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

Mike CampanaroAug 28 09:13a

Baltimore Ravens WR Michael Campanaro remains in the mix for a spot on the 53-man roster. If the team elects to keep just five receivers, he would be competing [ More ]

D. Heyward-BeyAug 28 09:10a

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Darrius Heyward-Bey appears to be in good shape for a roster spot, as the team will likely keep six receivers on the 53-man roster. WRs Antonio [ More ]

Cam NewtonAug 28 12:53a

Updating a previous report, Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (ribs) said Wednesday, Aug. 27, that he will be ready for the regular season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers [ More ]

Frankie HammondAug 27 10:42p

Kansas City Chiefs WR Frankie Hammond Jr. is likely to start in place of suspended WR Dwayne Bowe in Week 1.

Derek CarrAug 27 10:40p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr appears firmly entrenched as the primary backup quarterback behind starter QB Matt Schaub (elbow), even though QB Matt McGloin has posted the best numbers of the preseason.

Wes WelkerAug 27 10:31p

Denver Broncos WR Wes Welker (concussion) made another positive step Tuesday, Aug. 26, in his recovery from another concussion, according to head coach John Fox. Welker has still not [ More ]

Matt SchaubAug 27 10:23p

Oakland Raiders QB Matt Schaub (elbow) will be the team's starting quarterback in Week 1 against the New York Jets assuming his elbow is better and he can get [ More ]

Timothy WrightAug 27 10:23p

The New England Patriots really like TE Timothy Wright, acquired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for OL Logan Mankins. NFL.com's Ian Rapoport even considers him as the team's 'new' [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIAug 27 09:43p

Washington Redskins QBs Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins aren't involved in any kind of quarterback controversy, according to head coach Jay Gruden. The first-team offense has yet to [ More ]

Nate FreeseAug 27 09:27p

Detroit Lions PK Nate Freese has won the kicker job, because the team has released PK Giorgio Tavecchio.

Kory SheetsAug 27 06:53p

Oakland Raiders FS Larry Asante (undisclosed), WR Greg Jenkins (undisclosed) and RB Kory Sheets (undisclosed) all were placed on the team's Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Aug. 27.

John PotterAug 27 06:43p

The Miami Dolphins placed PK John Potter (hip) on the Reserved/Injured list Thursday, Aug. 27.

Matt JohnsonAug 27 06:33p

The Dallas Cowboys placed TE Jordan Najvar (undisclosed), S Matt Johnson (hamstring), CB Justin Green (undisclosed), LB DeVonte Holloman (neck) and CB Johnny X. Thomas (undisclosed) were all placed [ More ]

L. WestbrooksAug 27 06:23p

The Cincinnati Bengals placed LB J.K. Schaffer (concussion) and CB Lavelle Westbrooks (thumb) on the Reserve/Injured list.

D.C. JeffersonAug 27 06:23p

Carolina Panthers TE D.C. Jefferson (undisclosed) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Aug. 27.

Wes WelkerAug 27 06:03p

Denver Broncos WR Wes Welker (concussion) has been ruled out of the team's final preseason game Thursday, Aug. 27, but has been exercising and will travel with the team.

Tim BenfordAug 27 05:23p

Dallas Cowboys waived WR Tim Benford Wednesday, Aug. 27.

Wes WelkerAug 27 05:13p

Denver Broncos WR Wes Welker (concussion) has not been cleared to practice at this point but is making good progress.

Jemea ThomasAug 27 05:03p

The Dallas Cowboys claimed S Jemea Thomas (Patriots) off waivers Wednesday, Aug. 27.

Tandon DossAug 27 05:03p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Ace Sanders (personal) and WR Tandon Doss (ankle) may be able to play in the final preseason game after missing the first three preseason games. Head [ More ]

Josh ScobeeAug 27 04:53p

Jacksonville Jaguars PK Josh Scobee (quadriceps) said he is not sure if will be able to play Week 1 because of his quadriceps injury. PK Kasey Redfern may make [ More ]

D.J. HaydenAug 27 04:33p

Oakland Raiders CB D.J. Hayden (foot) is considered a few weeks away from returning to practice, according to head coach Dennis Allen. Allen said he expects Hayden will be [ More ]

Richard MarshallAug 27 04:23p

San Diego Chargers CB Richard Marshall has been working at safety because of the injury to SS Jahleel Addae (hamstring). Marshall's versatility could help him make the final roster.

Ryan McBeanAug 27 03:53p

The Arizona Cardinals cut DE Ryan McBean Wednesday, Aug. 27.

Tommy KellyAug 27 03:43p

Arizona Cardinals DT Tommy Kelly agreed to terms on a one-year contract Wednesday, Aug. 27. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Josh GordonAug 27 03:03p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon's representatives are considering a lawsuit against the NFL which could seek an injunction to put the suspension on hold until the legal process takes [ More ]

Pierre DesirAug 27 02:43p

The Cleveland Browns may consider placing CB Pierre Desir (knee) on the Active/Reserve/Injured list, which would keep him out for at least eight weeks of the season.

Phillip TannerAug 27 01:53p

The Dallas Cowboys will sign free-agent RB Phillip Tanner (Colts), according to sources.

Josh GordonAug 27 01:43p

Updating previous reports, Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon will be allowed to apply for reinstatement after the 2014 season and not after a full calendar year.

Josh GordonAug 27 01:23p

Updating previous reports, Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon will not be allowed at the team's facility during his one-year suspension. The team hoped they would be able to work with him during the suspension.

Zach ErtzAug 27 01:13p

Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz is expected to be more involved in the passing game this season and has shown the confidence to be a solid pass catcher, according [ More ]

Josh GordonAug 27 01:03p

Updating a previous report, Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon will not be allowed to file for reinstatement during his one-year suspension, according to a source. His representatives will look [ 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