- The Lions completed their first day of training camp yesterday, kicking off the start of football once again. Although the regular season is still over a month away, once training camp arrives, football is officially back. Sure, the next month will only be practice and preseason games, but it is simply an appetizer to the main course: the regular season. Besides, with fantasy football drafts and the release of Madden 10 taking place in the next few weeks, September will be here in no time.
- Jim Schwartz changed things up a bit by not having the first practice until the afternoon. In the morning, the team held a meeting and then went through a series of strength and conditioning drills. The meeting seemed to be pretty typical until the very end, which is when Schwartz lightened the mood by having some fun at Matthew Stafford's expense. Schwartz reportedly went through a PowerPoint presentation of what he did during the summer and capped it off by delivering the following line as relayed by Tom Kowalski: "I thought I had a fun vacation until I saw this." Schwartz then showed the team Stafford's now famous pictures from what appeared to be a very joyful Independence Day celebration with quite a few girls in bikinis. As you can imagine, the team got a kick out of the pictures, and Stafford found it funny as well. If I were him, I would have simply shouted "Jealous?" to my teammates.
- With the meeting out of the way, the team went through an NFL Combine-like workout. The players had to go through a series of drills that tested their strength and conditioning. Defensive tackle Sammie Hill, offensive tackle Ephraim Salaam, and wide receiver Demir Boldin failed the conditioning part of the workout, which was a 300-yard shuttle run (12 runs of 25 yards) that had to be completed in 65 seconds. Because of that, they had to sit out the afternoon practice. Thankfully, all three did the test again in the afternoon and passed it, meaning they should be on the field for some football today.
- The other two parts of this test were vertical jump and bench press. The latter saw defensive tackle Landon Cohen show off how strong he is by doing 50 reps. Jim Schwartz called the effort "superhuman," and really it is an example of how this team has gotten much stronger during the offseason. That is one of the goals Schwartz had when he was first hired, and he definitely has to like the results the team has produced so far.
- The three players that initially failed the conditioning test weren't the only ones that didn't practice on Saturday. Defensive tackle Grady Jackson and wide receiver Bryant Johnson both missed practice, and I don't believe it is known when they will be able to get on the field. Jackson has an illness that apparently isn't related to his knee, which kept him out of all the Lions' minicamps this offseason. Johnson, on the other hand, was placed on the Non-Football Injury list, as he is still suffering from the effects of a golf cart crash. You read that correctly, a golf cart crash.
Johnson was driving around in a golf cart in his community and somehow lost control of it, leading to an accident that included the cart falling over on the driver's side and sliding for 10 yards. Johnson also mentioned that there was a hill involved, though "it wasn't a steep hill." His injuries don't sound like they are anything more than wounds, but those wounds may keep him off the field for a couple weeks, according to Tom Kowalski. If you're having trouble imagining what these wounds are like, think back to your childhood and try to remember if you ever crashed your bike. The cuts and scrapes you got from sliding on the cement are probably similar to what Johnson got from the accident. Those types of wounds are sensitive to simply touch, so until they really heal, it would be tough to play football.
(More after the jump)
- If any of you truly believe that Drew Stanton has a shot at starting, you may want to reconsider that opinion. The fact of the matter is that Stanton merely has a shot at making the team, as evidenced by this quote from Martin Mayhew:
"I like our two quarterbacks," Mayhew said. "I think we have probably the two most talented – physically talented – quarterbacks we’ve had since we’ve been here, and I feel good about those guys."Mayhew is referring to Matthew Stafford and Daunte Culpepper, which shows that Stanton is on the outside looking in when it comes to the battle for starting QB. You would expect Mayhew to keep his statement completely politically correct by praising every QB on the roster, but he only singled out two of them. What's more, when asked about adding another quarterback to the roster (perhaps one of the three that worked out earlier this week), Mayhew said it's "possible" and declined to elaborate on whether or not it had to do with how Stanton looks.
- Mayhew confirmed that running back Antone Smith was released, a move that actually excited him in the sense that they had to get rid of such a good player. The release was strictly due to numbers it appears, and the fact that their worst running back was still pretty good has Mayhew excited about the Lions' depth at that position.
- While he is happy with the backfield and the linebackers, Mayhew did say there are "areas of concern" and made a point that making the roster better is an ongoing process.
- Only media, season-ticket holders, and other guests got a chance to watch practice yesterday, but from the sounds of it, Matthew Stafford did quite well. Based on the following quote from former Division II center Jeff Chaney, the offensive line didn't do too hot.
"If first impressions mean anything, Stafford's going to be throwing from his back a lot this year," Chaney said.That's never good to hear, especially with a rookie quarterback on the team. I'll give the O-line the benefit of the doubt for now, though, as it was the first day of practice. Plus, I'd like to get a live look at the team before I make any rash judgments. I will make an exception, however, for Calvin Johnson, as Megatron was Megatron yesterday.
- Charlie Sanders thinks highly of Brandon Pettigrew.
- During his press conference on Friday, Jim Schwartz made a joke about his visit with Jim Leyland, saying he could get in on the class-action lawsuits against tobacco companies after spending some time with the Tigers manager.
- The Detroit News' Tim Twentyman provided a look at the behind-the-scenes people that make training camp run smoothly.
- In a release on their official site, the Buccaneers mistakenly said they went 0-16 in 1976. The Lions just can't get any credit, even for failing.