2014 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

Pierre ThomasOct 30 07:22p

New Orleans Saints RBs Khiry Robinson (forearm) and Pierre Thomas (shoulder) are both inactive in Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers Thursday, Oct. 30.

David HawthorneOct 30 07:12p

The New Orleans Saints have declared LB Austin Johnson, LB David Hawthorne, C Jonathan Goodwin, RB Khiry Robinson, WR Nick Toon, RB Pierre Thomas, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste inactive for Week 9.

Amini SilatoluOct 30 07:12p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Amini Silatolu, CB Bene Benwikere, OT Byron Bell, RB Fozzy Whittaker, WR Philly Brown, FS Thomas DeCoud, OG Trai Turner inactive for Week 9.

Brandon BrownerOct 30 04:32p

New England Patriots DT Alan Branch (non-injury related) and DE Chandler Jones (hip) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Nate Ebner (finger), DL Dominique Easley (knee), OL Cameron [ More ]

Brandon ThompsonOct 30 04:22p

Cincinnati Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard (hamstring), LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring) and OG Kevin Zeitler (calf) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. DT Domata Peko (toe) and OT Andre Smith [ More ]

Dwight FreeneyOct 30 04:22p

San Diego Chargers LB Manti Te'o (foot), CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) and S Jahleel Addae (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring) was limited. CB [ More ]

Donald BrownOct 30 04:12p

San Diego Chargers RB Donald Brown (concussion) practiced fully Thursday, Oct. 30.

Terrell SuggsOct 30 04:02p

Baltimore Ravens WR Michael Campanaro (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (foot) and LB Terrell Suggs (neck) all did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OG Marshal Yanda (knee) [ More ]

Brett KeiselOct 30 03:52p

Pittsburgh Steelers DE Brett Keisel (non-injury), SS Troy Polamalu (non-injury) and SS Ross Ventrone (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Ike Taylor (forearm) and FS [ More ]

Bruce CarterOct 30 03:22p

Dallas Cowboys LB Bruce Carter (finger) suffered a broken ring finger during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, but expects to play in Week 9. He will wear a splint on his finger for protection.

Cullen JenkinsOct 30 03:12p

New York Giants DT Cullen Jenkins (calf) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back, hamstring) and P Steve Weatherford (ankle) were both limited in practice.

Brandon BoykinOct 30 03:12p

Philadelphia Eagles FS Nate Allen (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. TE Brent Celek (back) and WR Brad Smith (groin) were both limited in practice. CB [ More ]

D'Qwell JacksonOct 30 03:12p

Indianapolis Colts LB D'Qwell Jackson (toe), DT Arthur Jones (ankle), LB Erik Walden (quadriceps) and LB Josh McNary (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Vontae [ More ]

Rashad JenningsOct 30 02:42p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) said he is on track in terms of his rehab, but there is no timetable for his return. Jennings said he has [ More ]

Jordan CameronOct 30 02:32p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Anthony CollinsOct 30 02:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Oniel Cousins is working at left tackle with the first-team offense during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, because OT Anthony Collins (foot) is sitting out practice.

Doug MartinOct 30 02:22p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (ankle) is not participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Jason VerrettOct 30 01:52p

San Diego Chargers CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) is expected to miss two to three weeks with a torn labrum, according to two sources.

DeAngelo WilliamsOct 30 01:52p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle) will start the team's Week 9 game against the New Orleans Saints Thursday, Oct. 30, according to head coach Ron Rivera.

R. Griffin IIIOct 30 01:42p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) received most of the work with the first-team offense during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, and will start in Week 9 if he [ More ]

Jaylen WatkinsOct 30 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles SS Earl Wolff, FS Chris Maragos and CB Jaylen Watkins could be options to start at safety if FS Nate Allen (hamstring) is not able to play in Week 9.

Giovani BernardOct 30 01:22p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, shoulder) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Tony RomoOct 30 01:02p

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back) didn't take part in the walk-through Thursday, Oct. 30, and will not practice with the team. However, head coach Jason Garrett remains hopeful [ More ]

Trent RichardsonOct 30 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) is participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Reggie WayneOct 30 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (elbow) is not participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Tony RomoOct 30 12:22p

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo's (back) status is making head coach Jason Garrett feel optimistic about his availability for Week 9.

Dallas ThomasOct 30 11:43a

Miami Dolphins OG Dallas Thomas would be the most likely candidate to start at left guard if OG Daryn Colledge (illness) is not able to play in Week 9.

Rashad JenningsOct 30 11:12a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) has been ruled out for Week 9.

Phil BatesOct 30 10:52a

The Cleveland Browns signed free-agent WR Phil Bates (Seahawks) to the practice squad and released CB Marcus Cromartie Thursday, Oct. 30.

Charles SimsOct 30 10:13a

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Charles Sims could have 10 or more touches in Week 9, in the opinion of beat writer Greg Auman.

Ryan MathewsOct 30 09:52a

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee) is likely to sit out of the Week 9 game and return after the Week 10 bye.

Dennis PittaOct 30 09:52a

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) may never be able to play football again after two surgeries on a fractured and dislocated hip in as many seasons.

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