Detroit Lions’ 2018 schedule released

Open at home vs. New York Jets

Perhaps as a nod to new coach Matt Patricia, the Lions will play three nationally televised games in the 2018 season. The NFL released the entire schedule on Thursday night.

The Lions open on Monday night, Sept. 10, against the Jets at Ford Field. In coach Jim Caldwell’s first season, the Lions also opened at home on Monday night.

Patricia will face his former team, the Patriots, on Sept. 23 in a Sunday night game.

And, of course, Detroit will host the annual Thanksgiving Day game — this year against the Bears.

Three of Detroit’s first five games will be played at Ford Field while three of their final four games will be on the road, including the season finale at Green Bay.

In 2017, the Lions wrapped up the season against the Packers at Ford Field.

The final two games of the season including a home tilt against the Vikings on Dec. 23 could play a role in determining the NFC North division.

(All games at 1 p.m. unless otherwise stated)

Sept. 10 — vs. New York Jets (7:10 p.m., Monday)

Sept. 16 — at 49ers, 4:05 p.m.

Sept.23 — vs. New England Patriots (8:20 p.m., Sunday)

Sept. 30 — at Dallas Cowboys,

Oct. 7 — vs. Green Bay Packers

Oct. 14 — BYE WEEK

Oct. 21 — at Dolphins

Oct. 28 — vs. Seattle Seahawks

Nov. 4 — at Minnesota Vikings

Nov.11 — at Chicago Bears

Nov. 18 — vs. Carolina Panthers

Nov. 22 — vs. Chicago Bears (12:30 p.m., Thanksgiving)

Dec. 2 — vs. Los Angeles Rams

Dec. 9 — at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m.

Dec. 16 — at Buffalo Bills

Dec. 23 — vs. Minnesota Vikings

Dec. 30 — at Green Bay Packers

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Lions GM Bob Quinn heads into NFL draft with open mind, endless possibilities

Lions have 6 picks, starting with 20th overall

ALLEN PARK >> With one week until the NFL draft, Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn is tweaking the draft board, getting prepared for any circumstance that could happen during the three-day draft extravaganza.

Of course, Quinn isn’t going to spill his guts when it comes to who he might draft at the 20th pick  in the first round or any of his other five draft picks.

“I think  it’s well-rounded, you look across the draft board, there’s good depth at all the positions,’’ Quinn said at his pre-draft press conference on Thursday. “Corner has one really large group of guys you can get a player at any portion of the draft. Receiver is really deep. Offensive line is deep. You can go across the board. I don’t want to single out one or two.

“It’s a good draft, as in many other years there’s a probably a really cream-of-the-crop top group that’s in the 8-12 range, then after that you have to hone in on guys who fit your system. We’ve done a lot of work on and kind of go from there,’’ Quinn added.

Five other thoughts from Quinn on Thursday:

1. In the first round he specifically looks for guys who are playmakers and who are dependable. “You want dependable players in this program. If you’re taking them in the first round they should be good players or I shouldn’t be standing up here,’’ Quinn said. “I think dependability is something that’s really key with durability, ability to learn, competitive nature because you love football, passion. All of the things we talk about on a basis.’’

2. The signing of veteran running back LeGarrette Blount could have some impact on Quinn’s draft picks. “If we had to go play a football game today I think we have enough running backs to be competitive,’’ Quinn said. “Is that saying I’m not going to take one? I don’t know. Tell me who’s going to be on the board in the second, third and fourth round, I don’t know.’’

3. He’s left the door open for trades to gather more picks. “I think we’re going to take it as it comes in the first round, see what’s there in the teens and evaluate what our options are. … I’m always in the business of getting more draft picks, that’s just good for business. The more you get, the more you’re going to hit on,’’ Quinn said. “So if we can acquire more picks that’s something I look forward to. If there’s a player I like at 20 I will have no hesitation to take him.’’ To that end, he’s had some of his people contact other teams this week just to get an idea if they are open to trades in the first round.

4. As in the last two years, he heads into the draft with an open mind. “The way the roster is today I don’t think I’m in position to reach for any position of so-called (need). We’re looking for good football players — big, strong, tough, competitive guys to help us win. I’m not eliminating any position,’’ Quinn said.

5. Players with good character are still the choice no matter the position. “I think it’s always been important and it continues to be so. I think that’s one thing we take very seriously around here,’’ Quinn said. “I think we want to draft good players, we want to draft good people. So far I’d say, for the most part, we’ve done a good job for the last two years doing that and we want to do it again.’’

Five thoughts from Lions guard T.J. Lang

He’s healthy, unlike last year when was coming off hip surgery

T.J. Lang is a low-key kind of guy which we learned a year ago, his first as the right guard for the Lions.

Takes a lot to get the big guy excited, get back to him in September.

The key difference this year is he is not coming off surgery. A year ago when the Lions signed him as a free agent he was coming off hip surgery.

“Feel pretty good, I do. Obviously this time of year is kind of  getting back into shape, getting working with the guys again,’’ the 30-year-old Lang said on Thursday. “Thinking back to last year at this time I was just getting off crutches. I’m way ahead of where I was last year.’’

The Lions are in their second week of offseason workouts with a minicamp set for next week.

Five thoughts from Lang:

1. On coach Matt Patricia: “He’s another guy who comes from a very successful team, has won quite a few championships and knows the way it’s supposed to go. Excited to have him as a coach, I think the biggest thing you get from guys the last couple weeks is he’s always excited every time you talk to him, he’s very passionate about this game. It’s going to be fun to work with him.’’

2. On new offensive line coach Bo Davis: “I think he’s been around this league for a really long time, he’s had a lot of success everywhere he’s been. Right now is the period where we’re just getting to know each other a little bit. We’ll work on that relationship and I’m sure as we move forward in the next couple weeks we’ll get into more football stuff. … I’m excited to work with him.”

3. On improving the run game: “It’s early on in the process. We haven’t really dived into a lot of things from last year. Everything right now is mostly in the weight room and running on the field. I’m sure that’s a step we’ll take soon. It’s no secret everybody in that room, the O-line room wants to be responsible for our part of having a well balanced offense, that requires you to run the ball effectively. That’s probably going to be an emphasis of ours as we move forward into some on-field drills.”

4. On the injuries across the board on the offensive line last season: “At the time it was frustrating. Right now there’s not one guy in the locker room talking about last year. Everybody’s focused, there’s new optimism, new excitement in the locker room. We don’t care about last year any more. It’s well documented what we went through, especially as an offensive line injury-wise and obviously performance. We’re going to try to learn from our mistakes, we’ve got some new guys in the room it’s a totally different team this year so we’re going to have to figure out what we do well and move forward from there.’’

5. On the NFL schedule being released tonight: “For me the only thing I look at, to be honest with you, is the bye week. Hopefully it’s in the middle of the season to split it up a little bit.’’

Five thoughts from Lions’ Matthew Stafford early in offseason workouts

‘Biggest thing is to move forward’

ALLEN PARK >> Entering his tenth season with the Lions, Matthew Stafford will be working under his third head coach in Matt Patricia.

“Change happens in the NFL, it’s almost inevitable, I think the goal is to play well enough to not have those changes, obviously we didn’t in the past,’’ Stafford said on Tuesday. “But I think the biggest thing is to move forward, and Jim Bob (Cooter) stuck around as the offensive coordinator, so some of that continuity will be helpful.’’

The Lions started their offseason workout program last week. They’ll go through a three-day voluntary minicamp next week before the start of the draft on Thursday night.

On Tuesday, Stafford talked to the media for the first time since Patricia was hired in January.

Five thoughts:

1. Obviously Patricia has made an early impact even though he’s only been allowed to speak to the team, not work with them. “He comes from a program that’s won a lot of football games in a lot of different ways, he’s a smart guy, we’ll enjoy those conversations when they come around, obviously he’s met with the team a couple times, but he’s just got great energy, great passion for the game,’’ Stafford said. “He, like everybody else, in this building just wants to win, and that’s our goal, but in the meantime he understands the process of it and just harps on that to us. It’s early right now, it’s on us to improve ourselves this time of year and that’s what we’re worried about at the moment.’’

2. It’s not just that Cooter is back to lead the offense, four of the top wide receivers remain on the roster which will obviously help provide continuity. “It’s good. It’s nice. I think it’s on us to continually improve, though,’’ Stafford said. “We can’t sit there and say, ‘Hey, we had a good year last year. Let’s just go do that again.’ We have to go find ways to be better, to find ways to be more efficient, more explosive, and put points up on the board.”

3. One of the biggest additions on offense was signing 31-year-old free agent running back LeGarrette Blount. “Obviously I’m a football fan, I’ve watched him play a lot of meaningful, important games and he’s played really well in those games, excited to have him, big, physical guy, does a really nice job in the red areas, scored a lot of touchdowns in his career rushing the football, and that’s an area we can improve in,’’ Stafford said.  “And as far as his experience and games he’s played in for as long as he’s played and the level he’s played at, it’s going to bring a lot to that room, to our offense and to our team.’’

4. While the mainstays of the offense return, obviously there will be changes. “We’re always looking to find ways to get better, I think if you just looked at it statistically from the past year, I think we can be better in a number of areas, and we’ll put a lot of time and effort and focus into that this offseason and hopefully it’ll come to fruition during the season, it’s a long process getting there,’’ Stafford said.

5. Like always, Stafford is his own toughest critic and knows certain areas that he needs to improve. “There’s a bunch, I can always be better, obviously I think I turned the ball over too many times last year, got the ball knocked out of my hands or threw it to the other team too many times,’’ Stafford said. “Every offseason you’re looking at those and hating watching them again and trying to find ways to make sure they don’t happen again, that’s a huge one. Obviously a big one always in the NFL is turnovers, so I can always be better doing that.’’

 

Five reasons DE Marcus Davenport makes sense for Lions in NFL draft

Has similarities to Ziggy Ansah

Marcus Davenport makes sense for the Lions to draft with the 20th overall pick on April 26, the first night of the three-day NFL draft event.

The defensive end, who played at the University of Texas at San Antonio, is routinely described as “raw.” He’s 6-5 and 259 pounds — or as the scouts say — long, strong and physical at the point of attack.

In Gil Brandt’s top 150 draft prospects that was posted on NFL.com today, Davenport is ranked 12th with this comment: “Davenport will get better every year and has a chance to become a good pass rusher in the NFL. He’s very athletic and has good character and excellent work habits.”

Detroit’s defensive line is one area that needs help in the draft and, if there’s a good option, it would not be surprising to see GM Bob Quinn select a defensive lineman in the first round. Davenport could be the guy.

Here are five reasons why:

1. If anybody knows Davenport well it’s his defensive line coach from UTSA last season. That would be Bo Davis. Coincidentally, Davis is the new Lions’ defensive line coach under head coach Matt Patricia. Hmmm. So if the Lions like Davenport — and most scouts do — it seems this would be a perfect match if he is still available.

2. Davenport is known as an excellent run defender. That was an area of concern last season for the Lions who were 15th in the NFL last season, allowing 112.5 rushing yards per game.

3. He wouldn’t be the first “raw” defensive end the Lions have drafted in the first round. Indeed, Ziggy Ansah probably had more work to do just to learn the game he had only played for three years. And we know, that worked out just fine. Last season he had 55 tackles with 17.5 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, four passes batted and three forced fumbles.

4. Mock drafts vary widely when it comes to the Lions’ 20th pick. Two of the three NFL.com mock drafts have Davenport going to the Lions.

5. From Charlie Campbell at WalterFootball.com: “Edge defenders with length are always in demand, so even though Davenport needs development, he could be a mid- to late first-rounder. Scouts from over a handful of teams have told me that Davenport is a good player and impressed them in 2017, but they thought a top-16 pick is too high for him. They think the back half of the first round is possible.” If true, this means he could be available when the Lions pick at No. 20.

#Lions Bob Quinn said no desperation mode when it comes to the draft

In fine-tuning mode for draft prep

With the NFL draft about three weeks away, Lions general manager Bob Quinn said the team is in the fine-tuning stage at this point.
Quinn, new coach Matt Patricia and team president Rod Wood answered questions at a season tickets holders summit on Monday night at Ford Field attended by 3,811 fans.
The NFL draft is set for April 26, 27 and 28. The Lions have six picks starting with the 20th overall pick in the first round.
“Most of the heavy lifting has been done,’’ Quinn said.
Due to their free agency signings, Quinn said they will not be in desperation mode during the draft.
“I think as free agency wore on, we kind of got out of the gate, signed a few players, took a step back, re-evaluated the market and kind of added some guys in the last week or 10 days,’’ Quinn said. “So I’d say best player available is what we’re looking at. I don’t think we have to reach for anybody or are dying to have one position or another.
“Do we have wants or needs? Absolutely. I don’ think it’s a desperation situation that we’re going to have to move up in the draft to get a certain guy or certain player. That opens up the draft board for you,’’ said Quinn who will be running his third Lions draft.
The GM said they have brought in eight of the 30 allowed draft prospects to the facility.
Quinn
Patricia is still in an excited-to-be-here mode. It was clear from his answers.
“The draft is a great night for football, a great night for our organization,’’ Patricia said.
He was questioned about specifics in the defense and offense, but mostly gave generalized answers.
“I’m just trying to win every day right now,’’ Patricia said.
Other highlights:

— Wood said he doesn’t know the exact date that the 2018 NFL schedule will be released but expects it to happen in the next few weeks.

— One of the first questions from the fans was if the concession prices will be cut. Wood said it is definitely something they are evaluating. It has been done at the new Atlanta Falcons stadium and Ford Field shares the same concession company. “More to come on that,’’ Wood said.

— The team president also said the Lions were the No. 1 team in the NFL in increased attendance last year.

— Half-time entertainment is just one area they are looking to improve in terms of the fan experience on game day.

Five things to know about newest Lions RB LeGarrette Blount

Familiarity with Matt Patricia was one reason he signed

A year ago running back LeGarrette Blount signed a one-year free agent deal with Philadelphia, then he helped lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl win.

In 2016, Blount agreed to a one-year deal with New England and ended the season with a Super Bowl title for the Patriots.

Coincidence?

Blount agreed to a one-year $2 million deal (with $2.5 million in incentives) with the Lions. What’s next?

“I don’t believe it’s luck. I just believe it’s hard work,’’ Blount said during a Monday conference call. “You’ve got to grind for everything you get in this league — scratch, claw for everything you get. There’s no luck involved. All 32 teams are going out there with one common goal.

“Everybody works their tails to get to that last game — you fight, you scratch, you claw, you bleed with your brothers. It’s the mentality that you refuse to be denied and that’s just something that I want to bring to Detroit. You just got to have to refuse to be denied what you think you’ve earned throughout the whole process.”

Five things to know about Blount:

1. His familiarity with new Lions coach Matt Patricia, the former New England Patriots’ defensive coordinator, helped get him to Detroit.  “My relationship with Matt has always been a great one. Even though he was on the defensive side of the ball, anytime I ever saw him in any part of the building, whether it was just walking by in the hall or in the cafeteria or practice or whatever the circumstance may be, anytime he walked past or anytime we were around each other, it was always laughs and jokes,’’ Blount said. “Obviously, we get serious when it’s time to do the job, but for the most part we laughed and joked and clowned around and we enjoyed each other, and it got to a point where we had gotten really close.’’

Of course he also knows general manager Bob Quinn, chief of staff Kevin Anderson and strength and conditioning coach Harold Nash who were with the Patriots during Blount’s two stints there — 2013 and then 2014-16.

2. Blount finished last season averaging 4.4 yards per carry, his highest average since 2013 when he was good for 5.0 yards per carry. In the Eagles’ Super Bowl win over the Patriots, he had 14 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown. The Lions owned the NFL’s worst rushing offense in 2017 averaging 3.4 yards per carry. Third-and-1s were a nightmare which is one area the 245-pound Blount should be able to help.

3. He uses word “grittiness” to describe new running back teammates Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah. “I like how hard they play. You can tell they play with a lot of passion,’’ Blount said. “”My job is to help add value and our goal is to just do our jobs together and get all the wins we can get.”

4. Blount is blunt about his status. “They are going to get a good veteran running back that has a lot of years and a lot of miles left on him that’s going to play as hard as he possibly can for the organization and for Matty P.,” the 31-year-old Blount said.

5. This is the third one-year deal he’s signed in three years and he’s good with that. “That’s not the part of the business I handle. That’s the part of the business my agent, the head coach and whoever else handles that part,’’ Blount said. “Me, personally, I just want to make a decision where I can put myself in the right situation to be successful and help another team be successful. That’s what my ultimate goal is, to make sure I’m in the right situation, that I’m what the team needs.’’