2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Lions looking to bounce back after bad season

By LARRY LAGE - AP Sports Writer
    2013-07-23 12:35

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) - The Detroit Lions slipped back to their losing ways last season, dropping their final eight games to flop to 4-12, making their appearance in the 2011 playoffs look like a fluke.

The approach this season is to make last season look like a fluke.

``We're excited to get back out there and kind of get the bad taste out of our mouth from last year,'' quarterback Matthew Stafford said. ``I'm going to be the one spearheading the charge and getting this going in the right direction.''

Detroit desperately needs Stafford to live up to its investment in him - $76.5 million over the next five years thanks to an extension on July 10 - by connecting with Calvin Johnson through the air and taking advantage of Reggie Bush on the ground.

The Lions, though, will likely rise or fall depending on how the Ndamukong Suh-led defense does with a lot of new faces. And if Detroit doesn't win enough to earn a spot in the postseason, it might cost coach Jim Schwartz his job.

Five things to know about the Lions:

1. SCHWARTZ NEEDS 10 WINS: Schwartz is 22-42 in four seasons as a first-time head coach at any level. He didn't inherit a good situation, taking over a team coming off the NFL's first 0-16 situation, but he's got to prove he's the right guy for the job. Entering his fifth season, he needs to win perhaps 10 games - as the Lions did with him two years ago - to boost his chances of coming back for a sixth year.

2. STAFFORD NEEDS TO EARN HIS KEEP: Stafford slipped last season and can't afford to have another setback. Armed with a $53 million, three-year extension, the quarterback is being counted on to be more accurate after completing less than 60 percent of his passes in 2012. The Lions also can't afford for Stafford to sustain his record against good teams. He's 1-22 against teams that finished with a winning record for a .043 winning percentage that is better than only Randy Johnson's .036 success rate among QBs with at least 20 such starts since 1950, according to STATS.

3. SUH NEEDS MORE THAN SO-SO SEASON: Suh might be next in line to cash in with a new deal following extensions for Stafford and Johnson over the past 15 months. The Lions hope he earns it after a career-low 24 tackles last year by perhaps surpassing his career high of 10 sacks - set as a rookie in 2010. Suh, meanwhile, wants to be known as a player who hits hard and clean - not cheap and dirty - after some missteps stained the early part of his career. He'll get a chance to lead a unit with two new starters on the line, one at linebacker and two or three in the secondary.

4. GIVE IT TO REGGIE! Bush wants to play every down. The Lions want that to happen, too, because they've been missing a big-play threat out of the backfield since Oct. 16, 2011, when Jahvid Best appeared to have had a career-ending concussion. Detroit signed Bush to a $16 million, four-year contract in March, hoping to get a blend of what he did for his first two teams. He was handed the ball 443 times in Miami, and ran for 4.7 yards per carry for a total of 2,072 yards in two years. Bush ran for 2,094 yards on 524 carries - 4 yards per attempt - over six years with the New Orleans Saints. He had 161 receptions during his first two seasons after being drafted No. 2 overall in 2006, and 78 catches the last two years.

5. NEW OL LINE NEEDS TO COME THROUGH: Detroit will have three new starters on the offensive line, and if that proves to be a good thing Stafford and Co. will be tough to stop. Riley Reiff will likely be at left tackle, a position vacated when Jeff Backus retired. The right tackle job probably goes to either Corey Hilliard or Jason Fox. Right guard is up for grabs between veterans Leroy Harris and Jake Scott along with rookie Larry Warford and 24-year-old Rodney Austin. The Lions chose not to re-sign right tackle Gosder Cherilus and cut guard Stephen Peterman.

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Online: AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow Larry Lage on Twitter: http://twitter.com/larrylage

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Alameda Ta'amuDec 21 07:42p

The Arizona Cardinals have declared DL Alameda Ta'amu, OG Anthony Steen, WR Brittan Golden, SS Chris D. Clemons, QB Drew Stanton, OG Jonathan Cooper, DL Kareem Martin inactive for Week 16.

Chris MatthewsDec 21 07:32p

The Seattle Seahawks have declared WR Chris Matthews, DL Demarcus Dobbs, WR Kevin Norwood, C Max Unger, OT Russell Okung, TE Tony Moeaki, DL Travian Robertson inactive for Week 16.

Ahmad DixonDec 21 11:52a

The Minnesota Vikings have declared SS Ahmad Dixon, LB Anthony Barr, OT Carter Bykowski, OG Charlie Johnson, TE Kyle Rudolph, CB Shaun Prater, FB Zach Line inactive for Week 16.

Devier PoseyDec 21 11:52a

The Houston Texans have declared WR DeVier Posey, TE Garrett Graham, LB Jason Ankrah, S Josh Aubrey, LB Mike Mohamed, QB Tom Savage, OG Xavier Su'a-Filo inactive for Week 16.

A.J. KleinDec 21 11:52a

The Carolina Panthers have declared LB A.J. Klein, OG Amini Silatolu, CB Carrington Byndom, OT David Foucault, RB DeAngelo Williams, DL Kyle Love, SS Robert Lester inactive for Week 16.

Charles GodfreyDec 21 11:52a

The Atlanta Falcons have declared CB Charles Godfrey, LB James Anderson, OG Jon Asamoah, CB Ricardo Allen, QB Sean Renfree, DL Stansly Maponga, LB Tyler Starr inactive for Week 16.

Jamarca SanfordDec 21 11:52a

The New Orleans Saints have declared SS Jamarca Sanford, DL Lawrence Virgil, LB Moise Fokou, WR Seantavius Jones, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, OT Terron Armstead, RB Travaris Cadet inactive for Week 16.

Justin BrownDec 21 11:52a

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared OG Chris Hubbard, DL Clifton Geathers, CB Ike Taylor, WR Justin Brown, QB Landry Jones, TE Matt Spaeth, SS Troy Polamalu inactive for Week 16.

Clifton GeathersDec 21 11:52a

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared OG Chris Hubbard, DL Clifton Geathers, CB Ike Taylor, WR Justin Brown, QB Landry Jones, TE Matt Spaeth, SS Troy Polamalu inactive for Week 16.

Carl BradfordDec 21 11:42a

The Green Bay Packers have declared DL Bruce Gaston, LB Carl Bradford, CB Davon House, C Garth Gerhart, WR Jeff Janis, TE Justin Perillo, QB Scott Tolzien inactive for Week 16.

Chris McCainDec 21 11:42a

The Miami Dolphins have declared LB Chris McCain, OT Dallas Thomas, RB Daniel Thomas, CB Don Jones, WR Matt Hazel, OG Nate Garner, WR Rishard Matthews inactive for Week 16.

Arthur BrownDec 21 11:42a

The Baltimore Ravens have declared LB Arthur Brown, DL Casey Walker, CB Chris Greenwood, C Gino Gradkowski, WR Michael Campanaro, OG Ryan Jensen, DL Terrence Cody inactive for Week 16.

Aaron MurrayDec 21 11:42a

The Kansas City Chiefs have declared QB Aaron Murray, RB Charcandrick West, WR Donnie Avery, C Eric Kush, OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, CB Marcus Cooper, DL Nick X. Williams inactive for Week 16.

Gary BarnidgeDec 21 11:42a

The Cleveland Browns have declared OT Andrew McDonald, TE Gary Barnidge, RB Glenn Winston, CB Joe Haden, DB K'Waun Williams, WR Rodney Smith, OT Vinston Painter inactive for Week 16.

Chris ConteDec 21 11:42a

The Chicago Bears have declared FS Chris Conte, QB David Fales, OG Kyle Long, PK Robbie Gould, CB Terrance Mitchell, DL Trevor Scott, DL Will Sutton inactive for Week 16.

Dakota DozierDec 21 11:33a

The New York Jets have declared OL Dakota Dozier, SS Jaiquawn Jarrett, QB Matt Simms, FS Rontez Miles, DL T.J. Barnes, WR Walter Powell, OG Wesley Johnson inactive for Week 16.

Alfonzo DennardDec 21 11:33a

The New England Patriots have declared CB Alfonzo Dennard, OG Dan Connolly, RB James White, OT Jordan Devey, WR Julian Edelman, CB Kyle Arrington, RB LeGarrette Blount inactive for Week 16.

Anthony CollinsDec 21 11:32a

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have declared OT Anthony Collins, FB Evan Rodriguez, CB Isaiah Frey, DL Lawrence Sidbury, RB Mike James, WR Robert Herron, WR Solomon Patton inactive for Week 16.

Kelvin BenjaminDec 21 11:22a

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin won't face Cleveland Browns CB Joe Haden (shoulder) Sunday, Dec. 21, who is out with a shoulder injury.

Joe HadenDec 21 11:22a

Cleveland Browns CB Joe Haden (shoulder) is out Sunday, Dec. 21.

Julio JonesDec 21 11:22a

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is active Sunday, Dec. 21.

Jay CutlerDec 21 10:22a

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T Y HiltonDec 21 10:22a

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DeMarco MurrayDec 21 10:12a

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Zach ErtzDec 20 07:42p

Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz had 15 catches for 115 yards Saturday, Dec. 20. Both of which are career highs.

Philip RiversDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) is active Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:12p

The San Diego Chargers have declared LB Cordarro Law, DL Damion Square, CB Greg Ducre, WR Keenan Allen, P Mike Scifres, DL Ryan Carrethers, RB Ryan Mathews inactive for Week 16.

Carlos HydeDec 20 07:12p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20.

Ahmad BrooksDec 20 07:02p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared LB Ahmad Brooks, OG Andrew Tiller, RB Carlos Hyde, OG Joe Looney, QB Josh X. Johnson, WR Stevie Johnson, CB Tramaine Brock inactive for Week 16.

DeAndre HopkinsDec 20 06:42p

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) will be a game-time decision Sunday, Dec. 21, after not practicing all week.

Julian EdelmanDec 20 06:02p

New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (concussion) has been ruled out for Week 16. Edelman didn't receive final clearance from the concussion protocol to play Sunday, Dec. 21.

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