Lions postcard (cont.)
There's a lot to like about all three of Detroit's top picks -- Stafford, Pettigrew and safety Louis Delmas -- but let's be honest, there's only one rookie who will remain under the spotlight at every moment this season, and that's the former Georgia quarterback. To my eyes, Stafford looks comfortable and confident in the pocket, and he's making his reads without much hesitation and seems to be keeping up with the speed of the game.
Peterson described for me a play last week in which Stafford seemed to be locked onto his intended target at tight end, but then fired an exquisite no-look pass to a different receiver on the other side once Peterson broke on the tight end. "I was like, 'OK, I see that's the reason you're a No. 1 quarterback,''' Peterson said. "He's well above the learning curve. Whoever has coached him up before he got to this level, somebody's done a good job of keeping him prepared, because he's very prepared.''
Believe it or not, the Lions have two quality options at quarterback in Stafford and Culpepper. How quickly Stafford can force his way into the lineup still isn't clear, but rest assured there's no echo of the Joey Harrington era so far in Detroit.
It's always a sickening sight when you see a player's season end suddenly in training camp, almost before it has even begun. Lions veteran defensive end Jared DeVries stayed down after the third play of a live 11-on-11 goal line drill, and you could tell right away that it didn't look good. Tests confirmed that DeVries suffered a ruptured Achilles' tendon, and just like that ... the Lions had lost their expected starter at left end.
The Lions were already in search of more bodies on the defensive line, and were coincidentally playing host to ex-Brown Shaun Smith on a visit when DeVries went down. Fellow free-agent defensive lineman Darwin Walker got a look-see from Detroit over the weekend, and veteran Kevin Carter also remains on the Lions' radar screen. For now, look for Dewayne White to shift to the left side from his usual right end spot.
1. Kind of interesting that the Lions two coordinators, Scott Linehan on offense and Gunther Cunningham on defense, were once NFL head coaches in Missouri. Cunningham lasted two seasons in Kansas City (1999-2000), and Linehan got two full seasons and part of a third in St. Louis (2006-2008). Detroit is the only team with two former NFL head coaches in their coordinator roles.
2. The Lions seem intent on not spending a lot of time this preseason telling people they're not the Lions of old, they'd rather wait until the regular season and show them. Talk has been very, very cheap in Detroit for a long time now, so that's exactly the right call.
3. If Stafford gets a grip on the Lions' starting job, it might be because of the hold he has on the ball. The rookie QB told me he loves throwing the NFL ball in comparison to the NCAA model. "It just feels better in my hand than the college ball,'' he said. "It's just a little fatter. I love it. I love throwing it.''
4. Once he gets healthy and completely immersed in the Detroit offense, Pettigrew is going to be a real weapon as both a receiver and a blocker. At some point in the near future, Lions fans won't be second-guessing his first-round selection any more.
5. He's not Albert Haynesworth mind you, but Grady Jackson, at 36, might still plug some gaps in the middle of the Lions defense. One thing I'm certain about this year in Detroit is that Schwartz and Cunningham will figure out a way to improve a Lions D that got abused last year. And yes, I do remember that Rod Marinelli was considered a defensive guru when he came to town, too.
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