Lions QB Matthew Stafford says no back surgery, no lingering issues

May lead league in forced situations in practice

ALLEN PARK — Matthew Stafford hasn’t played a snap in the first two preseason games, but it apparently has nothing to do with his back which he injured late last season.

On Monday the Detroit Lions quarterback said he had no offseason surgery and is not doing extra rehab for the back. 

“I’m just practicing. I do a little core routine,’’ Stafford said. “I feel good. When they tell me to go play I’ll play, I’ve played a lot of football …whenever coach tells me to go play I’ll play.’’

Stafford and the Lions were back at it on Monday after taking a break after their second preseason game — a 30-23 loss at the Houston Texans on Saturday night.

Stafford said there’s no definitive time on how much he wants to — or should — play in the preseason games.  After all, he faces “live bullets” every day at camp.

“We probably lead the league in forced situations in practice, I would imagine we do,’’ Stafford said. “We do 2-point plays in the middle of practice — two-minute, a random fourth-and-8 where you have to throw it in there no matter what, all that kind of stuff,’’ Stafford said. “We’re put in situations all over the place at any given moment in practice and it’s good to practice it and force yourself to be aware of those situations when they come up.’’

He was positive about the two sessions of joint practices they had in the last few weeks with the Patriots and Texans. 

“I don’t prefer either way, to be honest with you but I know the work we get in those practices is great,’’ Stafford said. “Really able to push our limits schematically to see what’s working and what’s not.’’

It’s difficult to evaluate just where the offense is with new coordinator and after two preseason losses.

“I think we still have a lot of things to clean up, a lot of details, as does every team in the preseason,’’ Stafford said. “I’ve been a part of some preseasons where I feel like we were lighting it up on offense and maybe the season didn’t go that way. And I’ve felt the opposite and you know we were struggling to put points up, then you go put a lot of points up in the season.

“The biggest thing is we have a great group of guys pushing to get better every day. Whether you have a great preseason or you don’t  or a great week 1, it’s all got to be pushing toward peaking at the right time.’’

The Lions host the Buffalo Bills on Friday night at Ford Field for their third preseason contest. Typically starters see the most time in the third preseason game, but there’s no guarantee Stafford will play on that night.

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Detroit Lions lack of depth shows in 31-3 preseason loss to New England Patriots

DETROIT — It wasn’t that the Lions lost to the New England Patriots 31-3 in the preseason opener, it was how they lost.

Of course, most starters did not play but that’s the way it was for both teams in the game at Ford Field on Thursday.

So no matter how you paint it, it was not pretty. Camp is not over and depth at certain positions (including the offensive line) seems to be an issue

The Patriots scored four touchdowns while the Lions managed just eight first downs.

Lions quarterbacks Tom Savage (who started) and backup David Fales were sacked nine times losing 81 yards. To start the second half guards Kenny Wiggins and Graham Glasgow were in, giving Fales a little more protection.

At the end of that ugly first half New England had amassed 262 yards while the Lions could only manage 28. When it was over the Patriots had 459 total net yards while the Lions had 93.

Need more examples?

Patriots rookie wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, who was not drafted, caught two touchdown passes — once beating safety Miles Killebrew in coverage and then getting past cornerback Mike Ford on the second score. 

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

“Obviously a long night for us here, with the game not obviously how we wanted it to go. Give the Patriots credit, they came out and played hard, they did a great job of executing plays they ran tonight,’’ coach Matt Patricia said. “We have to do a better job of going out and competing and we have to do a better job of executing the plays we need to execute at.’’

Patricia didn’t seem angry, just more determined. He knows what needs to be done.

It’s a loss but it’s a preseason game and, like he mentioned, it was their first game in seven months.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re in the middle of camp, we’ve got to keep grinding away and get better,’’ said Patricia whose team will head to Houston next week for joint practices before the preseason game at Houston on Aug. 17.

A few times he mentioned that the improvements have to start with the coaches.

“You always try to evaluate the first game and some of the things you’re working on when you go through practice,’’ Patricia said. “Things you see in practice you want to make sure that transfers over to the game, that will be a big part of the evaluation.’’

Not too many highlights but running back Ty Johnson had a few nice runs — officially three carries for 22 yards but he had a long scamper called back. While Killebrew got beat on one touchdown he had six tackles which was tied with safety Andrew Adams and rookie cornerback Amani Oruwariye. 

In case there was any question to why most starters did not see action, the Lions had two go down with what could be serious injuries before the end of the first quarter.

Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse was carted off with a left leg in jury less than three minutes into the game. Patriots’ Terrence Brooks rolled onto Kearse’s leg and twisted it. The veteran had a chance to make the Lions’ roster as the fourth wide receiver. No word on the severity of his injury, but the replay did not look good. 

Backup quarterback Tom Savage was sacked on back-to-back plays, hitting the top of his head on the second one. He left the game and didn’t return. It looked like it could have been a concussion but no official word.

Patricia said they are in an evaluation process for all the injured players so no updates.

Then in the second quarter, defensive tackle Darius Kilgo suffered what appeared to be a left leg injury. He was helped off the field by trainers.

Zach Zenner was taken into the popup blue tent on the sideline likely to be evaluated for a concussion but he was soon back on the bench.

The Lions have Friday off and then will continue training camp on Saturday and Sunday.

Patriots’ QB Tom Brady still going strong at 42 during workout with Detroit Lions

ALLEN PARK — After a grinding joint practice with the Detroit Lions on Monday morning, the New England Patriots ran hill drills and then sang happy birthday to their quarterback, Tom Brady.

“It was a different rendition of  the traditional happy birthday but it was nice,’’ said Brady who turned 42 on Saturday.

On Sunday he signed a two-year contract extension worth $23 million for this season, per ESPN. It was hardly a surprise since Brady has led the Patriots to six Super Bowl championships and has defied age for the past few years.

“Just had a great history, I love playing quarterback here, I love this team, the organization, Mr. (Robert) Kraft, Jonathan (Kraft), coach (Bill) Belichick, all the coaches, all the players,’’ Brady said. “The focus this year is on what we have to do so that’s where I’m focused. That’s all that really matters in the end. That’s what this team expects for me to put everything in it like I always have and I’m real excited for the year. This was good competition today we needed it to see where we’re at and try to make quite a few corrections, go out there tomorrow and see if we can do better.’’

Brady looked sharp during the workouts completing a high percentage of his passes against the Lions’ defense in team drills and seven-on-sevens.

The joint practices will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday leading up to the first preseason game for both teams at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at Ford Field.

Current Lions wide receiver Danny Amendola, who played for five seasons with the Patriots, is not surprised by Brady’s success and longevity.

“He works extremely hard, he’s very deserving of all he’s got,’’ Amendola said. “I’m happy for him, he’s a good friend. Any time I get to watch him play football is good.’’

Brady was peppered with questions about the future beyond 2021. He has said he wants to play until he’s 45 and seems to be headed in the right direction.

“I’m not worked up about it, I’m secure for this year I think — I got a few first-team reps out there,’’ Brady said with a smile.

“It’s a unique situation. I’m 20 years with the same team, I’ll be 42 years old it’s pretty much uncharted territory,’’ Brady added.

His health is the key for his longevity. In the past 10 years the only games he’s missed was for a four-game suspension in 2016.

“You’ve got to take care of your body. I wrote a book on it literally, I live by it and I think it’s given me pretty good results,’’ said Brady, the author of “The TB12 Method.” “I try to pass it on to the next generation so they don’t have to go through the same mistakes I did. Everyone learns different ways. Hopefully I can be an inspiration, I’ve got a great opportunity to prove to a lot of people they didn’t think I could do it and hopefully I can. Well done is better than well said.’’

“He can play forever,’’ Amendola said.

Brady just loves the game and it shows.

His eyes lit up when he was asked if it was good to be back in the state of Michigan.

“I love it, I love it,’’ he said.

After all he played his college ball 34 miles west of the Lions facility at the University of Michigan.

 

 

Detroit Lions training camp: Danny Amendola out to develop his role

ALLEN PARK — Danny Amendola’s challenge is finding where he best fits in the Detroit Lions’ new-look offense.

“I’m trying to develop a role on this team and I’m trying to expand that role as much as I can, do whatever I can to help the team win in whatever capacity that is. That’s why I’m here,’’ the 33-year-old said on Thursday.

Amendola  played in 15 games for the Miami Dolphins last season with 59 receptions and a touchdown. The previous five seasons he spent with the New England Patriots where he got to know Matt Patricia who was the defensive coordinator.

“He’s tough man, he demands a lot, he expects a lot, he has high expectations. I knew that coming here that’s why I wanted to come here, he’s a great coach,’’ Amendola said. 

Patricia obviously thinks highly of him too.

“I think just in general you’ve got to love Danny Amendola, you’ve got to love everything he brings every single day,’’ Patricia said on Friday. “He’s probably one of the most intense people you’re going to talk to. When you’re passionate about the game of football like we all are and like he is passion breeds passion … 

“He’s like everybody else he’s got a lot of work to do to improve. But as far as a person he’s a football guy, he loves the game, he loves being around the guys, loves every aspect of it. All of that energy is contagious and that’s great to be around all the time,’’ the coach said.

The veteran wide receiver — he is 33 —  been working overtime with Matthew Stafford to develop a rapport.

“Anytime we’re able to get together we try to get as many reps as we can is possible. We’re out here right now trying to steal as many reps, before practice, after practice, in the weight room,’’ he said. “We’re always talking about ideas, trying to get better.’’

Amendola, who wears No. 80, was among those returning punts in training camp on Thursday.

During the spring Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay were sidelined with injuries which gave Amendola more reps with Stafford.

“It’s great to have them back they’re two explosive players and I’m happy to be playing with them,’’ Amendola said. “I’m excited to be it he huddle with them.’’

He’s not the only veteran wide receiver signed as a free agent. Jermaine Kearse has also been added to the roster.

Amendola also has the utmost respect for Stafford.

“Exceptional. He’s up there with the best I’ve been with,’’ Amendola said. “Extremely cerebral player, he can anticipate and he’s been doing it for a long time at an extremely high level so I’m excited to be here with him.’’

Detroit Lions GM Bob Quinn follows draft board not the advice of fans, media

Quinn wants what the fans want

Bob Quinn doesn’t let fan expectations or sentiment drive his draft decisions.

That shouldn’t even be questioned. He has worked all his professional life to learn the draft process.

The Lions general manager just completed his fourth draft weekend in Detroit.

On Day 3 of the draft Saturday he added three players on defense and three on offense. He was all smiles taking the podium afterward.

“Good mix of skill guys and big guys – felt like good value. Kind of made that one trade with Atlanta, moved back a couple spots, thought that was good business to acquire that other pick for really just moving down six spots, I think. I thought it was a good day,’’ Quinn said.

And it wasn’t just a good day.

“Thought it was a really good weekend for us overall as a team, got the team better,’’ Quinn added.

T.J. Hockenson, his first-round pick, filled a need at tight end and seemed to go over well.

It was the second-round pick, linebacker Jahlani Tavai, who raised a few eyebrows.

Why? Because he was not deemed second-round worthy by many NFL draft analysts and fans. That led to hand-wringing and deep sighs from many fans and short-sighted media members who thought they knew better. Ask them, they’d give you a list of players they preferred with that pick.

Tavai wasn’t as well known, in part because he played at Hawaii.

Will he be a Pro Bowl player? Maybe. It’s too early to know. No guarantees on his future.

None of this matters to Quinn. He took Tavai because he followed the Lions’ draft board which was created over the past 12 months.

With all due respect to fans, media, Mel Kiper, Todd McShay and other NFL draft analysts, Quinn knows the Lions’ needs and wants better than any one.

His first three drafts yielded good results. A year ago he made six picks and the five that stayed healthy made significant contributions to the season. His top six selections in 2017 are starters or regular players and in 2016 he drafted Taylor Decker, A’Shawn Robinson and Graham Glasgow with his first three picks. All are starters.

Quinn has proven that he can draft. With each draft he gets closer to the roster that he desires.

Still his pick of Tavai was roundly criticized.

The GM, who learned his craft while with the Patriots, won’t lose sleep over the criticism.

‘If I worry about what other people think, I’ll be up all night. Trust me. I respect the question. I really do and I understand it. But if we go into this process being scared about what other people think about our team and our evaluations, then we’ve got a long way to go,’’ Quinn said.

“We’re convicted on the guys we take. Are we going to be right 100 percent of the time? No, no team is. But I think we do a tremendous amount of work. And this is a 12-month process for us and this is something that is the lifeline of this organization in terms of players. So, I feel very confident about the evaluations and the guys we took this weekend, and also some of the rookie free agents we’re working on now,’’ he added.

Quinn wants exactly what the fans want — a team that can win in the playoffs.

Is that so hard to understand?

Let’s watch Tavai and the other picks on game days. That’s the only way to judge the draft.

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.

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.’’