Darius Slay undergoes minor surgery and will not participate in rookie mini-camp

Posted by ttwentyman on May 7, 2013 – 12:03 pm

I learned this morning after speaking with Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew that second-round pick Darius Slay has undergone minor and successful arthroscopic knee surgery due to a torn meniscus.

Darius Slay

The Lions initially thought that Slay wouldn’t have to have a procedure done.

In fact, the knee never even bothered him. Following an MRI, he was told he had a torn meniscus.”I’ve been working out on it, I’m great,” said Slay during his introductory press conference.

The Lions opted to take the safe route, however.

Mayhew said that the collective medical opinion was to do the procedure now to allow Slay to put the knee issue behind him once he begins his offseason workouts.

It would have been nice to see Slay work out with the rookies this weekend, but — considering how minor this surgery is — the hope is now to see him fresh and ready to go with the vets.

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Coaching the Senior Bowl paid off in a big way for Lions in this year’s draft

Posted by ttwentyman on April 27, 2013 – 10:25 pm

Of the eight players the Lions drafted this year, three picks – DE Ziggy Ansah, G Larry Warford and TE Michael Williams – were coached by the Lions at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama in January.

Being able to spend a week with those players, seeing how they practiced, prepared in the meeting room and what type of men they were off the field, turned out to be invaluable for Lions general manager Martin Mayhew and Co.

“I really can’t explain it,” Mayhew said. “I can just tell you, the last time that we went down there (the Lions coached the North team at the Senior Bowl in 2009), we came back and went through this entire process. At the end of it, there just weren’t a whole lot of guys that were on our team that really appealed to us.

“This time, we went through the same exact process, had a different roster of guys and it was littered with guys that really appealed to us. So, I can’t really explain it. But we felt so much better about this class of guys than we did the last class.”

The fact that the Lions coached the South team this time around could have had something to do with it, Mayhew admitted.

“There may be something to that,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t know, that South team is usually pretty stacked.

“There were guys that we looked at and we were like, ‘Oh, we’d draft him and we’ll draft him and him,’ that’s how it went. There were just a bunch of guys we really liked.”

Thursday night, after selecting Ansah with the No. 5 overall pick, Mayhew said he might not of made the pick if the Lions hadn’t spent that week with him.

“I think if we didn’t have the opportunity to coach him at the Senior Bowl, that would have been a bigger issue,” Mayhew said of Ansah only having played football since 2010.

“But we had the opportunity to work with him and teach him and we saw the way that he could learn, how quickly he picks things up and we saw the impact that he had in the game so we felt very comfortable with him.”

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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 13 Comments »

Detroit Lions at the NFL Scouting Combine: What we took from Day 2

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on February 22, 2013 – 10:54 pm

Martin Mayhew

Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew stepped to the podium on day 2 of the NFL Scouting Combine, but it was comments made during his private session with the beat writers that drew more attention.

Also available Friday were offensive linemen, running backs, wide receivers and quarterbacks.

  • Detroitlions.com lead writer Tim Twentyman speculated whether Alabama’s Chance Womack would become the first guard drafted in the top five since Bill Fralic in 1985.
  • Arkansas-Pine Bluff tackle Terron Armstead has potential with his athletic ability to be a mid-round selection for the Detroit Lions.
  • West Virginia’s Tavon Austin presents an intriguing option for the Lions as a triple-threat return man, wide receiver and running back.

Saturday’s availability will include more wide receivers and running backs, defensive linemen and linebackers. Offensive linemen will also begin on-field workouts.

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Martin Mayhew still extending a helping hand to Titus Young

Posted by ttwentyman on February 22, 2013 – 1:10 pm

Titus Young may no longer be a member of the Detroit Lions, but that doesn’t mean general manager Martin Mayhew isn’t willing to extent a helping hand to a man in need.

“We’re going to try and work with him and support him in any way possible,” Mayhew said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I feel like I want to help him deal with his problems, whatever they are, and we support them.”

Mayhew said he’s been in contact with Young’s family since he was released by the Rams and said he’ll continue to be supportive to him.

Young’s troubles have been well documented in Detroit, which led to his release on the first day teams could do so following the season. Young was claimed off waivers by the Rams — the only team to put in a claim on him — but was later released after the interview process.

Mayhew did reiterate that although he’s extended a helping hand to Young, the door is shut on any possible return to the Lions.

Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 6 Comments »

Don’t expect any franchise tag news out of Allen Park

Posted by ttwentyman on February 18, 2013 – 12:49 pm

Monday marks the first day NFL teams can use the franchise tag as a way of preventing players from reaching free agency.

Don’t expect any news out of Allen Park on that front.

Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew made it clear immediately after the season that he had no plans to use the franchise tag and reiterated that point last week when he spoke to reporters again.

“We’re not going to franchise anybody,” Mayhew said. “It doesn’t make sense for us right now.”

Last year, the Lions placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on defensive end Cliff Avril, which paid him $10.6 million in 2012. The team would have to pay him upwards of $12.6 million, or 120 percent of last year’s salary, if they wished to tag him again.

That isn’t cost effective for a team with so many other needs and unrestricted free agents on the roster.

There was a time this season when safety Louis Delmas seemed like a candidate for the franchise tag – especially since the franchise amount for the safety position (approximately $6.8 million) is the third-lowest next to kickers/punters and tight ends – but injury concerns have probably decreased his value on the open market and the Lions will try to sign him for a much lower annual amount.

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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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Lions GM Martin Mayhew says the ball is in everyone’s court to get deal done with Avril

Posted by ttwentyman on June 13, 2012 – 10:36 am

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew has been through tough negotiations before and says there’s a process to long-term contract talks like the ones the Lions are currently having with defensive end Cliff Avril.

“I’ve been through this before,” Mayhew told reporters before Wednesday’s minicamp practice. “There’s no panic button. We don’t panic. The plan is to get a long-term deal done with him and the (franchise) tender is out there and has always been available.”

The Lions have until July 16 to negotiate a long-term deal or Avril will be required to play the 2012 season under the one-year $10.6 million franchise tag.

“There’s a lot that goes on with that,” Mayhew said of the negotiations. “It’s a very complicated deal. It takes time to get some of these deals done. I wouldn’t say I’m surprised it’s not done now. I think its very complex and those guys are doing an outstanding job continuing to have dialogue.”

Lions president Tom Lewand has been the lead negotiator on the deal with Avril’s agent Brian Mackler, but Mayhew said he’s had dialogue with both.

“There’s a lot of dialogue that goes on. I think Tom has done an outstanding job with that. Brian Mackler is doing an outstanding job. I think Cliff is being very level headed.

“I don’t think the ball is in anybody’s court. The ball is in everybody’s court.  We’re trying to get a long-term deal done with Cliff. It’s a process.”

The clock is ticking a little more than a month from the deadline.

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Lions particularly excited about a couple undrafted free agents

Posted by ttwentyman on May 1, 2012 – 1:27 pm

The work didn’t stop for Lions general manager Martin Mayhew or president Tom Lewand when the draft ended Saturday night. The Lions instantly hit the phones to try and sign undrafted rookies to free agent deals.

With rookie mini-camp beginning in nine days, the Lions have agreed to terms with a number of rookie free agents, according to various reports.

The Lions won’t officially announce their undrafted rookie free agent signings until those players have taken a physical and signed their contracts. However, in an interview with Mike O’Hara and Ken Brown on WJR last night, Mayhew did single out Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore and Houston receiver Patrick Edwards as two players he’s particularly excited about.

“The winningest quarterback ever, 50-3,” Mayhew said of Moore. “The guy is very talented (and a) very cerebral quarterback and understands the game, son of a coach. He has a good arm and is very accurate.

“He anticipates things really well. That’s the one thing our scouts and coaches really talked about. He really knows where to go with the ball and he gets the ball there before the receiver comes out of his break. The guy is very talented and we were very fortunate to be able to get him.”

The Lions typically bring in more than three quarterbacks to training camp, but Moore looks to have a great opportunity to make the roster behind Matthew Stafford and backup Shaun Hill.

Edwards (5-9, 172) had over 4,500 receiving yards and 43 touchdowns in four years at Houston. He also scored two touchdowns returning punts.

“This guy has also been one of the productive guys in college football the last couple seasons,” Mayhew said of Edwards. “He had (1,752) yards receiving last year, 19.7 yards average per catch and he’s going to be one of our free agents that’s really another talented offensive weapon.

“He’s very fast. That Houston offense throws the ball around quit a bit. He was one of those run-and-shoot receivers. He caught like 89 balls last year, I think, so he caught a ton of balls. He’s been a three-year starter for them. He has over 4,500 yards in his career. He’s another guy who we think has a really good chance.”

Here is the unofficial list of the Lions’ undrafted rookie free agents thus far:

QB Kellen Moore, Boise State

WR Patrick Edwards, Houston

WR Troy Burrell, Wayne State

WR Jared Karstetter, Washington State

TE Alex Gottlieb, William & Mary

OG Rodney Austin, Elon

OT Quinn Barham, Penn State

OG J.C. Oram, Weber State

LB Carmen Messina, New Mexico

LB Ronnie Sneed, Kentucky

DT Michael Cosgrove, Idaho

DE Eddie McClam, Old Dominion

K Derek Dimke, Illinois

CB Alonzo Lawrence, Mississippi Golf Coast Community College

G Pat Boyle, Temple

TE Austin Wells, Northern Iowa

RB Stephon Greene, Penn State

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Who’s still available for the Lions in the second and third rounds

Posted by ttwentyman on April 27, 2012 – 11:25 am

Round one of the 2012 NFL Draft is in the books and the Lions found their left tackle of the future in Iowa’s Riley Reiff with the 23rd pick.

Tom Lewand, Martin Mayhew and the coaching staff will be sequestered back into the war room in Allen Park tonight for rounds two and three.

So, who are some names that make senses for the Lions tonight?

Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana

At 6-feet-2 and 204 pounds, Johnson has elite size for the position. The big worry with any prospect from a small school is whether he was challenged enough. Johnson is a bit raw and it’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts to the precision and physicality of NFL receivers.

Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida

Robinson ran a combine-best 4.33-second 40-yard dash and performed well in all the other drills. He doesn’t have elite size (5-10, 199), but was a three starter at Central Florida and has a lot of experience. The big question mark with Robinson is his man-cover skills.

Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

Branch is an athletic defensive end who could also play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Those are just the type of speed rushers the Lions like to set out wide and target the quarterback. Branch was one of the Lions’ 30 pre-draft visits and would be a terrific pick in the second round.

Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall

The Lions also took a closer look at Curry in the pre-draft process and he fits the mold of what they like in their defensive ends. He had 23 sacks the last two years and is a pure pass rusher. Lions might have to move up to get him, though.

Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska

The Lions return all three starters at linebacker, but still need depth and talent at the position. David is a bit undersized (6-1, 233) but makes up for it with instincts and speed. He was extremely productive at Nebraska and was a tackle machine.

Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

There is no substitute for speed in the NFL and Brown might be the fasted linebacker prospect to ever enter the NFL. Brown set the North Carolina record in the indoor 60-meter dash as a sophomore and that speed translates well to the football field. He was a pre-draft visit for the Lions.

RB LaMichael James, Oregon

James has great speed and quickness and excels in the open field. In the Lions offense, he could get a lot of those opportunities. During his pre-draft visit, James said he’d love to return kicks and play special teams, which s a plus for the Lions. He’s also insurance for Jahvid Best.

RB Lamar Miller, Miami

Miller is a terrific running back prospect for the Lions because he’s a hybrid of both Mikel Leshoure and Jahvid Best. He has terrific speed, but also shows great power when he runs between the tackles. He has to get much better as a pass protector, though.

OG Amini Silatolu, Midwestern State

Could the Lions go offensive line with their top-two picks? They could if Silatolu is still on the board when they pick at No. 54. The Lions wanted a closer look during the pre-draft process. Silatolu is a mauler on the interior.

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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 25 Comments »

Lions Draft Special: Watch ‘Before the Snap’ for an inside look at the NFL draft on WXYZ – Channel 7

Posted by Tara Altman on April 26, 2012 – 5:21 pm

A whole new season of Detroit Lions coverage kicks off with an exciting one-hour, live draft special “Before the Snap,” tonight from 7-8 P.M.   The show will be hosted by WXYZ sports anchor Tom Leyden and former Lions tight end, NFL analyst Rob Rubick.

“Before the Snap,” will take viewers inside the draft process with interviews from Lions top executives, including Head Coach Jim Schwartz, President Tom Lewand, and General Manager Martin Mayhew.

The show will also include live shots from the Lions Draft party at the Fillmore in downtown Detroit with sports reporter Brad Galli, as well as commentary from an expert panel including NFL broadcast veterans Matt Shepard from WDFN, and Mike Valenti from 97.1 The Ticket, along with Detroit Lions color analyst Jim Brandstatter.

Join the conversation with Lions Insider Tim Twentyman and Channel 7:  Be sure to share your thoughts and opinions using #lionsdraft on Facebook and Twitter. He’ll share your views on TV during the special.

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