ALLEN PARK — The Lions returned this week to the team facility for offseason workouts meeting new teammates, introducing themselves to new staff and getting down to business.
Coming off a 9-8 season definitely carries a vibe better than a year ago when they had won just three games the previous season.
While conventional wisdom from NFL prognosticators seems to be that the Lions could be the team to beat in the NFC North, that thought does not carry over into the locker room.
Quarterback Jared Goff has heard the talk, but plainly said there are no favorites in April.
The Lions finished with an 8-2 record in their last 10 games and became media darlings of sorts, but they did not make the playoffs.
“I think the standards and expectations will continue to rise. I think the urgency in the building will continue to rise, I think it has already. All the way from the top down we realize that we’re ready to go…’’ Goff said on Tuesday.
This is Goff’s third preseason with the Lions and he said the offseason moves have been noticeably more aggressive.
“You can see the aggressiveness in them and it trickles into us. We see everything, a couple weeks the draft will come and there’ll be more of that there,’’ Goff said. “The aggressiveness of taking our shot and knowing that we have a team that can compete with anybody and we’re going to try to make some noise this year.’’
Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown has been with the Lions two seasons and he thinks the experience of those years will help himself and his teammates transform this year.
“I think, us as a team, we have a lot of young guys that we’ve had since we were here that are hungry, who saw what we did two years ago only winning three games my rookie year to last year to what we can do this year,’’ St. Brown said. “I think being a part of that journey is going to help us throughout the year.’’
Left tackle Taylor Decker, entering his eighth season with the Lions, is singing the same song. He’s excited to be back, sees the changes that have been made but can’t take anything for granted. He does not think the team will have to guard against thinking they are too good.
“I think everybody’s past experiences will take care of that. Players know that have been here, staff that has been here, the fans now,’’ Decker said. “There’ve been some tough years, some really tough years. I have the best job in the world, it’s amazing but you want to win.’’
Decker has made just one trip to the playoffs in his tenure in Detroit and that was his rookie season. He’s excited about this coming season but is mindful of what can be reality in the NFL.
“It’s nice to come into the building with expectations. Like it’s an enjoyable thing to look forward to next year knowing that we laid a foundation the prior year and that’s something we did together as a group,’’ Decker said. “There’s excitement for what the future could hold, but ultimately – it’s a dead horse statement, like beating a dead horse. You have to come in and on your first day of OTAs you have to do your testing, your stretching, your soft tissue, your lifting, your running. That’s what’s important today. That’s the thing about this league: Are you going to come to work every single day? Because if you don’t come to work now, if you didn’t start working out till just now then you aren’t going to have the results. There’s definitely excitement and that’s a great thing, we’ve laid the foundation. But let’s do the work now.’’
(Coming up: The Lions have two picks in the first round of the NFL draft which begins on Thursday, April 27.)