NFC North at night

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
A few links for you after Detroit's first day of mandatory minicamp under new coach Jim Schwartz:

  • Quarterback Daunte Culpepper had "pep in his step" and "zip on the ball," reports Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press. Culpepper clearly outperformed fellow veterans Drew Stanton and Drew Henson. Cotsonika also reports that Jeff Backus, whom the Lions might move to left guard, practiced only at left tackle.

  • The Lions don't really have a middle linebacker yet, and David Birkett of the Oakland Press noted that 2008 starter Paris Lenon still has a locker even though he is a free agent and ineligible to practice. Most of the Lions' other unsigned free agents do not have lockers, an indication the Lions could bring Lenon back in some capacity.

  • Schwartz said the goal for Friday was to "try not to get anybody killed ... because everybody wants to prove themselves." Here's a link to the full transcript of his media availability.

  • Culpepper said he is in his best shape since the 2004 season, when he finished second in voting for the MVP while playing in Minnesota. Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan held the same job with the Vikings at the time, and Culpepper said: "Being with someone you've been around and looking at their offense and their schemes -- to me, it's like my planets are kind of getting aligned. It just makes sense to me. I think we can do some great things. But like I said, I almost feel like even though I know him, it's not like I can kind of relax or anything. I feel like it's just all about me re-showing who I am and what I can do."