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

Reggie BushNov 22 05:32p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) is likely out for Week 12 and is targeting the Thanksgiving Day game Thursday, Nov. 27, to return.

Marcel ReeceNov 22 04:42p

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Arian FosterNov 22 04:22p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) is highly unlikely to suit up Sunday, Nov. 23, for Week 12.

Josh GordonNov 22 01:32p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon was officially activated from the exempt/commissioner permission list Saturday, Nov. 22. In a subsequent move, the team waived LB Keith Pough.

A.J. JenkinsNov 22 12:42p

The Kansas City Chiefs have placed WR A.J. Jenkins (shoulder) on the Reserve/Injured list.

Charles ClayNov 21 05:52p

Miami Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee) did not practice Friday, Nov. 21, and he is doubtful for Week 12 against the Denver Broncos. Clay suffered a setback in practice [ More ]

Arian FosterNov 21 05:32p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) did not practice Friday, Nov. 21, and is questionable for Week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Head coach Bill O'Brien said Foster would [ More ]

Jason AvantNov 21 04:52p

The Kansas City Chiefs will sign free-agent WR Jason Avant (Panthers), according to a source. Avant worked out for the team Friday, Nov. 21.

Delanie WalkerNov 21 03:32p

Updating a previous report, Tennessee Titans TE Delanie Walker (concussion) fully participated in practice Friday, Nov. 21, and is listed as probable for Week 12.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 21 03:12p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) is considered a game-time decision for Week 12, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

Adrian PetersonNov 21 03:02p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's appeal hearing is scheduled to occur Dec. 2, and commissioner Roger Goodell will not be in charge of the hearing. Former NFL employee Harold [ More ]

Larry FitzgeraldNov 21 02:22p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) was not participating during the media-access portion of practice Friday, Nov. 21. Fitzgerald was working on the side during that part of practice.

Delanie WalkerNov 21 02:22p

Tennessee Titans TE Delanie Walker (concussion) has passed his concussion test and is good to go in Week 12 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Giovani BernardNov 21 02:12p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, clavicle) fully participated in practice Friday, Nov. 21, and is probable for Week 12.

Julius ThomasNov 21 02:12p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) is listed as questionable for Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins after putting in a limited practice Friday, Nov. 21.

Emmanuel SandersNov 21 02:02p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) practiced in full Friday, Nov. 21, and is probable for Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins, according to head coach John Fox.

Julius ThomasNov 21 01:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle), who appeared limited during practice Friday, Nov. 21, figures to be a game-time decision against the Miami Dolphins in Week 12. Thomas said [ More ]

Dwayne AllenNov 21 01:32p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) has been ruled out for Week 12 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jonas GrayNov 21 01:22p

New England Patriots RB Jonas Gray (undisclosed) was a no-show at practice Friday, Nov. 21.

Jordan ReedNov 21 01:12p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) missed his third straight day of practice Friday, Nov. 21, and head coach Jay Gruden said Reed has been ruled out for Week [ More ]

Emmanuel SandersNov 21 01:12p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) is participating in practice Friday, Nov. 21.

Adrian PetersonNov 21 11:02a

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson said he'll gladly return this season if he wins the appeal of his indefinite suspension. If he loses his appeal and has to sit [ More ]

Latavius MurrayNov 21 10:32a

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LeGarrette BlountNov 21 10:32a

New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount was not signed by the team to replace RB Jonas Gray as the between-the-tackles runner. Blount's presence gives the team another tough inside [ More ]

Jeremy HillNov 21 10:02a

Cincinnati Bengals RB Jeremy Hill will be the leader in a 65-35 split of the carries with RB Giovani Bernard in Week 12, in the opinion of beat writer Paul Dehner Jr.

Emmanuel SandersNov 20 07:42p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) has done conditioning work and will be evaluated again Friday, Nov. 21.

Eric KushNov 20 07:03p

The Kansas City Chiefs have declared WR A.J. Jenkins, QB Aaron Murray, CB Christopher Owens, WR Donnie Avery, C Eric Kush, CB Jamell Fleming, OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif inactive for Week 12.

Matt McGloinNov 20 07:03p

The Oakland Raiders have declared CB Carlos Rogers, TE David Ausberry, OG Gabe Jackson, SS Jonathan Dowling, QB Matt McGloin, OG Tony Bergstrom, CB Travis Carrie inactive for Week 12.

Charles ClayNov 20 06:42p

Miami Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee) did not practice Thursday, Nov. 20, after being limited Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Tauren PooleNov 20 06:42p

The New Orleans Saints released RB Tauren Poole Thursday, Nov. 20.

Jordan CameronNov 20 06:12p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Nov. 20.

Arian FosterNov 20 05:52p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) did not practice Thursday, Nov. 20, after being limited the previous day.

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