Matthew Stafford puts in extra work with rookie wide receiver Kenny Golladay

Third-round pick expected to make the 53-man roster

Matthew Stafford and rookie wide receiver Kenny Golladay are putting in overtime to find their comfort level with each other.

When Golladay was not happy with his first day of training camp he was smart enough to seek help. He asked Stafford if he could go through a few routes with him.

Mind you, it was hot and humid. The intensity level was high and it was just the first day.

One reason why Stafford is The Franchise is because he went the extra mile for the rookie.

“(He said) whenever you feel like you need something just come to me and I’ve gotcha,’’ said Golladay, the Lions third-round draft pick.

Stafford, who is entering his ninth season, had good words of advice and a way of making Golladay feel like he’s an integral part of the offense.

“It’s a great feeling, you know an older guy like that, a vet, taking me under his wing and helping me a little bit,’’ Golladay said. “What he really said to me was it’s going to come in time, just keep working on it and ‘I’ve gotcha.’’’

Golladay has made several outstanding catches in camp just like the Northern Illinois product did in the spring during OTAs and minicamp.

While there’s a battle for the wide receiver spots after Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr., he has put himself in the discussion. Don’t be surprised if he starts the season as the No. 3 guy.

Coach Jim Caldwell said he’s seen steady improvement but wants to see more before he inks Golladay’s name on the 53-man roster.

“He’s got a ways to go yet, but he’s got height (he’s 6-foot-4), he’s got ability, he’s got the drive and work ethic to try and improve each and every day so, we’re excited about where he is now but, this is a time where we’re really going to get an opportunity (to see more),’’ Caldwell said. “We can get a little bit more contact here coming up with pads on and things of that nature.”

Then, of course, the preseason games will be key. Expect Golladay to get plenty of reps while Tate and Jones get plenty of bench time.

Golladay loves the competition in camp.

“I’m just trying to get better every day. That’s all that’s really on my mind, every day getting better and perfecting my craft. Coming to work each and every day trying to learn something new I didn’t know the other day,’’ the 23-year-old Golladay said.

“I’m still a kid at heart, still a kid really, period. Coming out every day is fun, playing football.’’

He said he’s gotten camp advice from many veterans. They mostly sing the same tune.

“Really that it’s just a grind and get as much sleep as possible,’’ Golladay said.


Packers fans still blue over seeing T.J. Lang in a Lions uniform

Lang will start at right guard on a revamped offensive line

No surprise that Green Bay Packer fans were not happy to see T.J. Lang wearing Honolulu blue and silver. After all, they’re not used to losing free agents to Detroit.

Even though it’s been months since Lang signed with the Lions as a free agent, the wounds of Packer fans remain raw. After all he was an offensive line fixture for the past eight seasons in Green Bay.

Lang, who will start at right guard for Detroit, had not practiced with the Lions until Sunday because he was coming off hip surgery. He took all the reps at right guard although he said it’s a possibility he may take it easy occasionally in training camp.

More bad news for Packers’ fans — Lang feels great.

He took the podium after the first day of training camp with his son, J.J. to answer questions from the media. Like most offensive linemen he’d rather play the game than talk about it. But he was cordial and had support from J.J. who was more fascinated with his wristband than the Detroit media contingent.

It was my best photo of the day, so I Tweeted it out. Packer backers weren’t quite as enthralled as Lions’ fans.

One little photo caused an avalanche of response on Twitter:

— @Empeypp: His son is adorable, which is why I feel so bad he was to watch his dad play on a 6-10 team.

— @Confuzled: Poor little kid

— @SuperCral: If he’s got another son named Derek, I’m calling shenanigans.

— @Wiscoinferno: That jersey looks no bueno on TJ tbh

— @PackerFans_: Lang breaking the news to Lions fans that he won’t be able to get them into the playoffs on his own.

— @AlecYanke: This is just wrong

— @BrewCrewCritic: Unfortunately, this will probably be a theme for the entire season. Posted with an old meme from ‘The Lion King’ with the words: “Dad, What’s a Super Bowl? I don’t know son, we’re Lions.”

— @Cletoreyes915: This image makes me sick. Then again I think I had to much hot sauce this morning.

And a few fine Packers’ fans — definitely a minority — hold no ill will.

— Taina Dejesus: I wish him the best I love tj

— Mattthommesen: Will miss you T.J. Lang please don’t hate packer nation. We loved you.

Lang grew up in the Detroit area and always dreamed of playing for the Lions.

“I think every kid dreams of playing for their hometown team, now it’s a reality for me,’’ Lang said. “At the end of the day that washes away pretty quick, get your mind back on football.’’

Only 98 days until the NFC North rivalry continues. On Nov. 6, a Monday night game at Green Bay, the division rivals will meet for the first time this season.

Five things to know about contract extension for Glover Quin

Two-year, $13 million extension will keep him in Detroit through 2019

ALLEN PARK — Glover Quin wanted to get his contract extension signed before the start of training camp.

He got his wish with minutes to spare when he signed a two-year extension worth about $6.5 million per year just before camp started at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. The safety, who signed with Detroit in 2013, is now signed through the 2019 season.

He’s the Ironman of the Lions’ defense with 116 consecutive starts which ranks as the most among active NFL safeties and second among all defensive backs.

Quin has been a solid force in the secondary. He was selected to the Pro Bowl following the 2014 season when he had a career-high seven interceptions.

Five things to know about Quin and his contract extension:

1.  It was important to him to get it done in a timely fashion. “Last year I think (Darius) Slay signed his extension right before training camp. I kind of wanted to be in the same situation,’’ Quin said. “I told my guys I don’t want this thing to linger through training camp —  either I want to get it done or (say) we couldn’t come to terms, GQ is in his last year in Detroit, let’s enjoy and have a lot of fun and understand it was a part of business. That was one thing I wanted, I didn’t want it to linger.’’

2. Coach Jim Caldwell, among others, is thrilled to know Quin got a deal done. “We’re happy about that. He’s one of those guys that does everything the right way. He’s outstanding in terms of preparation off the field. On the field he’s tremendous it’s like having obviously another assistant coach out there on the field,’’ Caldwell said. “He does (everything) in terms of preparation and all the little things, Glover does a great job he’s very conscientious and sets a great example for the rest of the guys as well.’’

3. Quin said it gave him a lift when he ran on the field knowing the extension was done. “Going into the last year of a contract you just never know what’s going to happen, you don’t get a deal, you go into free agency, you never know,’’ Quin said. “You live in Houston you’ve kind of been used to being in Detroit and so to have to leave and now you’re going to some other city, obviously you don’t want to do that. …’’

4. Quin, 31, told the media on Saturday that he wanted to get a deal done, but gave no hint that it was 24 hours away. “They’ve been talking about it for a long time … All I knew I when they told me we were close, how close you never know until they close the deal. We got it closed today,’’ Quin said.

5. Before he signed, he called his wife to let her know the terms. Then after he signed, he texted her. She responding congratulating him on signing his third NFL contract. “A lot of people don’t sign three NFL contracts. A little kid like me from a small town in MIssissippi —  Summit, Mississippi — to be in the NFL long enough to receive three contracts and play at a level high enough to be rewarded with three contacts. I’m just happy right now,’’ Quin said.

BONUS: Most of Quin’s teammates weren’t aware of the extension because they were on the field warming up when it got done. And Quin wasn’t going to run on the field sharing his good news. Of course, they certainly all should be happy. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said it was a no-brainer.

Five things to know about Matthew Stafford on eve of training camp

No news on contract extension for the quarterback

ALLEN PARK >> Matthew Stafford knew the questions were coming before he took the podium on Saturday.

He had no contract extension to announce.

Also, no details on the ongoing talks.

“No timetable. I know that Tom (Condon) my agent and the guys upstairs are continuing talks. That’s all I can really tell you,’’ Stafford said. “That’s why I hired him to deal with that stuff and I don’t have to talk about it except when you guys ask questions.’’

Stafford, who is entering his ninth season with the Lions, has one year remaining on his deal.

“Honestly it’s not difficult for me. I come in every season no matter five years on the deal, one year on the deal, three years on the deal. There’s no difference to me as far as my preparation,’’ Stafford said. “I’m just doing everything I can to be ready mentally and physically ready to go.

No matter what happens I’ve got a year left on my contract so I’m going to be here this year playing football for this team. It’s on my shoulders to be as good as I can to help this team win.’’

Stafford spoke to the media on Saturday afternoon, before the official start of training camp on Sunday.

Here are five other things to know:

1. Coach Jim Caldwell said Stafford is in the best physical shape that he’s been since Caldwell has coached him. “I feel really good physically, I put a ton of work in. I did some extra stuff I hadn’t done in the past. I put some work in with some people I feel like I’m going to benefit from,’’ said Stafford, the dad of 4-month-old twin girls. “As far as with twins it just adds to it, busier than I ever was, keeps you in good shape.’’

2. He worked with a private quarterbacks coach this summer. “It is the first time for me ever since John Stafford (his dad) taught me how to throw a football,’’ Stafford said. “Like I said earlier when you’re competing against yourself to be as good as you possibly can be why not give everything you’ve got, find different people with different ideas that can help you out. I thought it was an opportunity and went for it and enjoyed it.’’

3. That said, he said the changes will not be apparent to fans or media. “Nothing that I feel like you guys would see that would ever make a difference. It’s not only on the field, it’s in the locker room. It’s all of that, it’s all encompassing,’’ Stafford said.

4. He didn’t mention the words Super Bowl when asked about the goal this season, but he tiptoed around it. “Obviously our No. 1 goal is to win the division. You win the division, you’re automatically in the playoffs and then you go from there,’’ Stafford said. “Would love to make a run, it’d be a lot of fun. I feel I, we as a team, have tasted the playoffs but I know it’s going to be special when we make a run and I’m doing everything I can to put us in that position.’’

5. It may be his ninth training camp, but he still is loving it. He sprinkled in the word “fun” throughout his answers. “It’s still exciting every year, every team is different. We have a different group of guys — different 90 now, we’ll have a different group of 53 than we did last year. So that’s exciting,’’ Stafford said. “New players to see and watch develop as far as young guys and new free agents every year to come in and help us right away. It’s still fun for me, still have a blast doing it. As difficult sometimes of a grind as training camp is, it’s still a whole lot of fun too.’’

Ten Lions to watch during training camp

Young players could take on bigger roles

When Lions training camp gets into gear on Sunday, it’s the start of an interesting stretch.

Like every year, there are positions — starters and backups —  that will be determined in camp and through the four preseason games.

And, of course, several are vying to grab one of the 53 roster spots.

Who will excel? Who will suffer an injury? Whose game will drop off?

Here are 10 players (five defensive, five on offense) to watch who are not rookies:


— Safety Miles Killebrew took total advantage of his playing time as a rookie last season. He was clutch in third-down packages. Look for defensive coordinator Teryl Austin to find more ways to get him on the field. He was a standout in the spring.

— Kerry Hyder certainly was not expected to lead the defense with eight sacks last season. Hyder could earn a starting defensive end spot with a good showing in camp. He’s not resting on his laurels, he knows the eight sacks mean nothing at this point.

— Ziggy Ansah, unlike Hyder, was expected to follow up his 14.5-sack 2015 season with as many or more in 2016. He finished with just two. Ansah wasn’t fully healthy to start the season and never really caught up. There is no reason to think he can’t return to Pro Bowl form.

— Antoine Williams worked his way onto the field as a rookie last year too, starting three games. He has a good shot to earn the starting role at strongside linebacker. A good camp and preseason will cement that.

— Tahir Whitehead has lost the starting middle linebacker role to first-round pick Jarrad Davis. Whitehead has been trained at every linebacker spot. So he will be able to handle a move to the weak side.


— Ameer Abdullah looked solid in the spring OTAs after he missed the final 14 games in the 2016 season with an ankle injury that required surgery. Other than Matthew Stafford, Abdullah may have the most important role on the offense which struggled in the run game again in 2016.

— Theo Riddick should be fine but we will see. He missed the offseason workouts after surgery on both wrists. He was still wearing a brace on his right hand in June. He’s ready to go and, like Abdullah, the offense needs him.

— Jace Billingsley hasn’t taken a snap in a regular season game, but he was impressive in the preseason games as an undrafted rookie last year. He stayed around on the practice squad until he was promoted to the 53-man roster with two games remaining. He’ll likely be in a battle for one of the final two wide receiver spots.

— Joe Dahl can play any position along the offensive line. The Lions had so much faith in him that they gave him a look at left tackle after Taylor Decker injured his shoulder in June. Two veteran tackles were then signed giving Dahl a chance to go back to guard where he is more familiar. He could be in a battle for the starting left guard spot.

— Laken Tomlinson lost his starting spot to Graham Glasgow after five games in 2016. The 2015 first-round pick needs to step up. It seems unlikely that he would not make the 53-man roster but there is a chance that he could be traded. General manager Bob Quinn didn’t draft him so there would be no egg on his face if he let a first-round guy go.

Training camp open to fans on 7 days

Fans get a chance to get up close to players at camp

Seven of the Lions training camp sessions will be open to the public starting on Monday, the second day of camp.

One of those open days will be family day at Ford Field at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 5. Gates will open at 9:30 a.m. with the Lions mock game scrimmage starting at 11 a.m.

The others will take place at the Lions headquarters and training facility. The dates for those are:

July 31 — Gates open at 2:30 p.m., practice at 3:30 p.m.

Aug. 1 — Gates open at 2:30 p.m., practice at 3:30 p.m.

Aug. 2 — Gates open at 2:30 p.m., practice at 3:30 p.m.

Aug. 4 — Gates open at 8 a.m., practice at 9 a.m.

Aug. 6 — Gates open at 2:30 p.m., practice at 3:30 p.m.

Aug. 7 — Gates open at 1 p.m., practice at 2 p.m.

The parking situation is different this year. Fans will take a shuttle from the Fairlane Town Center between Sears and Macy’s on the southeast side. Shuttles start two hours before practice. Enter Fairlane Town Center via Burlwood Drive from the Southfield Freeway service drives (M-39 south: Exit 7 Ford Road; M-39 north: Exit 6 Michigan Ave to Hubbard) and follow signs for the blue lot.

Family Day at Ford Field  is also free but requires tickets. Fans can register at camp or visit any Southeast Michigan Ford Dealer to claim a Lions wristband which is good for a special reserved seating area.

Five position battles to watch at camp

All eyes will be on offensive and defensive lines

Lions players report on Saturday and then get down to business on Sunday for the first day of training camp.

Like every offseason there has been plenty of roster tinkering by general manager Bob Quinn. Once again he has put emphasis on the offensive line and appeared to beef up the defense.

Here are five position battles to watch during training camp:

1. Left tackle is a big question mark until Taylor Decker recovers from shoulder surgery. He could miss the first month or so. The Lions tried out Joe Dahl there in the spring before signing two veterans in Greg Robinson and Cyrus Kouandjio. It’s likely one of those two will be the starter until Decker returns. Corey Robinson could also be in the mix. The Lions like Dahl but perhaps tackle is not the best fit. He should compete at guard.

2. Left guard is probably Graham Glasgow’s to lose. He started the final 11 games there in 2016 after taking over for Laken Tomlinson who wasn’t getting the job done. It is not a lock for Glasgow who performed well as a rookie. Along with Tomlinson he’ll face competition from Joe Dahl. Veteran T.J. Lang was signed to start at right guard so all the competition will be for the left side. Don’t sleep on Dahl. The only thing he is lacking is experience.

3. Defensive end to play opposite Ziggy Ansah is another huge question mark. Devin Taylor was not brought back. Armonty Bryant, who could be in competition, has been suspended for the first four games. It’s not his first offense so he could be gone. Kerry Hyder is probably the favorite after he led the team with eight sacks in 2016. He will compete with Cornelius Washington (who was signed as a free agent) and Brandon Copeland. Hyder is so motivated that he thinks he’s fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster even though that is as close to a lock as it gets.

4. Linebacker was the defense’s weakest area in 2016 but should be improved with first-rounder Jarrad Davis who was drafted to start at middle linebacker. He takes over for Tahir Whitehead who could move to the weakside. The defense plays so much nickel that usually two linebackers are on the field. Veteran Paul Worrilow could start on the strong side. Also look for fourth-round pick Jalen Reeves-Maybin to get some playing time. He’s another one who had an impressive spring. Would be a shocker if Davis isn’t the starter in the middle come September.

5. Rookie Kenny Golladay, who is 6-foot-4 and wears No. 19, had a standout spring, making tough catches with rarely a drop. If he keeps that going in camp he could easily be the third wide receiver. The locks are Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. Then there’s are the fourth and fifth spots. In 2016, the Lions kept five wide receivers on the 53-man roster. That could change if they keep an extra tight end. But if they keep five they seriously have to look at Jared Abbrederis (who had a good spring), TJ Jones, Jace Billingsley, Keshawn Martin (Michigan State) and possibly Ryan Spadola. It’s a make-or-break camp for TJ Jones who was drafted in 2014. Billingsley is one of more interesting guys on the roster. He’s undersized at 5-foot-9, but makes it work for him. He’s speedy and shifty. He was a standout in the preseason games last year as a rookie. Do not count him out.