Detroit Lions Strategy and Personnel 8-18-11
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–T Tony Ugoh left camp on Wednesday. He was released on Sunday.
–CB Anthony Madison, who played 16 games for Pittsburgh last season, was signed Saturday. The numbers were getting a little low at corner with Aaron Berry (groin) and Alphonso Smith (foot) out.
–OL Rudy Niswanger, five-year veteran formerly of Kansas City, was signed. Although he’s spent most of his time on the interior, the Lions are using him at tackle.
–S Michael Johnson, veteran and former Giant, was signed. The Lions got suddenly thin at safety when Randy Phillips (shoulder) and Maurice Leggett (undisclosed) were injured. Leggett was waived-injured.
–LB Quentin Davie and TE Preston Dial, two undrafted rookies who were impressive early in camp, were released.
–CB Brandon McDonald appears to have the early lead in the battle to win the nickel back role. He was solid (six tackles and one pass breakup) against the Bengals. CBs Aaron Berry (groin) and Alphonso Smith (foot) have been out, and McDonald is taking advantage of his opportunity.
BATTLE OF THE WEEK
Veteran Erik Coleman was signed before the lockout to be the starting strong safety alongside FS Louis Delmas. The thought was Amari Spievey, a converted corner who won the starting SS spot as a rookie last season, needed another year of seasoning.
Spievey apparently has other plans. He is not giving up the spot easily. He’s had an outstanding camp, and made several strong plays Friday.
“I was looking at the depth chart from last year and he was the fourth safety on the right side,” defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said. “He’s come a long ways. He’s looked really good, really fast. He came in in great shape.”
Coleman continues to work with the second unit. He’s played well, too, but so far he can’t unseat Spievey.
OTHER BATTLE FRONTS
Rookie punter Ryan Donahue has booted the ball a mile in practice, but his first game action was less than stellar. He had three punts that netted 32 yards. He did whack a 50-yarder, but he kicked it out of the end zone. His one pooch kick he left well short – just 22 yards, fair-caught at the 20.
–WR Derrick Williams, one of the standouts in camp thus far, dropped two straight passes from QB Drew Stanton Friday. He redeemed himself, though. Stanton threw to him a third straight time, and Williams made the 32-yard reception. He caught another for 19 yards that was nullified by a holding call. Meanwhile both Rashied Davis and Maurice Stovall have impressed in the offense but especially on special teams.
–RB Aaron Brown, perhaps facing the longest odds to make the roster, had the most productive day of any other running back. He caught five passes for 49 yards and ran four times for 21 yards. He needs to string three more productive performances together if he’s to beat out Maurice Morris, Jerome Harrison or Mike Bell.
LB Doug Hogue, a fifth-round pick, is considered a project. He’s a converted fullback and played defense for only two years at Syracuse. He’s showing himself to be a quick learner. He made an excellent read on a play-action pass, dropped into coverage and batted the ball away from a tight end. Still, his contribution is expected to come on special teams this season.
OT Johnny Culbreath, seventh-round pick, had a rough debut. He was beat several times off the edge, completely missed a block on a running play which resulted in a loss and then forgot he was supposed to be on the field-goal unit and ran out late.
–T Jason Fox (left foot) got good news from specialist Dr. Bob Anderson in Charlotte, N.C. There is no fracture and he does not need surgery. “He will have it immobilized in a cast for a week and then wear a boot for a week,” coach Jim Schwartz said. “We will see how it responds after that but it was good news that no surgery is required.”
–TE Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) was held out of practice all week and did not suit up Friday. He returned to practice on Sunday.
–WR Calvin Johnson played just one series Friday, leaving after he bruised his left shoulder on his touchdown catch. The injury is not believed to be serious, though he sat out practice on Sunday.
–OT Gosder Cherilus, coming back from microfracture surgery, played one series and reported no setbacks.
–CB Aaron Berry (groin) tried to practice on Thursday and couldn’t do much. He is expected to be in the defensive back rotation, either backing up Eric Wright or as the nickel. He only took part in individual drills Sunday.
–OT Jeff Backus (pectoral) said he is happy with his progress, and it appears he’s on pace to start the regular season. The team is not releasing any timetable.
–RB Maurice Morris had a new and bigger cast on his broken right hand Friday. He is probably going to be out at least another week.
–DT Nick Fairley (broken foot) was off crutches Friday and walking the sideline in a protective boot. He is expected to miss the entire preseason.
–OT Isaac Sowells missed practice Sunday after getting his left knee drained.
–QB Drew Stanton missed practice after getting a two-stitch gash in the elbow of this throwing arm Friday. He’s day to day.
–S Randy Phillips (shoulder) looks to be out another week.
–DR Andre Fluellen (broken hand) will be out at least another week, probably longer.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
–S C.C. Brown will not be re-signed.
–LB Vinny Ciurciu won’t return.
–WR Brian Clark will not be re-signed.
–CB Tye Hill isn’t in the team’s 2011 plans.
–LB Landon Johnson won’t be back with the team.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
–TE Jake Nordin (not tendered as ERFA).
–RB Kevin Smith (not tendered as RFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED
–DT Nick Fairley (1/13): $10M/4 yrs with 5th-yr option; $5.7M SB.
–WR Titus Young (2/44): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
–RB Mikel Leshoure (2/57): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
–LB Doug Hogue (5/157): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
–T/G Johnny Culbreath (7/209): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS RE-SIGNED
–LB Bobby Carpenter: UFA; terms unknown.
–G/C Dylan Gandy: UFA; terms unknown.
–CB Chris Houston: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
–CB Brandon McDonald: UFA; terms unknown.
–K Dave Rayner: UFA 1 yr, terms unknown.
–QB Drew Stanton: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
–CB Nathan Vasher: Potential UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
–S John Wendling: UFA; $2.75M/3 yrs, guarantees unknown.
–DE Cliff Avril:RFA (tendered $2.6M with first-round pick as compensation); $2.6M/1 yr.
–LB Korey Bosworth: ERFA; terms unknown.
–LB Caleb Campbell: ERFA; terms unknown.
–FB Jerome Felton: RFA (tendered $1.2M with fifth-round pick as compensation); $1.2M/1 yr.
–DT Andre Fluellen: RFA (tendered $1.2M with third-round pick as compensation); $1.2M/1 yr.
–T Corey Hilliard: ERFA; terms unknown.
–WR/KR Stefan Logan: ERFA; terms unknown.
–CB Prince Miller: ERFA; terms unknown.
–LB Ashlee Palmer: ERFA; terms unknown.
–S Randy Phillips: ERFA; terms unknown.
–CB Paul Pratt: ERFA; terms unknown.
–RB Mike Bell: UFA Browns; terms unknown.
–OT Kirk Chambers: UFA Bengals; terms unknown.
–S Erik Coleman: FA Falcons; terms unknown.
–WR Rashied Davis: UFA Bears; 1 yr, terms unknown.
–DE Keyunta Dawson: UFA Colts; terms unknown.
–LB Justin Durant: UFA Jaguars; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
–RB Jerome Harrison: UFA Eagles; terms unknown.
–DE Taylor Hilee (waivers Panthers).
–S Michael Johnson: UFA Giants; terms unknown.
–CB Maurice Leggett: Not tendered as ERFA by Chiefs; terms unknown (subsequently released).
–CB Anthony Madison: UFA Steelers; terms unknown.
–C/G Rudy Niswanger: UFA Chiefs; 1 yr, terms unknown.
–DT Quinn Pitcock: FA; terms unknown.
–WR Maurice Stovall: UFA Buccaneers; terms unknown.
–LB Stephen Tulloch: UFA Titans; $3M/1 yr, guarantees unknown.
–CB Eric Wright: UFA Browns; terms unknown.
–LB Jordon Dizon (released).
–DE Jared DeVries (UFA; retired).
–LB Zack Follett (released).
–WR Bryant Johnson (released).
–CB Eric King (released).
–DE Turk McBride: UFA Saints; terms unknown.
–LB Julian Peterson (released/failed physical).
–DT Quinn Pitcock: FA; terms unknown.
–T Tony Ugoh (released).
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