Detroit Lions: Israel Idonije

With everything the Detroit Lions are going to do over the next few months, all of it is with a very simple goal in mind.

Put together the best possible roster to make a run at the playoffs in 2014, Jim Caldwell’s first season as Detroit’s head coach.

A week into free agency, here’s a breakdown of the Lions' defense and if they are better off than they were at the end of last season. The only players mentioned are ones who were on Detroit’s 53-man roster last season.

Here’s a look at the offense from earlier Monday.

DEFENSIVE END:

Ansah
Who is back: Ziggy Ansah; Jason Jones; Devin Taylor

Who is gone: Willie Young (Chicago); Israel Idonije

Who has come in: Darryl Tapp

Who is in limbo: No one.

Are the Lions better or worse: Worse. There’s a lot of forward-thinking hope by Detroit right now with its defensive end situation. By not re-signing Young -- which, in my opinion, was a mistake -- the Lions have left themselves reliant on either a recovering Jones or a still unproven Taylor to line up opposite Ansah. Tapp was signed last week, but likely is nothing more than a rotational player as his production has dropped yearly since a strong 2008. If Jones re-emerges or Taylor develops, Detroit could be fine here, but that’s a lot of questions without definitive answers right now.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE:

Suh
Who is back: Ndamukong Suh; Nick Fairley; C.J. Mosley.

Who is gone: Andre Fluellen, most likely.

Who has come in: Corvey Irvin; Vaughn Martin

Who is in limbo: Technically Fluellen, but likely no one.

Are the Lions better or worse: The same. The main three-man rotation at defensive tackle will remain the same and could possibly improve if Fairley finally gets in shape. Either Irvin, Martin or one of the two practice squad players from last season -- Jimmy Saddler-McQueen or Xavier Proctor -- could end up as the fourth tackle. Or the Lions could slide Jones inside. But not much has changed here. The biggest issue with this group, besides Fairley’s weight and production, is Suh’s monster contract.

LINEBACKER:

Who is back: Stephen Tulloch; DeAndre Levy; Ashlee Palmer; Tahir Whitehead; Travis Lewis; Julian Stanford.

Who is gone: Rocky McIntosh

Who has come in: No one.

Who is in limbo: No one.

Barr
Are the Lions better or worse: The same. This unit has made no changes yet, although it would seem as if that could end up happening through the draft if the Lions were to look at Anthony Barr in the first round. If Teryl Austin ends up playing as much nickel as Gunther Cunningham did, this might not be an issue, but if the Lions want to run more of a true 4-3, it will need to consider finding another linebacker to challenge Palmer. Whitehead could end up with a bigger role, but he is also very valuable on special teams.

CORNERBACK:

Who is back: Chris Houston; Darius Slay; Bill Bentley; Jonte Green; Chris Greenwood.

Mathis
Who is gone: No one, yet.

Who has come in: No one, yet.

Who is in limbo: Rashean Mathis

Are the Lions better or worse: For now, worse. Mathis was signed last season as depth and turned into Detroit’s top cornerback by the middle of the season. Houston was inconsistent and Slay would need to take a major jump from his rookie season to be an effective, consistent cornerback. The talent is there with a lot of the corners, but the production hasn't been. Much like defensive end, there are a lot of questions about this position group at this time, too much to say this group will be better than a season ago.

SAFETY:

Who is back: Glover Quin; Don Carey; Dejon Gomes; Akwasi Owusu-Ansah

Who is gone: Louis Delmas (Miami); John Wendling

Who has come in: Isa Abdul-Quddus

Ihedigbo
Who is in limbo: James Ihedigbo (free agent)

Are the Lions better or worse: Worse, for now, but could end up better off. Losing Delmas is tough both from a continuity and leadership standpoint. But he was never a consistent player, too often going for the big hit instead of the safe, smart play. Plus, his knees were always going to be a question. If the Lions sign Ihedigbo, they could end up in a better position because he has familiarity with Austin and could balance Quin well. This is going to be a need position and clearly a spot the Lions are looking at in the draft, as Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was in Allen Park, Mich. on Monday visiting the Lions. So this group should end up better off, but just are not there yet.

SPECIALISTS:

Who is back: Sam Martin (punter); Don Muhlbach (long-snapper)

Who is gone: David Akers (kicker)

Who has come in: John Potter (kicker); Giorgio Tavecchio (kicker)

Who is in limbo: No one.

Are the Lions better or worse: Better. Muhlbach is one of the best in the game at long snapping. Martin should improve from his rookie season, when he was a good punter, to his second season. Akers had issues for most of the season and had both field goals and extra points blocked. While Potter and Tavecchio have not had a ton of experience in the NFL, they will both get a shot at the job.
INDIANAPOLIS -- As the Detroit Lions head toward free agency in under three weeks and the team works on landing an extension for Ndamukong Suh, the team has decided it won't bring back a handful of other free agents.

Players not expected back include kicker David Akers, defensive end Israel Idonije, linebacker Rocky McIntosh, offensive lineman Dylan Gandy and safety/special-teams player John Wendling.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said every other free agent, including cornerback Rashean Mathis and backup quarterback Shaun Hill, could end up back with the Lions.

He also indicated the Lions have signed safety Isa Abdul-Quddus, whom the team claimed off waivers earlier this year and was scheduled to be a restricted free agent.

Abdul-Quddus signed a one-year deal worth $645,000 and could play a special-teams role for the Lions. Mayhew said when the former New Orleans Saint hit the waiver wire, special-teams coach John Bonamego campaigned to bring him in.

Bonamego had worked with him in New Orleans in 2011.

Abdul-Quddus' signing seems to fit the reason that the team would move on from Wendling, who was one of the Lions' better special teams players last season.
Every day we'll take a look at one of the Detroit Lions heading for free agency, what he has meant to the team and a prognosis on whether he'll be back with the club in 2014.

To see all the Meet the Free Agents to date, click this link.

To see the Meet the Free Agents series thus far, click this link.

Free agent to be: Israel Idonije

Position: Defensive end

Age: 33

Years in the league: 10

Idonije
What he made last season: $620,000 (cap value); $905,000 (cash value); $840,000 (base salary); $65,000 (signing bonus). $420,000 of it was guaranteed.

What he did last season: Not a ton. In his first year with Detroit after spending his entire career with Chicago, Idonije had 11 tackles and a half-sack -- his lowest tackle output of his career. His 313 snaps were his fewest since 2009. He mostly spelled Willie Young and Ziggy Ansah on the outside in situations in the middle of the field throughout the season. According to Pro Football Focus, he had 23 quarterback hurries, which isn't bad considering the amount of snaps he played.

His potential market value: Probably not much. Idonije is an older veteran whose production plummeted in his first season not in the Bears system. He is one of the older defensive end free agents on the market and if he is willing to take the minimum with a reduced cap number, then he could be helpful to a team needing a veteran presence. Otherwise, it could be tough finding Idonije a home in 2014.

Will he fit the Lions still: Probably not. The Lions have three defensive ends returning in Ziggy Ansah, Devin Taylor and Jason Jones. If the team chooses to bring back Willie Young, then they would have four defensive ends and would likely look for a drafted player or a younger free agent. Idonije's production just didn't match what the team had likely hoped to get out of him. PFF graded him out with a high plus rating in only one game last season. Now if the team were to not re-sign Young and release Jones, then maybe they would bring Idonije back as a versatile veteran, but if Jones remains on the roster, his ability to play multiple spots on the line likely means Idonije won't have a place with the Lions.

What happens: Idonije might still get looks from teams looking for a veteran defensive end, especially since he was playing at a high level as late as 2012. The Lions, depending what happens in free agency and the draft, could be interested late in the process like they were a season ago, when Idonije was signed in June to a one-year deal. His character -- he was one of the most stand-up players on Detroit last season -- could also be difficult to replace and could be a reason he latches on somewhere in 2014.
Recruiting has been deemed a completely inexact proposition seemingly forever. Guys who are highly rated don't pan out. Guys who were walk-ons turn into NFL players and, sometimes, stars.

So as teams across the country sign players Wednesday, here's a look back at where the Detroit Lions were ranked when they were high school seniors. For rankings from 2006 forward, the rankings used are ESPN's rankings. From 2002 to 2006, we used the Rivals.com rankings.

In some cases, no rankings were available. If something is not denoted as coming from another site, it is ESPN's ranking from that year.
What you'll see is most of Detroit's players were not highly rated players coming out of high school. Some had no ranking at all. Just goes to show how blue chip recruits in high school don't always turn into top-level college or NFL players.

This post covers the defense and special teams. This post from earlier took care of the offense.

Defensive linemen:
  • Suh
    Ndamukong Suh (2005): Rated as the No. 6 defensive tackle by Rivals.com and the No. 51 player overall. Signed with Nebraska.
  • Nick Fairley (2007): Rated as the No. 31 offensive tackle. Signed with Auburn but went to Copiah-Lincoln Community College for two years before heading to Auburn.
  • Willie Young (2004): Rated as the No. 14 defensive end by Rivals.com. Signed with N.C. State and went to Hargrave Military Academy in 2004 before going to N.C. State in 2005. Was the No. 18 prep school player in the country in the Class of 2005.
  • Ziggy Ansah (2008): Not rated in ESPN's database. Not surprising considering he went to BYU from Ghana. He tried out for basketball, was on the track team in 2009 and started playing football in 2010. His story is documented here from colleague Ohm Youngmisuk.
  • Devin Taylor (2008): Rated as the No. 69 defensive end in his class and No. 21 player in South Carolina. Signed with South Carolina.
  • Jason Jones (2004): Not rated by Rivals.com, but was labeled a two-star prospect by the service. Signed with Eastern Michigan.
  • C.J. Mosley (2001): Not in Tom Lemming's Top 100 for 2001 but Missouri's website says Mosley was one of the top 55 defensive line prospects in the country in 2001. Signed with Missouri.
  • Andre Fluellen (2003): Rated as the No. 28 defensive tackle in the country and No. 22 player in Georgia his year. Signed with Florida State.
  • Israel Idonije (2000): Played football at Manitoba in Canada.
  • Xavier Proctor (2008): He was not rated by either service in 2008 and signed with North Carolina Central. Here's an interesting story about his past from the Baltimore Sun.
  • Jimmy Saddler-McQueen (2005 or 2006): No information is available on Saddler-McQueen. He signed with Texas A&M-Kingsville, where he played from 2006 to 2009.
Linebackers:
  • Stephen Tulloch (2003): Rated as the No. 28 inside linebacker in his class and No. 51 player in Florida by Rivals.com. Signed with N.C. State.
  • Levy
    DeAndre Levy (2005): Rated as the No. 49 outside linebacker in his class and the No. 4 player in Wisconsin by Rivals.com. Signed with Wisconsin.
  • Ashlee Palmer (2006): Information on Palmer's recruitment is confusing. Was unranked in the Class of 2007 by ESPN. He was the No. 38 junior college player in the class of 2006 by Rivals.com as a safety. He initially signed with Nebraska out of high school, then signed with Washington out of Compton Community College before landing at Mississippi. There are some nuggets about Palmer's recruiting saga in this Scout.com story.
  • Rocky McIntosh (2001): Rated as the No. 15 linebacker in the nation by SuperPrep according to the Miami (Fla.) website, where he signed.
  • Tahir Whitehead (2008): Not ranked as a safety out of high school. Signed with Temple.
  • Julian Stanford (2008): Not rated by either service in 2008. Signed with Wagner.
  • Brandon Hepburn (2008): Not rated by either service in 2008. Signed with Florida A&M.
  • Travis Lewis (2007): Rated as the No. 79 running back in the country by ESPN and No. 20 outside linebacker by Rivals.com. Signed with Oklahoma.
  • Cory Greenwood (2006): Played football in Canada.
Defensive backs:
  • Delmas
    Louis Delmas (2005): Not rated by Rivals.com, but was a two-star recruit. Signed with Western Michigan.
  • Glover Quin (2006): Not rated by either service out of Southwest Mississippi Community College in 2006. More interesting -- both Rivals and ESPN had his name spelled at Glover Quinn with two "n's" in their bios.
  • Rashean Mathis (1998 or 1999): Mathis broke his leg his senior year at Englewood High School according to Jacksonville.com, costing him high Division I scholarships. He ended up at Bethune-Cookman. No recruiting information exists about him.
  • Chris Houston (2003): Rated as the No. 32 cornerback in his class and No. 66 player in Texas by Rivals.com. Signed with Arkansas.
  • Darius Slay (2009): Rated as the No. 109 safety and No. 76 player in Georgia in 2009. Signed with Mississippi State but went to Itawamba Community College before re-signing with Mississippi State in 2011, when he was unrated.
  • Don Carey (2005): Not rated as a safety by Rivals.com in his class. Signed with Norfolk State.
  • Bill Bentley (2008): Went from Pahokee, Fla. to Dodge City Community College. Didn't play there, but signed with Louisiana. Was not rated by ESPN.
  • Jonte Green (2007): Not rated out of high school by either service. Signed with Benedict College before transferring to New Mexico State.
  • Chris Greenwood (2007): Not rated out of high school. Went to Division II Northwood and then Division III Albion.
  • DeJon Gomes (2007): Not rated out of high school. Attended City College of San Francisco and then Nebraska in 2009. He was not rated then, either.
  • John Wendling (2002): Not rated as a running back out of high school by Rivals.com. Two-star recruit. Signed with Wyoming.
  • Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (2006): Not rated as a running back. Signed with Division II Indiana University of Pennsylvania and had an interesting recruiting story in Sports Illustrated.
Specialists:
A coach has been hired. A staff is being filled out. The Detroit Lions' offseason and planning for the 2014 season is officially here.

To start that process, we will look at each position group over the next two weeks, analyze what worked and what didn’t before projecting what could happen between now and training camp in 2014, which is only a mere seven or so months away.

Today the series continues with defensive ends.

Previous positions: Quarterbacks; Running backs; Wide receivers; Tight ends; Offensive tackles; Interior linemen.

2014 free agents: Willie Young, Israel Idonije

The good: Ziggy Ansah was drafted as somewhat of a question mark in the first round and turned into a better-than-expected surprise throughout the season. He led all rookies and the Lions in sacks with eight. Ansah also showed some strength against the run. Devin Taylor played well in spot duty, notching 2.5 sacks and forcing two fumbles in his rookie year. Young, a free agent, also had a good season. He was particularly strong against the run and had career highs in tackles (47) and fumble recoveries (2).

The bad: Jason Jones was brought in as a free agent to play opposite Ansah. He was lost for the season during the Washington game with a ruptured patellar tendon in his left knee, missing the final 13 games. Idonije came in, but didn’t do much. He had 11 tackles in 15 games, but provided a veteran presence to a mostly-young group. As a group, considering former Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham chose not to blitz often, they did not sack the quarterback enough.

The money (using 2014 cap numbers from Roster Management System): The Lions have three defensive ends under contract heading into this season. Ansah, last year's first-round pick, will have a cap number of $4,226,023. Jones is due $3,683,333 against the cap. Taylor is due $570,146 against the cap. Detroit will also likely sign or draft at least one other end.

What Jim Caldwell might favor: Caldwell was all over the place when it came to defensive ends, although he clearly preferred speed rushers on the outside with Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney -- both of whom were defensive ends under Caldwell before converting to outside linebackers. Ansah and Taylor, in some ways, can fit a similar mold.

Potential cuts: With only three players at the position, it would be pretty difficult to see the Lions cutting any of the ends they have under contract. With no defensive ends on the practice squad at the end of this past season, the likely only cuts would be players they bring in to camp.

Draft priority: Decent. Tough to see the Lions going after a defensive end early in the draft, but if there is someone they like in the mid-to-late rounds, they could pick another end up there. The Lions have had good success drafting ends in the mid-to-late rounds the past few years in Taylor and Young.

Numbers in this post were culled from ESPN Stats & Information and Roster Management System.
While the Detroit Lions are focusing on their coaching search, there are a number of Detroit players who don’t know if they will be returning to the Lions later this year.

Some of them are under contract, but many others are free agents. And while a new coaching staff will almost certainly dictate some, if not all, of these personnel decisions, here’s a quick look at Detroit’s free agents.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll go more in-depth on some of these potential decisions.

QB Shaun Hill (UFA): Hill said he would be open to a return, but with the Lions' cap space an issue -- as of now Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh are eating up $8 million or more each -- having an experienced backup like Hill might not be an option. Depending on who the new coach is, he could look to bring in a player familiar with his system. For example, if it is Ken Whisenhunt, Charlie Whitehurst is a free agent after the season.

RB Joique Bell (RFA): Bell broke out this season and has indicated he would like to return to Detroit, a place he considers home. It would be very surprising to see Bell anywhere but with the Lions next season.

WR Kris Durham (RFA): Durham doesn’t cost a lot of money and is a comfortable option for Stafford. Since Stafford will be enduring the first coaching change of his career, it makes sense to at least keep Durham, who had a more defined role this season, around.

WR Kevin Ogletree (UFA): Ogletree was signed in the middle of the season after Tampa Bay released him and played a nominal role for Detroit. In his most extensive playing time, he had five catches for 75 yards. He could be a question mark to return.

WR Micheal Spurlock (UFA): Spurlock was released once the Lions found Jeremy Ross as a capable returner and brought him back to handle special teams issues the last week of the season. It’d be very surprising to see him in Detroit next year.

TE Brandon Pettigrew (UFA): One of the more interesting cases for Detroit -- and something I’ll get into more later this week -- but he is a good multi-purpose tight end and his blocking is often overshadowed by his sometimes questionable hands in open spaces. He was a critical piece to Detroit’s rushing success this season and will be an interesting call for the Lions.

C Dominic Raiola (UFA): The veteran has spent his whole career in Detroit, had the best year of his career this past season and has indicated a strong desire to return. The Lions do not have an obvious option at center to replace Raiola, either.

OT Jason Fox (UFA): The emergence of LaAdrian Waddle as the right tackle of the future as well as having Corey Hilliard under contract likely makes Fox expendable, but his is a situation worth watching.

OG Dylan Gandy (UFA): Detroit is likely set at guard with Rob Sims and Larry Warford, but this decision could be based on who the next coach is (as, truthfully, almost all of them will be).

DE Willie Young (UFA): Already wrote a little bit about Young’s free agent situation, and there’s a chance he might not have a home in Detroit with the Lions committed contractually to Ziggy Ansah, Devin Taylor and Jason Jones at end already. Young will definitely test the free agent market to see what is out there.

DE Israel Idonije (UFA): Idonije provided a good veteran presence this season and had a low cap number for a veteran last season, but whomever the new coaching staff is will have to make a decision to pursue Idonije. He is coming off one of the least productive seasons of his career.

DT Andre Fluellen (UFA): He has had what feels like multiple stints with Detroit already and could be brought back for depth purposes. It might depend what Detroit’s new staff thinks of Jimmy Saddler-McQueen, who was on the practice squad all season. Suh, Nick Fairley and C.J. Mosley are already signed for next season here.

LB Rocky McIntosh (UFA): Another veteran who was brought in now is potentially in a logjam as the only Lions linebacker not under contract for next season. Considering there’s a thought Detroit might draft a linebacker or two in May, his time might be over with the Lions.

CB Rashean Mathis (UFA): He came in as a late signing in the middle of the preseason but emerged as a starter when healthy for Detroit this season and doubled as a mentor to Darius Slay. Mathis indicated to ESPN.com he would like to play one or two more seasons in the NFL. His status might depend on what the Lions do in the NFL draft and how confident the new staff feels in Chris Houston and Slay as corners next season.

S John Wendling (UFA): Primarily a special teams player, he made 14 special teams tackles and played one defensive snap this season.

S Don Carey (UFA): He could be an interesting decision, depending what he is asking for. He played in 14 games and had 19 defensive tackles this season along with 11 special teams tackles. He is more valued as a special teamer than as a safety or nickel back.

K David Akers (UFA): Akers made 19 of 24 field goals this season at 79.2 percent, 28th in the league. Considering the Lions signed John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio to futures deals, it would seem highly unlikely Akers returned to the Lions.

LS Don Muhlbach (UFA): Muhlbach is a good locker room guy and most teams need a long snapper, so there would be little reason to not have him return unless someone else on the Lions roster has shown that ability well. Muhlbach seemed to have a good comfort level with punter/holder Sam Martin.
After not practicing all week and being limited against the New York Giants, wide receiver Calvin Johnson is officially listed as questionable for Sunday's season finale against Minnesota.

Johnson and Detroit coach Jim Schwartz have both indicated it will be a group decision and conversation as to whether or not he plays Sunday.

The Lions will definitively be without two players on Sunday: Right tackle LaAdrian Waddle (ankle) and defensive end Israel Idonije (neck).

As an unrestricted free agent, this could be the end of Idonije's time with the Lions. He was placed on injured reserve Friday afternoon and the team called up defensive back Akwasi Owusu-Ansah to the 53-man roster, the second man they have called up from the team's practice squad this week.

Cornerbacks Bill Bentley (concussion) and Chris Houston (toe) are doubtful, which means Detroit's cornerbacks will likely be Rashean Mathis and either Darius Slay or Jonte Green. Green is officially listed as questionable with a shoulder injury and Slay is probable while recovering from a torn meniscus. Slay practiced fully Friday.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Calvin Johnson missed practice for the third straight day for the Detroit Lions, lending credence to the theory he won't play in Sunday's season finale against Minnesota.

He was one of seven Lions to miss the final practice of the season, joining linebacker DeAndre Levy, cornerbacks Jonte Green and Bill Bentley, safety Louis Delmas, defensive lineman Israel Idonije and offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle.

Offensive lineman Dylan Gandy returned to practice, as did cornerback Chris Houston and safety John Wendling.

Seven miss practice for the Lions

December, 26, 2013
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions were without four starters at practice Thursday, including star wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who continues to battle knee problems.

Also missing were cornerbacks Bill Bentley (concussion) and Chris Houston (toe/illness), offensive linemen Dylan Gandy (illness) and LaAdrian Waddle (ankle), safety John Wendling (ankle) and linebacker DeAndre Levy (foot).

Five players were limited in practice: running back Joique Bell (knee), cornerbacks Jonte Green (shoulder) and Darius Slay (knee), safety Louis Delmas (knee) and defensive end Israel Idonije (knee).

Green is the only new name on the injury report; he was spotted with a giant bag of ice on his shoulder following practice.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions practiced on Christmas Day with nine players out, including wide receiver Calvin Johnson (knee) and running back Joique Bell (knee).

Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said the Lions might not know about Johnson's availability for the season finale against the Minnesota Vikings until Sunday.

Joining them were cornerback Bill Bentley (concussion), tight end Dorin Dickerson (concussion), linebacker DeAndre Levy (foot), safeties John Wendling (ankle) and Louis Delmas (knee) and tackle LaAdrian Waddle (ankle).

Schwartz said neither Bentley nor Dickerson had been cleared from concussion protocol after both suffered them Sunday against New York. Bentley, though, has progressed more than Dickerson.

Cornerbacks Chris Houston (toe) and Darius Slay (knee), along with defensive end Israel Idonije (neck) were limited for the Lions. Cornerback Rashean Mathis, who had the flu last week, practiced in full.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- They know what they lost over the past two weeks of the season, what they could have been playing for this Sunday and what they instead have to look forward to.

This Christmas could have been about fighting for a playoff spot for the Detroit Lions. Could have been about playing for their first divisional title since the NFC North came into existence.

Instead, on Tuesday afternoon in a sparsely populated Lions locker room, there was just sadness. Frustration. The understanding of what could have been, and what actually is.

Ross
Burleson
Burleson
“It’s been a little down,” receiver Nate Burleson said. “Guys are trying to keep smiles on their faces, but it’s one of those situations where you try to laugh to keep from crying.

“It’s tough, you know. It was in our fingertips and it slowly slipped away from us. So it’s hard to deal with, but we’ve got to move on. We’ve got a game to play.”

A game with little meaning in the overarching future of the Lions. For some, Sunday could be critical as a last chance to impress scouts, coaches, or general manager Martin Mayhew, and secure a future with Detroit or perhaps in the NFL.

For others, it will just be about playing for pride and being able to play one more game. Because this is what Detroit’s season has whittled itself down to. Win or lose and then go home.

“Definitely not where we want to be,” returner Jeremy Ross said. “It would have been nice to make the playoffs and go on a playoff run and do those different types of things.

“Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and that’s always the goal. When you don’t meet that goal, obviously you don’t meet your goals. I think we had some ups and we had some downs. It was a pretty up-and-down season for us.”

Much like their head coach, though, they stayed away from the dreaded word of failure to describe their season. Rob Sims looked at the way the offensive line played -- and how they showed improvement throughout the season.

Ross discussed how one defines failure. Burleson clutched on to how close the Lions were to so many things.

But in the end, at 7-8 with not much to play for and the playoffs washed away, they know they can’t look at much as a success.

“Look at the record,” defensive end Israel Idonije said. “We don’t see it as a success. Going into the season, with the talent that we have, we wouldn’t have looked at where we are now as equal to where our talent is.”

In a season that included missed opportunity after missed opportunity, the fact that Green Bay and Chicago lost Sunday, meaning the Lions could have controlled their own fate after all of the miscues in the second half of the season, is probably what stings the most.

Just one more opportunity lost for these Detroit Lions.

“Yeah, it is frustrating,” Ross said. “It feels like everything has kind of been in our favor for a while.

“It’s disappointing that we weren’t able to make that happen.”
Both rookie defensive end Ziggy Ansah and running back Reggie Bush returned to practice for the Detroit Lions on Friday, but both ended up just going on a limited basis.

Still, that's a good sign for Detroit heading into its game Monday night against Baltimore.

Only two Lions, cornerbacks Chris Houston and Darius Slay, missed practice. Safety John Wendling, a special-teamer, practiced fully following his illness.

Ansah, Bush, Louis Delmas (knee), Calvin Johnson (knee), LaAdrian Waddle (elbow) and Israel Idonije (knee) were all limited on Friday.

Practice Report: No Houston or Slay

December, 13, 2013
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions were down two cornerbacks during Friday's practice.

Starter Chris Houston (toe) and reserve Darius Slay (knee) were both missing from practice, but showed up to watch on the sidelines.

Reggie Bush, Ziggy Ansah and Israel Idonije were all back practicing for Detroit on Friday.

If Houston and Slay cannot play Monday, the Lions could rely on Jonte Green or Bill Bentley at cornerback opposite Rashean Mathis.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush said he did not practice for precautionary reasons Thursday, but plans on working out with the team this week before Monday night's game against Baltimore.

Like Bush, safety Louis Delmas (knee) was likely out Thursday as a precaution with his typical practice plan during the season.

The only real new injury on the list was Chris Houston, who now has a toe injury after dealing with a foot injury the past few weeks. Also not at practice were Ziggy Ansah (shoulder), Israel Idonije (knee), Darius Slay (knee) and safety John Wendling, who was ill.

Calvin Johnson and LaAdrian Waddle were both limited at practice Thursday, but should be fine for Monday.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Six Detroit Lions did not participate in practice Thursday, including starting running back Reggie Bush and starting cornerback Chris Houston.

Bush, though, said Wednesday he plans on playing Monday night against Baltimore.

Also not practicing Thursday were safety Louis Delmas, defensive end Ziggy Ansah, cornerback Darius Slay and defensive end Israel Idonije.

Patrick Edwards, who is on the Lions practice squad, also did not participate.

In good news for Detroit, right tackle LaAdrian Waddle, who injured his elbow against Philadelphia, returned to practice and worked with the first team on offense.

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