Detroit Lions’ Mike Daniels settles in with defensive line; foot injury not an issue

ALLEN PARK — Defensive tackle Mike Daniels seems happy with his decision to sign with the Detroit Lions after he was released by the Packers

“It feels great, it feels really good, I’m super excited, I’m really enjoying everything,’’ said Damon who practiced for the first time on Monday.

Daniels, 30, was coming off a foot injury when he was signed so he didn’t hit the field during training camp. He said the foot feels good.

“Whenever you come off an injury, it’s a process and we were just taking a series of steps,’’ Daniels said.

He won’t say if he feels he needs to get in a preseason game to prepare for the regular season, instead he says it’s up to the coaches.

“Like with anything practice makes perfect,” Daniels said. “We were all out there today and it feels good. Look at A’Shawn (Robinson), Da’Shawn (Hand) and those guys — they did a lot of really good things last year and A’Shawn in years past. I like our group a lot, I like our room a whole lot.’’

Playing with veterans like Damon “Snacks” Harrison and Tre Flowers, another Lions’ newcomer, seems to have made the transition to Detroit easier after spending his whole career in Green Bay.

“It’s really nice to be out there with the guys, the more you play together, the better you get to understand everybody, know who you’re playing with, build the chemistry,’’ Daniels said. “Everybody has the right attitude, I don’t see chemistry being an issue. I think we can just step out there together … We  all have the similar mentality, everyone wants to get better everyday that’s our goal to get better every day so it really doesn’t matter who we line up with.’’

The Lions, who have lost their first two preseason games, face the Buffalo Bills at 8 p.m. on Friday night at Ford Field for their third preseason game.

Advertisements

Mike Daniels says Matt Patricia is reason he signed with Detroit Lions

ALLEN PARK — Thirteen NFL teams called within the first hour after defensive tackle Mike Daniels was released by the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday.

He signed with the Detroit Lions on Saturday and was on the practice field on Sunday for the fourth day of training camp. He was not in pads so he didn’t fully participate but he was out there soaking it in.

Make no mistake about it, there was one reason that Daniels chose the Lions. His name is Matt Patricia.

“He’s just a genius, he really is. He understands the game of football he knows what it takes to be able to play for a coach like that means everything,’’ the 30-year-old Daniels said. “I’m trying to be restrained right now but I’m so excited if I could do a backflip right now I would, I’m so excited.’’

Daniels, who played for the past seven seasons with the Packers, had never met Patricia until their interview on Friday.

“I knew everything about him, I’ve always respected him and respected his work. I thank God I got cut and I have an opportunity to play with a defensive genius,’’ Daniels said. “I’m glad I get the opportunity to play for a coach that demands doing things the right way.

Daniels will join Snacks Harrison, A’Shawn Robinson, Trey Flowers, Da’Shawn Hand and Romeo Okwara on the defensive line. 

“They definitely have a tough defensive front, they’ve always done a great job. I’ve always respected the Lions’ defensive front and now with coach Paticia being here and seeing the guys he’s brought over here they’ve only gotten better, couldn’t help but notice,’’ Daniels said. “To be able to play with those guys is awesome.’’

He said he’s known Harrison since college and has the utmost admiration for him.

While Daniels seems elated to be in Detroit, he was careful not to in any way slam the Packers. 

He credits Green Bay coaches for making him the player he is today.

Daniels missed the last six games of the season in 2018 with a foot injury. He wasn’t clear when asked about his foot.

“Just working and taking everything day by day,” Daniels said.

Patricia was also a little unclear about the status of Daniels’ foot injury.

“You’re not going to throw him in there for 1,000 reps. That’s not really going to work, but you just go along with kind of the pattern of what I said,’’ Patricia said. “He’ll be out there and go through the drills, and we’ll get familiar with him from that standpoint. Trust him, he’s a professional. He’s done this for a long time at a high level. That feedback is critical for me, and our coaching staff, and our medical staff.’’

 

Thirty years ago today the Detroit Lions drafted Barry Sanders third overall

The Packers passed in favor of Tony Mandarich

Thirty years ago today the Detroit Lions drafted running back Barry Sanders.

No-brainer, you ask?

Well, yes. On April 23,1989, by the time the Oklahoma State running back dropped to the Lions with the third overall pick it was an easy decision for GM Chuck Schmidt.

Sanders, the 1988 Heisman Trophy winner, was coming off a remarkable college season. He backed up Thurman Thomas his first two seasons and then in his junior year (1988) he led the nation averaging 7.6 yards per carry and more than 200 yards per game and more than 300 yards in four games. In total he rushed for 2,850 yards and 42 touchdowns in a dozen games that season. He carried the ball 344 times (unbelievable) and still returned kicks and punts.

Sanders was a marvel, obviously.

When he joined the Lions, he acclimated to the NFL immediately.

He missed training camp as a rookie due to contract issues so he didn’t start the regular season opener. He stepped on the field in the third quarter for the first time and carried nine times for 71 yards (7.9 yards per carry) and a touchdown in a 16-13 loss to Phoenix. This was after no training camp and no preseason games. He finished the season with 1,470 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Speaking of no-brainers, he was named NFL rookie of the year.

Through 10 seasons with the Lions, Sanders averaged more than 1,500 rushing yards per season and 99.8 rushing yards per game. In 1997, he became the third player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season and was named the NFL Most Valuable Player.

If you never saw him, go to YouTube and watch his highlights. It’s a treat. There’s a reason he was a 10-time Pro Bowler and two-time NFL offensive player of the year.

So while the Lions have historically had a few bad first-round picks — Charles Rogers (2003) and Reggie Rogers (1987) come to mind — when it came to Sanders they nailed it. Not so much for the Green Bay Packers.

In that 1989 draft, Troy Aikman was the first overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys.

Then the Packers drafted offensive lineman Tony Mandarich. (Michigan State) who was a bust with a capital B. History proved they were idiots for skipping over Sanders.

Four of the top five 1989 picks became Hall of Famers — Sanders, Aikman, Derrick Thomas (Kansas City) and Deion Sanders (Atlanta Falcons).

 

(Read more about Barry Sanders in one of my books — “Game of My Life Detroit Lions” or “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.” Both are available on Amazon.com and at Detroit-area Barnes & Nobles.)

Detroit Lions release 2019 schedule

Will play one Monday night game on the road

Not too much drama in the release of the Detroit Lions’ 2019 schedule on Wednesday night although just two of the first five games will be played at Ford Field.

The Lions open on the road at the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 8 with their first home game in Week 2 against the Los Angeles Chargers who finished 12-4 last season.

They will play on Monday night game, on Oct. 14 at the Green Bay Packers. It will be their first game after the bye in Week 5 (Oct. 6).

On Oct. 27, the Lions will welcome the New York Giants and wide receiver Golden Tate.

On Thanksgiving they will face the Chicago Bears for the second straight season. In 2018 the Bears feasted on the Lions with a 23-16 win.

The regular season — the second under coach Matt Patricia —  will wrap up on Dec. 29 against the Packers at Ford Field. It’s the second straight home finale against the Packers. The Lions won that game 30-0 last year to finish the season, 6-10.

2019 REGULAR SEASON LIONS SCHEDULE

Sunday, Sept. 8 at Arizona Cardinals, FOX, 4:25 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 15 LOS ANGELES CHARGERS, CBS, 1 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 22 at Philadelphia Eagles, FOX, 1 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 29 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS, FOX, 1 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 6 BYE WEEK

Monday, October 14 at Green Bay Packers, ESPN, 8:15 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 20 MINNESOTA VIKINGS, FOX, 1 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 27 NEW YORK GIANTS, FOX, 1 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 3 at Oakland Raiders, FOX, 4:05 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 10 at Chicago Bears, CBS, 1 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 17 DALLAS COWBOYS, FOX, 1 p.m.

Sunday, Nov.24 at Washington Redskins, FOX, 1 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 28 CHICAGO BEARS, FOX, 12:30 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 8 at Minnesota Vikings, FOX, 1 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 15 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS, FOX, 1 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 21/Sunday, Dec. 22 at Denver Broncos TBD

Sunday, Dec. 29 GREEN BAY PACKERS, FOX, 1 p.m.

PRESEASON SCHEDULE

Thursday, Aug. 8 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, WJBK-TV FOX 2, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 17 at Houston Texans WJBK-TV FOX 2, 8 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 23 BUFFALO BILLS, CBS, 8 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 29 at Cleveland Browns, WJBK-TV, FOX 2 7:30 p.m

Five main reasons Detroit Lions shut out Green Bay Packers to end the season

First shutout for Lions since 1996

All week the Detroit Lions players and coaches said that Sunday’s season-ending game at Green Bay was important. Then they went out and played like they meant it.

The Lions shut out the Packers, 31-0, at Lambeau Field on Sunday. It was Detroit’s first shutout since 1996. The Lions had not shut out the Packers since 1973 and it was the first time they had shut them out at Lambeau since 1970. It was also the Lions’ second sweep of the Packers in the last two seasons.

Detroit finishes 6-10 in the first year under coach Matt Patricia who deserves credit for getting the team ready to go in a somewhat meaningless game.

Five of the main reasons the Lions won:

1. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers didn’t look like himself from the get-go and then left in the first quarter with a concussion. DeShone Kizer, who hadn’t played since the regular season opener, stepped in but wasn’t able to put points on the board. He was 16 of 35 for 132 yards, and one interception.  It’s possible the Lions could have beaten a healthy Rodgers, but it was easier without him. Give the Lions defense credit for holding the Packers offense to zero points and just 175 total yards.

2. Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, perhaps in his final game with the Lions, went to the trick-play chapter of his playbook and dialed up a fake field goal. Kicker Matt Prater made it work when tight end Levine Toilolo got open in the end zone and caught Prater’s pass for a touchdown. It gave the Lions a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Cooter also had the offense playing at a quicker tempo in the first half.

3. Matthew Stafford, who was wearing a left knee brace and has been fighting through a back injury, had his best game in weeks despite not having any of his top targets available. Stafford was 20 of 32 for 266 yards, 2 touchdowns and a 109.6 rating. Kenny Golladay (chest) was inactive. No problem — Brandon Powell (six catches, 103 yards) and Andy Jones (six for 50 yards) stepped up. But it was veteran T.J. Jones (three catches, 40 yards) who caught a pair of touchdown passes. The Lions’ offense had not scored more than 22 points since the 32-21 win at Miami on Oct. 21.

4. The Lions stuck with the run game. LeGarrette Blount (11 carries, 15 yards) struggled, but Zach Zenner had a career day with 21 carries for 93 yards and a rushing touchdown. He also caught one pass for 30 yards. Zenner had two touchdown runs negated due to holding penalties. Zenner has stepped up big in recent weeks with the absence of rookie Kerryon Johnson. Wouldn’t be surprising to see Zenner return next year. He’s a solid backup and plays well on special teams.

5. The Lions defense never quit despite the double-digit lead through most of the game. Jarrad Davis, Tavon Wilson and Kerry Hyder each had a sack. Quandre Diggs came down with his third interception of the season late in the fourth quarter.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

BONUS: Fox 2’s Jennifer Hammond tweeted that after the game she asked Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford if she was happy with the direction the team is headed under Patricia. “Yes I am,” Ford said.

 

 

Five things to watch as Detroit Lions wrap up the season at Green Bay

A battle for last place in the NFC North

When the NFL schedule was released in the spring, this matchup between the LIons and Packers was teaming with possibilities. Perhaps it would even determine the NFC North title or a battle for a wild-card berth.

What a difference seven months can make.

The Lions (5-10) play the Packers (6-8-1) at Green Bay at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Ending the season on a win is dandy but not all that important in the long run for either team.

Don’t tell that to the players, though.

“They’re a good football team. Anytime you go to Lambeau Field, it’s a big challenge. I think they’re a talented, young football team and we’ll have our work cut out for us,’’ quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “Obviously, Aaron (Rodgers) is doing a great job this year playing at a high level and scoring a bunch of points. As an offense, that’s a big challenge for us, knowing that we’re going to have to go out there and score some points. And then obviously, a big challenge for our defense anytime you’re facing a guy like Aaron and a team like that.”

Five things to watch on Sunday:

1. Stafford has been limited in practice for a few weeks with a bad back, but was a full go this week. It’s been a tough season for the quarterback who is in his 10th season. “I just wish we won more games, that’s the biggest thing. I’m fighting for these guys in this locker room. The guys are working to try and win every Sunday,’’ Stafford said. “When you don’t win, everybody feels it. We wish we could and are doing everything we can to try and win, we just haven’t done it enough this season. So, that’s tough to swallow.”

2. The Lions have gotten some quality run production out of Zach Zenner in recent weeks. Give him the ball, let him show what he can do. LeGarrette Blount has been good in spurts but not consistent. Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter takes pride in the fact that they have improved the run game this year. “We kind of came into the year saying, ‘Boy, we have to run the ball better. We have to run the ball more effectively.’ We made a big point of emphasis on that, and by and large, I think we did a lot of those things,’’ Cooter said. “Not that it’s a done deal at this point, but I think we made some strides running, blocking, all those things.’’

3. Green Bay wide receiver Davante Adams is expected to play despite being on the injured list this week. He burnt Detroit’s defense for 140 receiving yards and a touchdown in the first game against the Packers. Expect Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay to be prepared, but he could have his hands full with the Pro Bowl wide receiver.

4. The Lions pass rush has been mostly anemic all season, but they did sack Rodgers four times in the first game. Pressure is key on Rodgers who has had a good season statistically, but just hasn’t been able to pull out the wins on his own. Amazingly he’s thrown just two interceptions while tossing 25 touchdowns and 4.416 yards.

5. It’s a nothing game but it’s one of just 16 so the Lions should be prepared. Some weeks it looks like they are, some weeks not. The Lions and Packers played on Oct. 7 so it’s not like they don’t know what to expect. The Lions won that one 31-23 at home. HIstorically Detroit has been lousy at Green Bay where they are 12-32-3 at Lambeau Field.

PREDICTION: Packers 24, Lions 16

Detroit Lions: With Jamal Agnew out, Nevin Lawson could see time at nickel

Lawson details differences in responsibilities

ALLEN PARK >> Jamal Agnew won’t be replaced by just one of his teammates, it will take a village.

The Detroit Lions nickel back, who is a return specialist and occasionally pitches in on offense, was placed on injured reserve on Monday for a knee injury sustained in the win over the Green Bay Packers on Oct. 7.

“He’s obviously a very valuable player to our team. Really can do a great job of turning field position, does a great job when he’s out there at gunner, plays defense. So, a pretty multiple, versatile player for us,’’ coach Matt Patricia said on Monday. “But that’s the nature of the game. We have guys that are going to have to step up and fill those roles whether it’s one person or multiple guys. We’ll just try to put the best guy out there that we can.”

Patricia would not say if Agnew will return this season. It could be too soon to know.

“That’s the good thing about that kind of designation is we have options. If we get to that point where we can expedite him or use him, then we’ll try to do that. But it’s just a matter of time right now,’’ Patricia said.

He also wouldn’t clarify if Agnew will have surgery, saying he is still being evaluated.

After the injury, Nevin Lawson moved from corner to nickel to fill in for Agnew. So it’s possible that Lawson could fill in on Sunday when the Lions play the Dolphins in Miami. Don’t be surprised if Ameer Abdullah gets the nod on returns.

Lawson is good with playing nickel and said he doesn’t have a preference when it comes to position.

“I just want to be on the field so I can be out there competing and playing,’’ Lawson said on Monday. “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter where you are, you still going to have a chance to make plays..’’

Patricia and defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni love their players to be versatile.

“It’s two different roles, on the outside it’s really an island, you’re really by yourself,’’ Lawson said. “When you’re playing the nickel you have to constantly communicate with the safeties and the linebackers. It’s definitely different just knowing what to do and make sure you know what to do and you, the linebackers and safeties are on the same page.’’

With this new Patricia-style defense it occasionally looks like a corner has moved into nickel, but Lawson said things aren’t always how they look. A corner could move inside covering a certain receiver and that doesn’t necessarily make him a nickel.

“It’s different when a guy is playing inside mostly the whole game, that’s when he’s truly a nickel,’’ Lawson said.

He also specified that tackling is more important when playing inside.

“It’s important playing corner, but it’s definitely more important playing slot because you’re asked to add to the run game so you have to be able to come up and make tackles as well, not just tackles you have to make good open-field tackles,’’ Lawson explained.