Five things to know about Lions’ Theo Riddick who is on his way back

Running back only played 10 games in 2016 due to injury

ALLEN PARK — Theo Riddick had an uncharacteristic drop in Friday’s training camp and he was not happy about it.

Riddick missed the final three games last season with injuries that led to surgery on both of his wrists.

After he missed all of the spring practices, he’s back in action wearing a red cautionary jersey. He’s not fair game — he is not supposed to be hit.

Here are five things to know about Riddick:

— Coach Jim Caldwell is pleased with his progress. “He’s coming along well, just in terms of his cardiovascular shape. He’s in good shape. He’s moving around out there,’’ Caldwell said on Friday. “The only thing we’re not allowing him to do is have contact, even though he went to the ground one time out there. But other than that, I think he’s making good progress.”

— When asked about the statement that he’s one of the most underrated players in the NFL, Riddick has one three-word response: “Let’s play ball.”

— He’s thrilled to be back on the practice field after watching all spring while still wearing a brace on his right wrist. “It’s what you love to do, go out there and get the calls going in fast motions or slow. And just being out there working on the little things, paying attention to detail,’’ Riddick said.

— Ameer Abdullah and Riddick have not been on the field together since the second game of the 2016 season. Abdullah missed the final 14 games with a foot injury. “As long a we stay healthy we should be in good shape. We’re two talented backs and want to get the ball in our hands, we just want to do something with it,’’ Riddick said. The Lions’ running game was ranked 30th in the NFL in 2016 averaging just 81.9 yards per game.

— Riddick and Abdullah help each other off the field. “That’s my guy, everybody’s close in the room. Definitely me and Ameer, we definitely communicate. When he’s in  I can be an extra set of eyes,’’ Riddick said. “We’re always constantly learning and critiquing ourselves. With that we’re always trying to push each other even if we can get better in the smallest area.’’

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Getting physical at Lions camp: Vet Marv Jones gets slammed by Jarrad Davis

Davis went after Jones in a seven-on-seven drill

ALLEN PARK — All’s fair game when the Lions are in pads in training camp.

Well, maybe not all but close to it.

One of the highlights of Friday morning’s camp was a big hit by rookie middle linebacker Jarrad Davis on veteran wide receiver Marvin Jones during seven-on-seven drills.

Matthew Stafford found Jones in a crowd, Jones caught the ball and then Davis slammed the wide receiver, the ball popped up and Jones caught it again. Davis blew him up again.

All is good though.

It’s exactly what the coaches want to see from the linebacking group.

Jones did not have an issue with being on the receiving end.

Afterward when Davis was in an interview scrum, Jones came up from behind him and playfully grabbed him around the waist as if he would tackle him to the turf.

The gesture from the veteran was a good thing.

“I really appreciate those guys,’’ Davis said. “When I got back there I let him know it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.’’

Sounds like a warning shot.

“(After) a little hit in the back on seven-on-seven that was chip from me, a nice little present. It’s all good, we’re in full pads, it’s football. You’re going to get something like that. I’m glad he’s on our squad,’’ Jones said.

Davis, who was drafted in the first round to start at middle linebacker, had another solid day. The hit on Jones was just the exclamation point.

“It’s part of the game physicality, football is a physical game if they don’t like it they don’t like it, if they like it they like it. It’s going to go either way,’’ Davis said. “I’m practicing my craft, working on me. I’m going to make sure I take care of my teammates at the end of the day, but you have moments like that to make the team better.’’

Coach Jim Caldwell had no problem with the play. It wasn’t vicious, it’s what the coaches need to see now and then during camp days when they are in full pads.

“Every practice is different, this practice was a padded practice so we went after it pretty good and there’s some practices we don’t. It was within the rules,’’ Caldwell said. “The physical nature of the game is what it is, you’ve got to be able to tackle and run. You’re going to have a collision here and there.’’

Caldwell is cautious about dropping too many kind words early in camp especially for rookies.

Still no one can deny Davis has proven his first-round value so far.

“Yeah, I think (physicality) is kind of a normal trait of most linebackers and anybody on defense period. Those are guys that are going to be very, very active in that regard,’’ Caldwell said. “He’s performing well. Like I said, nothing’s perfect. He’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but he certainly works at it and he’s doing a nice job just in terms of the overall progression.”

And aggression, we might add.

Jarrad Davis so far making Bob Quinn look smart for drafting him in first round

Davis works hard, has earned respect from the veterans

Can rookie Jarrad Davis live up to the hype?

At this point it would be shocking if he didn’t. He was drafted in the first round specifically to take over at middle linebacker, the position that makes the defensive calls.

It’s a big responsibility for anyone, let alone a rookie.

And yet, coach Jim Caldwell and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin have not hemmed and hawed about where Davis will play. Caldwell usually takes a more wait-and-see approach with first-round rookies.

It’s different with Davis.

“He’s an unusual guy because of the fact that he works extremely hard. He’s smart. He works at it. He’s dedicated and he’s still got a lot to learn,’’ Caldwell said at training camp this week. “He’s only been in this thing a matter of a few months now, but just anticipate and expect to see him to continue to grow.’’

Davis, who played at Florida, is not cocky. When he was drafted he talked about how he took it upon himself to learn the characteristics of a good leader and then developed leadership skills with the Gators.

He’s not expecting to be given anything. He’ll work hard to deserve it, thank you. It hasn’t taken long for his teammates to figure him out.

“I think he gives respect, so they give it back and I think that’s an important trait as well,’’  Caldwell said.

Pro Bowl safety Glover Quin, who has a good view of Davis in practice, has become a fan.

“I like playing with him. He’s all football. He’s very serious. He takes his job very seriously. He wants to be great. You can see it by the way he asks questions, by the way he works and the way he studies,’’ Quin said.

“He’s going to be a great addition for us. Obviously, there are a lot of things you’ve got to learn. That’s to be expected. With his size, with his speed, with his instincts, with his physicality, he’ll be able to help us in the middle. I think he’ll make a lot of plays for us. I’m excited to play alongside him, watch him grow. I’m also excited to help him in any way I can,’’ Quin added.

Davis is going to make rookie mistakes, but from watching him in training camp, all indications are that he’s a play maker and he’ll be ready to go in September. That is exactly what the Lions’ defense needs.

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.’’