By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK – Detroit Lions safety James Ihedigbo, who had been holding out for a new contract, reported for offseason workouts Tuesday, and he indicated Wednesday he plans to be at the training facility with his teammates for the remainder of the offseasonREAD MORE: Consumer Alert: How To Avoid Fake N95, KN95 Masks
“Yeah, if – as long as I – as far as I know, I’m here and going to continue to work at our craft,” Ihedigbo said after the team’s OTA practice, the second one this week.
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell had said earlier in the offseason that he wanted Ihedigbo back “pronto,” so he was pleased to see the player back in Allen Park.
“It’s always good when we can get all of our guys back,” Caldwell said. “I think that’s important, gives us an opportunity to get better. There have been, certainly, situations where you had to do it otherwise, but it’s always great when you’ve got them out there, so it was great to have him back.”
Ihedigbo said his teammates understood why he did not show up for the first month of voluntary offseason workouts.
“It’s the nature of the business,” Ihedigbo said. “It’s never anything personal. It has nothing to do with how an organization feels toward you or you feel towards the organization. It’s not personal. It’s just the nature of the business. I’m here, like I said, and ready to play football.”READ MORE: Flint Public Schools Staying Virtual Indefinitely Due To Large Amount Of Positive COVID-19 Cases
Ihedigbo would not talk about his contract, whether he and team personnel have discussed or whether he expects to get a new deal. He did, however, essentially confirm he believes he should be paid more than the $1.1 million base salary he is scheduled to make for the 2015 season. (A backup safety, Isa Abdul-Quddus, will make a base salary of $1.2 million this year.)
Asked whether he outplayed his contract last season, Ihedigbo – who missed the first three games with a neck injury – heartily agreed.
“I was a Pro Bowl alternate, so that answers that question,” Ihedigbo said. “I was probably three games away from being alongside Glover in the Pro Bowl. But that’s neither here nor there. My focus is on this season coming up and putting the work in on that field to make sure I can help in our team taking that next step and individually taking that next step.”
The safety did not go into specifics about how he spent his time away from offseason workouts, but he left no doubt he has been preparing to rejoin his team.
“Training my butt off, that’s what I was doing,” Ihedigbo said.
“I miss my guys,” Ihedigbo added. “I always do. They’re my teammates. They’re my brothers. Like I said, it’s important to be here and be back with them and working hard at our collective goal.”MORE NEWS: State Fears Confusion After Michigan Restaurant Wins In Dining Ban Case