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.
Tags: Jim Schwartz, Ndamukong Suh
Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 8 Comments »
In a not so subtle way, Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz suggested Friday that new guard Larry Warford is a very large man.
“I mean, he’s not going to be on the men of the Lions calendar,” Schwartz said when referring to Warford’s 335-pound frame. “I don’t know if we’d sell very many of them, but he’s made to play guard in the NFL.
“I don’t want to make light of it… but he’s a big, thick, powerful man and he’s made to play in there. He can be good setting our pocket.”
Warford is a big man and that’s exactly what the Lions need in the interior of their offensive line.
Starting left guard Rob Sims made it a point last year to add as much as 20 pounds to help him be more powerful. Sims joked that he would make stops at Burger King for Whoppers before practice to help him gain the weight.
Warford, on the other hand, has a pretty good base to work with. He says it’s all about properly managing that base.
“It’s more my body composition I’ve been trying to work on,” he told reporters in a conference call Friday. “Just changing the way my body is shaped helps me play a lot more and be more explosive. It will take a lot of wear off my body in the long run. It’s not the specific weight, it’s just the way my body is formed.”
The form Warford’s been sporting the last four years has been working out pretty well for him. He’s started 37-of-47 games at Kentucky, earning All-SEC accolades all four seasons. In three seasons starting at right guard, he led all SEC interior blockers with an 88.47 percent grade for blocking consistency.
Still, Warford says he’s been working hard this offseason with former Pro Bowl center LeCharles Bentley to change his diet and help shape his body to be more durable and dominant.
“I worked with him up until the Combine and every day that I was there he completely changed around my diet and then (we worked on) offensive line development,” Warford said. “All we did was lifting and getting my body right. It was a lot of extreme work and I’ve benefited a lot from it.”
The Lions are expecting Warford to come in and compete right away for their vacant right guard spot, but he said he’s just worried about getting better every day.
“I don’t want to talk about me starting,” he said. “I just want to come in and compete as hard as I can, keep working and hopefully learn from the best there about playing in the NFL.”
Tags: Jim Schwartz, Larry Warford
Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 7 Comments »
Day 1 of the NFL Scouting Combine consisted of head coach Jim Schwartz‘s media availability as well as interviews with some of the top offensive line prospects coming out for this year’s NFL Draft.
Schwartz spoke at the podium and then additionally to the local media outside the actual media room.
Key points from Day 1:
- There is high awareness toward Detroit’s need to create a big-play threat running the football. Schwartz says he is operating as though explosive RB Jahvid Best will not return for 2013, but also believes RB Mikel Leshoure – who had his share of ups and downs during the 2012 season – still has an upside.
- After three seasons of near-perfect personnel consistency along the offensive line, there is a chance the only returning starter from 2012 is guard Rob Sims.
- While many are calling for the Lions to take a defensive end with the No. 5-overall selection in this year’s draft, offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher could also be possibilities.
- Another possibility at offensive line is T Barrett Jones, though the jury is still out regarding his draft stock.
- Though defensive players were not available to the media on Thursday, news regarding the health status of Alabama’s Dee Milliner and Georgia’s Janoris Jones was reported.
Friday’s availability includes Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew, running backs and wide receivers.
Tags: Jim Schwartz, NFL Combine
Posted in DetroitLions.com Blog | 2 Comments »
The NFL Scouting Combine is officially underway with coverage beginning on Detroitlions.com today.
Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz was available to media in attendance this morning, covering a wide range of topics including personnel along the offensive line and Jahvid Best‘s status heading into the offseason.
Detroitlions.com lead writer Tim Twentyman and columnist Mike O’Hara will have plenty to read throughout the day, but – to wet the appetite of Lions fans – here are some tweets they have already sent out:
@ttwentyman: “Schwartz said there is no update yet on the futures of Jeff Backus or Jason Hanson.”
@ttwentyman: “Schwartz said he was impressed by Ziggy Ansah at the Senior Bowl.”
@ttwentyman: “Lions have hired former Wayne State offensive line coach Terry Heffernan to be their new offensive line assistant under Jeremiah Washburn”
@MikeOHaraNFL: “Jim Schwartz joking about Nate Burleson campaigning for Reggie Bush: “is tampering season officially open?”"
@MikeOHaraNFL: “Jim Schwartz on adding to Lions run game: “one thing I’d like to see from our run game is more explosive runs.”"
@MikeOHaraNFL: “Jim Schwartz on what 2013 draft means to Lions: “we’re going to need help from this draft.” He means not just the first round.”
Tags: Jim Schwartz, NFL Combine
Posted in DetroitLions.com Blog | 3 Comments »
USA Today’s Mike Garafolo reported yesterday via Twitter that veteran coach Jim Washburn will join the Detroit Lions coaching staff as a defensive assistant.
Washburn has been seen in Mobile, Ala., where the Lions staff is coaching the South team. Washburn is not there in a coaching capacity.
More on this report to come following today’s South practice, which begins at 2:30 ET.
Tags: Jim Schwartz, Jim Washburn
Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 7 Comments »
Lions receiver Nate Burleson appeared live in-studio this morning on NFL Network’s NFL AM. Burleson has been busy appearing on a number of media outlets in recent weeks, preparing for a possible post-football television career.
During his appearance Tuesday, he talked about the Lions’ 4-12 season, Titus Young, Jim Schwartz and more.
On finishing the season 4-12 after making the playoffs in 2011:
“There are so many things you can point to. I’m a guy that doesn’t make excuses; as one of the leaders on the team, I’m going to say it’s on us. It’s our responsibility to make sure that we perform at the same level we did in 2011, and we just didn’t. The type of games that we won so often in 2011 we couldn’t do this year; in the third and fourth quarters, it always seemed there was one play that just shut us down and we couldn’t overcome.
“We have to come back this offseason as leaders and figure out what it is; how to bring that fight back, that dog back, that tenacity and enthusiasm that we played with. I remember in 2011, we felt like we were backed into a corner every game, and in 2012 we just didn’t have that. As leaders, we have to figure that out.”
On if there was a sense of complacency after making the playoffs in 2011:
“From the outside looking in, a lot of people thought that. That might have been the perspective that ‘maybe they feel like they’ve arrived’. That’s not the case. We’re still as hungry, we’re still as passionate and we didn’t become complacent in where we were. It’s just that we didn’t finish, and that’s a big deal in this league. Every game is going to be decided by the seven or three points, and this year we just couldn’t overcome that. That’s what falls on the shoulders of the players.”
On if he was surprised that Lions head coach Jim Schwartz was not fired:
“No, I wasn’t surprised just because he has brought so much to this organization and he has created a different type of attitude. For so long, the Detroit Lions were somewhat of the armpit of the NFL, and nobody cared. Now, people are starting to take notice. This year was a huge step back; 4-12 is not where we wanted to be.
“I was surprised that we fired our receivers coach Shawn Jefferson. He’s a big-time coach, a great asset, a guy that can come in every day and motivate the best player in the game in Calvin Johnson. I was surprised in that but the team has to make moves and you just have to go with the punches.”
On wide receiver Titus Young:
“Titus is like a little brother to me. He’s a guy that I’ve given a lot of energy to over the last couple of years. For a lot of the reasons that people might misunderstand what he does, I appreciate Titus. He’s young, he’s passionate. Guys come into the NFL and they’re complacent in where they are; they got it, they’re drafted, they have the money, now they relax. Titus, he doesn’t want to relax. He wants to be the best, he wants to be the guy, and sometimes that gets in the way of his role on the team.
“I have to talk to him and say, ‘We’re with Calvin, so for so many reasons we have to be the background dancers; we have to go do our thing, we have to be Tito, he’s [Michael Jackson] so let him do his thing and we’ll back him up when he needs us.’ He has a clear understanding of that now. Being exiled, some suspensions, he’s going to get back to where he needs to be because he’s a great asset. He’s one of the great route runners I’ve seen and he’s only a couple of years into the league. He has tremendous hands, so if we can get him on the same page he can help us quite a bit.”
On what element might be missing from Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s game:
“I wish I could pinpoint that. Being a receiver, I never claim to be a quarterback coach. I hear everything that everybody says about the way he throws, his mechanics, his footwork, but I could tell you this that there are throws that he makes that nobody else can make. That’s why he’s in the position that he is. Just like every other athlete in the offseason, you go back to the drawing board, you work on the little things; you build on the strengths and you work on the weaknesses. So for Matt, I believe he’s going to do that regardless of whatever it is. He needs to take that next step.
“In my eyes, he’s a really good quarterback; I’m waiting for him to take that elite step and he has the capability of doing that. I’m excited for next year because he’s young. Just because he got thrown into the fire, they expect so much of him and he’s overachieved a lot since he’s come back from his early injuries. Almost two 5,000-yard seasons is hard to do. He’s come back and proved he can be that guy. I want him to be elite though and a lot people do. There is a lot of pressure on him but that’s why you get paid the big bucks.”
On who is the league’s MVP:
“That’s Calvin Johnson. If we were winning – say we got to the playoffs – he would definitely be in the conversation. Now, Peyton Manning – unbelievable coming back from the neck, going to Denver and doing more for that city almost than [Tim] Tebow did and Tebow caused hysteria out there. Adrian Peterson coming back from the ACL, I had an ACL in 2008 so I know how difficult that is. But the things that Calvin does, he’s in the same boat as AP: everybody knows he’s going to get the ball but he still gets the ball regardless. He’s out there getting viced in the slot like he’s about to cover a punt, so he creates coverages that I haven’t seen since playing with Randy Moss.”
On whether Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford should be setting records for pass attempts:
“It is a lot but I believe that he should. When you have a guy like Calvin [Johnson], you have no choice but to put the ball up there as many times as you need to … Now, you’re not going to hit every one, but when you get that big catch in fishing it makes it worthwhile. When you go out there and you have that big game, that highlight catch that Calvin creates, it’s worthwhile all of those attempts.”
On how he is recovering him his broken leg:
“It’s good. I have a little hardware in there. I’m early in the rehab stages but I’m ahead of schedule, which is a good thing. I’m trying to get back. I’m 31, have a couple more years on my contract. Trying to get back to where I was and get the team back to where we were.”
Tags: Calvin Johnson, Jim Schwartz, Matthew Stafford, Nate Burleson, Shawn Jefferson, Titus Young
Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 6 Comments »
The Lions will get an up close and personal look at some of the best senior prospects in this April’s NFL Draft by coaching one of the Senior Bowl squads.
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and his staff have accepted an invitation to coach at the Senior Bowl.
Schwartz said earlier this week that he’d jump at the chance to see some of the incoming talent by coaching the Senior Bowl at the end of this month.
“I think we’re fifth in line. If it would happen, we would embrace it and we would relish that opportunity,” he said.
“I think there is some insight involved in getting to know those guys over a course of the week and it can confirm some of our scouts’ evaluations that have already worked very long and hard into getting guys evaluated this fall season.
“It can also maybe give us a different perspective on some other guys. Maybe we get a little bit more time with some other guys.”
Schwartz and his staff coached the 2010 Senior Bowl and one of the players that caught their eye from that experience in Mobile, Ala. was running back Joique Bell.
“He was a local guy and we knew him enough from here and worked him out and all those different things because he was a local kid, but we also had him for a whole week down there,” Schwartz said.
“And even though he started his career Buffalo and then he was with New Orleans, he was a guy we always sort of had in the back of our mind and our experience with him that week helped get him here. He knew our coaching staff and we knew a little bit about him, not just what we saw on film as an NFL player.”
The NFL teams with the worst records get a chance to coach the two Senior Bowl squads. Philadelphia and Kansas City, two of the four teams that have a worse record than the Lions, fired their head coaches Monday and typically an organization with a coaching change does not participate in coaching one of the squads.
The Raiders coaching staff accepted the other invitation. They have the No. 3 pick in the draft.
“The Senior Bowl is fortunate to have the Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders as our coaching staffs this year,” said Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage. “Both organizations really wanted to be here and will do a great job of coaching both of our outstanding rosters.”
Schwartz coached the North squad to a 31-13 victory in 2010.
The game will take place January 26 at 3 p.m. on the NFL Network, but it’s the week of practice that’s the real benefit for the coaching staffs as they prepare for the draft.
For a look a complete look at the senior prospects, visit the Senior Bowl website at seniorbowl.com.
Tags: Jim Schwartz
Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 15 Comments »
The Lions were without five starters at practice today – four on defense – as they get ready to face the Cardinals in Arizona Sunday.
The team was without cornerbacks Chris Houston and Jacob Lacey, safety Louis Delmas, defensive tackle Nick Fairley and tight end Brandon Pettigrew for the portion of practice open to the media.
Pettigrew left Sunday’s game in Green Bay early in the first quarter with an ankle injury and did not return.
Fairley left in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury and didn’t return.
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said during his Monday press conference that both players were being evaluated on Monday and they would be monitored this week.
Houston and Lacey have been dealing with ankle and foot injuries for the past few weeks.
Delmas missed the Packers game – his eighth missed game this season – with that sore left knee that’s been bothering him all year.
Tags: Brandon Pettigrew, Chris Houston, Jacob Lacey, Jim Schwartz, Louis Delmas, Nick Fairley
Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 6 Comments »
Head Coach Jim Schwartz will hold his weekly press conference today at 4 p.m. ET in the broadcast studio in Allen Park.
Schwartz will address yesterday’s 13-7 Monday night loss at Chicago and look ahead to the start of the new practice week.
The press conference will be streamed LIVE on Detroitlions.com.
Tags: Jim Schwartz
Posted in DetroitLions.com Blog | 6 Comments »
The Lions officially listed safety Louis Delmas as questionable for Sunday’s game in Philadelphia on Friday’s injury report. Delmas sat out of practice Friday after being a limited participant both Wednesday and Thursday, but head coach Jim Schwartz said that was by design.
“We had planned to ease him back at the end of the week,” he said. “He’s doing well. He’s not having any setbacks and I’d like to keep it that way.”
Delmas said he’s still not 100 percent, but is getting better every day.
“I can’t really determine whether I play or not, but, like I said, I take it day-by-day, believe in my trainers – they’re doing a great job of preparing me, mixing me in, so I can get back out there on the field,” he said Friday.
Defensive tackle Sammie Hill (toe) and defensive end Cliff Avril (back) are also questionable. Both players were limited all week in practice.
Tight end Brandon Pettigrew (knee), receiver Titus Young (knee), linebacker Travis Lewis (quad) and safety Amari Spievey (groin) are listed as probable.
Linebacker Stephen Tulloch is also listed as probable after showing up on the injury report on Friday for the first time this week with a knee injury. He had a procedure done this offseason to help alleviate some soreness associated with tendinitis.
Tags: Amari Spievey, Brandon Pettigrew, Cliff Avril, Jim Schwartz, Louis Delmas, Sammie Hill, Stephen Tulloch, Titus Young, Travis Lewis
Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 18 Comments »