NFLPA president DeMaurice Smith lays out key initiatives; comments on Jahvid Best

Posted by ttwentyman on January 31, 2013 – 8:20 pm

DeMaurice SmithThe NFL Players Association has forged a new $100 million partnership with Harvard University to help improve player health and safety, NFLPA President DeMaurice Smith said today at the Super Bowl.

The endeavor is a research initiative that will study 1,000 retired NFL players aimed at treating and ultimately preventing the large scope of health problems plaguing football players and athletes.

Smith also identified three key initiatives that he hopes to implement into the CBA as early as next year, and said he’s prepared to file grievances to get them.

First, the union wants an independent concussion expert that isn’t paid by either side on every sideline to help identify symptoms of concussions and have the final say on whether a player can return to the field or not.

The league agreed in their press conference Thursday and this is likely to happen in 2013.

Second, the union wants to put in place a system that properly credentials team medical personnel and its training staff so the union knows their backgrounds.

Smith used the example of San Diego Chargers team doctor, David Chao, who lost a medical malpractice suit in 2012, but is still the team’s doctor.

Third, Smith and the union are against the practice of teams asking players to sign medical waiver before taking toradol, a painkiller used by athletes.

After the press conference, Smith was asked specifically about Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best and Best’s comments before last season that he’s the “poster child” for the new NFL that looks at concussions in an entirely different light from just a few years ago.

Best hasn’t been cleared to play in more than a year since suffering a concussion in October of 2011.

“I don’t comment on any particular cases,” Smith said. “We look at all of them.

“But the last thing I will say, and this is just me, I don’t believe in the term “poster child.” Every one of our cases is different. I make sure, and we make sure, that we treat every case individually and we try to get it right.”

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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, 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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Avril, Vanden Bosch, Leshoure and others ruled out for Lions tonight

Posted by ttwentyman on August 10, 2012 – 2:03 pm

The Lions will be without the services of a few key players when they host the Browns to open the preseason tonight at Ford Field.

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz has ruled out defensive end Cliff Avril, running back Jahvid Best (Active/PUP), receiver Ryan Broyles, safety Don Carey, safety Louis Delmas, cornerback Chris Greenwood (Active/PUP), running back Mikel Leshoure, defensive tackle Sammie Hill, offensive tackle Jonathan Scott, and defensive end DE Kyle Vanden Bosch for tonight’s game.

“I haven’t practiced with pads on yet so I don’t know if that would be a good idea,” Avril said Thursday’s about playing tonight. “If I’m not ready there’s no point of me going out there and competing.”

With both starting defensive ends out of the lineup, expect reserve defensive ends Lawrence Jackson and Willie Young to get a good amount of playing time tonight.

Lions receiver Titus Young will not play, either, because of the expected birth of his child.

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RB Jahvid Best on PUP; OT Jonathan Scott on NFI

Posted by ttwentyman on July 27, 2012 – 2:54 pm

Running back Jahvid Best will join rookie cornerback Chris Greenwood and rookie defensive end Ronnell Lewis on the physically unable to perform list as the Lions begin training camp practice this afternoon. Offensive tackle Jonathan Scott will join rookie receiver Ryan Broyles on the non-football injury list.

Best has not been cleared for contact as of yet after missing the team’s final 10 games of the regular season and the their playoff game against the Saints last year after suffering his second concussion of the season Week 6 against the 49ers.

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said Thursday that Best “still had a hurdle to go” to be cleared for contact.

“We’ll just wait and see,” Schwartz said. “It’s not just one single thing. It’s sort of a whole battery and a whole process and there are a lot of people involved in that. He has input from a lot of experts around the country, not just our team doctors.”

It’s unclear when Best will be cleared for contact. He can come off the PUP list at any point during the preseason and will still be eligible to play Week 1 of the regular season against the Rams. If Best’s stay on the PUP is extended into the regular season, he’ll be required to miss the first six weeks of the regular season.

Scott likely found himself on the NFI list for not passing the conditioning test conducted with all veteran players Friday morning. The Lions acquired the free agent Scott Tuesday and he would have had to pass a physical in order to sign his contract, so it’s unlikely he’s suffering from an injury that would have put him on NFI.

Best told reporters this offseason that he expected to be cleared for contact. He participated fully in the team’s offseason training program, though those practices were non-contact.

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Source: Lions interested in RB Ryan Grant

Posted by ttwentyman on May 3, 2012 – 3:00 pm

In a move to bolster their running back position, the Lions have extended a contract offer to former Packers running back Ryan Grant, a league source confirmed.

Lions running backs Mikel Leshoure and Jahvid Best are coming off season-ending injuries last year and Grant would add an experienced veteran to a group that also includes Kevin Smith, Joique Bell and Keiland Williams.

Both Leshoure and Best are expected to be fully healthy for the Lions this year, but it’s not a bad idea to add as much depth at the position as possible.

Grant shared running back duties with James Starks last season. Starks carried 133 times for 578 yards (4.3 average) and one touchdown; Grant carried 134 times for 559 yards (4.2 average) and two touchdowns.

Grant, 29, rushed for 4,016 yards and 25 touchdowns during his 63 games with the Packers, adding 92 receptions for 726 yards and two touchdowns.

He rushed for consecutive 1,200-yard seasons with the Packers in 2008 and 2009 before missing all of the 2010 season with an ankle injury.

Grant has yet to accept the Lions’ offer.

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Lewand talks overseas football, the 2011 season and free agency in fan forum

Posted by ttwentyman on February 14, 2012 – 10:50 pm

Lions president Tom Lewand spent an hour answering questions during a fan forum for season ticket holders on Tuesday.

Lewand touched on a wide variety of subjects including the current situation with the salary cap, the importance of keeping the team’s core players together and the health of running backs Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure.

Here are a few other points Lewand touched on:

On playing home games overseas:

“I think the expansion of the NFL into international markets is a great thing, but we don’t look to participate as a home team. We have a commitment here to Detroit, the Ford family has a commitment to Detroit, you guys have started to make Ford Field into one of the best home field advantages and we don’t want to give that up, we want to make it even better.

“It’s not easy to do if one of our home games is in London or Mexico City or Toronto or somewhere else. We would like to be right here at 2000 Brush St., right at Ford Field and have you guys there week-in and week-out supporting us and giving us that huge advantage that you gave us this year.

“If we end up playing a road game in one of the international venues, so be it, we’ll embrace that opportunity like we would some other ones that come our way. But we won’t be putting ourselves up as lone of those teams that would take a home game on the road.”

On how important a season 2011 was for the franchise:

“I think that 2011 was very valuable to us because it taught us a lot. We broke some losing streaks, we set some other records and we did some things that were great on an individual basis, but as a team, we learned how to handle winning. We learned how to handle teams coming into Ford Field aiming for us where they may not have been in the past.

“We learned to handle some adversity when that adversity comes with having a target on your back as opposed to having losses on your record. I think that was important because I think guys need to know how to handle pressure when it comes through success as much as they need to learn how to handle adversity when it comes through losing. Those experiences that we had in handling pressure when it came with success will serve us well going forward.”

On preparing for free agency:

“We’re going to look at good players out there. As a matter of fact, our free agent meetings internally will be this week. We’ll have meetings with all of our coaching staff, all of our scouts, obviously with Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz and we’ll go through the offensive and defensive players who are going to be free agents out there.

“(With) the work that Sheldon White and our Pro Personnel Department does throughout the year to keep our boards current, we know how we value all of those guys and how they fit our profiles and whether they fit our profile. Having said that, I don’t foresee us being in a position to go out and make a lot of aggressive, quote-unquote marquee free agent moves. That’s not what we’ve ever been about.”

On any updates he has with negotiations with the Lions’ unrestricted free agents

“Free agency starts two weeks later this year than it has in the past. It’s normally been about March 1 every year, this year it’s a full two weeks later. I think you’ll see some things move a little bit more slowly in February when it comes to signing your own guys.

“I do think that the combine this year in Indianapolis where we normally go down there to scout college players will be one that’s a little bit more focused on free agent signings; and when I say that, I mean guys who are on our own team. I think that’s when you’ll start to see some of those deals get done. I’m optimistic that we can keep a good part of that core together, if not all of it. We’re going to work hard between now and the start of free agency to get that done.”

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Lions formulating a contingency plan at running back

Posted by ttwentyman on January 14, 2012 – 5:09 pm

The Lions expect to have running backs Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure back on the football field when they begin offseason workouts in the spring.

Best missed most of the season because of concussions and Leshoure was lost in training camp to an Achilles tendon tear.

Both players are on schedule with their rehab, but Lions general manager Martin Mayhew says the team is formulating a contingency plan in case things don’t go according to plan.

“Running back is kind of a tricky position for us right now, because we could have an embarrassment of riches there; if Jahvid is back at 100-percent and Mikel is back at 100-percent and we’re hitting on all cylinders, we got a pretty solid group,” Mayhew said.

“On the other hand, neither one of those guys is playing football right now, or able to play football right now, as far as I know, so it could be a situation where we need to address it.”

Best, a first-round pick in 2010, has had health issues in each of his first two seasons (turf-toe injuries as a rookie).

“I think, at some point, Jahvid and a doctor or a group of doctors will say he can come back,” Mayhew said. “And at that point, we’ll be glad to have him.

“He’s still being evaluated by people but we’re very optimistic with the preliminary reports.”

Leshoure, a second-round pick in 2011, is coming off a major injury.

Mayhew expects Best and Leshoure to join the team for offseason workouts, but he’ll also have a plan in place to sign or draft another running back if there’s a hiccup along the road to recovery.

“We’ve got time to make those decisions,” he said.

Backup running backs Kevin Smith and Maurice Morris will be free agents in March when the league season begins. Keiland Williams and Joique Bell are under contract.

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Calvin Johnson returns to practice; starters look ready to go

Posted by ttwentyman on January 5, 2012 – 1:09 pm

Lions receiver Calvin Johnson (Achilles) returned to the practice field Thursday for the team’s final practice of the week before Saturday’s playoff match-up with the Saints in New Orleans.

Johnson is on the same schedule as last week when he sat out the first two practices of the week before the Packers game and was on the field for the last. He was listed as limited on Thursday’s practice report.

The Lions would certainly take the same game-day results this time around, too.

Johnson had a career-high 244 receiving yards and a touchdown against the Packers last week.

Only safety Chris Harris sat out practice with a back injury.

Safety Louis Delmas practiced for a third straight day. He was officially listed as limited on the injury report but it looks like he’ll start against the Saints.

Other players listed as limited for the Lions Thursday were: CB Aaron Berry (shoulder), DT Nick Fairley (foot), CB Chris Houston (Hand/knee), CB Alphonso Smith (foot) and running back Kevin Smith (ankle/knee).

All 11 players that started the season on defense are expected to start in New Orleans. The Lions should have 21 of their 22 starters on both sides of the ball that started Week 1 against the Buccaneers in the lineup for the start of the playoffs. Running back Jahvid Best (injured reserve) would be the only player missing.

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Lions RB Jahvid Best to be placed on season-ending IR

Posted by ttwentyman on November 25, 2011 – 3:30 pm

The Lions have pulled the plug on the rest of the 2011 season for Jahvid Best, placing their starting running back on season-ending injured reserve.

Best has missed the team’s last five games since suffering a concussion in the second half of a Week 6 loss to the 49ers.

It was Best’s second concussion of the season. He suffered his first in training camp.

Best had a run of concussion-related issues during his junior season at Cal, so the team has been very cautious and patient in his recovery. The team has described Best’s recovery as week-to-week since the 49ers game.

“From the outset, we have been appropriately cautious and have followed all medical protocol with respect to Jahvid’s injury,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said Friday. “We look forward to his continued improvement and eventual return to the field.”

The Lions have certainly missed Best’s big-play capabilities over the last five weeks, especially in the pass game.

At the time of his injury, Best ranked third on the team with 27 catches for 287 yards. He was coming off a 163-yard performance in a Monday Night victory over the Bears, which included a 88-yard touchdown run.

Best played through two separate turf-toe injuries during his rookie season in 2010, which severely limited his effectiveness after a Week 3 victory over the Eagles.

It’s been a tough two seasons for Best.

He was averaging 4.6 yards per carry with 390 yards rushing and two touchdowns before suffering the second concussion Oct. 16.

Because of the holiday weekend, Best’s transition to the injured reserve list isn’t expected to become official until next week. The Lions have not announced a subsequent roster move.

The expectation is for Best to be available to speak with the media early next week.

With running back Kevin Smith suffering an ankle injury against the packers, the Lions will start their week of preparations for the Saints next week with just two healthy backs in Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams.

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Corey Williams absent from practice

Posted by ttwentyman on November 22, 2011 – 12:58 pm

The Lions were missing a few key players at practice Tuesday as they prepare for the Packers on Thanksgiving Day on a short week of prep.

Starting defensive tackle Corey Williams did not participate in practice Tuesday.

Williams injured  his right calf late in Sunday’s Panthers game and did not return.

When asked Monday if Williams could have finished the game if necessary, Lions coach Jim Schwartz said Williams would have been able too finish if they needed him.

Williams was listed as a non-participant on Tuesday’s injury report. He had his right calf heavily wrapped Tuesday as he watched practice from the sideline.

Also out was defensive end Lawrence Jackson, who missed Sunday’s game with a thigh injury.

Running back Jahvid Best (concussion) and punter Ryan Donahue (quad) remain out. It’s highly unlikely Best will play Thursday, making it the fifth-consecutive game he’ll miss.

Receiver Calvin Johnson stretched before practice but did not have a helmet. He later walked off with a trainer and was listed on the injury report with an ankle injury.

He said after practice, though, that’ll he be fine by game time.

Limited in practice were: WR Rashied Davis (hamstring), S Chris Harris (ankle), LB DeAndre Levy (elbow), S Amari Spievey (toe), WR Maurice Stovall (shoulder) and DE Willie Young (ankle).

Young missed the Panthers game with that ankle injury.

It was no surprise to see running back Kevin Smith taking first-team reps on Tuesday. Smith rushed for 140 yards and had 201 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns against the Panthers Sunday.

Safety Amari Spievey was playing with the first-team defense in the early portion of practice.

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