Lions to open preseason at home against Super Bowl champion Patriots

2019 preseason opponents announced

The Lions have announced their 2019 preseason opponents starting with the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots at Ford Field, Aug. 8-12. Exact dates and times will be announced at later date.

It will mark the third time in seven years the Lions and Patriots have met in the preseason. Detroit leads the preseason series 6-3.

In Week 2 (Aug. 15-19), the Lions will play at the Houston Texans. Detroit’s last preseason game in Houston was against the Oilers in 1996.

In Week 3, the Lions will welcome the Buffalo Bills at 8 p.m. on Aug. 23 in a game to be broadcast nationally on CBS. It will be the 38th time they have met in the preseason.

The Lions wrap up their preseason at the Cleveland Browns on Aug. 29 or 30. The Lions and Browns have met in the preseason 47 times, more than any other Lions opponent. Detroit leads the Preseason series with a record of 25-21-1.

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TE T.J. Hockenson makes sense for Detroit Lions in first round, per Todd McShay

First-round TEs haven’t always worked out so well

Drafting tight ends in the first round is not exactly on the Lions’ list of top achievements in recent years.

Brandon Pettigrew, first-round pick in 2009 (20th overall), and Eric Ebron, the 10th overall pick in 2014, immediately come to mind.

Still there’s a chance the Lions could turn to a tight end with the eighth overall pick three weeks from now.

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has the Lions drafting Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson in the first round in his 4.0 mock draft.

He is well aware of need at defensive end, but he can’t overlook the Hockenson’s talent.

“I considered it. I gave Jaylon Ferguson (Louisiana Tech) to Detroit at 43, I recognize the need,’’ McShay said in a Tuesday conference call. “I just think T.J. is one of the 10 best players in the draft. I know they haven’t had the greatest success drafting tight ends early with Pettigrew and Ebron.’’

Hockenson, who is 6-5 and 251 pounds, is widely considered the best overall tight end and one of the best overall players in the draft.

“You don’t often find guys coming out of college who can block inline and you can flex them out and they can be as successful blocking as they are running routes and creating after the catch. I think he is one of the more complete football players in this draft and I don’t think you can go wrong with Hockenson,’’ McShay said.  

Last season in 13 games, Hockenson had 24 catches for 320 yards and three touchdowns.

“I think if developed properly Ferguson has a chance to be a really good player,”” McShay said.

He looked at the combination of picks in making the decision to go with Hockenson. He said there’s quite a drop-off in tight end talent between first and second rounds and less of a drop-off at defensive end.

The NFL draft starts on Thursday, April 25. The Lions have nine picks — one in each of the first five rounds with two in the sixth and seventh rounds.

Matthew Stafford’s wife Kelly announces upcoming surgery to remove brain tumor

She asks for prayers in coming weeks

Kelly Stafford, wife of Lions quarterback Matthew, announced today on Instagram that she has a brain tumor — acoustic neuroma or vestibular schwannoma.

She asked for prayers.

From her post: “We believe we found the best doctor to do it. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely terrified of brain surgery. I am. I am terrified of them opening my head, I’m terrified of losing my hearing, I’m terrified of losing facial function, I’m terrified of far worse things that could happen and I’m terrified that I won’t take the time I need to recover because the guilt I might feel of being absent from my kids for too long.. I am telling y’all this to ask for prayers and support.

“Things to pray for: -calmness in these next 2 weeks as I know anxiety will run high in myself & my whole family leading up to the day of surgery. -that God be in the room with the surgeons & give them all the guidance, steadiness, & confidence they need. -my safety during and after surgery. -please pray for matthew as I know his nerves will be high during this surgery. I couldn’t imagine being out in that waiting room.”

She had several episodes of vertigo beginning in January. Eventually an MRI showed the tumor. She included the scan on her Instagram post. She said the photo above was taken on the day she found out. She said she wanted the photo so when it was all over they could look back at it and remember.

Kelly and Matthew are parents of 2-year-old twin girls, Chandler and Sawyer, and their baby sister Hunter.

Justin Coleman reunites with high school buddies Darius Slay, Tracy Walker

Slot corner signed 4-year, $36 million deal with Lions

 

ALLEN PARK — Justin Coleman has cleared up the biggest mystery since he was rumored earlier this week to be signing as a free agent with the Detroit Lions.

Detroit cornerback Darius Slay claims he and Coleman are cousins.

Slay, Coleman and Lions safety Tracy Walker are all from Brunswick, Ga., and all went to the same high school there, but Coleman said they are not blood relatives.

“Man, the city where we’re from everybody are cousins. We’re not blood-related but we definitely are close, we grew up together,’’ Coleman said at his introductory press conference on Thursday at the Lions headquarters.

Slay and Coleman played for a few years together in high school. At age 24, Walker is younger and is indeed blood relatives with Slay.

“It was great playing with (Slay), we never knew that we were both going to get to this point. In high school he was one of the best players on the field, he kind of motivated me to get on the field and play a lot more,’’ Coleman said. “He kind of helped me along the way being the leader that he is. I tried to compete with him so I could get better myself and it helped me to get further along the way.’’

Slay, 28, was drafted by the Lions in the second round in 2013, while Coleman was undrafted but played in 10 games with two starts for the Patriots as a rookie in 2015. He also played for Matt Patricia in New England in 2016 before moving to the Seahawks for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

“It was definitely a dream that we would come together at some point. I definitely looked up to (Slay) as a young kid to get to where he was going because I knew he was going to do something big with his life. Step by step, he led the way and we just grew up real close together, that allowed us to compete and get to this point,’’ said Coleman who turns 26 on March 27.

Coleman said he didn’t talk to Slay before he signed his four-year, $36 million ($19 million guaranteed) contract with the Lions.

But he’s heard from him since then. Slay told him, “Man, I’m so happy man, I told them they need to pay you.’’

Coleman ranks as the highest paid slot corner in the NFL, but that doesn’t seem to mean much to him.

“I kind of consider myself just another player coming to help the team. The money doesn’t matter. Of course it matters off the field — it helps my family out and helps the people close to me — but I just came here to help the team win and get to where we need to be,’’ Coleman said.

He would not be specific about how Patricia used him in New England’s defense instead saying he’s just happy to have the opportunity in Detroit.

His best traits?

“I feel like I give a lot of effort when it comes to finishing plays and just getting involved. That’s pretty much how I got here — a lot of effort, a lot of hard work,’’ Coleman said. “I’m not the biggest or the strongest or the fastest, but I can put myself in position to make it seem that way.’’

Trey Flowers arrives in Detroit, discusses his connection with Matt Patricia

DE spent last 3 seasons with New England Patriots

ALLEN PARK — Trey Flowers’ 6-year-old daughter Skyler has attended three Super Bowls. She might be kind of spoiled when it comes to her daddy playing for a winning NFL team.

The Detroit Lions newest defensive end, who spent the last four seasons with the New England Patriots, tried to explain to her why he signed with the Lions as a free agent. 

“I kind of hinted it to her what if Daddy is a Lion? Do you like Lions?’’ Flowers said.

It’s not an easy conversation with a 6-year-old.

“Her favorite color is blue. (I told her) they’ve got blue, your favorite color. She said, ‘Oh OK, I get it.’ It’s just things like that, bringing your family along that’s very important for me,’’ Flower said at an introductory press conference on Thursday.

He mentioned that she may be able to have more McDonald’s too — his contract is worth $90 million over five years with $56 million guaranteed.

Flowers is one of three former Patriots who signed with Detroit this week. Not a surprise with GM Bob Quinn and coach Matt Patricia’s ties to New England. They also signed slot corner Justin Coleman and wide receiver Danny Amendola.

Flowers, who is 25, was at least in part attracted to the Lions because he had played for Patricia. He was a fourth-round pick by the Patriots in the 2015 draft.

“Definitely the familiarity was there, he kind of taught me a lot of things …’’ Flowers said. “He’s just a great guy to work for, obviously he demands a high standard of excellence from his players. When you get somebody who can challenge like that, day in and day out for the team to get better those are the type of guys you want to play for.’’

No one thinks Flowers is overpaid — he was the top free agent edge rusher available.

He’s versatile — can play any spot on the line — and will be a good fit on a line along with Snacks Harrison, A’Shawn Robinson and Da’Shawn Hand. 

“I think it’s just me understanding that wherever I am on the field, I want to be productive and if it’s a foreign position to me I’m going to work hard at it. I’m going to work after practice, I’m going to put in the time, energy and effort to kind of get great at it,’’ Flowers said. “I think just precision and detail, attention to detail with fundamentals and technique and understanding different guys along the line knowing you can’t play the tackles as same as you play guards. Film study helps better understand the game and understand what I’m doing is something I can take advantage of.’’

The words echo Patricia’s philosophy.

Flowers didn’t want to get into specifics about which teams were most interested in signing him.

He said he has no big plans to spend his newfound money except for maybe helping out his folks.

Flowers also has a 3-month-old daughter, Shylo. The question is when will she see her Daddy play in a Super Bowl wearing a Lions uniform?

Lions off to good start in free agency

DE Trey Flowers one of 3 former Patriots targeted

Bob Quinn’s busy Monday resulted in what appears to be one of the best days in Detroit LIons’ recent free agency history.

The Lions GM addressed some of the biggest needs which should open the team up for more flexibility in the NFL draft (April 25-27).

While free agency doesn’t officially start until Wednesday, Monday was the first day for legal tampering. So while the deals appear imminent the players can’t be signed until Wednesday.

That excludes wide receiver Danny Amendola who signed with Detroit after he was cut by the Miami Dolphins after just one season. He was a free agent so could ink the deal early.

Amendola, one of three former Patriots making the move to Detroit on Monday, is a two-time Super Bowl champ and quite familiar with Quinn and coach Matt Patricia.

On a conference call, the 35-year-old Amendola said he’s in the best shape of his career.

In case you’ve been in a cave, defensive end Trey Flowers was the biggest fish that the Lions landed on Monday.

Flowers, a two-time Super Bowl champ who is only 25, has missed just three games in the past three seasons in New England. The former fourth-round pick (2015) is expected to sign a deal worth approximately $17 million a year for five years. He should be worth it and could replaced 29-year-old Ziggy Ansah who just couldn’t stay healthy missing 14 games in the past three seasons.

And, of course, he knows Matt Patricia who coached him his first three seasons with the Pats. (He missed most of his rookie season in 2015 with a shoulder injury.

Justin Coleman, who will play nickel, spent the last two years in Seattle after his first two seasons with the Patriots. So he knows Patricia and Quinn well. (Sense a trend?). He’s expected to sign a four-year deal with $36 million. The Lions released Nevin Lawson earlier on Monday.

Quinn addressed the huge need at tight end by signing Jesse James who played with the Steelers the past four seasons. The 24-year-old is more of a blocking tight end but could give Matthew Stafford another option.

Lions GM Bob Quinn: QB Matthew Stafford is not going anywhere

‘He will be our quarterback here’

ALLEN PARK — If there was any doubt about the future of Matthew Stafford in Detroit, Lions general manager Bob Quinn set the record straight in his season-ending press conference on Friday.

The Lions quarterback, who just finished his 10th season, is going nowhere.

“Matthew Stafford is our quarterback. He will be our quarterback here,’’ Quinn said. “Listen, this guy is a really talented player. Myself, the coaches need to put him in better situations to allow him to use his skill set. Matt’s extremely tough, he’s extremely diligent in his work ethic. He sets a great example for all of our players, and really all of our staff, of how to go about his job.’’

Stafford’s back injury late in the season was on the daily injury report. But apparently that is not all he was fighting through.

“He had the back thing, and he went through numerous things where he wanted to play through it and our doctors said he could play through it, and he showed a lot of toughness,’’ Quinn said. “That’s a credit to him. That’s one thing I’ll never, ever question. This guy loves football, he’s competitive, he’s talented. We need to do a better job of putting better players around him and scheming up things better to use his talent.”

The Lions finished 6-10 in coach Matt Patricia’s first season. The defense outperformed the offense for most of the season, but that was not all on Stafford. Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter’s contract was not renewed.

It was the first season since 2010 when he only played in three games,  that Stafford didn’t have at least 4,000 passing yards.

Quinn does not blame Stafford for the offense’s midseason struggles.

“It was a combination of we had some injuries, we had some things that were happening during the games defensively that kind of affected the offense. We kind of put them in some bad situations. Special teams, field position. It’s not just Matthew Stafford. That’s not what this is,’’ Quinn said. “We have 53 players on the field, on the team every week. We have 46 that dress. So, just because he’s the quarterback and he touches that ball every play on offense doesn’t mean he gets all the blame. The blame can be passed around. It starts with me, it starts with the coaches, and it starts with everybody on the team. It’s not his fault.”

Quinn said Stafford holds himself accountable at a “very high level.”

“I think Matthew’s kind of a reserved guy with you guys. I think in the locker room, in the meeting rooms, on the practice field, this guy holds himself at a very, very high standard, and that resonates with his teammates, that resonates with the staff,’’ Quinn said. “We didn’t win enough games, Matthew didn’t have as great stats as he normally does, and we’re going to improve that in the offseason.”

A possible trade of Stafford has been recent fodder for Detroit sports talk radio. In 10 years Stafford has yet to win a playoff game, but that is not all on him as Quinn made clear. Stafford is on his third head coach and will soon be working with his fourth offensive coordinator. Since Reggie Bush was not brought back after the 2014 season, the Lions haven’t had much of a running game until this past season when Kerryon Johnson made his mark.

“I understand the outside perception. What I know on the inside is, working with this quarterback every day, seeing his car in the parking lot, early in the morning, late at night. I know what he does when he goes home, he puts the girls to bed and he works,’’ Quinn said. “I see that every day. I see what he does to get his body ready to play football. I see what he does on the practice field.’’

The GM noted how Stafford works extra before and after practice, notably with Bruce Ellington who was signed after Golden Tate was traded. But also with younger receivers like Andy Jones and even Justin Stockton who was on the practice squad.

“I understand what you’re saying, I really do,’’ Quinn said. “But when you live in this building, and you live with this guy, there’s things that go very unnoticed with him that are very, very valuable.”