Lions coach Matt Patricia, Matthew Stafford appear to be a good match

They talk non-stop on the field during OTAs

For coach Matt Patricia to turn the Lions into a perennial playoff team, he has to build a solid relationship with quarterback Matthew Stafford.

He knows it, we know it. Now it has to happen.

With three days of organized team activities behind them, it appears that Matt and Matthew are off to good start.

Stafford down-played the fact that Patricia comes from the defensive side of the ball. It’s not a first. His first Lions’ head coach, Jim Schwartz, was also a former defensive coordinator. The quarterback also had a good relationship with former defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham.

“You know, it’s not like I’ve never talked to (former Lions defensive coordinator) Teryl Austin or any of those guys too. It is, it’s always unique. Every defensive coach kind of has their own philosophy. I’m sure Coach Patricia’s will be different than the guys who have been here before,’’ Stafford said on Thursday. “It’s always fun to kind of pick the brain of the other side and see what they’re seeing and what they’re trying to take away and what they’re trying to force you to do.”

Unlike the defense, the offense is still basically the same with Jim Bob Cooter in charge.

Of course, it will be tweaked just like it is every season.

So far Stafford has impressed Patricia which isn’t exactly a shocker. Patricia was asked about the differences in Stafford and Tom Brady and would not go there. (Not a shocker either.)

“Stafford’s phenomenal. He’s work hard, tough, smart and you know what’s great is when you have quarterbacks like that where you can go out and look (QB Jake) Rudock and (QB) Matt Cassel are the same guys, and you’re going out and you’re having football conversations,’’ Patricia said on Thursday.

“You’re not really having to always explain everything from a ‘let me draw this up for you’ and show you what I’m talking about, you can just have the conversations, ‘Hey if this guy’s here’ or ‘This leverage is played like this’ or ‘The DBs in this position’ or ‘The front looks like this’ and just for them to visually have those conversations with you, that’s what’s great. That’s when you know you’ve got guys who are really dialed in.’’

They appear to have quickly developed a good on-field rapport.

“He’s competitive out on the field, I’m competitive. He’s asking me non-stop, I’m talking to him non-stop. He’s out there a bunch as a head coach, kind of standing behind me looking at the defense and seeing it kind of how I see it,’’ Stafford said. “So, there’s constant back and forth of, ‘Hey, what did you see? Did this guy give it away?’ Whatever. But we’re always talking.”

It would be wrong to down-play Cooter’s role in the offense, but at the same time Patricia knows his success rides on the shoulders of No. 9.

So far, so good.

“Matthew’s unbelievable. He loves this game, like he loves football, loves to practice, loves to prepare, he wants to know as much information as possible, not only scheme-wise, he wants to know it from players, as far as the guys around him, as far as the guys on the other side of the ball,’’ Patricia said. “Different things, that I think for me that are fun to talk to him about is like there’s a little bit of a chess game that happens offensively and defensively through some of the positions and I think from that standpoint, you know, I’m looking at him saying, ‘I’m seeing this’ or ‘You’re doing this’, you know, ‘What are you seeing from this position and how do you view that’. And I think that’s all part of the growth and education of it and it’s great. It’s a lot of fun when you can do that on the field.”

The OTAs continue next week with mandatory minicamp set for June 5-7.

 

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Four things to know about Lions first-round pick Frank Ragnow

Lines up at left guard now, but that could change

ALLEN PARK — After his third day of Detroit Lions’ organized team activities this week, rookie Frank Ragnow was a new-found appreciation for the NFL.

Ragnow, the first-round pick out of Arkansas, clearly sees the differences between college and the NFL.

“It’s way different. I have a lot of respect for the NFL, it’s a whole different speed and these are a lot of talented guys out here, all the way, four-deep everybody is really talented,’’ Ragnow said after Thursday’s session. “It’s been an adjustment but it’s been fun to get to work and learn every day.’’

Four things to know about Ragnow after three days of OTAs:

1. Ragnow lined up at left guard throughout the two-hour workout. When he was drafted it was unclear if he’d play left guard or center and it’s still too early to know. Coach Matt Patricia said on Thursday that no decisions have been made on positions and, in fact, several guys would line up at different positions, maybe even some they haven’t played before.

2. Ragnow said he has no preference on guard or center. “Just want to be out there helping the team. I played a lot of positions in high school, played a lot of positions in college,’’ Ragnow said. “I just like playing football. Wherever they put me I’ll be happy to be there.’’ He said he played about the same amount of snaps at guard and center at Arkansas.

3. Patricia’s early impressions of Ragnow: “I think he’s done a great job. He comes and he works extremely hard, as have all the rookies that have been in here and that’s out on the field together. It’s really, you know what’s good, when you see and go out in practice and you don’t particularly notice that there’s a guy that is wither a young player or not. He just kind of fits in with the group and fits in and plays, and you’re not really looking at it and saying, ‘That’s out of place’, like it looks like it’s out of place. I haven’t noticed that at all.” And, that’s a good thing.

4. Veteran guard T. J. Lang and guard/center Graham Glasgow, who is entering his third season, have been a help to Ragnow. “They’ve been incredible, both of them have been really incredible really helpful and have given me a lot of tips day to day,’’ Ragnow said. “It’s been a real blessing to have both of them in the room.’’ Glasgow lined up at center on Thursday.

 

Five things to know about Detroit Lions TE Luke Willson

His role hasn’t been defined yet

ALLEN PARK >> Luke Willson apologized for sweating when he took the podium on Tuesday.

The Lions tight end said he didn’t usually sweat that much so apparently he’s working out hard in his first offseason in Detroit.

Willson, who signed with the Lions as a free agent, seemed totally comfortable talking to the media. He even asked for softball questions when he hopped up to the podium.

“I’m a local guy take it easy on me,’’ Willson asked, half-joking.

Five things to know:

1. He grew up in LaSalle, Ontario, (minutes from the Ambassador Bridge) and was a big Lions fan especially during the Barry Sanders and Herman Moore days. “Fun fact, David Sloan was my tight ends coach in college so we had a full-circle thing. Johnnie Morton’s brother, Chad, was out in Seattle … I liked the Lions growing up with that being said I think it’s important for me to establish the divide yeah i was a fan of the team but I’m here to do a job,’’ Willson said. Sloan was a tight end with the Lions from 1995 to 2001.

2. In his five seasons in Seattle, Willson had 89 catches for 1,129 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s uncertain what his role will be with the Lions. “At this part of the offseason, phase 2, it’s too early to talk about roles. I’m here to do whatever the coaches ask me, right now with CBA rules, personally it’s about getting better each day,’’ Willson said. “A lot of individual stuff, showing the coaches what I can do and from there they’ll decide what role I’ll be playing this year.’’

3. Willson spent the last three seasons in the same tight ends room with Jimmy Graham in Seattle. With the Lions, there is not one big name guy who is a tight end on the roster. “I’d say we’re learning together. At the same time, it’s been a lot of fun in that sense where everything is new to a lot of us. Mike Rob (Roberts) has been here longest for a year. Hakeem (Valles) has been here for last year. Even for me as a veteran guy bouncing stuff off Hakeem, but it’s been fun in the sense I can tell them some stuff as far as being a little bit older and they can help me out. It’s been great, I think we all get along pretty well,’’ Willson said.

4. Willson responded, “Absolutely not” when asked if the Matt Patricia controversy that arose last week will hang over the team this season. “He spoke to the team at the team meeting what happened at the team meeting stays in there. We all support him. It’s back to football for us. We’re pretty focused right now,’’ Willson said. “To be honest I kept an open mind, I believe in Coach Patricia and listened to what he said.’’

5. Here’s what he wants fans to know about him: “You know I want, I kind of grew up in the blue collar area that this is, Windsor is an automotive city as well. My parents weren’t in the automotive industry but good friends and family are,’’ Willson said. “I think I bring a part of that to my personality and a part of that to my game playing — a little grimy here and there, a little blue collar we’ll see how it goes.’’

Lions Matt Patricia: ‘I’m here to defend my honor and clear my name’

Owner Martha Firestone Ford shows support

ALLEN PARK — Lions coach Matt Patricia was scheduled to address the media on Thursday to discuss this weekend’s rookie minicamp.

Instead he stood behind the podium for nearly seven minutes in front of a jam-packed media room, to address the Detroit News story that reported he was indicted but not tried in a sexual assault case when he was 21 years old on spring break.

“I’m here to defend my honor and clear my name,’’ Patricia said in his opening statement.

Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford, who rarely attends news conferences, was in attendance displaying her support, along with general manager Bob Quinn, team president Rod Wood and Lions counsel Jay Colvin.

The team issued a statement on Wednesday night giving their full backing to Patricia. Their attendance on Thursday emphasized their support.

“Mrs. Ford, her family, Rod and Bob are unbelievable people. I can’t express to you how amazing human beings they are, compassionate and understanding,’’ said Patricia who was hired in January to replace Jim Caldwell.

After thanking the Lions’ organization, he stated: “Twenty-two years ago I was falsely accused of something very serious, very serious allegations. There were claims made about me that never happened. I am thankful on one level that the process worked and the case was dismissed. At the same time, I was never given the opportunity to defend myself or to allow push-back with the truth to clear my name. This was something that was very traumatic to me. I was 21 years old. Once it was finally addressed I tried to put it behind me.’’

The first-time head coach said the issue never came up in the interview process with the Lions or at any time during his career.

“I started interviewing for jobs 22 years ago, in a time where one year after this incident happened where I interviewed, and these situations never came up, never asked. It was never an issue through the course of my career. The case was dismissed and I’m innocent,’’  said Patricia who spent the past 14 seasons with the New England Patriots.

Even though the charges were dismissed, it has now become an issue due to the Detroit News story which offered no update on the situation. The News reported: “The relevance of even old and untried charges raises questions for the Lions at the height of the ‘Me Too’ movement, which has brought new scrutiny to sexual misconduct allegations.’’

Patricia managed to keep his emotions intact through the press conference.

“I lived with the mental torture of a situation where facts can be completely ignored or misrepresented with disregard for the consequences and pain it would create for another person,’’ Patricia said in his statement.

“I find it unfair and upsetting that someone would bring this claim up over two decades later for the sole purpose of hurting my family, my friends and this organization with the intention of trying to damage my character and my credibility. I was innocent then and I’m innocent now,’’ he said.

Under Quinn — and even before he was hired — a player’s good character has been an important factor on whether they were drafted or signed by the Lions.

“I talked to the team today and told them exactly what I said to you guys, told them the truth,’’ Patricia said. “I also took this opportunity again to one more time focus on the fact that in this time we need to be sensitive and responsible. I used this as a learning moment with them so we can all try to be together.’’

 

Five thoughts from Detroit Lions O-lineman Graham Glasgow

Still unclear if he’ll play left guard or center

ALLEN PARK >> If you are wondering whether Graham Glasgow will start at left guard or center for the Lions this fall, you are not alone.

Glasgow, who played both positions last season, does not know yet where he will line up. The Lions drafted Frank Ragnow in the first round. He was a center at Arkansas but also could move to guard.

“That’s up to Bob (Quinn) and that’s up to the coaches. I’m an interior offensive lineman. I’ll play left guard, I’ll play center, I’ll play whatever they ask me to,’’ Glasgow said at a press conference on Tuesday morning.

Five thoughts from Glasgow as the Lions’ offseason work continues:

1. After playing 16 games last season (and 15 his rookie season in 2016), he said it didn’t take his body long to recover. “I’m a younger guy, it doesn’t take me as long probably as if it was T.J. (Lang) who did it. After a couple weeks I was ready to go again. I was ready to get everything going,’’ said the 25-year-old Glasgow. Lang, the veteran right guard, is 30.

2. On new coach Matt Patricia: “He’s very straight forward. His goals are to win, to win every week. That’s something all of us can get behind.” Then Glasgow was asked whether Patricia has a sense of humor, he responded that they might have to soften him up.

3.  At the NFL draft, GM Bob Quinn specifically said he was frustrated by inability to convert on short-yardage situations last season. “I would say it’s right for him to be bothered by that, we were bothered by that. It was frustrating in a lot of ways for us. We were our own harshest critics and I think that is something we in a lot of ways took personally. We tried to get that worked out and I think that’s something we will also improve this year,’’ Glasgow said.

4. Glasgow said he doesn’t know much about first-round pick Frank Ragnow, but has heard he’s worker and expects he will fit in. Glasgow said the biggest transition for an NFL rookie is just how good the guys you line up against every week. “You’re not playing against Michigan State and Ohio State, or in his case Alabama and Auburn one week and playing against Vandy or Rutgers the next week. Every single D-linemen you’re going against is very good. They’re all professionals, everybody is getting paid money. Having consistency from week to week is hard as a young offensive lineman,’’ Glasgow said. “I knew that was something I had to get ironed out when I first got here and a lot of older guys helped me out with that.’’

5. On new offensive line coach Jeff Davidson: “I would say that Jeff seems like he’s a fantastic guy, he’s a very down-to-earth coach and I think he’s somebody that will help our position group get better and improve throughout the year,’’ Glasgow said. “Having somebody with a lot of personal experience can help me and younger guys in the locker get our technique down, a lot o questions he’ll be able to answer.” Davidson has 24 years of coaching experience, 15 of those working with offensive linemen.

Lions Bob Quinn explains Day 3 picks and how they will fit in

Two more offensive players drafted

ALLEN PARK — While the Lions went into the draft with needs on the defensive line and run game. With their six picks, they have boosted the run game and added just one defensive lineman.

General manager Bob Quinn said it was just a matter of supply and demand.  The best players on the board when they picked just happened to be mostly on offense. He’s visited with a few defensive line vets in recent weeks and may look at signing one or more of them.

“Productive day,” Quinn said after wrapping up the three-day draft.

Here are his thoughts on the three players drafted on Saturday and how he sees them fitting in:

— He traded his third round pick in 2019 to the Patriots for their fourth-round pick on Saturday. With that they drafted defensive end Da’Shawn Hand out of Alabama.

“I thought it was a really good value pick. Big, strong guy, position versatility, can play inside or outside. Good scheme fit for us. Good knowledge of our defensive line coach (Bo Davis) and that helped,” Quinn said. “Knows our technique. Met with him at the Pro Day. Matt and I went down to he Pro Day and met with all of those guys. Had a good meeting with Da’Shawn so felt that was a really good pick for us.”

Position versatility was key.

“We’re not going to have a base 3-4 or a base 4-3,” Quinn said. “He’s a defensive lineman that can play anywhere from 7-technique all the way down to nose depending on the different fronts we’re going to use. That was one of the things we liked about him.”

— With the fifth-round pick the Lions drafted tackle Tyrell Crosby from Oregon.

“Another good value pick, he really stood out on the board well above everyone else at that point. it was a really pretty easy pick when we talked about it,” Quinn said. “We had him graded a lot higher than we took him. Thought the value was too good to pass up.”

Crosby played left tackle in college but has practiced at other spots.

“We see him as a guy at multiple positions along our front. Had him in for visit it was a good day, he brings a lot to the table,” Quinn said of Crosby.

— In the seventh round, fullback Nick Bawden from San Diego State got the call from the Lions who did not have a fullback on the roster last season.

“Just some conversations we’ve had in the offseason since Matt (Patricia) has got here with some new staff members. It’s something we want to add to the mix to kind of give our offense more of a physical presence,” Quinn said. “It’s a seventh-round pick, it is what it is. He’s a guy we liked and was a good value at that pick.”

In the first round the Lions drafted interior offensive lineman Frank Ragnow. Running back Kerryon Johnson was the second-round pick and safety Tracy Walker was the third-round choice.

 

 

 

 

Lions draft FB Nick Bawden in seventh round

Started at San Diego State at QB

ALLEN PARK — In yet another move to bolster their run game, the Lions drafted fullback Nick Bawden in the seventh-round on Saturday.

The 6-3, 245-pound back out of San Diego State, had 15 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown in 2017. He had zero carries.

Bawden cleared the way last two years for Donnel Pumphrey and Rashaad Penny, who both dominated the NCAA rushing leader charts.

The Lions’ run game in 2017 was the NFL’s worst. In three days of the draft, they drafted two offensive linemen (Frank Ragnow and Tyrell Crosby), a running back (Kerryon Johnson) and now a fullback.

Bawden said he first talked with Bob Quinn at the Senior Bowl along with running back coach David Walker.

“They want to get back to running the ball and be really successful. So we’re just going to do whatever we can to get it done,” Bawden said. “I’m so glad they took me. My pride and joy is my run blocking. I’m going to do absolutely everything I can to get it done and everything they need me to do — whether it’s playing fullback, H-back, tight end kind of role. I’m going to do everything  they need me to do.”

The Lions didn’t use a fullback last season.

(Photo courtesy of San Diego State)

Bawden started at San Diego State in 2014 as the backup quarterback,  stepping in to start two games for the injured starter. He was moved to fullback prior to the 2015 season.

“It was definitely something I wasn’t open to at first. I had no idea that I had it in me to be able to play fullback. I knew how hard the position was, I knew how tough you had to be,” Bawden said on a conference call. “At first I didn’t really didn’t believe I could do it but I wanted to stay at San Diego, I loved our coaches, I loved everything we were going for. I was willing to give it a chance, it definitely gave me an opportunity to be where I am today talking to you as a Detroit Lion which I’m so excited about.”

He had to bulk up to make the move. He learned to cook his own meals. Since he started lifting weights in seventh grade.

“It was incredibly hard at first. I’ve loved lifting from an early age, I started lifting when I was in seventh grade I wanted to be the strongest QB in the league I really took pride in my training. It wasn’t too hard of a transition from there but I definitely had to gain some weight. I was about 220 pounds as a quarterback, i had to get heavier. I gained 10 pounds a year through my junior and senior year.

He was up to 250 for his senior year. “I started cooking all my own meals,” Bawden said with some pride. Although he’d like to take cooking lessons to improve.

NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein’s overview for Bawden: “Quarterback turned fullback who has bought into the physicality of the fullback position and has the mangled nose to prove it. Bawden has good size and is a competent pass-catcher. The market for old-school fullbacks has shrunk, but he has the ability to find a roster home as a contributing lead blocker and pass catcher on play-action.”

Other Lions’ draft picks on Saturday were DE Da’Shawn Hand in the fourth round and Crosby in the fifth round.