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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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Building depth on defense a point of emphasis for Schwartz

Posted by ttwentyman on January 9, 2012 – 9:04 pm

Injuries are a part of life in the NFL.

Teams who are able to overcome them with good depth on the roster are usually the ones left standing in the end.

The Lions were hit hard by injuries on defense and it certainly affected them toward the end of the season.

Heading into the Thanksgiving game against the Packers in Week 11, the Lions ranked 9th in total defense, 27th against the run and 5th against the pass.

They lost safety Louis Delmas and corner Chris Houston to knee injures against the Packers and suffered other nicks and bruises over the course of the next few weeks. Delmas didn’t return until the playoffs and Houston was never 100 percent.

The injuries hit the Lions hard.

They ended the season 23rd in total defense, 23rd against the run and 22nd against the pass.

“We didn’t adjust well to dealing with those injuries,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said Monday. “How much of it was due to losing Delmas and Chris Houston and Willie (Young) and Lawrence Jackson and those guys? We lost a lot of depth on our D-line; we lost a couple key players in our secondary.

“I think you look at the injury situation: our offense, other than the running back position, was relatively healthy over the course of the season. Defensively, I don’t think we could say the same. It’s the same defense, I think, after about week 8, 9, 10, whatever it was, (that) was top-10-type defense. Obviously we didn’t finish that well.”

That’s an understatement.

The Lions allowed a combined 90 points and 1,176 yards of offense in losses to the Packers and Saints to end the season.

Just as important on the Lions’ offseason to-do list as re-signing defensive end Cliff Avril and linebacker Stephen Tulloch is continuing to build depth on defense.

Injuries are a part of life in the NFL and the Lions need to put themselves in a better position to deal with them.

“We certainly still have work to do there,” Schwartz admitted.


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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 8 Comments »

CB Chris Houston back at practice; Calvin Johnson sits again

Posted by ttwentyman on December 29, 2011 – 1:28 pm

Lions corner Chris Houston made a late appearance to the practice field Wednesday without a helmet and sporting a cast on his left hand. He did not practice.

On Thursday, Houston made another late appearance to practice, but this time, he was wearing a helmet and was ready to participate.

Houston appeared to have a softer cast on the left hand and took part in individual drills in the portion of practice open to the media.

Receiver Calvin Johnson did not practice for a second straight day with that Achilles injury.

Also not practicing were: defensive tackle Corey Williams, defensive tackle Nick Fairley and safety Louis Delmas.

Defensive end Willie Young (ankle) was back at practice after not participating on Wednesday.


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Houston not worried about cast; Johnson sits with Achilles injury

Posted by ttwentyman on December 28, 2011 – 5:03 pm

Right at the end of the portion of Lions practice open the media, corner Chris Houston walked onto the practice field in shorts and his No. 23 jersey sporting a hard cast on his left hand to protect an injured pinkie finger.

But there’s no need to worry, according to Houston. He says he’s fine.

“They’ll probably take this off (soon),” he said as he lifted it up and wiggled his fingers. “I’m able to move it.”

Houston said he hurt the pinkie when he fell on it wrong after returning an interception 43-yards in the fourth quarter against the Chargers on Saturday.

Houston even had a good laugh about it when a media member told him he must not have many friends because he had no signatures on his cast.

“I just got it this morning,” he laughed. “I’m sure it’ll be signed in a minute.”

Houston is still trying to move on from a sprained knee he suffered against the Packers on Thanksgiving that forced him to miss two games and remove himself from another.

“It wasn’t all the way back and it still isn’t 100 percent yet, but it will be,” Houston said Wednesday of the knee.

Houston did not practice Wednesday.

Neither did safety Louis Delmas, who’s been dealing with a sprained right knee for more than a month now. Delmas hasn’t played since hurting the knee against the Packers on Thanksgiving and likely won’t play against the Packers on Sunday.

Delmas had arthroscopic surgery on the knee Dec. 17.

Also missing practice was receiver Calvin Johnson, who was listed on the injury report with an Achilles injury.

“I had some things bothering me at the end of the game there, but like I said I’m just trying to be a fresh as possible going into the game,” Johnson said Wednesday. “I don’t feel too bad. I can’t complain too much.”

Defensive tackle Corey Williams (hip) and defensive end Willie Young (ankle) also missed practice.

Corner Aaron Berry, who’s recovering from a separated right shoulder suffered against the Vikings Dec. 11, looked much better in the early portion of practice than he did last week but is still listed as limited on the injury report.

Defensive end Cliff Avril (back) and defensive tackle Nick Fairley (foot) were also listed as limited.

New running back Joique Bell (No. 35) participated in practice.


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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 1 Comment »

DT Corey Williams still not at practice; others return

Posted by ttwentyman on December 22, 2011 – 1:10 pm

The Lions were still without defensive tackle Corey Williams (hip) in the team’s final practice of the week Thursday before Saturday’s home game against the Chargers.

Williams played through the hip injury against the Raiders last week and said Wednesday that it wouldn’t keep him from playing Saturday.

We’ll see.

Also missing practice was safety Louis Delmas (knee) and corner Don Carey (concussion).

The Lions did get defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch (neck), right tackle Gosder Cherilus (hamstring) and safety Chris Harris (concussion) back on the practice field. Each missed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Defensive tackle Nick Fairley and defensive end Willie Young worked off to the side instead of taking part in individual drills in the portion of practice open to the media.


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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 9 Comments »

Delmas, Durant, Fairley, Smith and Wright all questionable for Sunday

Posted by ttwentyman on December 16, 2011 – 5:00 pm

It’ll be down to the wire whether a number of key contributors will suit up for the Lions in Oakland Sunday.

The Lions got a large contingent of players back on the practice field Friday, but most of them are listed as questionable on Friday’s official injury report.

That includes corner Eric Wright and linebacker Justin Durant, who practiced Friday for the first time this week. Both are nursing hamstring injuries.

Also questionable are defensive tackle Nick Fairley (foot), running back Kevin Smith (ankle) and safety Louis Delmas (knee).

Delmas was back at practice in limited fashion on Friday for the first time since spraining his MCL against the Packers on Thanksgiving. He did not participate in individual drills in the portion of practice open to the media, though.

Smith practiced for a third-straight day and continues to look like he’ll play Sunday.

Fairley didn’t participate in practice for a second-straight day on Friday. He instead was running and working off to the side with trainers.

Probable for the Lions against the Raiders are corner Chris Houston (knee), guard Rob Sims (shoulder), safety Amari Spievey (knee) and DE Willie Young (ankle).

Young didn’t practice Friday, working instead with Fairley off to the side with trainers.

Defensive end Lawrence Jackson (thigh bruise) practiced Friday for the first time in a month but is listed as doubtful on Friday’s official injury report.

Cornerback Aaron Berry, who separated a shoulder against the Vikings and hasn’t practiced all week, is also doubtful.


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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 2 Comments »

Lions get a host of players back to practice

Posted by ttwentyman on December 16, 2011 – 1:01 pm

The Lions got a large contingent of players back on the field Friday in the team’s final practice before leaving for Oakland Friday night.

Corner Eric Wright (hamstring), defensive end Lawrence Jackson (thigh bruise) and linebacker Justin Durant (hamstring) all practiced on Friday after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday.

Friday was the first time Jackson has practiced in nearly a month. He’s missed the team’s last four games with that bruise.

Safety Louis Delmas (knee) was back at practice in limited fashion. He had a helmet but was not participating in individual drills in the portion of practice open to the media.

Defensive tackle Nick Fairley (foot) and defensive end Willie Young (ankle) ran off to the side with trainers instead of participating in practice.

Running back Kevin Smith practiced and it continues to look like he’ll play Sunday.

The only player not doing anything at practice was corner Aaron Berry (shoulder).

The official injury report will player’s status for Sunday will be released at 4 p.m. on detroitlions.com.


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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 4 Comments »

Delmas and Houston doubtful; Durant, Smith and Fairley questionable

Posted by ttwentyman on December 9, 2011 – 5:00 pm

The Lions are beginning a four-game playoff push Sunday against the Vikings and they might have to get through the first leg without some key contributors.

Running back Kevin Smith (high ankle sprain) took part in the early portion of practice open to the media for the first time this week, but looked like he was having a hard time cutting and left the field towards the end of the open media session.

“We’ll see as we go—it’s still Friday,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said of Smith, who was listed as questionable for Sunday on the teams Friday injury report.

“Last week he was able to do some things in the game, you know, wasn’t able to last the whole game, but he was able to do some things and I think that we’ll just see when we get to Sunday. I know that if he’s available to help us, he will be, but we also need to make sure that he’s helping the team by being out there.”

The Lions will likely be without safety Louis Delmas and corner Chris Houston for a second consecutive game as both are dealing with knee injuries. Both are listed as doubtful for Sunday.

Defensive tackle Nick Fairley missed his third practice this week after aggravating a foot injury against the Saints. He’s officially questionable.

The Lions signed free agent defensive tackle Jovan Haye as an insurance policy for Fairley and he participated in practice Friday.

“You know, we had some depth issues on our defensive line, obviously because of Suh’s suspension and also some injuries that we’ve had and you know, he’ll be ready in case we need him,” Schwartz said.

Also sitting out practice was linebacker Justin Durant with a hamstring injury and defensive end Lawrence Jackson with a deep thigh bruise.

Durant is questionable for Sunday and Jackson is out.

Safety Amari Spievey was back at practice after missing Thursday with an illness.

Guard Rob Sims (shoulder) and defensive end Willie Young (ankle) are probable.

For the Vikings…

Corner Chris Cook (non injury related) is out.

Running back Adrian Peterson (ankle) and quarterback Christian Ponder (hip) are questionable. Both practiced in a limited fashion on Friday.


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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 6 Comments »

Defensive starters missing from practice; Delmas and Houston have MCL sprains

Posted by ttwentyman on December 8, 2011 – 5:00 pm

Lions safety Louis Delmas and corner Chris Houston missed practice again Thursday with what we now know are  MCL sprains they suffered on Thanksgiving.

Delmas was injured early in the game when his knee got rolled up on by Packers running back James Starks. He limped off the field and never returned.

Houston was injured when teammate Stephen Tulloch inadvertently hit him right on the knee with his helmet assisting on a tackle at the end of the first half.

Neither Delmas or Houston have practiced or played since suffering their injuries.

Typically, an injury like this takes 2-4 weeks to heal, depending on the player. Both players have said they’re rigorously rehabbing to get back on the field.

It’s not unlike the injury suffered by Bears running back Matt Forte last week.

The Lions practiced Thursday without a number of other key contributors on defense.

Rookie defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who was in a protective boot Wednesday, remains out with that foot injury he aggravated against the Saints Sunday.

Fairley said after practice that it was going to be something he’ll have to deal with the remainder of the season until he can get the proper rest. He said it’ll be about managing the pain and getting rest leading up to game day.

Defensive end Lawrence Jackson continues to be sidelined with that deep thigh bruise.

Linebacker Justin Durant didn’t practice Thursday after being limited by a hamstring injury on Wednesday. Coach Jim Schwartz said Durant was day-to-day after practice.

“Well, we’re going to get them all back, it’s just a matter of when,” Schwartz said of all the team’s injuries. “Maybe Lawrence Jackson is a little bit more long term, but we haven’t put any of those guys on the IR and all those guys are expected back.

“They’re all making progress; they’re all doing well, but whether or not they’ll be available this week is still too early to see – it’s Thursday. But, you know, they’re going to be late-in-the-week decisions and possibly Sunday. We do have a little bit more injuries on defense than we do with offense right now, but it’s life in the NFL.”

Safety Amari Spievey was out with an illness.

On the offensive side of the ball, running back Kevin Smith (ankle) missed a second-straight practice. Remember, Smith got his biggest workload in Thursday’s practice last week.

“Last time I hurt it I had 10 days (before a game),” Smith said. “I feel like I have to do something similar to practice to give myself the confidence that I can make certain movements and certain cuts to be able to produce on game day.”

Receiver Titus Young was back working with the first-team offense in the portion of practice open to the media. Rashied Davis was getting most of that work in that spot Wednesday.

Corner Brandon McDonald (thigh), guard Rob Sims (shoulder) and defensive end Willie Young (ankle) were all limited on the official practice report.


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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 4 Comments »

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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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 1 Comment »