2013 DRAFT GUIDE
Lions leaning on its Suh-led defensive line

By LARRY LAGE - AP Sports Writer
    2013-08-27 16:31

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Lions are leaning on their defensive line to help the franchise bounce back from a poor season that made its recent playoff appearance look like it might've been a fluke.

Defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley should be crashing pockets. And the new defensive ends, first-round pick Ezekiel ``Ziggy'' Ansah, Jason Jones and Israel Idonije, seem set up to have success.

The Lions, though, will need more than a dominant defensive line to make this season more than 2011 - when they snapped an 11-year playoff drought - and less like last year's 4-12 flop that finished with an eight-game skid. Here are five things to know about Detroit's season:

STAFFORD'S SUCCESS: Detroit drafted Matthew Stafford No. 1 overall in 2009, counting on him ending the franchise's decades-long search for a star quarterback. After overcoming an injury-riddled start of his career, he threw for more than 10,000 yards the last two seasons with 61 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. Stafford was rewarded with a three-year extension in July, putting him under contract for $76.6 million over the next five seasons. To reward the investment, he has to help the Lions beat good teams. Stafford is 1-22 against teams who finished that same season with a winning record in the same season, giving him a .043 winning percentage that is better than only Randy Johnson's rate of success among QBs who have made 20-plus starts, according to STATS. Stafford insists he's not concerned with such statistics.

``It's something different every time,'' he said. ``You don't traditionally lose games for the same reasons over and over again.''

SAFETY FIRST: The Lions will be dramatically better on defense if safety Louis Delmas can stay healthy for a change and teams with safety Glover Quin to patrol the secondary. Delmas is a hard-hitting, emotionally charged player who lifts the spirits of all those around him. Delmas, though, played in just eight games last season, 11 the year before because of knee injuries. Quin has been everything the Lions hoped he would be, showing why he started 60 games the last four years for the Houston Texans.

``We need to get Lou and Glover on the field and create that kind of camaraderie and synergy between those two guys because there's a lot of unspoken communication between those two safeties,'' Schwartz said.

NEW-LOOK O-LINE: Detroit's offensive line has just two returning starters, center Dominic Raiola and Rob Sims. Riley Reiff, a first-round pick, will replace retired left tackle Jeff Backus. After three preseason games, the Lions didn't know - or weren't saying - who was starting at right guard and tackle in place of Stephen Peterman and Gosder Cherilus. Jason Fox seems to have beaten out Corey Hilliard for the job at right tackle. Third-round pick Larry Warford might win the competition with Dylan Gandy and Jake Scott.

``We have a lot of different options and a lot of guys that can potentially get the job done,'' Schwartz said.

MEGATRON RETURNS: Calvin Johnson broke one of Jerry Rice's single-season records last year with 1,964 yards receiving and also led the league in yards receiving in 2011.

``I didn't understand what a freak of nature he is until I got here and saw some of the stuff that he does,'' first-year Lions running back Reggie Bush said. ``That's why they call him Megatron. It's going to be fun to play with him this year. For a running back like me, it's a dream come true. I love having a guy like that on the outside. I definitely feel like we're going to complement each other. I'm going to make his life a lot easier. And he's going to make my life a lot easier.''

As much as Bush can help Johnson by turning short passes into big games, the Lions need Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles to have success after having season-ending injuries last year.

SCHWARTZ'S SEAT: The Lions' entire organization is desperately hoping for a return to the playoffs this season, and perhaps no one is rooting for that outcome more than Schwartz. He is entering his fifth year and it is difficult to envision him getting a sixth season if this year is anything like the last.

``The heat on the seat kind of varies from week to week,'' Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said. ``Some guys whose seats are real cool right now, they're going to be hot come January. So we'll see what happens.''

Schwartz took on a tough job, leading a team that was coming off the NFL's first 0-16 season, and seemed to have the players headed in the right direction in each of his first three seasons. The Lions took a big step back last year and Schwartz was unable to do enough about it, losing nine games by single digits and four games by three or fewer points.

---

Online:

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

---

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

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Marcus TrufantApr 23 06:13p

Free-agent CB Marcus Trufant (Jaguars) will sign a deal with the Seattle Seahawks with the intention of retiring with the team.

Jason Pierre-PaulApr 23 04:33p

New York Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) said great and that he will not be limited during offseason workouts. Pierre-Paul has lost 15 pounds this offseason and is comfortable [ More ]

Ryan CladyApr 23 04:23p

Denver Broncos OT Ryan Clady (foot) would not give a timetable for his return but said he does expect to be ready for the start of the regular season.

David WilsonApr 23 04:03p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) said he is feeling good and is just waiting for the doctors to clear him to play again. Wilson said he is [ More ]

Jamar TaylorApr 23 03:53p

Miami Dolphins CB Jamar Taylor said he considered quitting football after he dealt with injuries during the 2013 season but is ready to play this upcoming season. 'It was [ More ]

Sam BradfordApr 23 03:43p

St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford (knee) will start the offseason conditioning program in a limited fashion while still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered last season. Head [ More ]

Tyrann MathieuApr 23 03:03p

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said FS Tyrann Mathieu's (knee) rehab is on schedule but believes Mathieu probably will start training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform [ More ]

Shaun DraughnApr 23 02:23p

The Chicago Bears have signed free-agent RB Shaun Draughn (Colts) to a one-year deal. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Stephen BurtonApr 23 02:03p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have placed WR Stephen Burton on the Reserve/Retired list.

Antrel RolleApr 23 01:13p

New York Giants FS Antrel Rolle, who is entering the final year of his contract, said finishing his career with the Giants would be an ideal situation. Rolle said [ More ]

Frank SummersApr 23 12:33p

The Buffalo Bills have re-signed exclusive rights free-agent FB Frank Summers, WR Chris Hogan, and OG Antoine McClain. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Aldon SmithApr 23 12:23p

San Francisco 49ers LB Aldon Smith was present for the start of offseason workouts Monday, April 21, even though he was arrested in Los Angeles last week.

Dominic RaiolaApr 23 12:23p

Detroit Lions C Dominic Raiola said he would be fine with the team selecting a center during the 2014 NFL Draft, because he understands that he is near the [ More ]

Doug MarroneApr 23 12:03p

Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone had a cancerous mole removed Tuesday, April 22. 'That's basically the end of the story,' Marrone said. 'The recent extraction procedure will have [ More ]

Terrelle PryorApr 23 08:58a

The Seattle Seahawks acquired QB Terrelle Pryor from the Oakland Raiders Monday, April 21, in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick in this year's draft. He will compete with [ More ]

Matt RyanApr 22 10:53p

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith is calling for major improvement on both sides of the line of scrimmage. He fears the team could bottom out for a second [ More ]

EJ ManuelApr 22 08:13p

Buffalo Bills QB EJ Manuel (knees) is healthy entering voluntary workouts and feels normal and had no limitations during the Tuesday, April 22 conditioning program. Bills head coach Doug [ More ]

Rolando McClainApr 22 07:53p

Updating a previous report, the Baltimore Ravens have officially placed LB Rolando McClain on the reserve-retired list for a second time. The Ravens will retain McClain's rights if he changes his mind again.

Eli ManningApr 22 07:33p

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (ankle) expects to be 100 percent for the beginning of training camp. Manning has no concerns about learning the Giants' new playbook, instead [ More ]

Ray RiceApr 22 04:43p

Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice looks great physically, according to strength and conditioning coach Bob Roguck. 'He's doing some things differently as far as his diet and so forth, [ More ]

David WilsonApr 22 02:43p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) said he is still waiting for a clear MRI to be medically cleared, but is currently ahead of schedule.

Julio JonesApr 22 01:13p

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (foot) will be limited during the team's offseason workouts while he recovers from offseason foot surgery. 'Julio is participating with our athletic performance department,' [ More ]

Eli ManningApr 22 01:03p

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (ankle) said his ankle is progressing but he does not have a timetable for his return to the field. Manning is currently in a walking boot.

Stevie BrownApr 22 12:33p

New York Giants FS Stevie Brown (knee) said he feels like he is ready to go when the Giants hit the field after recovering from a serious knee injury. [ More ]

Will HillApr 22 10:33a

The New York Giants are likely to cut FS Will Hill after his third potential drug suspension.

Josh MorganApr 22 09:52a

Chicago Bears WR Joshua Morgan is likely to compete for the No. 3 or 4 wide receiver role this year, and he'll compete with WRs Domenik Hixon, Eric Weems [ More ]

Will HillApr 22 09:33a

New York Giants FS Will Hill is facing a year-long suspension after reportedly failing another drug test. He will appeal what would be his third drug-related suspension.

Kyle WilliamsApr 21 09:33p

The Kansas City Chiefs re-signed WR Kyle Williams Monday, April 21. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.

Colt AndersonApr 21 07:12p

The Indianapolis Colts signed free-agent FS Colt Anderson (Eagles) to an undisclosed deal Monday, April 21.

Jamar TaylorApr 21 06:43p

Miami Dolphins CB Jamar Taylor (groin) is healthy following hernia surgery and began offseason workouts with his teammates Monday, April 21. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said he expects [ More ]

Dustin KellerApr 21 05:42p

Eugene Parker, agent for free-agent TE Dustin Keller (knee), said Keller is ready to participate in offseason workouts when he signs with a team.

Eric FisherApr 21 05:12p

Kansas City Chiefs OT Eric Fisher (shoulder, hernia) said there is no timetable for his return following multiple surgeries, but he doesn't think he'll be out for long. 'He's [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group