Five things to know about Lions QB Matthew Stafford as camp progresses

Remember back to the Lions’ 2009 training camp? All eyes were on first-round pick Matthew Stafford who had to beat out veteran Daunte Culpepper for the starting quarterback job. (It seems a little ridiculous now but that’s what coach Jim Schwartz wanted. Stafford wasn’t announced as the starter until Sept. 6.)

Fast-forward nine years.

While the Lions have many question marks and tough roster decisions to make, concern about Stafford is just not an issue.

The 29-year-old quarterback looks just fine and has rarely missed any throws in camp.

He’s in great shape, according to coach Jim Caldwell. And, he’s got two new fans — 4-month-old twin daughters Sawyer and Chandler. (Photo from Instagram account of Kelly Stafford.)

Here are five new things to know about Stafford:

1. Running back Theo Riddick sees a difference in Stafford from last season. “Definitely he’s way more vocal and that’s what we love,’’ Riddick said. “We’re definitely going to need that to see the things that he likes so that we can change and iron out a few things so we’re all on the same page.’’

2. Wide receiver Golden Tate pretty much agrees. “I think at the end of the day in this game you’re getting better or you’re getting worse, you’re never staying the same,’’ Tate said. “Knowing who Stafford is and who we have in this locker room we’re all getting better. Naturally as you get more comfortable he probably shares a little more and micro-manages the guys a little bit more and that’s what he’s been doing. He’s a phenomenal leader as it is and he’s been doing even more of that this year.’’

3. Rookie wide receiver Kenny Golladay has told stories about how Stafford has taken him under his wing, even worked on routes with him after practice. Golladay mostly has no complaints about Stafford’s zip on the ball. “To begin with I’m used to it now,’’ Golladay said.  “It’s pretty much any other ball unless he throws a real rocket in there, then it might be a hard fastball.’’

4. Caldwell just sees Stafford continuing to grow. “I know everybody’s kind of looking for the Holy Grail in terms of something that’s really different. He’s always been a leader. I just think there may be some things that he wants to make sure he gets right and that they understand exactly what he’s looking for and so, I think he’s certainly got to be a little bit more vocal,’’ Caldwell said. “And that happens too when guys get a little bit better, more seasoned, in the system too. But, he’s always taken ownership and I think if you take a look at some film and just go back you’ll see quite often he’s pretty vocal out there.”

5. And a look from the outside on Stafford as he heads into his ninth season. Andy Benoit of SI.com wrote on Wednesday: “Besides continuing to make the big-time tight-window throws that Matthew Stafford has always made (he’s especially deft throwing deep outside against Cover 2), we’ve also seen the 29-year-old QB plays with more maturity in offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter’s system. Those ‘wow’ throws no longer come at the cost of wise decision-making. Cooter often puts the Lions in straightforward, static formations. The stillness gives Stafford a clearer picture of the defense pre-snap. It’s the same thing the Colts used to do with Peyton Manning.’’ It’s probably not a coincidence that Cooter and Caldwell spent significant time working with Manning.

Lions won’t miss Andrew Luck at joint practices with Indianapolis Colts

Two practices in Indianapolis will lead to Sunday preseason game

Andrew Luck won’t participate in the joint practices between the Lions and the Colts in Indianapolis on Thursday and Friday.  Luck’s shoulder injury will keep him out of  Sunday’s preseason opener too.

The Colts will miss him much more than the Lions will.

His absence doesn’t matter one iota to the Lions’ defense.

“It doesn’t change what we’re trying to get done, obviously it changes who we’re going against,’’ Lions safety Glover Quin said on Wednesday.

“I don’t know how it changes what they’re doing and how their offense will run. For us the goal is the same to go out, compete it doesn’t matter who they have out there, just go out and compete, get better, work on our stuff, focus on us and see what happens.’’

This is the second straight year the Lions have had joint practices away from their facility in Allen Park. Last year they spent a few days near Pittsburgh working against the Steelers.

Coach Jim Caldwell spent 10 seasons on the Colts’ coaching staff which could have played a role in the decision to head to Indianapolis this week.

“First of all, I think you practice against people that you have like mindedness in terms of how you practice, what you want to get accomplished and things of that nature, so I’ve been knowing Chuck (Pagano) for a while and I think we’re going to be able to have a couple of really good sessions and then obviously the game in itself,’’ Caldwell said.

“But No. 1, it’s a great evaluation tool. The proximity is good for us obviously, and the great thing is it’s our first ball game so we get the chance doubly look at our team against another team as opposed to one day. Because you can’t always get everything you want to see in the actual game in itself in terms of number of guys in, things of that nature, because some things are unpredictable in terms of timing. But in a practice setting, you can set up a lot of evaluations and really take a real good close look at some guys,’’ Caldwell said a few hours before the team boarding the flight to Indianapolis.

The players are looking forward to facing opponents other than their teammates.

And the joint practices give the coaching staffs more information about the 90 players they each have on the roster.

Sometimes joint NFL practices can get a little chippy with a skirmish here or there.

But Quin does not expect that will happen. The Lions are a disciplined team under Caldwell where it’s extremely rare for a fight to break out.

“We went to Pittsburgh last year, competed and didn’t have any issues. We know how to practice we should get two good days of work and keep moving,’’ Quin said.

Five things to know about TE Tim Wright who is back with the Lions

The veteran missed 2016 with a torn ACL

ALLEN PARK >> When he’s not an NFL tight end, Tim Wright is busy at his barber shop — The Wright Cut — in Piscataway, N.J.

Luckily, he has a team in place to take over the hair-cutting duties because he signed with the Lions on Wednesday and was back on the practice field.

Wright, 27, played nine games with the Lions in 2015 and was placed on injured reserve in May 2016 with a torn ACL. He said his knee is now 100 percent.

It’s unclear what his chances are of making the 53-man roster since he is one of seven tight ends. He certainly has a good shot and, if Wednesday was an indication, he’ll get plenty of first-team reps. (Eric Ebron has not been practicing due to an undisclosed injury.)

Much of Wright’s success will depend on how well he looks in camp and the preseason games.

“He has some familiarity with the system, so we’ll try to bring him along,’’ coach Jim Caldwell said.

Here are five things to know about Wright:

1. He knows the offense and said not much has changed since last year. That could be one reason he was taking reps with the first team in practice. “I’m a true veteran and I’m a pro. I’ve been around a great organization and this is a great organization,’’ Wright said. “So I know what to expect and where to pick up where I left off.’’

2. While he had feelers from other NFL teams, he’s happy to be back in Detroit. “My heart is here. All the stuff in my drawers is Lions stuff, all the other teams I’ve been on, that stuff is in storage and I’m ready to be a Lion again,’’ said Wright who is wearing No. 82.

3. He was not just cutting hair this summer. His NFL dreams were not dead. “I was working out man, posting stuff on Instagram so people could see it,’’ Wright said. “Fortunately the coaches had checked in, they saw how I look and brought me in. I dominated the workout and they saw me.’’ He said the Lions had been in touch with his agent over the past few months. “I’m sure they had me on their radar, I felt it, so I was preparing myself. When the time struck, the opportunity came, I was ready for it. I was focusing on getting better every day.’’

4. In 2015 with the Lions, Wright had nine catches for 77 yards. Two of those nine receptions were touchdowns. In 2014 with the New England Patriots he had six touchdowns in 16 games  and in 2013 with Tampa Bay he scored five times. “The touchdowns and catches are good for the books,’’ Wright said. “It’s a new year, I’ve got that under my belt. I know how I did it, my teammates know how I did it, hopefully (Matthew) Stafford knows how I did it. I’m trying to go out there and collect a few more.’’

5. The Lions were to leave for Indianapolis on Wednesday afternoon. They’ll have joint practices with the Colts on Thursday and Friday leading up to their first preseason game on Sunday at Indianapolis. “I’m excited. The last two times I was traded, the next day I was into a game either starting or playing full speed. That’s what it is tomorrow at Indy. I’m ready to go rip it up,’’ Wright said.