 – 9:25 pm

That’s one half of preseason football the Detroit Lions would like to forget. All three phases were beaten thoroughly and the Lions trail Cleveland 17-3 at the half.

A few observations …

Offense

  • No Calvin Johnson in the lineup (knee contusion) meant not much going for the Lions offense. The starters played five series and accounted for a grand total of three points and 88 yards. Matthew Stafford and Co. didn’t pick up a first down until their fourth possession. The Lions had only four first downs in the half.
  • The offense (aka running back Reggie Bush) got things going a little bit on their fifth and final possession. On that drive, the Lions went 47 yards in 14 plays. Bush accounted for 34 of them.
  • Bush caught five passes for 44 yards in the first half, showing a little bit of how the Lions plan to use him.
  • Stafford stayed relatively clean, but didn’t see his receivers get a lot of separation from defenders. There were zero holes for running backs to run through. The offense had a grand total of 13 rushing yards in the first half for an average of 1.2 yards.

Defense

  • The Lions have said all training camp that their length and athleticism upfront on defense will allow them some versatility in some of their rush packages. We saw that early in the first half when the Lions switched their defensive ends and defensive tackles on a third-down play. Nick Fairley got underneath Browns left tackle Joe Thomas and applied great pressure on a third-down incompletion. That forced a punt on the Browns’ first possession.
  • For a second straight game, the Lions’ starting secondary played poorly and did not tackle well. There’s a little bit of concern growing there, but we should remember it’s the preseason and there’s no Louis Delmas at safety. Browns starting quarterback Brandon Weeden completed 8-of-10 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Not good. That after all four Jets quarterback had over a 90.0 rating last week.
  • Ndamukong Suh and Fairley played well, except for a Suh roughing the passer penalty. They chased the ball well and both made plays down the field.

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Calvin Johnson will sit tonight with knee bruise; Delmas too

Posted by ttwentyman on August 15, 2013 – 6:33 pm

Patrick EdwardsThe Lions will be without receiver Calvin Johnson for tonight’s preseason game in Cleveland because the All Pro receiver is dealing with a knee contusion (bruise). Johnson also sat out of Tuesday’s practice.

The injury is not believed to be serious, and since this is the preseason, it’s a good chance to sit Megatron and give some receivers a chance to step up and earn a roster spot.

Most notably, Patrick Edwards, who will start in place of Johnson.

The team will also be without safety Louis Delmas, who will miss a second consecutive preseason game.

“Is it important for me to get out there? Yes. But is it wise? Right now I don’t think so,” Delmas said this week.

“I’m definitely on schedule for the regular season, it’s just trying to get into these preseason (games). I’m kind of doubtful about it, but I still want to get out there and participate with my team before the regular season.”

We’ll see if that happens next week vs. New England or in the preseason finale at Buffalo.

Don Carey will start in his place of Delmas.

Also sitting out tonight is safety John Wendling, cornerbacks Chris Greenwood and Jonte Green and tight end Matt Veldman, who injured an Achilles tendon catching a pass in practice this week.

Cornerback Ron Bartell, defensive end Israel Idonije and receiver Ryan Broyles were not on the list of inactive players released by the team before the game. We’ll see if they play tonight.


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First-half observations: Lions vs. Jets

Posted by ttwentyman on August 9, 2013 – 9:18 pm

OFFENSE

  • Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford talked this week about starting fast and getting some good reps in the first few offensive series vs. the Jets.
  • The Lions scored only 20 points on first-possession drives last year and opened the preseason last year vs. Cleveland with two three-and-outs and an eight-play drive that resulted in a punt on their third series.
  • Stafford and the first-team offense played two series Friday night. The first went five plays and resulted in a punt.
  • Stafford led the Lions on a 52-yard, seven-play drive on the second series that resulted in a 47-yard David Akers field goal. Receiver Calvin Johnson had catches of 28 and 22 yards on the drive.
  • Receiver Matt Willis is trying to throw his hat into the conversation for either the No. 4 or No. 5 receiver spot. He had three catches for 51 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
  • He made an acrobatic 28-yard catch along the sideline that was initially called incomplete but replay overturned the call. He made another fine diving catch for a 15-yard touchdown.
  • Shaun Hill continues to show why he’s considered one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league. He kept a number of plays alive with his feet and finished 11-of-18 passing for 136 yards and a score.
  • He orchestrated a nice two-minute drive at the end of the half that culminated with a 35-yard David Akers FG with four seconds left.

DEFENSE

  • On the defensive side of the ball, it didn’t take defensive end Ziggy Ansah long to show he’s got some playmaking ability. The rookie intercepted a Mark Sanchez pass and returned it 14 yards for a touchdown in his first NFL series.
  • Cornerback Bill Bentley got beat a couple time inside and didn’t tackle well. The Lions like his skill set in the middle of the field, but he didn’t have a great start to his preseason, in my opinion.
  • The safety play by the first-team defense was good. Glover Quin nearly had a pick-six and Don Carey made a nice play in the backfield on a blitz. They cleaned up plays well.
  • The linebackers struggled some. I thought Ashlee Palmer was the best of the trio of players trying to win that starting outside job. Tahir Whitehead and Travis Lewis both made mistakes in the passing game and seemed a step slow to plays.

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Louis Delmas among seven inactive for Lions tonight

Posted by ttwentyman on August 9, 2013 – 5:51 pm

Louis DelmasThe Lions kick off the preseason tonight vs. the Jets, but will do so without seven players who have been ruled inactive.

Not participating will be safety Louis Delmas, guard Leroy Harris, defensive end Israel Idonije, receiver Ryan Broyles and cornerbacks Ron Bartell, Chris Greenwood and Jonte Green.

Most of these players will go through warmups, but have been ruled out of game action for various reasons.

Head coach Jim Schwartz has said for weeks that the main goal is to get everyone ready for Week 1 vs. Minnesota. A lot of these players would have likely played had tonight been a regular season game.

Rookie second-round pick Darius Slay will start for Bartell at right cornerback and Don Carey will take Delmas’ place in the starting lineup at safety.


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Lions sign CB Brandon King; release LB Alex Elkins and WR Devin Thomas

Posted by ttwentyman on August 5, 2013 – 4:01 pm

With cornerbacks Jonte Green and Chris Greenwood still nursing hamstring injuries, the Detroit Lions added some depth to that unit Monday by signing cornerback Brandon King.

King, an undrafted free agent out Purdue in 2010, played in eight games his first two seasons in the NFL with the Colts. He spent the end of last year with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The team also released linebacker Alex Elkins and receiver Devin Thomas on Monday.

Elkins was an undrafted rookie free agent out of Oklahoma State. The Lions typically keep six linebackers on the regular-season roster and Elkins wasn’t in that mix early in training camp.

Thomas, who came off the physically unable to perform list on Sunday, was obviously too far behind after missing the team’s first nine practices and not in their plans moving forward.

The signing of King, coupled with the release of Elkins and Thomas, leaves one spot open on the 90-man roster as of Monday afternoon. The team resumes practice Tuesday morning at 9:15 after being off Monday.

They’ll host the New York Jets Friday at Ford FIeld i the preseason opener for both teams.


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Lions add S Trevor Coston and DL Xavier Proctor

Posted by ttwentyman on August 1, 2013 – 9:33 am

The Lions have a couple new faces on the field at today’s training camp practice.

The team signed safety Trevor Coston and defensive lineman Xavier Proctor to contracts Thursday.

To make room on the 90-man roster, the Lions waived safety Ricardo Silva and defensive lineman Spencer Nealy.

Silva, who started six games for the Lions last season, was getting third- and fourth-team reps in practice and isn’t eligible for the practice squad. The move will allow him to hook on with another team early in camp.

Taking his spot is Coston, who was invited to the Lions’ mini-camp this spring and spent training camp last year with the Bears before he was released. He played his college football at Maine and finished his career with 215 tackles and 12 interceptions and was also a quality return man.

Proctor, an undrafted rookie out of North Carolina Central, was a tryout player for the Lions during their spring mini-camp. He has some versatility at 6-foot-6, 277 pounds, and can play both inside and outside. He was an ALL-MEAC performer last season with 42 tackles (21 solo), including 10.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks.

Nealy signed with Detroit this offseason as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M.


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Lions fill final roster spot with DT Andre Fluellen

Posted by ttwentyman on July 26, 2013 – 2:00 pm

fluellen-article-072613The Lions needed to add depth along their defensive line and are turning to a familiar face to provide it.

The team signed defensive tackle Andre Fluellen to a one-year deal Friday, which will be his third stint with the club.

Fluellen (6-2, 302) spent his first four seasons with the Lions after the team drafted him in the third round out of Florida State in 2008.

Fluellen was released during final cuts last year due to a numbers game along the defensive line, but was re-signed in December. He played in the final three games of the season with one start.

He had a brief stint with the Bears this offseason, but was released in May.

Like Jason Jones and Isreal Idonije, Fluellen is a versatile player who can play both on the outside and inside at defensive tackle.

The 28-year-old Fluellen has appeared in 56 games in five NFL seasons, with 52 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He also had a two-game stint with Miami in 2012.

Fluellen will wear No. 96 and C.J. Mosley will now wear No. 99.


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Lions release G Bill Nagy

Posted by ttwentyman on July 25, 2013 – 4:36 pm

When the Lions claimed Bill Nagy off waivers before the season last year they hoped he’d eventually compete for a starting guard or center spot once his surgically repaired ankle healed.

Unfortunately, that ankle never got healthy enough for Nagy to get on the field consistently and the team cut ties with the third-year pro out of Wisconsin Thursday.

The Lions liked Nagy’s versatility and the fact that he could play guard and center, but his ankle was obviously not at a point where the team thought he was going to be able to immediately help them.

Nagy hasn’t played since the 2011 season, when he started four games at guard for the Dallas Cowboys.

This increases the likelihood that third-round pick Larry Warford will eventually win the right guard spot and Dominic Raiola will play center.

Warford will have competition from Dylan Gandy, Rodney Austin, Leroy Harris and others in camp, though. All three can play center, too.

The release of Nagy opens up a roster spot, which could be filled by one of the defensive tackles — Justin Bannan, Rocky Bernard or John Drew — the Lions hosted this week.


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Schwartz expecting big season from Suh

Posted by ttwentyman on July 25, 2013 – 3:06 pm

Roary poses with DT Ndamukong Suh.

Roary poses with DT Ndamukong Suh at the 2013 Pro Bowl.

One would hesitate to say that a player who’s already been an All Pro in his career is poised to take a big step forward in his development, but that’s exactly what Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said he expects of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh this season.

“I thought Ndamukong had the best spring he’s had since he got here,” Schwartz said Thursday on the eve of training camp. “ I think he’s poised to have an outstanding year.”

Suh was back to his disruptive ways last year after — by his standards — a subpar 2011 season. Suh recorded eight sacks and 35 tackles last year, but that was still short of the numbers he put up as a rookie when he stormed onto the scene with 66 tackles and 10 sacks.

Suh was an All Pro and Pro Bowler as a rookie in 2010. He was neither in 2011, but earned his second Pro Bowl nod last season.

“He’s always been in great shape, but his understanding of the defense and his execution of that was very, very impressive in the spring,” Schwartz said.

“I really think he can (take a jump forward).”

Suh makes up one half of what could be one of the better defensive tackle tandems in the NFL, if third-year player Nick Fairley shows more consistency in his game.

The Lions’ defensive scheme is built around the defensive line, and if Schwartz is right about Suh, and his number could reach or even exceed those of 2010, the retooled defense is already off to a good start.


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