NFC North: John Wendling

Every day we’ll take a look at one of the Detroit Lions heading for free agency, what he has meant to the team before and a prognosis on whether or not he’ll be back with the club in 2014.

To view the entire series to date, click this link.

Free agent to be: John Wendling

Position: Safety

Age: 30

Years in the league: 7

What he made last season: $938,334 (cap number); $715,000 (base salary), $15,000 (roster bonus)

What he did last season: Wendling wasn’t needed at all defensively in 2013, playing one snap the entire season with the defense. But his real role is on special teams, where he made 14 tackles and was one of the team’s most used and effective special teamers. That was part of why he was brought over from Buffalo after the 2009 season and why he made an impact with the Lions over the past four seasons.

His potential market value: Could be decent, although not as a priority free agent by any means. He will be a player who will eventually be brought into a camp by a team that struggled on special teams coverage last season. The Washington Redskins, for example, was one of the worst teams in the league on both punt and kick coverage.

Will he fit the Lions still: No. It initially looked like Wendling could be a candidate to return to Detroit through free agency because of his role on special teams and familiarity with John Bonamego’s coverage systems. However, once the Lions claimed Isa Abdul-Quddus off waivers earlier this year and then kept him off the restricted free agent market by giving him a one-year deal that counts $695,000 against the cap, that likely took Wendling’s potential special teams spot. Bonamego was the person general manager Martin Mayhew said went into his office to campaign for Abdul-Quddus. At the NFL combine, Mayhew said Wendling would not be back with Detroit in 2014.

What happens: As mentioned above, Wendling will likely find a spot in a training camp because of his special teams prowess, not any potential he has as a safety. At 30 years old, Wendling is likely on his last few years in the NFL as player who specializes in special teams play, but he should still be productive enough for a team to take a look at him and give him a shot to make a roster.
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. -- It might be time for the Detroit Lions to be concerned about the availability of linebacker DeAndre Levy and tight end Brandon Pettigrew on Sunday against the New York Giants.

Both Levy (foot) and Pettigrew (ankle) missed their third practice this week.

If Levy doesn't play, Rocky McIntosh would likely see a majority of his snaps. If Pettigrew can't go, a host of players would take his place, as I wrote about Thursday.

They were two of five Lions to miss practice Friday. Louis Delmas (knee), Rashean Mathis (illness) and Darius Slay (knee) also were out. For Delmas, this is a typical maintenance day. Mathis also missed Thursday with an illness.

Slay actually was at practice with a sleeve on his right knee, just no helmet. He even participated in some light drill work with the other defensive backs.

Both Calvin Johnson and John Wendling were back at practice Friday.
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. -- Outside linebacker Ashlee Palmer missed practice with an ankle injury according to the Detroit Lions' official practice report Thursday.

He was one of four Lions to miss practice, joining defensive tackle Nick Fairley (shoulder), right tackle Jason Fox (groin) and safety Don Carey (hamstring).

If Palmer were to miss Sunday's game, he would likely be replaced by veteran Rocky McIntosh, although Tahir Whitehead is listed as his backup on the unofficial depth chart.

McIntosh was the fourth linebacker used in Detroit's 34-24 win over Minnesota on Sunday. It also means the Lions now have five healthy linebackers on the roster: starters Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy, McIntosh, Whitehead and Travis Lewis.

Detroit coach Jim Schwartz declined to discuss the injuries to Fairley and Palmer, although he did not Fairley did finish Sunday's game.

Safeties Louis Delmas (knee) and John Wendling (ankle) were limited Thursday. Running back Reggie Bush and defensive end Jason Jones practiced fully.

Fox, Fairley missed practice

September, 11, 2013
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Jason Fox started the first game of his career Sunday against Minnesota. He didn’t get to finish it.

Now, the fourth-year pro out of Miami (Fla.) is back to waiting to when he can return to the field after he injured his groin in the first half against the Vikings.

“These things happen in football,” Fox said Wednesday. “I came out, knew Corey [Hilliard] was going to play great, which he did, and now I’m just working to get back.”

Whether or not that can happen this week is still a question. Fox did not practice Wednesday and didn’t know when he would be returning to the lineup. He was hopeful to return this week.

If Fox can't play, Hilliard will likely take his place at right tackle.

“I’m going to try my hardest,” Fox said. “I’m working to get back as soon as possible. If they let me go this week, great. If not, I’ll be back as soon as possible.”

Defensive tackle Nick Fairley (shoulder) and safety Don Carey (hamstring) also did not practice Wednesday. Safeties Louis Delmas (knee) and John Wendling (ankle) were limited along with defensive end Jason Jones (knee).

Running back Reggie Bush, who injured his groin and finger in Sunday’s win over Minnesota, practiced fully.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Ndamukong Suh didn’t exactly campaign to become a Detroit Lions captain, but he also made it pretty well known that he wanted to be one, if possible.

Suh
On Friday, it was announced he achieved that goal, being named one of the Lions’ six captains along with quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, linebacker Stephen Tulloch, kicker David Akers and special-teamer John Wendling.

“It’s always something prideful that you can take,” Suh said earlier this week. “It’s an honor. Something you can appreciate. Regardless of whether or not I do have it, there are still ways [to lead].

“Coach has said it many times in our team meetings: Just because you don’t have a ‘C’ on your chest doesn’t mean you’re not a leader.”

Suh is less experienced than the rest of the Detroit captains, this being his fourth year in the league. One of the Lions’ top players, players and coaches said that he has matured into this role.

“It’s just part of his growth,” coach Jim Schwartz said. “Each step along the way he’s done a better job with just everything that goes onto it. He’s always been a great player.

“We saw the same maturation with Calvin Johnson, saw the same thing with Matt Stafford. As they were around, they got more and more respect from their teammates. It’s reflective of that.”

Note: Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said Friday he will coach from the press box this season instead of on the field. He said he has preferred coaching from the box in the past. He and Schwartz worked on the logistics of it during the preseason.

Detroit Lions cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
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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.

Observation deck: Lions-Bills

August, 29, 2013
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Reviewing the merciful end of the Detroit Lions' preseason, a 35-13 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Thursday:
  • The biggest news of any preseason finale is whether any prominent players suffered injuries. The Lions suffered no obvious ailments, partly because they rested six (relatively) healthy starters: running back Reggie Bush, receiver Calvin Johnson, safeties Louis Delmas and Glover Quin, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and defensive end Ziggy Ansah. Also sidelined were receiver Ryan Broyles, running back Montell Owens, tight end Michael Williams and safety John Wendling.
  • The remainder of the starters played two series. First, the good news: The defense didn't allow a first down. It forced a three-and-out on the first possession against Bills emergency quarterback Matt Leinart, and nickelback Bill Bentley intercepted Leinart on the third play of the second.
  • The bad news: The remainder of the Lions' offensive starters -- including quarterback Matthew Stafford -- weren't sharp. Guards Rob Sims and Larry Warford collided in the backfield when both pulled, an error I'm going to attribute to Warford, and Stafford completed only 1 of 6 passes for 12 yards. He threw one interception when a high pass glanced off receiver Nate Burleson's hands. I'm not sure what to make of Stafford's preseason. It wasn't sharp by any means. He completed 49 percent of his passes for 310 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a 64.9 passer rating. But Johnson hardly played, and Bush's absence took away Stafford's comfort receiver Thursday night.
  • As long as we're talking about Lions personal fouls -- Oh, wait. Were we? -- let's get on the record that center Dominic Raiola cost the team 15 yards with a personal foul while trying to make a tackle on the interception return.
  • With Johnson and Broyles inactive, the Lions gave receiver Patrick Edwards a long look. Results were mixed. Stafford overthrew him on the first play of the game for what could have been a 63-yard touchdown. On another deep pass, Edwards got open but seemed to slow down when looking for the ball. It glanced off his hands. Meanwhile, he let a third-down catch bounce off his chest but later broke a tackle to score on an 8-yard pass from backup quarterback Shaun Hill. Have the Lions seen enough from Edwards to give him a regular spot in their rotation? I think the better question as final cuts loom this weekend is whether they'll have a choice. It's worth noting that competitor Matt Willis made a sensational 39-yard catch from Hill and just missed a touchdown from Kellen Moore when he couldn't get both feet down in the end zone.
  • Moore wrapped up a strong preseason with a performance that suggests the Lions will at least have a very difficult decision to make. Moore entered in the second quarter and played the second half, throwing two touchdown passes to rookie running back Theo Riddick. Moore finished the preseason with four touchdown passes and a 99.4 passer rating. The Lions might want to use his roster spot to keep a player at another position, but this preseason he has looked at least like a future No. 2.
  • For what it's worth, the Lions started Jason Fox at right tackle and Warford at right guard for the second consecutive week. Does that mean they have won the Week 1 starting jobs? I suppose it depends on how their film grades out from Thursday night. But things appear to be going in that direction.
  • Joique Bell got the start at running back with Bush sidelined, and his best run was a 23-yard scoring jaunt. Mikel Leshoure managed 24 yards on seven carries. Each lost a fumble. At the very least, Bell has earned himself regular-season playing time even with Bush locked in as the starter.
  • Did you notice rookie cornerback Darius Slay matching Bills speedster Marquise Goodwin stride for stride on a go route in the first quarter? I did. I realize speed is a skill and not a reflection of technique, but it's nice to know the Lions have a cornerback who can run step for step with one of the fastest receivers in the 2013 draft.

Free Head Exam: Detroit Lions

October, 15, 2012
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After the Detroit Lions' 26-23 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, here are three issues that merit further examination:
    Free Head Exam
    ESPN.com

  1. In the 2012 debut of safety Louis Delmas, the Lions doubled their season's takeaway total (three). They hit quarterback Michael Vick 11 times, including three sacks, and made 10 tackles behind the line of scrimmage against the run game. It was no coincidence. As we noted last week, there was a clear drop-off in takeaways and playmaking last season when Delmas departed the Lions lineup. Sunday, he had an interception and two tackles for loss, but his biggest contribution was his frenetic attitude and energy. You might think that kind of boost doesn't exist on the professional level, but coach Jim Schwartz said: "It was real on the field. It was real this week in practice. It was real in the locker room before the game, pregame warm-ups. He's that kind of guy. He's got personality." Said Delmas: "No matter what the circumstances are, I can motivate them and get them to play that extra [bit] and use that energy and effort." I would equate Delmas' impact to the role of the first confident souls on a dance floor. If they're kicking it and having fun, as the kids say, soon the floor will be full of crazy people. If not, you have a lot of people standing nervously near the punch bowl. (Not that I would know anything about dancing or the dance floor. Although I am familiar with punch.)
  2. We've had plenty of discussions this season about the Lions' ineffective downfield passing. But an interesting split has developed. During the first three quarters of games, quarterback Matthew Stafford has completed only eight of 22 passes that traveled at least 15 yards past the line of scrimmage. One has been intercepted, none have gone for touchdowns and only one has resulted in a play of at least 30 yards. In fourth quarters and overtime, however, Stafford has completed 10 of 19 such passes. Why is that? One explanation: Lions players are pretty good at ad-libbing with each other when the game turns into a scramble. One example came in the fourth quarter when Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson discussed a potential adjustment to an inside route if Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha took it away, as they expected. That adjustment led to Johnson's 16-yard sideline reception that set up Jason Hanson's game-tying field goal. Johnson: "I'm supposed to get inside, but Nnamdi was taking away the inside for most of the game, especially in the second half. I just found open space back there. The crazy thing is me and Matt had talked about it. It was there and I just took it." Sunday went pretty much as the matchup might have suggested for three quarters, as Stafford was 1-of-5 on downfield throws against the Eagles' elite secondary. After the start of the fourth quarter, however, he completed 4 of 7 such throws.
  3. Place-kicker Jason Hanson is 42 years old and in his 21st season, and guess how he felt as he jogged onto the field for the game-winning field goal in overtime? "I was nervous," Hanson said. Obviously, Hanson wasn't hand-shaking nervous. I interpreted his sentiment as the Lions' most overt admission of how important they considered the outcome of this game. There is only one game's difference between 2-3 and 1-4, but a loss Sunday would have pushed a losing streak to the other side of their bye week. "We needed it," Hanson said. "We needed it bad … We needed it to get our season back on."
And here's one issue I still don't get:
Did Delmas' return also help settle the Lions' special teams? I'm not sure if we can make the connection, but here goes: With Delmas and 2011 partner Amari Spievey each making their first start of the season at safety, the special teams got two of their better players back on a full-time basis. John Wendling and Erik Coleman both focused on their special-teams duties -- although injuries forced Coleman to play a handful of defensive snaps -- and the Eagles' return game was largely stymied. The Eagles averaged 24.4 yards on five kickoff returns and didn't have a punt return longer than 11 yards. Lions cover man Kassim Osgood bottled up the Eagles' DeSean Jackson on his only return, a loss of 3 yards at the end of the first half.

Free Head Exam: Detroit Lions

September, 24, 2012
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After the Detroit Lions' 44-41 loss to the Tennessee Titans, here are three issues that merit further examination:

  1. Free Head Exam
    ESPN.com
    ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski has forgotten more football than most of us will ever know. So it's worth noting that he suggested Monday morning on ESPN Radio that quarterback Shaun Hill's footwork implied an intentional quarterback sneak on the game's final play. That would differ from the narrative provided by coach Jim Schwartz, who said center Dominic Raiola erroneously snapped the ball on a play the Lions were trying to draw the Titans offside. I strongly believe Schwartz is telling the truth. (And I don't fault him for "calling out" Raiola. This is a man's game. No one needs to be protected.) If the Lions hoped to entice a penalty, Hill's footwork would have to mimic a real play. It's more likely that Hill was faking the footwork for a sneak to add weight to the possibility. If you saw Hill and Raiola interacting afterwards, it sure appeared they were not on the same page. I don't think there are any conspiracies here. The Lions got too cute and paid for it. If anything, an argument could have been made to call a real quarterback sneak. Both Dean Oliver of ESPN Stats & Information and Brian Burke of NFL Advanced Stats have pointed out the Lions had at least an equal, if not better, chance of winning if they had tried to convert the fourth-and-1 than if they had attempted a game-tying field goal, as they planned.
  2. We noted in Sunday's post on replacement officiating gaffes at the Metrodome that other NFC North games had been impacted as well. But at that moment I didn't realize how bad it got at LP Field. As several writers have already noted, replacement officials, in essence, put the Titans in field goal range for their eventual game-winning kick in overtime by marking off 27 yards, instead of 15, after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against linebacker Stephen Tulloch. Sports Illustrated's Peter King theorized that referee Gerald Wright marked off the penalty from the Lions' 44-yard line instead of the Titans' 44, which was actually the original line of scrimmage. So instead of taking over at the Lions' 41-yard line, the Titans got the ball at the 29. Place-kicker Rob Bironas, who had already missed two field goals in the game, eventually was put in place to boot an easy 26-yarder. The Lions could have avoided the entire mess if Tulloch didn't commit the penalty, but it's a basic expectation of any referee to maintain an accurate line of scrimmage.
  3. Let's not sugarcoat this. The Lions were inexcusably sloppy and undisciplined Sunday -- and not just on the final play. They committed 10 penalties, were successfully targeted on a gadget punt return and became the first team in NFL history to allow five touchdowns of at least 60 yards. A tight end as big and as strong as Brandon Pettigrew should never allow the ball to be yanked from his hands by a cornerback, as Pettigrew did in the fourth quarter Sunday. We saw safety John Wendling take a poor angle and cornerback Jacob Lacey lose track of the ball on Nate Washington's 71-yard touchdown play. The list goes on. Said Jaworski: "Something is wrong there in the detail of coaching. Either they're not coaching it or the players are not listening."
And here is one issue I still don't get:
Was there any connection between Matthew Stafford's right leg injury, initially diagnosed as a muscle strain, and the Lions' decision to give the ball to running back Mikel Leshoure 16 times in the first half and target receiver Calvin Johnson only twice? The Lions trailed 20-9 at that point but outscored the Titans 32-24 afterwards. Were the Lions trying to manage Stafford's workload? After all, he said he suffered the injury last week in practice and felt it grab several times during Sunday's game. Or, were the Lions purposefully running the ball to force the Titans into more favorable coverages against Johnson later in the game? If that were the case, it might have worked. Johnson was targeted 12 times and caught nine passes after halftime. Did the running "loosen it up" for the Lions? Or did they simply get more aggressive after halftime? I'm not sure.

Rapid Reaction: 49ers 27, Lions 19

September, 16, 2012
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Some thoughts on Sunday night's events at Candlestick Park:

What it means: The Detroit Lions fell to 1-1, matching the record of every other NFC North team. It's hard to conjure much criticism toward the Lions on this night, however. They were overwhelmed by a better and more powerful opponent playing its home opener, a result that seemed predictable since the day the NFL released its schedule. It's not as if the Lions botched a bunch of opportunities to win this game. The 49ers might be the best team in football.

For those asking: Lions coach Jim Schwartz and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh shook hands without incident both before and after the game. Finis.

Mixing in the run: The Lions kept it close in large part because of an uncharacteristic commitment to the running game. Before they got into catch-up mode in the fourth quarter, the Lions ran on 22 of their first 40 plays. Quarterback Matthew Stafford had 89 yards passing through three quarters. I don't blame the Lions for their approach; the 49ers' defense is too good to be allowed to defend only half the field. Unfortunately for the Lions, they couldn't convert their possessions into touchdowns. Unofficially, they didn't throw a single pass into the end zone. As it turned out, place-kicker Jason Hanson accounted for most of their scoring with four field goals in five attempts.

Turning point I: The Lions forced the 49ers' first turnover in seven regular-season games during the first quarter, a fumble by kick returner Kendall Hunter. But they weren't able to fully capitalize on it, gaining only two offensive yards, and settled for Hanson's 41-yard field goal. A touchdown would have given them a 10-7 lead and perhaps changed the complexion of the game.

Turning point II: After the Lions made it a one-score game at 20-12 on Hanson's fourth field goal, 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree converted three consecutive third-down receptions. The 49ers then sealed the game on Vernon Davis' 23-yard touchdown reception with 3 minutes, 4 seconds remaining.

Official confusion: Here's one I don't remember seeing before. Schwartz had to challenge a play to prove Stafford was sacked. Midway through the fourth quarter, referee Matt Nicks did not blow this whistle when Stafford's right knee hit the ground at the 49ers' 30-yard line after a hit by Aldon Smith. Stafford popped up and lost another six yards before getting tackled again. Nicks gave the Lions their six yards back after the review, and the decision left the Lions in position to end the possession with Hanson's 48-yard field goal. Nicks' crew also missed clear head shots on both quarterbacks, Stafford and the 49ers' Alex Smith, after scrambles. The blow Smith absorbed from Lions safety John Wendling left the bridge of his nose bleeding.

What's next: The Lions will play at the Tennessee Titans next Sunday.

Lions-Rams: DB concerns are secondary*

September, 5, 2012
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The Detroit Lions' injury report carries as much intrigue as any Week 1 storyline in the NFC North. Namely, it's not clear whether half of their presumed starting secondary will be available for Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams. It's also not clear if it will matter.

Safety Louis Delmas (knee) hasn't practiced since July 31, and cornerback Chris Houston has been sidelined by a sprained ankle suffered Aug. 25. The Lions have made two emergency moves to bolster depth, trading for deposed Washington Redskins nickelback Kevin Barnes and signing free-agent cornerback Drayton Florence, and it's possible that Florence could join rookie Bill Bentley and Jacob Lacey in the Lions' nickel defense Sunday.

With that said, the Rams will hardly bring the NFL's most explosive offense Sunday to Ford Field. New offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is trying to turn around a scheme that scored an NFL-low 193 points last season, the third-fewest points an NFL team as scored in the past 10 years. And while quarterback Sam Bradford threw five touchdown passes without an interception during the preseason, most observers expect the Rams' offense to revolve around tailback Steven Jackson.

If so, the Lions will have some protection for a starting unit that could include Bentley and Florence, along with safeties Erik Coleman and John Wendling. Florence is the only player among that group who started more than one NFL game in 2011, and at 31 it's fair to question how much he has left. The Denver Broncos were so convinced he couldn't help them this season that they ate his $1.5 million signing bonus and released him last week.

I reached out to Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc., who thinks Florence has slowed down considerably from the player who was once a speedster and has "very little" left in his proverbial tank. Williamson, however, noted that Florence's size (6-feet, 193 pounds) and experience make him a relatively competent emergency fill-in. After all, teams with a need at cornerback are usually out of luck in the days leading up to the start of the regular season.

As we do every week in the regular season, we'll provide a full injury NFC North report late Wednesday afternoon.

*Update: Neither Houston nor Delmas participated in the portion of practice open to the media Wednesday.

Detroit Lions cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
8/31/12
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Click here for the complete list of Detroit Lions roster moves.

Most significant move: The Lions showed their commitment to fixing the secondary by keeping four new cornerbacks -- Kevin Barnes, Jacob Lacey and draft choices Bill Bentley and Jonte Green. They left themselves thin at safety, though. The Lions retained five safeties from last year -- Louis Delmas, Amari Spievey, Erik Coleman, John Wendling and Ricardo Silva -- but not adding a new safety is a little surprising considering the knee problems Delmas has dealt with. At corner, though, the Lions have a nice mixture of veterans and youth. Lacey is at least a solid third corner, Barnes came over from the Redskins in a trade, and Chris Houston is a solid starter. The Lions released Alphonso Smith, Justin Miller and Ross Weaver, who fell behind in the cornerback race.

Onward and upward: Defensive end Everette Brown and defensive tackle Andre Fluellen had decent camps and could be picked up by other teams. Brown was particularly solid as a pass-rusher during the preseason. Still, it was going to be hard for Brown to crack the top four at defensive end with Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril, Lawrence Jackson and Willie Young ahead of him. Brown’s only hope was beating out fourth-round choice Ronnell Young, but the Lions wisely made a commitment to their draft board by keeping seven draft choices.

What next: The Lions need to start thinking about locking up some of their defensive starters. Avril, Corey Williams, Justin Durant, DeAndre Levy, Houston and Delmas are unrestricted free agents. Spievey is a restricted free agent. That won’t be easy. The Lions have less than $2.5 million of cap room, so they might be able to get only one deal done. They can’t do a long-term deal with Avril because they come to an agreement by July 15. Franchise players have to settle for the one-year deal after that date. The Lions may have to put the franchise tag on Delmas after the season and then get a long-term deal done with Avril in February.

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