Matthew Stafford, Lions are back; team goes to work on free agents


Chris McCosky/ The Detroit News

Allen Park — Quarterback Matthew Stafford, defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch and linebacker Ashlee Palmer were among the first Lions players to arrive at the practice facility Tuesday.

Players are allowed in to workout at the facility Tuesday and Wednesday. Training camp will open Thursday with the first official practice set for Friday.

“It’s great to be back,” Stafford said. “It’s nice see all the coaches, the team personnel and the other players again. I can’t wait to get started.”

Stafford said he poked his head upstairs, but with the mad free-agency scramble on, neither coach Jim Schwartz nor general manager Martin Mayhew had much time to chat.

“It’s going to be a pretty wild, crazy week,” Stafford said. “But I’m excited about the year. I feel like we are in a good position. We’ve got a lot of guys coming back who understand the system. Obviously, we have a lot of young guys to catch-up and get going, but other than that, we feel pretty good about where we are.”

Among the other Lions at the facility Tuesday were defensive end Cliff Avril, running back Jahvid Best, kicker Dave Rayner and offensive linemen Jeff Backus, Dominic Raiola and Stephen Peterman.

“The players have been ready,” Vanden Bosch said. “The thing we emphasized to all players (during the lockout) was to stay ready. We have a short amount of time, a small window, to come together quickly. We need to get the new guys up to speed. We need to get the guys who were here last year back up to speed and we need to form as a team. That’s quite a challenge in such a short amount of time.”

Mayhew was busy signing undrafted free agents to fill out the 90-man training camp roster.

Among those he has or is expected to sign:

* Receiver-returner Jared Jenkins, Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

* Tight end-fullback Preston Dial, Alabama.

* Linebacker Dejuan Fulghum, Texas Southern.

* Linebacker Quentin Davie, Northwestern.

* Receiver Keith Smith, Purdue.

* Linebacker Cobrani Mixon, Kent State.

* Punter Ryan Donahue, Iowa.

* Safety Ricardo Silva, Hampton.

* Receiver Marcus Harris, Murray State.

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