ALLEN PARK (CBSDetroit) – Hundreds of Detroit Lions fans descended on the Allen Park practice facility Tuesday to enjoy one of the rites of summer: seeing the team in their first open practice.

Team president Tom Lewand greeted fans as they waited outside the gate early in the morning to get their first glimpse of the team. He said players feed off the enthusiasm from the crowd at practices.

“Most of what I heard from them was just a lot of positive energy — that they were excited about the season, that they’re appreciative of the fact that we made the playoffs last year, they’re hopeful, like we are, that we can build on that this year and get even better,” Lewand said.

lions fan Hundreds Attend Lions First Open Practice

(WWJ Photo/Ron Dewey)

Fan Roy Forbes took the day off work and brought his son down as a surprise.

“You see, almost, the intimacy of the practice,” Forbes said. “You know, like to see them in the individual … whether they be receivers, or the kickers, the special teams — see the work that’s put in to it … see what hard work it is to get prepared for the regular season.”

Offensive lineman Jeff Backus wasn’t surprised by the fans’ support.

“I mean, they’ve been awesome, they really have. We have some passionate fans … whether it’s a down season or a good season , our fans are loyal and supportive,” Backus said.

“But, what’s going on with our fans for the past eight months since we made the playoffs, it’s just been crazy. I can’t even imagine if we go deeper into the playoffs and possible Super Bowl … it’d just be nuts,” he said.

Added wide receiver Nate Burleson,”They’ve been waiting so long to have a hopeful, competitive team and, you know, we’re just that. They see the type of passion that we approach practice with, the focus, and they mirror that. They come out and show us the same passion.”

Trying to make the team, rookie linebacker Tahir Whitehead said a crowd of fans adds a bit of pressure to practice.

“It helps a player a great deal, because, you know, certain players … when you see fans out there you start to do things different, you go a little harder, you don’t wanna look bad … the energy levels increase,” Whitehead said.

Tuesday’s was the first of 11 open practices for the public. (See the complete practice schedule here).


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