NFC North: Chris White

Detroit Lions cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
6:28
PM ET
Most significant move: There were no surprises for the Detroit Lions and, really, there were few big decisions. We noted earlier that the team decided to preserve a roster spot for No. 3 quarterback Kellen Moore, so the most significant move they did make was placing rookie tight end Michael Williams on injured reserve. The Lions had substantial plans for Williams this season as the third tight end in the jumbo package that lineman Riley Reiff filled last season. They also hoped to develop his receiving skills as veterans Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler enter contract years. Williams had surgery last week to repair a hand injury, and though coach Jim Schwartz said the team had no long-term injuries, Williams is in fact lost for the season. (NFL teams can't start placing players on short-term injured reserve until next week.) As a result, rookie Joseph Fauria -- a much better receiver but less of a blocker than Williams -- is on the 53-man roster with Pettigrew and Scheffler.

The dominoes: The Lions apparently chose veteran Michael Spurlock as their kick returner, necessitating the release of rookie Steven Miller, who could return on the practice squad. Spurlock is also a receiver, and for the now he is one of six on the roster, presumably because of Ryan Broyles' sore knees. The release of veteran Matt Willis means Kris Durham is the sixth receiver. You wonder if the Lions would change directions soon in that regard. The Lions sifted through their big group of veteran defensive backups by tapping Rashean Mathis as a swing cornerback/safety and Rocky McIntosh as a backup linebacker while releasing the rest. John Wendling and Don Carey are the backup safeties for now.

What's next: According to multiple reports, the Lions will place running back Montell Owens on short-term injured reserve. That can't happen until next week, so for now he is part of the 53-man roster. He must miss at least six weeks of the regular season. You would think the Lions will bring back a number of the players they cut Saturday for their practice squad, and it's worth remembering that they are No. 5 in priority for NFL waiver claims. Sunday could be a busy day.

List of players cut: WR: Corey Fuller, Matt Willis. RB: Steven Miller, Shaun Chapas. OL: Rodney Austin, Kevin Haslam, Darren Keyton, Jake Scott. DL: Andre Fluellen, Ogemdi Nwagbuo, Xavier Proctor, Jimmy Sadler-McQueen. LB: Brandon Hepburn, Jon Morgan (waived/injured) Chris White. CB: Ron Bartell, Chris Greenwood. S: Amari Spievey, Tyrell Johnson, Martavius Neloms (waived/injured) P: Blake Clingan.

Morning Roar: Jason Fox ascends

August, 27, 2013
8/27/13
8:05
AM ET
Good morning and ROARRRRRRRR!

Is Jason Fox on the verge of winning the Detroit Lions' right tackle job? We discussed the possibility Monday, and Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press implied as much, writing that "Fox has quietly drawn praise for his play while competing with Corey Hilliard at tackle."

If you handicapped this race based on pedigree, Fox was always the favorite. He was a fourth-round draft pick in 2010 and was mentioned early and often by Lions officials this offseason after Gosder Cherilus departed via free agency. He has appeared in only one regular-season game over the past two seasons, but these are the types of roles you hope your mid-round draft picks can eventually develop into.

Continuing our new morning tour around Lions news as my new colleagues handle the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings:
  • Lions running back Mikel Leshoure does not appear upset about his status on the depth chart, which seems to be behind Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. More from Kyle Meinke of Mlive.com.
  • Leshoure, via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News: "My role is whatever they say it is. I don't have any suggestions. Whatever it is, I will roll with it."
  • Lions safety Lions Delmas is looking to over-communicate in the secondary, writes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
  • New linebacker Chris White will have a chance to be a key special teams contributor, notes McCoksy.
  • Lions tight end Michael Williams will be sidelined a few weeks by his broken hand, his agent told Meinke.
Along with the rest of the NFL, the Detroit Lions must reduce their roster to 75 players by Tuesday. They'll play their preseason finale Thursday at the Buffalo Bills and then cut their roster again to 53 players by Saturday. On the cusp of a busy week, both in the NFL and here on ESPN.com, let's review some of the biggest personnel issues the Lions have been working through this summer:

Right tackle/right guard
Seifert comment: Jason Fox started at right tackle and rookie Larry Warford at right guard in the presumably pivotal third preseason game, and that's the combination many of us thought would ultimately emerge from this competition. But the Lions haven't announced any winners, and coach Jim Schwartz said: "We have a lot of different options and a lot of guys that can potentially get the job done."

No. 2 receiver
Seifert comment: As we noted over the weekend, the Lions reportedly are making calls to see if they can upgrade here. That's understandable. Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles are both working in the slot position. Patrick Edwards hasn't done much in the preseason after being given a nice opportunity to earn the role. Journeyman Matt Willis has been more productive. Chaz Schilens and Mike Thomas have already been released.

Strong-side linebacker
Seifert comment: The Lions started off veteran Ashlee Palmer in this role and he has not relinquished it. Second-year players Tahir Whitehead and Travis Lewis have not mounted a serious challenge, and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham has suggested Lewis might be better suited in the middle. Two recent veteran acquisitions, Rocky McIntosh and Chris White, seem targeted more for special teams roles.

Safety
Seifert comment: So far, it appears that the Lions' limited plan for Louis Delmas' camp participation has worked. Delmas looked healthy and active in 12 preseason snaps last week, and barring a flare-up of his knee condition, he is expected to start in Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings.

Cornerback
Seifert comment: Rookie Darius Slay had some predictably tough moments last week against Tom Brady, but there doesn't seem to be much reason to go back to veteran Ron Bartell. If anything, newly-signed Rashean Mathis will push for playing time, perhaps at nickel in competition with Bill Bentley.

Kick/Punt returner
Seifert comment: The Lions have gotten returns from five different players in preseason games. They're trying to decide whether to dedicate a roster spot for a returner or use a backup player to handle the job. To this point, none of the participants

Place-kicker
Seifert comment: Once David Akers proved he was healthy, it was clear the job would be his. Havard Rugland has been a fun camp story, but it's hard to imagine the Lions finding a spot on their roster for him -- especially with punter Sam Martin kicking off. Akers has converted seven of eight field goals in the preseason.
We're (no longer) Black and Blue All Over:

We came, we saw, we conquered and now we're splitting into fiefdoms.

As of Monday morning, Black and Blue All Over as we know it is no longer.

As you know by now, ESPN's expansion of its NFL Nation network means there will be a dedicated team reporter for each NFL team. Their work has been appearing on our divisional blogs but eventually will move to their own team pages, and the transition continues Monday with four separate morning links posts

Reporters have been hired to cover the Green Bay Packers (Rob Demovsky), Chicago Bears (Michael C. Wright / Jeff Dickerson) and Minnesota Vikings (Ben Goessling). I'll continue to post on the Lions until a hire is made there, and we'll start with what I'll call the Morning Roar:
  • The Lions traded fourth-string quarterback Thaddeus Lewis to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for linebacker Chris White, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Whether the Lions keep Kellen Moore as the No. 3 quarterback remains uncertain. White is a good special-teams player.
  • Safety Louis Delmas on the 12 preseason snaps he played last Thursday, via Birkett: "I think that performance was more satisfaction for me, self satisfaction. Not really physically, it's all mentally for me. Like I said, I haven't played football since the last game of the season last year and I was very anxious to get out there being that I haven't really participated in camp like that. It's very satisfying."
  • Joique Bell is making a strong case to be the Lions' No. 2 tailback, writes Kyle Meinke of Mlive.com. I agree. His legs seem livelier than Mikel Leshoure's.
  • Lions center Dominic Raiola has been able to maintain his intentional offseason weight gain (15-20 pounds) during training camp, writes Justin Rogers of Mlive.com.
  • The Lions aren't concerned about the unsettled nature of their offensive line, according to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.
  • Rookie defensive end Ziggy Ansah took a hard hit to the head in Saturday's practice and then left Sunday's workout during stretching, notes McCosky. Coach Jim Schwartz wouldn't say whether Ansah had suffered a concussion.

NFC North evening notes

March, 12, 2009
3/12/09
6:14
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Let's catch up on Thursday's Black and Blue news items...

  • Chicago formally acknowledged the retirement of right tackle John Tait by moving him to the reserve/retired list. This means the Bears will retain Tait's rights should he decide to play again. Think that nuance is irrelevant? See Favre, Brett. Because he is on the retired list, Tait's contract won't count against the Bears' salary cap.
  • The Bears also announced that cornerback Marcus Hamilton signed his exclusive rights tender, making him eligible to participate in next week's mandatory mini-camp.
  • Minnesota left tackle Bryant McKinnie was accepted into a pretrial diversion program in Miami-Dade (Fla.) County, avoiding a trial stemming from a February 2008 brawl outside a Miami nightclub. McKinnie must serve community service, receive anger-management counseling and avoid arrest during the program. He has already served a four-game NFL suspension for the incident.
  • The Vikings announced three changes to their coaching staff, including one of the sons of Indianapolis president Bill Polian. Dennis Polian will serve as assistant to the head coach, replacing Kevin Stefanski, who was promoted to offensive quality control coach and will work primarily with quarterbacks. Chris White, who spent the past nine years on the Syracuse staff, will serve as assistant special teams coach.
  • Detroit will host Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry on a visit Sunday, according to David Birkett of the Oakland Press. Curry will be the third draft-eligible prospect to meet with team officials at the Lions' practice facility, following Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith and Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford.

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