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Free Agent RB Kevin Smith Hopes NFL Deal Gets Done

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DETROIT (AP) – Kevin Smith wasn’t surprised the Detroit Lions chose not to offer him a contract. The running back just hopes the NFL labor deal gets done soon so he can find a new home in the league.

“I hope it goes through so I can move on,” Smith said Friday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “Until then, I’m just waiting.”

A person familiar with the situation also told AP the Lions released linebacker Julian Peterson and tendered contracts to kicker Dave Rayner, linebacker Zach Follett and fullback Jerome Felton. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team hasn’t announced the moves.

The Lions did confirm they re-signed cornerback Nathan Vasher to a one-year deal. The team has also tendered contracts to quarterback Drew Stanton and safety John Wendling and did not tender cornerback Brandon McDonald, according to agents for those three players.

Stanton began the season as Detroit’s No. 3 quarterback but ended up starting three games because of injuries to Matthew Stafford and Shaun Hill. The Lions won two of his starts.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said shortly after last season that Peterson wouldn’t be back with the team.

The five-time Pro Bowler fell out of favor toward the end of his second season with the Lions, leading to him being inactive for the finale without an apparent injury. He started 14 games last year, ranking second on the team in tackles, and started 14 games in 2009 after Detroit acquired him from Seattle for defensive tackle Cory Redding and a fifth-round pick.

The San Francisco 49ers drafted Peterson with the 16th overall pick in 2000 after he starred at Michigan State and traded him after six seasons to the Seahawks.

Detroit drafted Smith in the third round in 2008 and he ran for nearly 1,000 yards and caught 39 passes as a rookie.

Smith accounted for 1,000-plus yards of offense in 13 games of his second season before tearing the ACL in his left knee. He came back slowly last season and played in six games, running for 51 yards in a win over Washington, then had a season-ending thumb injury in November.

“I respect the Lions’ decision,” Smith said. “Nothing surprises me in this business, but what I’m really hoping for is a deal to avoid this lockout.”

AP Sports Writer Noah Trister contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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