Detroit Lions: Jim Caldwell
The sixth-year Detroit Lions quarterback is the same as he was physically. It is everywhere else, possibly, where the former No. 1 pick has changed.
It was that engagement on the field that caught new coach Jim Caldwell's attention almost immediately.
"He left this spring with I think a real solid understanding of what we're doing from an offensive standpoint," Caldwell said. "He came back this fall further ahead than when he left. That tells me that he studied.
"That he obviously dedicated himself to getting better and he's moving at a pretty rapid pace in terms of doing a lot of the nuances that come along with operating this particular offense."
It is this offense that gave some of the Lions some issues early on, from the longer terminology insisted upon by new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi to the change in routes run from certain positions and how many yards a certain route is supposed to be run.
Add in a new receiver -- Golden Tate -- and a first-round rookie tight end in Eric Ebron and there are timing issues to secure as well.
Stafford has apparently handled it all comfortably both in practice -- where he had an interception-less streak lasting almost two weeks -- and in his first real action, where he was 9 of 10 passing with his lone incompletion dropped by Reggie Bush.
"For me, the biggest challenge this offseason was trying to get the mastery of the playbook, the new system we have coming in," Stafford said. "So that's what I spent most of my time and effort on and with that comes new drops and new reads and things like that.
"I don't know if there's one thing that stands out to me. Just being an overall better player."
That had to happen, though, because Stafford realized from the day he stepped into the Lions facility in 2009 as the No. 1 overall pick the franchise would largely succeed or fail based on his play.
He looked at the commonalities among playoff teams and one of the things he noticed was the proficiency of the quarterbacks who made runs to conference championship games and Super Bowls. He understood he would have to attain a certain level in order to provide that for the Lions.
He said Tuesday he has always held himself to similar standards -- and his measure of that is the points the Lions score and how few turnovers he ends up responsible for. Those were numbers Detroit -- and Stafford -- struggled with in the latter half of 2013, when Stafford threw 13 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and had the No. 31 passer rating in the NFL over his final eight games.
His interpretation of high level -- something he clearly didn't achieve last season -- remains constant.
"It's tough to put numbers on it," Stafford said. "You just want to go out there and make good throws, make good decisions, limit turnovers, make sure we're in the right play every time if you can and with the team, that's the biggest thing."
If he does that, then he should have a season closer to 2011, when he was considered one of the brighter young quarterbacks in the NFL. Stafford may still be young from an age standpoint at 26, but he is also entering the prime of his career.
Six seasons in and the Lions shouldn't see the same movie from Stafford as they did last season. After the supposed improvements his new coaches made, they should see a sleeker, sharper version. The early results have indicated this as well.
"He's worked at it extremely hard," Caldwell said. "Often times you'll find guys will look for an excuse why they weren't as effective in certain phases. Hey we got a new system, it's real tough, learning curve is a little difficult. He's made none of those.
"He came out, he's worked, he's functioned and he's gotten better as a result of that and I look forward to him just keep improving."
For the first time this preseason, punter Sam Martin will likely handle some of the kickoff duties as he competes to hold on to that job along with his already-secure status as the team’s punter. Lions coach Jim Caldwell said Tuesday he has liked how both field goal kicking candidates – Giorgio Tavecchio and Nate Freese – have handled that spot as well.
The bigger wrinkle is how he’s going to handle Tavecchio and Freese during the game. In the first two games, Freese has been the kicker for the first half and Tavecchio the second half. Now, he is going to a rotational system for Friday’s game against Jacksonville.
One player will take one kick. The next player will take the next kick and so on and so forth.
“It’s one that, there’s some fairness there so it gives both guys an opportunity to kick in a portion of the game that’s similar,” Caldwell said. “We just think we can do a little bit better job evaluating if we do it that way.”
Tavecchio, through practices and games has appeared to be the more consistent kicker than Freese, but Freese also hit a 55-yard field goal against Oakland on Friday, an opportunity Tavecchio has not been given.
When asked if the kicking decision will be made by the deadline for the first round of cuts on Tuesday, Caldwell was non-committal.
“It’s day by day, it really is,” Caldwell said. “It’s hard. Those guys have been kicking well in practice and besides one or two here that they might have missed, the competition has been good.
“Good for both, but it’s been difficult for us to sort out.”
Whichever kicker ends up being kept on the 53-man roster, it'll be his first time kicking for a NFL team in the regular season. And thus far, it has been somewhat equal. Tavecchio has been more consistent on a day-to-day basis, but hasn't received the game opportunities Freese has.
Freese, meanwhile, missed an extra point Friday but made a 55-yard field goal against the Oakland Raiders, so he showed he could make a long kick in a game. Games versus practice, Lions coach Jim Caldwell said, won't have different weights.
"There's no percentage associated with it," Caldwell said. "It's all taken into account. It really is. You just don't have enough time, particularly at their particular spot. You don't get into situations where they kick an inordinate amount in a ball game, the two of them, to make a difference. You can't orchestrate that, necessarily.
"But in practice time we try to do different things to try and give them an opportunity to compete against one another. So we try to take every single thing into account."
Something that could have been a key was who was working with starting holder Sam Martin, but Caldwell said Saturday that it was decided early on the two holders -- Martin and Drew Butler -- would stay with one kicker throughout camp. This meant Freese, who entered camp as the front runner, was with Martin and Tavecchio with Butler.
All along, Caldwell said results and not draft status would be the major determining factor, so it'll be interesting to see what happens whenever the Lions make a decision, be it this week or when final cuts are due following the preseason finale.
And now, a look at Lions news from around the Interwebs:
- George Winn rushing to make the Lions roster. Lions practice report. Nick Fairley? Officially part of the second team. Calvin Johnson should make his debut Friday. The latest Lions projected roster. A look at offensive players versus Oakland. A look at defensive players versus Oakland. Reggie Bush ranked the 98th best offensive player.
- The Lions have depth at wide receiver now, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
- Jim Caldwell values his leaders, writes Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News.
- Chris Greenwood trying to turn cornerback potential into production and a roster spot, writes Justin Rogers of MLive.
- The New York Giants, who play the Lions in the season opener, are having some offensive issues, writes colleague Dan Graziano.
See, the way Winn runs and how his helmet was attached to his head was not conducive to it staying on. So he’d lose his helmet a lot -- enough that the Bearcats had to insert screws instead of snaps to make sure the thing stayed on.
It is an aftereffect of Winn’s style: aggressive. Explosive. Downhill. See a hole, run at the hole. There’s not much crafty with Winn’s running form, just pure power rolling at defenders 215 pounds at a time. And the helmet has taken a brunt of the damage.
“I hadn’t actually cracked [a helmet],” Winn said Monday. “I’ve torn the decals all the way off my helmet before, but I haven’t cracked one before.”
He recalled one particular Bearcats game where afterward, half of the ‘C’ on the helmet had disappeared. This running style has been one of the more noticeable things during Detroit Lions training camp thus far, from running over Jerome Couplin in practice one day to flattening another defender on another day.
It’s a style that carried over to games as well, as he flipped over during the preseason opener against Cleveland and then was hit in mid-air against Oakland. It’s a style leading to 321 carries in college for 1,710 yards and 13 touchdowns. It’s a style also earning him a multitude of nicknames from his time at University of Detroit Jesuit High School to Cincinnati and now with the Lions.
There’s Hammerhead and Dump truck and Ox and Winn Train, all fairly accurate descriptions of the way he has run the ball. As far as a favorite? He doesn’t have one.
“I just like to be here,” Winn said. “So whatever you want to call me.”
If he continues to play as he has, he might be called a member of the Detroit Lions for longer than just training camp. Winn has been one of the more aggressive movers up the depth chart through the first half of the preseason as he battles Mikel Leshoure for a spot on the 53-man roster or, in Winn’s case, a spot on the Lions’ practice squad.
Detroit’s coaches have noticed, too. He saw time with the second-team offense against Oakland and more importantly for his roster chances, was on the first unit on both kick coverage and kick return. On kick coverage, where he sounded a little frustrated with his play Monday, he made two tackles and was often the first player down the field.
“We put him on special teams so we could see how he would function within that realm,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “Because at that particular position and because of where you line up as a running back and where you are on the depth chart, that you’re going to have to make strong contributions in the special-teams area in order to be a guy that will have an opportunity to hang around and make this team.
“That’s one of the reasons why we put him in this position, to see how he would do and how he would react and he performed well.”
Caldwell cautioned the same thing he has about a lot of his players throughout camp – especially ones in legitimate roster competitions. One game won’t be a massive indicator of making a team. Neither will two.
But so far, other than a fumble against Cleveland, Winn has played well enough to at least earn significant consideration two weeks from now when Detroit’s coaches have to make final roster decisions.
And considering his career to date – six teams in one season – that’s about all he can hope for, to use his running style to make him extremely difficult to cut.
- The Lions continue to be particularly healthy so far in the preseason. TJ Jones continues to sit out on the active physically unable to perform list. Joining him in not participating in practice was safety DeJon Gomes, who suffered a neck injury Friday night against Oakland when his head hit the helmet of an Oakland tight end.
- How quick does this business churn? The Lions cut linebacker Justin Jackson, who wore No. 44, on Saturday and signed linebacker Shamari Benton. Benton's number with Detroit? No. 44 -- although there was no nameplate sewn on the back yet.
- Detroit was in full pads on Monday -- a practice that is more of a typical Wednesday practice during the regular season.
- As for Nick Fairley, who Jim Caldwell said was going to be with the second team, he was doing individual drills with the defensive linemen. Ndamukong Suh worked with C.J. Mosley and Fairley lined up with rookie Caraun Reid, who also received a lot of second team work Friday against the Raiders.
- The Lions practice again Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET in what would simulate a Thursday, theoretically, during the regular season. A reminder now that the regular-season type practices have started, access rules are much shorter when it comes to the amount of practice the media can view.
Some of those choices will be quite hard and some are taking shape. Let's address some of that in this week's Lions Mailbag.
Remember, to ask questions for the Mailbag, use the hashtag #LionsMailbag on Twitter or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now, on to your questions.
@mikerothstein: It is my belief that, yes, Kevin Ogletree is making this roster and could have a fairly big role. He's been running with the first team all of camp and has been a standout in practice. The only pass I remember him really dropping in camp was the one against Cleveland. He had a reception on Friday night against Oakland as well. Receiver is going to be a really interesting question for the Lions because Ogletree, Kris Durham, Ryan Broyles and Corey Fuller are all making strong cases to join Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and Jeremy Ross on the roster. Likely, one or two of these players won't make the team and right now I'd put that person as Fuller, who would be a practice squad candidate again if he cleared waivers.
@mikerothstein: Yep, that's correct, although the preseason is still going strong. Detroit had its last open to the public practice Wednesday and will now revert to more of a regular-season mode the rest of the preseason, as many other teams around the league are doing. It probably feels shorter for you because Detroit was the last team to start practicing this summer.
Everyone was high on ken whisenhunt. How does he compare to Jim Caldwell now that they both have had time with their teams? #LionsMailbag— Franco (@vectorious) August 14, 2014
@mikerothstein: Tough to say because we don't know how Ken Whisenhunt would have shaped this roster and handled this team. I would say that I don't know if the Lions draft Eric Ebron if Whisenhunt is the coach, just because of the style of offense. Caldwell has done a good job with this team thus far as the players have clearly bought into his approach. This will be addressed more below, but how he is handling the Nick Fairley situation won't go unnoticed by players, who see everyone gets a fair shake.
@mikerothstein: At this point, the team appears fairly serious about the entire Nick Fairley ordeal. C.J. Mosley started Friday night and played well in Fairley's place. Meanwhile, Fairley did not play quite well. He really seemed like he was pushed off the ball a lot, which shouldn't happen with his size and skill level. He's going to be part of the defensive line rotation because even when he is on the downside of his inconsistent play, his talent is undeniable. But if he doesn't pick up his practice or game play soon, he could definitely start the season on the bench behind Mosley and Ndamukong Suh.
@mikerothstein: It really does. The Lions used that as a motivational tactic to try and get him to be at his best and for a few months, it appeared to work. But that has clearly gone away again, once again leaving the Lions with an inconsistent but very talented defensive tackle. I was quite critical of Martin Mayhew when he declined the option on Fairley and I'm starting to come around to say that I was wrong in my assessment of that. Mayhew's sense might have been right on there. Of course, that also leads to the Aaron Donald question and, yeah, the Lions might regret not drafting him, especially if Ndamukong Suh isn't here in 2015. The work ethic of Donald and Suh combined would have been a positive for Detroit's defense.
- The Lions ended their camp Saturday afternoon with a practice that lasted a little less than one hour with no pads at all and a lot of players in baseball caps catching passes -- including specialists Sam Martin and Don Muhlbach. Why would Lions coach Jim Caldwell bring the players out there less than 12 hours after they returned from a West Coast trip to Oakland?
“The practice was kind of to break a sweat and often times guys find out they have an injury that they didn’t know about,” Caldwell said. “So we run them a little bit, loosen it up a little and go through our corrections and get them off the field to get them some rest tomorrow and get back at it at Monday.”
- Once Monday hits, the Lions will go into their regular practice mode, which also means practices are also no longer fully open to reporters. He also did this Saturday practice to give players an idea of how days go with evaluation and film.
- The biggest topic again was defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who seemed more jovial Saturday than he was at any point last week. That’s probably a good sign for him and Caldwell indicated he felt he had improved during Friday night’s game against Oakland.
- Detroit did have a transaction Saturday, signing linebacker Shamari Benton out of Central Michigan and releasing linebacker Justin Jackson from Wake Forest. Benton had 111 tackles, including 10.5 tackles for loss, last season for the Chippewas. He also had four sacks and an interception. He apparently trained at a gym in suburban Detroit co-owned by Tony Scheffler and Ndamukong Suh. He was so new, the Lions didn't even have a jersey for him at practice Saturday.
- Caldwell also appeared to be pleased with backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky, saying he “demonstrated that [Friday] night, but we still have two more games to go.” Orlovsky was markedly better than he was in the preseason opener, when he was outplayed by No. 3 quarterback Kellen Moore. He appeared to regain his hold on the backup spot with his performance Friday night. Part of the backup quarterback’s job, Caldwell said, is to be a collaborator with starting quarterback Matthew Stafford, quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.
- Asked three of the Lions players who attended Notre Dame (there are five in all as Alex Bullard and Joseph Fauria started at the school and transferred to Tennessee and UCLA, respectively) about the academic investigation at their alma mater. TJ Jones said he knew little about it and wanted to hear more details. Theo Riddick declined to comment, but said he would speak with Notre Dame if the school reached out. Golden Tate, who did not play under current coach Brian Kelly, declined to comment.
After watching the game on film, he felt Fairley played better -- although he wouldn’t say better than what or when.
“It’s got to be a habit for all of our guys. Everybody operates at a standard that we think is a championship level standard and that’s what we’re looking for in every phase.”
Fairley had one tackle against the Raiders working with both the first and second teams behind C.J. Mosley. Caldwell said any evaluation of Fairley will go beyond just his work on the field either in games or in practice.
It will encompass everything -- something he hinted at earlier this week when he said Fairley is trying to find a comfortable weight. What that weight is remains unknown, and Fairley again declined to talk with the media on Saturday, offering his typical “not today.”
“When we are evaluating, we look at everything,” Caldwell said. “Things on the field, off the field, meeting rooms, weight room, those are all part of obviously getting yourself in the best possible position to play and play well. So yes, we do look at every single thing.”
“I’m not going to comment on his performance tonight because I have to look at the film and see, “Caldwell told reporters after a 27-26 loss to the Raiders. “Where he plays down in the trenches is very difficult to tell exactly. The reason why is because of the fact that we thought C.J. [Mosley]was playing better.
“We put C.J. in place and we’ll see how Nick played and make another comparison and see where we go next week, but that was the reason why.”
Mosley responded well. He had three tackles, more than any other defensive lineman, and he plugged the middle of the defensive line well along with Ndamukong Suh.
Meanwhile, Fairley ended up being pushed off the ball often during his time against the Raiders facing mostly their first unit.
As for the future, it is unclear how the Lions will proceed from here out as Detroit preps for Jacksonville next Friday. One thing is certain, though: Fairley won’t get any special treatment.
“There’s a certain standard that we’re looking for,” Caldwell said, “and everybody’s got to measure up and him included.”
1. Nick Fairley's status: The fourth-year defensive tackle has turned into the major storyline of Lions’ camp in the past week after a lackluster opening game against Cleveland and then an apparent demotion to the second-team defense during practice this week. There are a lot of concerns surrounding Fairley, who has had issues with his weight during his time with the Lions. After showing up in the spring and in training camp in good shape and at a good playing weight, Detroit coach Jim Caldwell said he is again trying to find a comfortable playing weight. That can’t be a good sign for Fairley, who has an immense amount of potential but has been inconsistent throughout his career. That inconsistency led Detroit to decline his fifth-year option this offseason, making this a contract year. Watching where he lines up and how many snaps he plays Friday will be interesting.
2. Will Calvin Johnson play at all? At some point this preseason, the star wide receiver will take some preseason snaps with Matthew Stafford and the first unit. The question is whether it is this week in Oakland or next week against Jacksonville at home. Johnson shouldn’t need much work in the preseason as he has looked exceedingly sharp during training camp, making difficult catches with ease. There’s always a question of putting him out there and risking injury, but Caldwell made it sound like everyone will play a little bit during the preseason, so this might be the week Johnson makes a cameo.
3. Can George Winn and others make roster pushes? There are a few players who have played well enough to at least be considered surprises for roster spots after the first few weeks of camp. Winn, who has displayed a lot of power running during practices and the preseason opener, would be one. Jerome Couplin, the undrafted free-agent safety, has also been receiving a longer look during practices and lined up with the second unit this week. Same with veteran safety Isa Abdul-Quddus, who had a good preseason opener. Abdul-Quddus was always on the roster bubble, but Winn and Couplin have made up significant room and at this point should be at worst heavy practice-squad candidates. In addition to those three, the Lions would likely want to see receiver Ryan Broyles have a second straight consistent game as he continues to come back from an Achilles injury. There’s also the backup quarterback situation. While Dan Orlovsky still has a hold on the No. 2 position, another strong performance from No. 3 Kellen Moore could push this into somewhat of a competition.
Ansah won't play Friday night at Oakland as he continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery and has yet to be fully cleared to participate in every portion of practice. When Ansah is ready to return, he'll slide right into the defensive end slot currently occupied by Devin Taylor, who will move over to compete for the other defensive end position.
That'll happen, in part, because of what Caldwell expects out of last season's first-round pick.
"He’s out there doing everything but the heavy contact stuff right now, so it won’t be long," Caldwell said. "He’s progressing, (and he’s a) big, strong man, he’s going to help us. He's either going to collapse the pocket with his size and strength or he’ll run around the offensive player and use his length to be an obstruction to the passer, and he’ll get some sacks for us, as well.
"He's a force."
One of the bigger issues for Ansah as he returns is he is learning the defense while his teammates are working on trying to refine what they already picked up during the spring and beginning of camp. For that reason, it would not be surprising to see Ansah participate more than normal in the final two preseason games against Jacksonville and at Buffalo.
Until then, Ansah will continue to play catch up to the rest of his teammates.
And now, a look at Lions news from around the Interwebs:
- Looking at Day 14 of Lions training camp. Calvin Johnson will wear a fabricated splint on his finger this season. The Lions' kickers faced an interesting challenge Wednesday in practice. Dan Orlovsky will be OK as a backup quarterback.
- This week's Question of the Week: Who makes Lions players laugh?
- Rob Sims wants to stay with the Lions after this season, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
- Ansah looks like he hasn't missed anything, writes Josh Katzenstein and Rod Beard of the Detroit News.
- TJ Jones remains on the physically unable to perform list as he has nerve pain in his arm, writes Kyle Meinke of MLive.
- Nick Fairley Watch – Day 3: The defensive tackle remained with the second unit throughout practice Wednesday, potentially signifying he won’t be used as a starter Friday night in Oakland. C.J. Mosley again ran with the first group and continued to play well alongside usual starter Ndamukong Suh. There were also points – much as in previous days – when Jason Jones moved from end inside to tackle with the first group. Still don’t expect things to stay this way permanently – Fairley is too talented to not be a starter at some point – but there is absolutely a message being sent here with each day Fairley doesn’t line up with the starters. He also, as he has done Monday and Tuesday, declined to talk with the media after practice to discuss the situation. Meanwhile, Mosley continues to go about his business every day during practice.
- The other defensive lineman of note, Ezekiel Ansah, practiced again Wednesday but remains limited as he works his way into the rotation. At this point, Ansah is participating in everything other than team and heavy-contact portions of practice, but that should be expected. “His progression is going to be gradual. It’s not like you come off [the physically unable to perform list] and go right to work and get banged around in here,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “This game is a bit too strenuous for that. We’re going to bring him along and make certain he gets enough work, and as soon as doctors say he is able to go full-speed, all-out, we’re going to turn him loose.”
- Another interesting caveat of the past two days has been at safety. James Ihedigbo and Glover Quin are running with the starters, but behind them, the pairing of Jerome Couplin and Isa Abdul-Quddus has been playing consistently with the No. 2 group, and Don Carey and DeJon Gomes have been with the No. 3 unit. More than likely, this is to give Couplin and Abdul-Quddus, both of whom were brought in during the offseason, a longer look as cut days start to loom. Abdul-Quddus played more snaps than any other defensive player Saturday night and had an interception. Couplin has been among the more impressive undrafted rookie free agents and has already gained the reputation as a player who can hit. He has rebounded well since being flattened by George Winn in practice a little under a week ago.
- Speaking of Winn, if you’re looking for a complete surprise to make the roster, he is gaining some steam to do it. He briefly saw time as a blocker on what appeared to be the first-team kick return unit Wednesday and continues to run at a strong, hard pace. Other than his fumble against the Browns on Saturday, he has had a real strong camp and while he still has a lot of players to pass, he is at least giving himself a shot.
- The most interesting hit of the day came during a team period, when safety James Ihedigbo stepped up on a route over the middle and broke up a pass intended for Kris Durham, timing the hit perfectly and sending Durham to the ground. Ihedigbo has been one of the harder hitters during camp and that is part of why the Lions brought him in to replace Louis Delmas in the offseason.
- Lions vice chairman Bill Ford Jr. was at practice Wednesday. The team ownership, between Bill Ford Jr. and his mother, Martha Ford, have been at practice often during camp but have not spoken publicly with the media yet.
- Caldwell took the ALS challenge laid down for him by Golden Tate after practice Wednesday. The video lives here.
- The Lions are off Thursday to travel to Oakland, where they play the Raiders on Friday night. The Lions next practice Saturday in Allen Park, Michigan. It will be a closed practice.
And yet, that was the point Wednesday afternoon when Lions coach Jim Caldwell wanted his other players to do this to try and distract kicking candidates Nate Freese and Giorgio Tavecchio. This, after all, is what the kickers will face during road games this fall, so why not try to see what they can handle in a simulated situation during training camp?
"To have a competition, a little pressure, something a little different, out of the ordinary," Caldwell said. "We went a little overboard to make sure he can focus. At the end, there are some long, long field goals now."
When Tavecchio was asked the name of the drill, he didn't know, so he called it what it appeared to be: "Chaos."
The pressure combined with the distance led both Freese and Tavecchio to have less-than-perfect days during that situation. Tavecchio went 3 of 5 during the period, hitting from 36, 45 and 54 yards while missing from 62 and 67. Freese, meanwhile, went 2 of 5, connecting from 45 and 54 yards and missing from the other three distances.
"They were pretty far field goals," Freese said. "So I try to play the wind a little bit and sometimes it's a little difficult."
Freese said during the period, he didn't hear exactly what players were saying to him or if they were making faces at him. Other than Wednesday, Freese has calmed down considerably since the beginning of camp, when he struggled to make field goals almost daily.
He made both of his attempts during Saturday night's preseason opener against Cleveland and has consistently remained with the first group throughout camp. Part of the newfound consistency comes from having more familiarity with his holder, Sam Martin, and snapper, Don Muhlbach.
"We've been getting in a good rhythm, getting our times down," Freese said. "Getting our op[erational] times down and good."
There will eventually be a decision made between Freese and Tavecchio -- and as long as Freese is working with the first unit consistently, that is probably a good sign for him -- but until then, Caldwell said he is going to find different ways to challenge them.
Wednesday, by having the rest of the team involved, was just one of them.
"We all have the same goal in mind and they enjoy getting into it because they understand what we're trying to get accomplished," Caldwell said. "They know the result of that and whoever is going to come out of the competition is going to help us win, so I think all of that helps you."
He stood there waiting, knowing what was coming. The splash over his head and on his back, ice water dumped all on him to help promote awareness for ALS. This started because he was one of the latest celebrities nominated to take the challenge by his college roommate, former Notre Dame golfer Dustin Zhang.
Tate, who was involved with charity work during his time in Seattle, obviously accepted, leading to his dousing and then posted it to his Instagram account.
"It's a great way to raise awareness," Tate said. "It's something that gets everyone interacting into it. If you choose not to accept for whatever reason, we expect you to donate some money for research.
"It's a way for the world to get involved and I think it's kind of cool. Something different."
Tate said the freezing water was initially shocking, but then refreshing after practice. And Tate is not the first Lions player to do this as Kevin Ogletree and Reggie Bush took a variation of the challenge by leaping into the team's cold tub earlier in the day.
As is the pass-it-on tradition of this challenge, Tate dropped the challenge to some new people: Lions coach Jim Caldwell, Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, Seattle wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and Elise Pollard. As the challenge goes, they have 24 hours to complete the task or donate money.
And Tate is hoping Caldwell takes the challenge and then nominates general manager Martin Mayhew, team president Tom Lewand and even members of the Lions press corps.
And now, a look at Lions news from around the Interwebs:
- Wrapping up the latest day of Lions practice. Ezekiel Ansah returns from the PUP list and practices for the first time this season. The waiting is almost over for receiver Ryan Broyles. Joseph Fauria is improving in season No. 2. Vegas has some odds onMatthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and the Lions. Detroit Lions Camp Confidential.
- Dan Orlovsky still has supporters, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
- The Lions are counting on Brandon Pettigrew to lead the tight ends, writes Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News.
- George Winn is focused on ball security, writes Justin Rogers in MLive.
- A couple days old, but Robert Klemko of The MMQB stopped by Lions practice and offered his observations.
- Just a gorgeous piece of writing by Russell Brand -- yes, that Russell Brand -- in the Guardian about Robin Williams.
- The news of the day arrived before practice, when defensive end Ezekiel Ansah was pulled off the PUP list and returned to practice on a limited basis Tuesday evening. He didn’t fully participate and was not expected to, but he looked fairly strong during individual drills, pushing the sled with some gusto. He appeared happy to be back as well, and he’ll be eased into this since the Lions have a few weeks before their first regular-season game against the New York Giants. He’ll likely get some work during a preseason game, but it won’t be Friday as he’s already been ruled out. Right guard Larry Warford, who missed practice Monday, also returned Tuesday.
- The other major defensive line storyline revolved around defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who played with the second unit for the second consecutive practice. Ndamukong Suh and C.J. Mosley took the first-team reps at tackle throughout the practice, including during 11-on-11 periods. When Mosley wasn’t in, Jason Jones moved inside to take some reps at tackle. Fairley worked with Andre Fluellen and Jimmy Saddler-McQueen on the second unit a bunch Tuesday night and didn’t look all that impressive. In one-on-one drills with offensive linemen, he was blocked well once by Rodney Austin, but Fairley annihilated Austin the next time the two faced each other.
- Mosley, meanwhile, looked good with the first unit. He plugged the middle of the line well and didn’t lose any rushers when they came near him. In all, the first-team defensive line had another really strong performance against the first-team offensive line. Suh continues to look like his dominant self and Devin Taylor is getting better coming off the edge. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Ansah returns to full strength and Taylor is truly competing with Jones for the closed end starting spot.
- Continuing with the defensive line theme here, Larry Webster had the hit of the practice, running right through Michael Williams to end the one-on-one drills. Webster said after that he just “worked one of my moves, converted speed to power.” It was enough to completely flatten Williams, who is transitioning from tight end to offensive tackle during this camp.
- The night practice was Jim Caldwell’s idea as part of trying to prepare his players for all situations, including potential night games like the one Detroit will play Friday at Oakland. He also did it because there is always the possibility the team could end up having a flexed game at some point during the season.
“It’s very, very important to get your team as many opportunities as you can to get ready for challenges that they may face and this is the time to do it, during training camp,” Caldwell said. “We don’t have the luxury during the regular season, we usually practice at a set time and typically not at night, so this is a time where you can adjust your schedule, move it around quite a bit. It’s not the normal routine, so it makes them adjust. I like the fact that they have to adjust.”
- More on this Wednesday morning, but Golden Tate participated in the ALS ice bucket challenge after practice. He also said the Lions offense received Shinola watches for beating the defense in a team bowling competition Monday night, but didn’t know who footed the bill for it.
- The Lions return to practice Wednesday at 2 p.m., the final practice open to the public this season.