LARRY LAGE,AP Sports Writer
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions started the offseason with a checklist of goals to stay successful.
So far, so good.
All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson had his contract extended; standout defensive Cliff Avril was retained; veteran linebacker Stephen Tulloch and offensive tackle Jeff Backus were re-signed.
The only significant player missing from last year’s playoff team is cornerback Eric Wright, who left as a free agent to sign with Tampa Bay.
“The things that we felt like were critical, that we had to get done, we got those things done,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said Thursday. “It would have been nice to add a guy here or there. We haven’t done that in free agency — yet.”
The franchise, which became the NFL’s first 0-16 team in 2008, that has been reshaped into a winner by Mayhew still has room for improvement.
Finding a starting cornerback to play opposite Chris Houston and replace Wright seems to be the No. 1 priority.
Mayhew, though, insists he’s sticking to his best-player-available philosophy when the team picks 23rd overall in next Thursday’s draft — unless he’s a quarterback.
“It’s about not reaching for a particular position,” Mayhew said.
He would acknowledge there are “four to seven” players on the team’s draft board identified as ideal fits for its selection toward the end of the first round, but refused to talk about any player at his news conference a week before the draft.
Later in the draft, taking a No. 3 quarterback to develop behind Matthew Stafford and Shaun Hill is a possibility.
“If we’re on the clock in a particular round and we’ve got a quarterback that’s a value for us there, we would consider taking that player,” Mayhew said. “By the same token, we’re not going to try to make that happen. If it doesn’t happen that way, we’ll go out in free agency and we’ll get a third quarterback that way.”
Mayhew had good news for the team to share and lamented having to talk about some bad.
NFL rules wouldn’t allow him to witness voluntary workouts this week, but he did see running Jahvid Best at a team meeting and has gotten good reports about a player who missed much of last year because of concussions.
“From what I understand, he’s doing everything as far as conditioning and working out with everybody,” Mayhew said.
Detroit coach Jim Schwartz addressed the importance of making good choices off the field during Monday’s team meeting, a topic prompted by the marijuana possession charges facing defensive tackle Nick Fairley and running back Mikel Leshoure after recent traffic stops. Mayhew met with the players with a message of his own.
“The point I tried to make to both of those guys was that when Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson get back, they have to answer questions about your behavior,” Mayhew recalled. “That’s something that those guys should understand. That we’re standing here talking, not about the draft, not about our plans going forward and our bright future and what we’re going to do. We’re talking about those guys’ behavior off the field.”
Mayhew, though, said what Fairley and Leshoure did would not rule out any potential draft picks with documented histories with marijuana.
“We’re going to look at each individual situation,” he said. “We did a lot of homework on those guys last year. We’re doing as much homework or more on guys this year, but I think every individual situation has to be evaluated that way.”
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