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Lions Looking Healthier After Open Date

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CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 19: Louis Delmas #26 of the Detroit Lions unsuccessfully tires to stop Evan Moore #89 of the Cleveland Browns from scoring a touchdown during the first quarter at Cleveland Browns Stadium on August 19, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND, OH – AUGUST 19: Louis Delmas #26 of the Detroit Lions unsuccessfully tires to stop Evan Moore #89 of the Cleveland Browns from scoring a touchdown during the first quarter at Cleveland Browns Stadium on August 19, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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NOAH TRISTER,AP Sports Writer

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Louis Delmas and Cliff Avril were on the practice field, looking healthy after a much-needed open date for the Detroit Lions.

Jahvid Best still can’t play, but he’s at least eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list next week.

The Lions are on the mend — physically, at least. It remains to be seen whether they can improve on their 1-3 start this weekend at Philadelphia.

“It’s not health anymore,” center Dominic Raiola said. “It’s just a matter of doing the right things. There’s no excuse.”

Delmas hasn’t played yet this season while recovering from left knee surgery, but the defensive back has been practicing lately and could give a boost to Detroit’s secondary. Avril had to leave the Lions’ loss to Minnesota two weekends ago because of a back problem, but he too seems fine now.

Not everyone is at full strength. Corey Williams, who is coming off knee surgery, stood off the to the side at the start of practice Tuesday. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew wasn’t on the field at all during the portion open to reporters.

Coach Jim Schwartz didn’t elaborate on Pettigrew’s condition other than to say he’s day to day.

Meanwhile, Best has been on the reserve-physically unable to perform list all season because of concussion problems, but he’s eligible to return as early as next week. Whether he’ll be able to is still an open question.

“He’s going through some return-to-play protocol,” Schwartz said. “Those aren’t done by the people here. Those are done by independent neurologists and everybody else. The only thing we can do is wait for their opinion on it. … The next step is getting him cleared and then it would be off PUP and then practicing before any decision would be made of when he’d be ready to play.”

Best showed promise as a rookie in 2010 and started six games last season, but he hasn’t played since a loss to San Francisco nearly a year ago.

“He’s in better shape now than when he was a rookie. He’s physically stronger. He’s smarter in our schemes, done a really good job being at meetings and those kind of things,” Schwartz said. “This isn’t a guy that’s been on vacation for the last couple months. This guy’s worked extremely hard. But we try not to get ahead of ourselves. He’s doing what he can. When he gets clearance he’ll be back.”

The secondary has been hit hard by injuries. Chris Houston missed two games because of a sprained left ankle, and rookie Bill Bentley missed one because of a concussion. They’re back now.

Avril, who was sidelined in the second half against the Vikings, was one of several players who missed some practice time last week — with no game to prepare for. Now he’s ready to chase Michael Vick and the Eagles around on Sunday.

“Feeling good,” Avril said. “I practiced, feeling good and ready to get rolling.”

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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