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NFL PREVIEW: DETROIT LIONS

July 22, 2012
Tri-Eastern Conference



NFL PREVIEW: BY KELCI BAKER EIHSS SPORTS

Detroit Lions

Last year: 10-6, 2nd in NFC North, lost wild-card game

 

There's only one person not returning of the 22 starters from a team that earned the franchise's first playoff berth since 1999 and produced the best offensive season in its history. Can this solid team continue to improve? There were several players the Lions made sure they retained. Wide out Calvin Johnson, defensive end Cliff Avril, linebacker Stephen Tulloch, left tackle Jeff Backus and backup quarterback Shaun HIll are among those players they made sure to keep. There is little salary-cap space to fill a roster with so many holes, especially in the secondary. Cornerback Jacob Lacey and underachieving defensive end Everette Brown were their only free agent additions. Even with the draft, no immediate starters seem to have come from the lineup. General manager Martin Mayhew and Coach Jim Schwartz believe they have the materials to get to the NFC title game and beyond this coming season. Throwing for 5,038 years and 41 touchdowns in 2011 was quarterback Matthew Stafford who gives them hope. A diverse lineup of receivers and a veteran offensive line also give Lions fans optimism.  Their last ditch hope is a good and healthy defense.

Scott Linehan uses a pro and one-back style for this offensive. Even though he had to deal with two years of questions about his durability and toughness, Stafford has proven himself a star. With Nate Burleson, Titus Young and versatile tight ends Tony Scheffler and Brandon Pettigrew, defenses tilt toward Johnson at their own risk. There was no running game to speak of for the Lions last season. Jahvid Bests’ delay with a concussion and Mikel Leshoure tore his Achilles tendon slowed the running game dramatically. Both were out for the season and it's unsure if either of them will be making a 2012 return. Best wasn’t cleared for contact until June. Leshoure was involved in two marijuana-related arrests and could possibly be suspended.

 

Gunther Cunningham's 4-3 style caused this group to generate seven defensive touchdowns, 41 sacks and 17 forced fumbles. When the team is healthy, they create mayhem, becoming the catalyst for everything that happens for them. When the Lions put eight players through there, they create relentless pressure and cover holes in the secondary. The problem is, when the line is off, everything is off and they become ineffective to the point of collapsing. In his sophomore season Ndamukong Suh's production fell off dramatically for a defensive tackle. His tackles were cut in half, his sacks went from double digits to four, and his personal-foul penalties were higher than his sacks. Arrested on marijuana charges and facing suspension is defensive tackle Nick Fairley. They need two impact players and vying for that role is Aaron Berry, Lacey and three rookies who all want the cornerback job.

 

Special teams under coordinator Danny Crossman was an area of concern last season, especially at return coverage. They used their draft to restock. Hoping to provide speed and intensity to the special teams is Ronnell Lewis from Oklahoma, Tahir Whitehead from Temple and Chris Greenwood from Albion. Veteran Jason Hanson is set at kicker while the punting job will be fought for by veteran Ben Graham who uses an Aussie-style approach and second-year player Ryan Donahue. Battling to keep his spot is Stefan Logan. Titus Young and rookie Ryan Broyles will look for playing time.

This kind of continuity in their coaching staff hasn't been seen since the days of Wayne Fontes. This is the fourth consecutive season they'll have the same head coach, coordinators, position coaches as well as the schemes, systems and styles that come with them. The Lions have matched talent to the system and Schwartz continues to improve himself as a strategist and in-game adjuster.

 

2012 Draft Recap

The Detroit Lions had 8 picks for the draft and OT Riley Reiff of Iowa was the best of them. He's as close to a sure thing as this draft had to offer. Even though it may take a year, but once he gets settled, he should maintain his starting position for a good decade.

 

T Riley Reiff. Iowa

First round. 23rd pick overall.

 

WR Ryan Broyles. Oklahoma

Second round. 54th pick overall.

They were overwhelmed by his production and are confident his surgically repaired knee won't be a major problem for the season. He's being compared as a faster version of Wes Welker

 

CB Dwight (Bill) Bentley. Louisiana-Lafayette

Third round. 85th pick overall.

He's both smooth and aggressive and he resembles Aaron Berry in terms of play. He'll probably be the starting right corner at the beginning of the season

 

DE Ronnell Lewis. Oklahoma

Fourth round. 125th pick overall.

He earned the nickname 'Hammer' at Oklahoma for the havoc he can and will cause on special teams for the Lions

 

OLD Tahir Whitehead. Temple

Fifth round. 138th pick overall.

He plays with a lot of speed and good coverage and because of that the Lions will use him as a 4-3 outside linebacker

 

CB Chris Greenwood. Albion

Fifth round. 138th pick overall.

He is the first player to be drafted from the Michigan Independent Athletic Association since 1967.

 

CB Jonte Green. New Mexico State

Sixth round. 196th pick overall.

With his 4.4 speed the Lions also like him for his aggression

 

OLB Travis Lewis. Oklahoma

Seventh round. 223rd pick overall.

For four consecutive years he led his team in tackles

 

 

LIONS 2012 SCHEDULE

After 10 straight losing seasons, the Detroit Lions made the big jump to 10-6 last season. That was good enough for a trip to the playoffs, but they were not good enough to advance past the Saints in the first round. 

Detroit fans have plenty of reason to feel that this upward trend will continue. They have young talent all over the field, and the combo of Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson alone is good enough to keep them competitive. 

If they are going to improve on that 10-6 record from a year ago, it will not be easy. Check out their schedule. 

Week 1 9/9: St. Louis Rams at Detroit Lions 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox 

Week 2 9/16: Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Week 3 9/23: Detroit Lions at Tennessee Titans 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox

Week 4 9/30: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox

Week 5: BYE

Week 6 10/14: Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox

Week 7 10/22: Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Week 8 10/28: Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox

Week 9 11/4: Detroit Lions at Jacksonville Jaguars 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox

Week 10 11/11: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox

Week 11 11/18: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox

Week 12 11/22: Houston Texans at Detroit Lions 12:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Week 13 12/2: Indianapolis Colts at Detroit Lions 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

Week 14 12/9: Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Week 15 12/16: Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox

Week 16 12/22: Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Week 17: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox

 

DETROIT LIONS ROSTER

#

Name

Pos.

Ht.

Wt.

Age

Exp.

College

74

Austin, Rodney

G

6-4

311

23

R

Elon

92

Avril, Cliff

DE

6-3

260

26

5

Purdue

76

Backus, Jeff

T

6-5

305

34

12

Michigan

35

Bell, Joique

RB

5-11

220

25

2

Wayne State (Mich.)

28

Bentley, Bill

CB

5-10

182

23

R

Louisiana-Lafayette

32

Berry, Aaron

CB

5-11

180

24

3

Pittsburgh

44

Best, Jahvid

RB

5-10

199

23

3

California

60

Boyle, Pat

G

6-5

301

22

R

Temple

95

Brown, Everette

DE

6-1

256

24

3

Florida State

84

Broyles, Ryan

WR

5-10

188

24

R

Oklahoma

40

Bryant, James

FB

6-3

257

26

1

Louisville

13

Burleson, Nate

WR

6-0

198

30

10

Nevada-Reno

31

Carey, Don

DB

5-11

192

25

4

Norfolk State

77

Cherilus, Gosder

T

6-7

325

28

5

Boston College

69

Chinasa, Ugo

DE

6-5

252

23

1

Oklahoma State

24

Coleman, Erik

S

5-10

207

30

9

Washington State

62

Cosgrove, Michael

DT

6-4

300

23

R

Idaho

72

Culbreath, Johnny

T

6-5

322

24

2

South Carolina State

26

Delmas, Louis

S

5-11

202

25

4

Western Michigan

3

Dimke, Derek

K

6-0

180

22

R

Illinois

6

Donahue, Ryan

P

6-3

190

24

2

Iowa

52

Durant, Justin

LB

6-1

240

26

6

Hampton

83

Edwards, Patrick

WR

5-9

175

23

R

Houston

98

Fairley, Nick

DT

6-3

291

24

2

Auburn

96

Fluellen, Andre

DT

6-2

302

27

5

Florida State

70

Fox, Jason

T

6-7

303

24

3

Miami (Fla.)

65

Gandy, Dylan

C

6-3

295

30

7

Texas Tech

64

Gerberry, Dan

C

6-3

302

26

1

Ball State

49

Gottlieb, Alex

TE

6-4

255

21

R

William & Mary

2

Graham, Ben

P

6-5

236

38

8

Deakin (Australia)

36

Green, Jonte

CB

6-0

184

22

R

New Mexico State

43

Green, Stephfon

RB

5-10

193

23

R

Penn State

33

Greenwood, Chris

CB

6-1

193

22

R

Albion

4

Hanson, Jason

K

6-0

190

42

21

Washington State

10

Harris, Marcus

WR

6-1

185

23

1

Murray State

36

Harrison, Jerome

RB

5-9

205

29

7

Washington State

89

Heller, Will

TE

6-6

275

31

10

Georgia Tech

78

Hilliard, Corey

T

6-6

300

27

4

Oklahoma State

91

Hill, Sammie

DT

6-4

329

25

4

Stillman

14

Hill, Shaun

QB

6-3

220

32

11

Maryland

57

Hogue, Doug

LB

6-2

235

23

2

Syracuse

23

Houston, Chris

CB

5-11

178

27

6

Arkansas

86

Hughes, Nate

WR

6-2

195

27

3

Alcorn State

94

Jackson, Lawrence

DE

6-4

271

26

5

USC

81

Johnson, Calvin

WR

6-5

236

26

6

Georgia Tech

12

Karstetter, Jared

WR

6-4

213

22

R

Washington State

21

Lacey, Jacob

CB

5-10

177

25

4

Oklahoma State

25

Leshoure, Mikel

RB

6-0

227

22

2

Illinois

54

Levy, DeAndre

LB

6-1

238

25

4

Wisconsin

97

Lewis, Ronnell

DE

6-2

244

21

R

Oklahoma

50

Lewis, Travis

LB

6-2

227

24

R

Oklahoma

11

Logan, Stefan

WR

5-6

180

28

4

South Dakota

19

Long, Lance

WR

5-11

186

27

2

Mississippi State

75

McClam, Edmon

DE

6-6

280

23

R

Old Dominion

63

McClendon, Jacques

OG

6-3

324

24

2

Tennessee

47

Messina, Carmen

LB

6-2

236

23

R

New Mexico

17

Moore, Kellen

QB

6-0

197

22

R

Boise State

48

Muhlbach, Don

LS

6-4

265

30

9

Texas A&M

49

Norris, Slade

LB

6-2

232

26

2

Oregon State

73

Oram, J.C.

G

6-4

300

22

R

Weber State

46

Overbay, Nathan

TE

6-5

270

25

1

Eastern Washington

58

Palmer, Ashlee

LB

6-1

236

26

3

Mississippi

66

Peterman, Stephen

G

6-4

323

30

8

Louisiana State

87

Pettigrew, Brandon

TE

6-5

265

27

4

Oklahoma State

51

Raiola, Dominic

C

6-1

295

33

12

Nebraska

85

Scheffler, Tony

TE

6-5

255

29

7

Western Michigan

39

Silva, Ricardo

S

6-3

225

24

1

Hampton

67

Sims, Rob

G

6-3

312

28

7

Ohio State

27

Smith, Alphonso

CB

5-9

190

26

4

Wake Forest

30

Smith, Kevin

RB

6-1

217

25

5

Central Florida

49

Sneed, Ronnie

LB

6-2

241

23

R

Kentucky

42

Spievey, Amari

S

5-11

195

24

3

Iowa

9

Stafford, Matthew

QB

6-3

232

24

4

Georgia

80

Stovall, Maurice

WR

6-5

220

27

7

Notre Dame

90

Suh, Ndamukong

DT

6-4

307

25

3

Nebraska

82

Toliver, Terrence

WR

6-5

204

24

1

Louisiana State

55

Tulloch, Stephen

LB

5-11

240

27

7

North Carolina State

93

Vanden Bosch, Kyle

DE

6-4

278

33

12

Nebraska

38

Weaver, Ross

DB

6-1

210

25

1

Michigan State

45

Wells, Austin

TE

6-3

255

23

R

Northern Iowa

29

Wendling, John

S

6-1

222

29

6

Wyoming

59

Whitehead, Tahir

LB

6-2

233

22

R

Temple

99

Williams, Corey

DT

6-4

320

31

9

Arkansas State

34

Williams, Keiland

RB

5-11

230

25

3

Louisiana State

16

Young, Titus

WR

5-11

174

22

2

Boise State

79

Young, Willie

DE

6-5

251

26

3

North Carolina State

 

 

 

 


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