By Ashley Dunkak
@AshleyDunkak

CBS DETROIT – Representing the Detroit Lions at the midfield coin toss on Monday Night Football will be quarterback Matthew Stafford, linebacker Stephen Tulloch and fullback Montell Owens, head coach Jim Caldwell announced Saturday.

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Caldwell said last week the Lions would not name season-long captains and instead appoint the honors on a game-by-game basis.

“We have so many strong leaders, I believe, that to narrow it down to a couple guys would be, first of all, depriving the rest of the team of their leadership,” Caldwell said. “You look at every one of our rooms, we have veterans all over the place. Not only that, but they are quality, quality men that are fine players and have a positive impact on this team. You’re going to see quite a few of those guys at some time rolling into that position.”

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Stafford, Tulloch and Owens are all veterans – Stafford in his sixth season, Tulloch and Owens both in their ninth years. While Lions fans know Stafford and Tulloch well, Owens is in just his second year with Detroit. How much he will contribute to the offense remains to be seen, but Caldwell said Owens has always been a special teams player whom coaches have noticed and considered in planning for games.

“He’s tough, hard-nosed, has speed and experience now because he’s been around a bit,” Caldwell said. “In his early years, he was at Jacksonville and I remember every single week, while I was a head coach and even prior to that, we were always talking about, ‘Hey, you better block number 24,’ who was Montell at that time down there, and number 81, who was [Kassim] Osgood. Those two guys were like wrecking crews. They did an unbelievable job of making plays all over the field. So, your first order of business was to make certain that you slow those two ball hawks down. That’s the thing that you find in him.

“He hasn’t lost that desire and thirst to get to the ball,” Caldwell continued. “He is also very well equipped. He’s got a natural low center of gravity. He’s got natural leverage – and not only that, he’s a great leader as well.”

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The Lions finished 2013 with a 7-9 record after losing six of their last seven games. They open this season against the New York Giants, who also turned in a 7-9 record last season. Monday’s game will be the first for the Lions under Caldwell, who replaces former head coach Jim Schwartz.