Bortles/Jaguars come for a mid season visit

Lions still riding high after Vikings win

Quarterback Matthew Stafford would surely like to get his wins with a bit less flair then what it took to get the overtime win over the Minnesota Vikings last week.  With 23 seconds left in the game, Stafford tossed a 28-yard pass to Golden Tate who lofted into the air to snag the ball and secure the 22-16 victory.

“We all just believed in each other,” center Travis Swanson said. lions-6“I think, especially from my point of view, whenever they scored, and we have 20 or whatever seconds that was left, and you looked at the guys, and everyone was like, ‘All right. Let’s go do what we do.”

The Lions (5-4, 2nd NFC North) will host the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6, 4th AFC South) this Sunday at Noon at Ford Field.  The Lions will need a win to keep pace with the first place Vikings.

“Matt doesn’t get intense, man. He stays calm. He stays collected,” tight end Eric Ebron said. “But you know, he gets excited when we execute the plays that he knows we can execute for him. It just makes him believe more, makes him more confident. And we’ve just got to continue to go out there and keep winning.”

Let’s hope that it doesn’t come down to that against the Jags on November 20th.

Plenty of great seats and affordable tickets are still available so be sure to grab yours today and help cheer on your Detroit Lions!

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Lions prepare for Titans

Run Game Will be key

The Detroit Lions (1-0, tied 1st, NFC North) will be looking to go 2-0  when they face the Tennessee Titans (0-1, 4th AFC South) this Sunday with the running duo of Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah who combined for 107 yards on 19 carries.  Both caught enough passes to go over the 100 total yard mark.

Although the Titans showed last week that they can control the run, holding Adrian Peterson to 31 yards on 19 carries, Matt Stafford should be able to keep the defense honest with the run game which will allow him to have another fantastic throwing day.  Against the Vikings, Stafford showed poise and leadership en route to a 31-for-38 passing for 340 yards and three touchdowns kinda day.

lions-5“When he’s in command and running things, he puts a lot of pressure on the defense. He doesn’t give them much time. And he’s been very, very accurate. When things are a bit spread out, he spreads it around,” Coach Jim Caldwell of Stafford.

The game kicks off at noon and plenty of great seats and affordable tickets are still available so be sure to grab yours today and help cheer on your Detroit Lions on Sunday!

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Stafford gets one of his top targets back

TE Ebron not expected to start this weekend

Eric Ebron went down early in August and has been the center of speculation since he was carted off the practice field August 9th.  Some speculated that an Achilles was sprained or worse, torn.  So it was a great relief when Ebron hit the practice field yesterday after missing over two weeks.

Stafford also welcomes the return of WR Golden Tate as well as offensive tackles Michael Ola and Corey Robinson.

lions 4“Played with a lot of different guys this preseason and in practice, so it’s been good for me to have to adjust to guys on the fly and really just trust myself and put the ball where I think it needs to be put and those guys are doing a good job,” Stafford said.

The Lions return home next week to face the Bills on Sept. 1.  Tickets for the remaining preseason as well as the regular season are on sale now so grab yours today and be there next week when your Detroit Lions take the field.

 

Entire Lions franchise feeling the heat to succeed.

The Detroit Lions know that nearly everyone on the team and staff are under the gun.  After a futile 4-12 season last year (a year removed from a 10-6 record) the franchise are making moves to ensure that a repeat of last season does not reoccur.

In order to get that Lions swagger back, the team signed RB Reggie Bush, Safety Glover Quin, and two top notch defensive ends in Jason Jones and Isreael Idonije.  The team also resigned QB Matthew Stafford through the 2017 season, re-signed cornerback Chris Houston, safety Louis Delmas and outside linebacker DeAndre Levy.

“I think we should have somewhat of a chip on our shoulder,” All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson said. “We know what we were last year and we’re very disappointed that we weren’t able to get back to where we were (during 2011), especially when we were so close in a lot of those games. I think everybody’s focus should be way more intense this year.”

The Lions open the season against the Minnesota Vikings on September 8, 2013. Tickets are still available

Lions coach Jim Schwartz denies magnitude of Bears game was too much


Chris McCosky/ The Detroit News

Allen Park— Don’t try telling the Lions they’ve lost some of their swagger. Don’t try telling them they’re in a slump, even though they’ve lost three of four.

And don’t try telling them that maybe they weren’t ready to handle the responsibility of being legitimate playoff contenders.

They aren’t buying any of that.

“There is no hitch in our giddy-up,” receiver Nate Burleson said Monday. “We’re ready to get back to work. We are fired up for a big game at home Sunday against Carolina. Our focus isn’t on what’s wrong with us, it’s ‘let’s get back to doing what we do best — winning football games.'”

That apparently was the tone in position meetings Monday following a 37-13 loss in Chicago.

“I have concern because we lost the last game,” coach Jim Schwartz said. “Have we lost confidence? Absolutely not. We still have seven games to play. The important thing is to identify the reasons (for the loss), take the steps to correct those and move on past it.”

The uncharacteristic six turnovers and the poor response to them were viewed as a correctible anomaly.

“It was a little bit off personality for us,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz and the players will fight you if you suggest they were knocked off their personality by the size of the stage and magnitude of the game.

“Nah,” Schwartz said. “Everybody was thinking it was the Chicago Bears, not thinking about the wild card or controlling our destiny or anything like that. It was just the first game of the second half of the season.”

Still, the Bears have played in playoff games and the NFC Championship game. The Lions are playing meaningful games in the second half for the first time in four years, and had a chance to put the rival Bears in their rearview mirror.

Maybe the moment was too big for them.

“Not at all,” Burleson said. “You talk about being fired up. Guys were ready to rock. That locker room was electric. Guys were ready to play ball. It had nothing to do with the type of game it was. It’s more just the situation we put ourselves in with the turnovers.

“You can’t attribute anything to nervousness or guys having high anxiety. It was just one of those games.”

Rashied Davis, who played for Chicago, put it this way.

“You can’t recover from six turnovers against a team like Chicago,” the Lions receiver said. “They are like a pack of ravenous wolves. But we have to shake it off. We lost, but in the grand scheme of things, we are 6-3 and they are 6-3.”

Going forward, Schwartz said there were no additional concerns about the health of quarterback Matthew Stafford. Schwartz didn’t back off his postgame comments — it was the wind that bothered Stafford, not the fractured index finger on his throwing hand.

“He obviously had a glove on,” Schwartz said. “He had a splint on the very tip of his finger so the glove was just so he had a good grip of the ball. He threw the ball well Thursday and Friday. The issue was the wind, and it affected both quarterbacks.

Both completed about 50 percent of their passes and both are 60 percent throwers.

“The difference was, because of the turnovers and the special teams scores, one team had to throw the ball a lot and the other didn’t.”

Stafford wound up throwing 63 passes, Jay Cutler 19.

“Does it feel different (throwing with a fractured index finger)? Yeah. But it didn’t affect his actual throwing,” Schwartz said.

Players don’t look at the record and see 1-3 in November. They see 6-3. Players don’t add up won-loss records to see their three losses — to the 49ers, Falcons and Bears — are to the three toughest opponents they’ve played.

Players also rarely, if ever, admit to losing confidence.

“We think we could have beaten every team we lost to,” Burleson said. “I feel we are better than Atlanta, San Francisco and Chicago. Obviously, after losing to them I can’t say that. They’ve got the upper hand.

“But this is the same team nobody was quite sure about at the beginning of the year. A lot of people were saying we might win five games. We’ve won six and we are well above water. We are a good team and there’s not a guy or a team on our schedule that we are scared of. We are the same confident team we were at the beginning of the year.”

There is a thin line in sports between being confident and delusional. The Lions have seven weeks to prove they are not the latter.

Panthers at Lions

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, Ford Field, Detroit

TV/radio: Fox/97.1

Records: Carolina 2-7, Detroit 6-3

Line: Lions by 7

Series: Carolina leads 4-1 (Carolina 10-0, Nov. 16, 2008)

Did you know? Detroit has a winning percentage of .200 against Carolina, worst against all teams the Lions have played.

chris.mccosky@detnews.com

(313) 222-1489

cmccosky@twitter

DeMarcus Ware’s the triggerman for the Dallas defense


Chris McCosky/ The Detroit News

Allen Park— Jim Schwartz thinks there might be a typo on the Cowboys two-deep roster. DeMarcus Ware is listed under JLB — which in defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s parlance means Jack linebacker.

“What do they list him as, JLB?” Schwartz said. “What they need to do is list him as G-O-O-D.”

Truthfully, they could list the entire Cowboys defense under that heading. It ranks first in the NFC (fifth in the NFL) in total defense (288 yards), second in the NFL against the run (61.3) and first in the league in sacks (13).

Ware, who will be playing in his 100th game Sunday, has a league-high five sacks. His 85 career sacks are second only to Reggie White’s 105 in 100 games.

“Is there a better player than that guy right now on defense?” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said.. “I have a hard time finding one that affects the game like he does.”

The Lions actually did a reasonable job against Ware last season, limiting him to four tackles, one-half sack and three quarterback hits. But Ware is operating out of Ryan’s system now, and the defense is playing with more fire.

“Yeah, this is a whole new story,” Linehan said. “It’s like they talk about with great offensive players; you try to contain them. We have to try and contain (Ware) and keep those plays that change the game to a minimum.”

Two years ago, when quarterback Matthew Stafford was a rookie, Linehan went against a Ryan-coached defense in Cleveland and found a way to produce 473 yards (422 passing) and five touchdowns. It doesn’t sound like Linehan has referenced that tape much this week.

“We won some that day but we lost quite a few, too,” Linehan said. “His defense is an absolute nightmare to prepare for. The guy’s got them coming (rushing) from everywhere. He has everybody playing hard. They’ve bought in and believe in what they’re doing. Playing him causes a lot of sleepless nights for me and the offensive staff.”

If Stafford was the type of person who lost sleep over games — he’s not — he’d be baggy-eyed this week, too.

“They are very stout against the run and they have great players up front,” said Stafford, who will be playing in his hometown for the first time since he was in college at Georgia. “That front seven is some of the best we will face all year. And the back end is experienced with guys that know how to play Rob Ryan’s schemes. They are very multiple. They do a lot of different personnel packages and they mix in blitzes. It’s a tough defense.”

As for Ware, Stafford said there are some similarities between him and Chiefs defensive end Tamba Hali, who caused the Lions offensive line some stress in Week 2.

“They use (Ware) inside some, but they will rush him from the open end (opposite the tight end) and from the closed end — we had some practice with that against Hali,” Stafford said. “They are both very talented. We will have to know where he is at all times.”

The question remains, though, how will the Lions move the ball? They have struggled with a traditional run game (26th in the NFL), so it seems futile to force that. The Cowboys take away the deep pass as well as any team — they are one of three teams that have not allowed a reception longer than 40 yards.

So, as they did a week ago, perhaps the Lions will have to live or die with the short, ball control passing game. Or, if you listen to Schwartz, maybe not.

“It’s not just their talent, it’s their schemes also,” Schwartz said. “Their scheme is designed to make a team one-dimensional. They take the run away and then are able to get after the passer once you are one-dimensional. We need to get an efficient run game. If we do a good job running the ball, then we will be able to make plays in the passing game.”

As for the Cowboys pressure, Schwartz believes the Lions have options.

“We need to neutralize it, whether it be by running the ball, throwing it quick or by using extra protection,” he said. “But we need to account for Ware on every single play.”

Be a-Ware

Sunday’s game against the Lions will be the 100th for Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware. How his sack numbers, in history, stack up through 100 games:

chris.mccosky@detnews.com

(313) 222-1489

twitter.com@cmccosky

Bob Wojnowski: Lions finally have teeth to match their roar


Bob Wojnowski

Detroit — Oh my, how things have changed. At times in Ford Field on Sunday, the crowd was so loud, the Lions’ offense had to plead for calm. At times, the quarterback was so jacked up, he looked capable of firing the ball all the way across the street to Comerica Park.

Something startling is starting to happen at this hot little corner in downtown Detroit, and for their part, the Lions are determined to make it happen. That should be their theme this season, because it sure is Matthew Stafford’s theme — make something happen.

The gamblin’, gunslingin’, gosh-darnin’ quarterback was dominant in the home opener, throwing four touchdown passes in the Lions’ 48-3 blasting of the Chiefs. The Lions spent the offseason collecting players and plaudits, and though it was just one game, they showed it all in the biggest blowout in franchise history.

This is about talent, and the 2-0 Lions definitely have some. It’s also about attitude, and they’re certainly developing some, from the noise in the building to Kid Rock and Bob Seger in the postgame locker room. Going back to last season, this is six straight victories, and it’s happening with aggressiveness on offense and defense, and even with a cutthroat edge.

At long last

Jim Schwartz and his coaching staff are letting the fellas loose, and that’s partly because the Lions finally, finally have the quarterback capable of doing it. Stafford threw soft passes, feathered strikes and absolute lasers. His 36-yard pass down the middle to tight end Tony Scheffler in the second quarter was a thing of beauty — almost as audacious as Scheffler’s touchdown dance.

The Lions are having fun and they should. In an amusing pantomime, Scheffler pretended he was making a fire and sending smoke signals. (They were playing the Chiefs, get it?) Actually, the Lions are using more conventional means to send their signals, and it begins with a franchise quarterback who’s healthy and happy to fling.

“Your radar’s gotta be on high alert when Matt’s got the ball in his hands,” Scheffler said. “On my touchdown, he put some velocity on it and stuck it on my helmet. But we have a lot of stuff that needs to be fixed if we want to be the team we think we can be in January.”

The playoffs in January are a long way off, but not as long as they were two weeks ago. The Lions just hammered a team that was 10-6 last season, one week after handling another 10-6 team in Tampa. Granted, the Chiefs look positively awful, committing six turnovers.

But Stafford is growing rapidly, as he searches for the line between making something happen and needlessly forcing something to happen. Early in the game, the Lions were a bit sluggish. Stafford threw a bad interception instead of taking a sack, although the Chiefs fumbled it right back.

Stafford has shown he can scramble, and he and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan are finding ways to make teams pay. When the Chiefs’ defense loaded up to stuff the run, Stafford hit star Calvin Johnson for two touchdowns. When they adjusted, he found Nate Burleson, Jahvid Best, emerging rookie Titus Young and others.

“The big thing was, Matt took some hits and kept making the throws,” center Dominic Raiola said. “When teams leave Calvin out there one-on-one, that’s disrespectful to me. That’s what happens — you get dunked on. We got an aggressive coaching staff. We’re gonna stay fangs out.”

Fangs out, everyone in. Yep, you can feel something building here, after all the years of misery.

People wonder what spawns confidence. I’ll tell you what does: Talent. Stafford has the smarts, the arm and the leadership, and Johnson has become an amazing weapon.

Here were the Lions, up 20-3 late in the third quarter, facing a fourth down at Kansas City’s 1. Field goal by the ever-dependable Jason Hanson? Aw, boring. As the crowd momentarily quieted, Stafford dropped back, zipped a quick pass to Johnson, and the fans erupted again.

“We’ve been doing it for a while now and Calvin kind of knows what I’m thinking, and I’m the same way with him,” said Stafford, 23-for-39 for 294 yards. “It’s a good start, that’s the way we look at it.”

A ferocious start

It’s only a start, but the Lions attacked with stunning ferocity. This is who they’re trying to become — an explosive passing team that runs to keep the opponent honest. There also was some animosity in this one because defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham was accused in the offseason of tampering with Kansas City players, a charge that really ticked the Lions off.

I’m not saying they ran up the score. The Chiefs were so incompetent, the score practically ran itself up.

I am saying, when Stafford is flinging like this, the Lions are capable of running up points quickly. Through two games, he has thrown for 599 yards and seven touchdowns, with only two interceptions.

“Until we get some playoffs and championships, I’m not gonna walk around with my chest pumped out,” Burleson said. “But I don’t think people truly realize how many weapons we got. That’s the one thing that makes us so powerful. Matt makes throws that a lot of quarterbacks wouldn’t even attempt. We’re a good team, but our goal is to be great.”

They have a good quarterback who’s striving to be great. Nothing really has changed and everything has changed. The Lions’ goals are still the same, but now, early evidence suggests they’re legitimately attainable.

bob.wojnowski@detnews.com

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Chris McCosky: Injuries leave Lions still searching for power run game


Chris McCosky

Allen Park— It’s too early to label the Lions’ running game as anything other than a work in progress.

Lead back Jahvid Best has exactly five carries in two games. So how are you going to pass judgment on anything?

The two veteran backs the Lions brought in to essentially replace injured rookie Mikel Leshoure — Jerome Harrison and Mike Bell — have been in camp for two weeks and are just now getting some idea of the nuances of the Lions’ blocking schemes and tendencies.

By all accounts, there was a slight improvement in the run game in Cleveland on Friday — but the Lions would have been hard-pressed to do worse than the 2.1 yards per carry they mustered against the Bengals.

The Lions rushed for 176 yards (3.9 average), most of that against the Browns’ second and third defenses, in the 30-28 exhibition victory.

“I felt like we made some progress,” left guard Rob Sims said. “The first week, we were too high (pad level). I feel like we were lower and we were being more physical and getting some push. But we still have a lot of work to do; we still have to get it tight.

“It’s going to come. Jahvid’s going to remember how we do it and we will start remembering how he likes to run. It’ll come together.”

The ground game is as much about synchronicity and continuity as it is about toughness and talent. Clearly missing the offseason workouts, as well as the injuries to Leshoure and Maurice Morris, to say nothing of the fact that left tackle Jeff Backus has yet to practice, has set the ground game back.

There is plenty of time to regain that rhythm. Assuming that Best’s issues Friday were only wooziness, as he said, and not symptoms of a concussion, the offensive coaches are right to downplay any major concerns.

But here’s my concern: Even if the timing comes together, even if Best stays healthy, the ground game still hasn’t progressed from where it was at any point last season. It still lacks any semblance of a power run threat.

That’s why the loss of Leshoure was so devastating. Of course we don’t know for sure, but he looked like he was going to be able to add that dimension. He looked like he could be the guy to get five or six yards consistently on first down and he absolutely looked like the guy who would pick up that hard yard on third down or at the goal line.

I don’t see that guy on the roster right now and as a consequence, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan again is having to reach deep into his bag of tricks to compensate.

Running on empty

Break down the runs from Friday. In the first half, with the first offense playing most of the first quarter, the Lions ran the ball 14 times on first down and not once on third down. One of the first-down runs was a reverse to Nate Burleson that went for 26 yards.

Take that out and the Lions managed just 34 yards on 13 first-down carries (2.6 average). Not good. Aaron Brown got the majority of the work, carrying the ball six times for 11 yards on first down.

In the second half, the Lions ran the ball 10 times on first down for 32 yards (3.2). Still not good. Bell carried it five times on first down for 20 yards.

The Lions ran the ball twice on third down — both by second-year back Ian Johnson. He gained one yard on a third-and-2 and picked up the first on a third-and-1 to help the Lions kill the clock.

Linehan will tell you that it doesn’t matter how the yardage was accrued — run, pass, gadget plays, what’s the difference. The point is to move the ball and score.

Absolutely true. And with the efficiency and potency of the passing game, the Lions have some cushion to absorb a lackluster run game.

The goal, though, is to be as complete offensively as possible. And in a tough NFC North, with the margin of error so small, the Lions can’t afford too many blanks in their arsenal.

Having the ability to carve out four or five yards on the ground on first down, making defenses respect the run in the red zone, would go a long way toward easing some of the burden on quarterback Matthew Stafford and the passing game.

How successful can the Lions be, ultimately, if teams know they have to pass 80 percent of the time on first down and 95 percent of the time in the red zone?

Again, to repeat the original point, it’s too early to declare the ground game a liability. Best is a dynamic talent and Harrison showed some signs of the regaining the bounce he displayed in 2009 when he gained more than 1,000 yards rushing and passing for the Browns.

And, slowly but surely, the run blocking will get back in sync. That was the last part of the offensive puzzle to click last season, and that’s with all five linemen relatively healthy.

But there was a reason general manager Martin Mayhew traded up to get Leshoure and why he and the coaching staff were so excited they were able to pull it off. Leshoure offered a power dimension the Lions haven’t had for years.

Time will tell, but looking at it right now, it’s hard to see where that dimension will come from.

chris.mccosky@detnews.com

(313) 222-1489

Bob Wojnowski: Matthew Stafford, Lions offense already looks explosive


Bob Wojnowski

Detroit

It looked so easy, almost too easy. Matthew Stafford was on the field for about five minutes Friday night, and still got to show just about everything.

Short pass, deep pass. Light touch, firm touch. Touchdown to Calvin Johnson. Touchdown to Nate Burleson.

Playing the first two series in the Lions’ 34-3 exhibition romp against the Bengals, Stafford did everything except the one thing nobody wants to see, but eventually has to see. He didn’t take a hit because, well, the Bengals barely got close enough to say hello.

I suppose that’s one way to squelch health concerns about your quarterback — don’t let him get touched. Stafford was quick and decisive with his throws, never coming close to danger. At some point, he will be touched, and his surgically repaired right shoulder will be tested, and then Detroit football fans will breathe better.

Until then, catch your breath, because against the sad-sack Bengals, Stafford and the first-team offense were brilliant.

In case you forgot, you saw why so much of the Lions’ rising expectations revolve around Stafford. He completed six of seven passes for 71 yards, and both touchdowns — a pump-faked 26-yarder to Johnson and a 7-yarder to Burleson on fourth down — were perfectly thrown, squeezed into the tightest spots along the sideline.

Stafford praises line

For starters, for a good five minutes, this went about as well as it could for the Lions.

“I definitely want to be out there and want to be healthy,” Stafford said. “I think we’re pretty exciting to watch when all the pieces are together. We just wanted to get the ball out quick and get it in some other guys’ hands to make plays.”

Stafford said the offensive line blocked so well, he didn’t once feel a hand on him.

And that’s pretty important, considering no one can begin a sentence about the Lions without adding the Stafford-must-stay-healthy caveat. He hears it, coach Jim Schwartz hears it, everyone in the dressing room hears it, but they’re done worrying about it.

The defense, of course, is in the good, grubby hands of defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams, who were viciously aggressive against the Bengals’ poor rookie quarterback, Andy Dalton. The Lions’ menacing line can compensate for weaknesses elsewhere on the defense.

Stafford has the potential to change the offense just as dramatically. The paradox is no one wants to see him get hit, but everyone wants to see him get up.

The former No. 1 overall draft pick has played only 13 of 32 games in his career because of various injuries, but he was sharp in this one. He has his swagger back after missing the final six games in 2010. He has his weapons back, including Johnson and fleet running back Jahvid Best.

Bigger and bulkier

And there’s every indication Stafford has his strength back, and more. He’s bulkier in the upper body after an intense off-season regimen, and it has been evident during training camp. Against the Bengals, it was really evident.

“He’s bigger and stronger, and he’s still got that great head on his shoulders,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said this week. “I can tell he worked harder this offseason on his game and himself physically than he ever has.”

Stafford exited the game with the Lions up 14-0 and 9:44 still remaining in the first quarter. He left with a passer rating of 148.5, a gaudy number we’re more accustomed to seeing posted against the Lions.

The second TD drive covered a mere 16 yards after the Bengals fumbled the kickoff, but it was full of brashness. On fourth-and-1, Stafford heaved a pass to Burleson in the right corner of the end zone. Officials ruled him out of bounds, but Burleson got his toes in and Schwartz won the replay challenge.

Johnson thrilling again

There were a few acrobatics for the Lions, and Johnson exhibited his standard play-making, with two catches for 37 yards. He sat after suffering a mildly bruised shoulder that wasn’t considered serious.

The Lions didn’t run the ball well, but that’s not what this first night was about. This was about seeing their franchise quarterback on the field, tying all those pieces together.

“We were pretty methodical, and Matt had great command,” Schwartz said. “When you have confidence you can just take one step and throw it up to 81 (Johnson), or an outlet pass to 44 (Best), that makes it easier to protect.”

This was an easy one, mainly because Stafford and the offense made it that way. The hits will come, and all you can say is, Stafford looks ready for them.

Bob.wojnowski@detnews.com

Twitter.com/bobwojnowski

Terry Foster: NFL lockout’s fine with us — just don’t dare miss a game


Terry Foster

The reality of an NFL lockout hit full force Monday when I saw Lions kicker Jason Hanson at the drinking fountain at my local Life Time Fitness.

He was doing mostly weight training on a slow Monday morning in the gym.

He’s got nowhere to train because he is not allowed inside the Lions practice facility and cannot talk to coaches and the training staff. The king of sports is shut down. It just hasn’t hit home for the rest of us because we have not missed one game, one hit or another Lions loss.

We haven’t gathered around the water cooler on a Monday morning second-guessing coach Jim Schwartz or wondering if Matthew Stafford will last the season. Everything seems status quo outside of those clips we saw a few weeks ago of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and New England quarterback Tom Brady walking down the street before and after negotiations.

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The NFL now is a 365-day-a-year league. The draft is scheduled as normal, beginning two weeks from this Thursday. The draft guides are out. Fans are discussing who the Lions should take with the 13th pick and even the top collegiate athletes will walk across the stage, shake commissioner Roger Goodell’s hand, and wear a cap of the team that selected them.

After that, the league will roll into bubble wrap unless a deal is hammered out.

ESPN is reporting that a judge will impose forced mediation on the NFLPA and the NFL. The two sides both agree that more mediation is necessary, but they cannot even agree where to have it.

I won’t bore you with the details because I get the feeling the public doesn’t really care. ESPN provided wall-to-wall coverage and I admit I often turned the channel midway through it. Now when I see lockout news, I just shut it off.

This is April, not August when training camp begins. Players will miss some OTAs and will be forced to work out with you and me. So what? It just doesn’t hit home yet with the public with what is going on.

For players, it does. Hanson said most of the players he talks to are trying to maintain things now, but at some point they will need to find trainers to push them further. Some guys have returned home while others have found workout partners in the Detroit area.

This whole thing seems ridiculous. The owners are not losing money. The players are not going broke. And the league is the most prosperous in our country. I still am trying to figure out what the point of this lockout is. What you have is a few hundred people trying to figure out how to slice up a multi-billion dollar pie.

Meanwhile, the people who really will get hurt are the little guys trying to hammer out a minimum-wage salary. The people who work concessions and show us to our seats need that money. Sunday’s are always a great source of business for the bars and restaurants in Detroit who need every high-ticket day they can get.

It might just be eight dates, but NFL gameday packs a huge punch that can make a place profitable for the week.

These are the people I think about.

It was great seeing Hanson on Monday but I don’t want to see him in my gym. Get out.

There is plenty of room for him, but he belongs in Allen Park with the rest of the Lions.

terry.foster@detnews.com