Stephen Tulloch welcomed back to help Jarrad Davis, other Lions rookies

Retired LB knows Detroit’s defense well

ALLEN PARK >> If a rookie can learn from one of the best, just make it happen.

The Lions have invited former linebacker Stephen Tulloch back to talk to the rookies including Jarrad Davis the first-round pick who is expected to start at middle linebacker.

“He’s played a lot of football and made a lot of big plays in this league and to be able to come in and talk to a guy like Jarrad (and for Jarrad) to be able to talk to Tully and get knowledge from him, I believe that will be huge for him. It’s one thing for me to talk to him, it’s another thing for him to talk to Stephen,’’ linebacker Tahir Whitehead said.

Coach Jim Caldwell said it’s not unusual to bring guys back to help out.

“Tully is one of the guys that have been taught by Bill (Sheridan, linebackers coach) within the system, so he knows that. He was going to be in town, so we invited him to come on out. So, he’ll be here and he’ll be at practice and be around a little bit,’’ Caldwell said.

Tulloch, who played 11 NFL seasons — five of them with the Lions (2011-2015), can also help with off-the-field matters. He didn’t miss a game due to injury in his first eight NFL seasons.

“I think more so than anything else, the young guys could certainly learn something from the way in which he handled himself on and off the field, and then also how he took care of his body,’’ Caldwell said. “I think he was without question one of those guys that did a tremendous job.’’

Tulloch’s exit from the Detroit Lions was a bit odd and ongoing following the 2015 season. He finally was cut loose and signed with the  Philadelphia Eagles.

But all was apparently well in April when Tulloch returned to the Lions’ facility to announce his retirement (see photo).

On Tuesday morning, Whitehead said he had not seen Tulloch yet.

“I can’t wait to catch up with my guy, that’s my big brothe. I’m looking forward to seeing him,’’ Whitehead said.

Tulloch was at least partially responsible for helping Whitehead develop into an NFL starting linebacker.

“Tully’s great. Any time you can bring a guy back who’s played a lot of football for you he gives a unique insight to the young guys and the guys in that room,’’ defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “All of a sudden he goes from being in that room, now he’s out of it looking from the outside in. I think that helps with the perspective.’’

Jim Caldwell, Lions react to retirement of Anquan Boldin

‘When you imagine what a pro looks like you see Anquan’

ALLEN PARK >> Interestingly enough, Anquan Boldin caught his first and last career touchdown passes at Ford Field.

The veteran wide receiver, who played for the Lions in 2016, announced his retirement after 14 seasons in the NFL on Sunday.

In Boldin’s retirement announcement he made it clear he will be working on humanitarian efforts — a continuation of what he did in the NFL. He was the NFL’s Man of the Year in 2015.

Typically when Lions coach Jim Caldwell goes to the podium for his daily press conference, he does not make an announcement unless big news is breaking.

But on Monday, he had a few words prepared about Boldin who is 36.

Reaction from the Lions on Boldin’s retirement:

— “He’s not necessarily a guy that’s in front of the media often, but one of the true great gentleman and outstanding performers in our league. Just a quality, quality guy. I find it interesting … about him saying that his desire to help people (was more important than) his desire to continue to play at this stage,’’ Caldwell said. “And he’s one of those guys, you talk about guys that take action and make a difference in your community, who doesn’t just showboat, but he is focused in on trying to find ways to make a positive change. He went to Washington, D.C., last year (with Glover Quin) and he’s had a group that he’s taken young children over to Africa teaching educational lessons along the way through his foundation. So, I know he’s on the road to do some great things and (he’s a) real gentleman. One of the best in the business. … He’s been at it a long time. He’s one of those guys that’s got a great competitive spirit. So, he felt that he had had enough. He’s had a great career though. … Quite a family man and great player as well.”

— Golden Tate shared a few memories including a tale about a blood-dripping glove. “I think Anquan is still playing at a very, very high level. I think he could play as long as he wanted to. Just speaking on his career, I remember being in college watching him and modeling my game after him. I love how strong his hands are. That moment to make a play — he’s going to be the guy who makes the play and (I) had the pleasure of playing with him for a year. When you imagine what a pro looks like you see Anquan. A long career, wasn’t hurt very often through his career .

“He was a guy who showed up early and left late. I’d walk in and he’d be getting out of the hot box, going to the cold tub, getting to the hot tub, always stretching. He took advantage of it. His mindset coming in every day was unique. Every day he was consistent in his work ethic. You never had to worry about if he was going to not make a play or miss an assignment. He was always on point.

“One of the best stories I have, it might have been against Dallas, I think he broke his finger or something. As a receiver breaking your finger it’s kind of a big deal. He went into the locker room for two or three series and came back out and continued to play and he had some key catches in that game for us. I remember seeing his glove drip of blood. He went in, found a way and came back out and helped us. That’s just speaks of who he is.

“You have to admire that he’s transitioning from something he loves and the passion he has for football to something that’s even a bigger cause. That speaks on the kind of man he is. He’s a high character guy who uses the platform he has now to help others and help our future,’’ Tate added.

— Safety Glover Quin also admired Boldin. “Congrats to him, anytime you can play in this league for that many years and be that productive for so many years and to be able to look in the mirror and look in a situation and say, ‘You know what? I feel like my playing days are over. I can have a bigger impact doing something else.’ To have the freedom to walk away is huge. I tip my hat to him,’’ Quin said.

Five things to know about growth of Lions QB Matthew Stafford

Jim Caldwell, Golden Tate see a difference

ALLEN PARK >> Entering his ninth season, Matthew Stafford’s game is still growing.

It’s been evident in training camp and in his limited snaps into the first two preseason games (both wins) that the Lions quarterback has added to his repertoire.

“He’s really been dropping some passes in the bucket, some that either we catch or no one catches. When you can be a quarterback and make those type of plays that’s special. Every day, every year Matt’s getting better and always will,’’ wide receiver Golden Tate said.

Stafford will likely play about a half in the third preseason game where the Lions will face the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots at 7 p.m. on Friday at Ford Field.

Here are five new things to know about Stafford:

1. In Saturday’s game he found TJ Jones over the middle for a nice touch pass. It’s not a throw that’s been in Stafford’s regular rotation.  “I’m uncovering every stone I can to try and find a way to be better. And I think I got the fast balls down. Pretty good at those. Made a living doing those for a long time,’’ Stafford said. Any doubt, ask his receivers. “But at the same time, I felt like maybe when I looked at some tape last year, there were some plays out there that maybe I wasn’t trying to make that throw when I felt maybe, when you look at the tape, hey there’s a big play to be had there if you could just throw it over this guy and throw it around this guys, whatever it is. And so, I just studied all that kind of stuff in a while of how can I generalize this and work on something to get better. And that’s kind of some of the stuff that I’m working on.”

2. Coach Jim Caldwell has been a Stafford fan since Day One but he sees a difference too. “Yeah, I’ve always known him to be able to make every single throw that there is. I mean from the first day that I laid eyes on him watching him work. He’s not had any problems throwing screens. He’s not had any problems dropping the ball into open areas or anything of that nature,’’ Caldwell said on Monday. “But he’s trying to refine his game more so than anything else. But I’ve never seen any deficiency in any of those areas to be honest with you through the years or since we’ve been here. But like I said, he’s trying to get better and that’s the mark of a true champion, just in terms of how he goes about working, how he tries to improve upon every little detail, and he’s performing well right now.”

3. The quarterback, entering his ninth season, said the team will change a lot between now and Week 1 of the regular season. It’s like that every year. Who all is going to be on the team, who’s going to be doing what job for you. At the moment, everybody’s learning everything, trying to fill in holes where we can,’’ Stafford said on Monday. “You go into Week 1, you’re going to have a very specific game plan on how you want to attack teams and this guy’s going to be this kind of player for us, so it’s a little bit difficult to make an assessment of where our team is at the moment. Obviously, there’s things generally that we can do better. We can have less penalties, have less turnovers, those kind of things are a general rule thing, but as far as where we are offensively or defensively, it’s kind of tough to say.”

4. Golden Tate said one reason Stafford has improved is his comfort level with the offense. “One, his knowledge of this offense is higher, two and a half years we’ve been in this offense with Jim Bob (Cooter). He just gets better. … He hits the open guy, a lot of passes you don’t even have to break stride which is important and nice and that’s how you run after the catch,’’ Tate said. “It seems like guys are catching the balls a lot better so I don’t know if our grips are getting stronger, or we’re getting better at catching or if he’s getting us better balls. I’d say it’s a combination of both.’’

5. The Lions defense has been flying around (in a good way) in the first two games. Stafford goes against them every day in practice and has noticed a difference from last year. “I think they’re moving around faster, a talented defense. Some coverage specific stuff a little bit different too than what I had seen in the past just through training camp,’’ Stafford said. “Some of the same, some different, it’s tough, but there are a lot of young guys that are out there playing and doing a nice job.”

BONUS: For the first time since he came to Detroit, Stafford worked with a quarterback guru in the summer. He said we wouldn’t notice the difference, but he would both on and off the field. “Yeah I’m trying. Trying to implement some of that stuff. Sometimes it’s better than others, but yeah I feel comfortable with most of the stuff that we’re doing,’’ Stafford said.