NFL Nation: Brian Calhoun
A few notes on a Monday evening:
- You can assume that Detroit is on the short list of teams that ex-Pittsburgh linebacker Larry Foote will consider. Unable to swing a trade for the veteran linebacker, the Steelers released Foote on Monday. Foote said last week he would like to return to Detroit, his hometown. He also played at the University of Michigan, and the Lions have a pretty empty hole at middle linebacker. (Currently, rookie DeAndre Levy is on top of the unofficial depth chart.) Although Foote's best days probably are behind him, he would team with Ernie Sims and Julian Peterson to give the Lions a credible group of linebackers.
- The Lions made several other roster moves, according to Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press. They released tailback Brian Calhoun, ending his disappointing three-year run with the team, and also cut receivers Travis Taylor and Steve Sanders. They also signed defensive end Eric Hicks, who played for new defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham in Kansas City. Hicks did not play in 2008.
- Green Bay released linebacker Jason Hunter, a casualty of the team's switch to the 3-4 defense. Hunter had appeared in 42 games over the past three years, but at 271 pounds he is too small to play defensive end in a 3-4 but is probably ill-suited to play linebacker. The Packers also signed four players following their rookie minicamp, including former University of Pittsburgh punter Adam Graessle.
You can view the Lions' full list of roster moves here.
Biggest surprise: There were no stunners, although the list of departures did include veteran cornerback Kiwaukee Thomas and running back Artose Pinner. In fact, the Lions kept only two tailbacks -- Kevin Smith and Tatum Bell -- after cutting Pinner and placing Brian Calhoun and Aveion Cason on injured reserve. Rookie fullback Jerome Felton could work at tailback, if needed. How committed are the Lions to the run? For now, they are keeping only four receivers.
No-brainers: Linebacker Buster Davis might have tried a little too hard to make the team, hitting harder then necessary during practice and upsetting several teammates and coaches. Quarterback Drew Henson's stay was destined to be short-lived -- the Lions will keep a roster spot for injured quarterback Drew Stanton instead.
What's next: Henson could conceivably end up on the practice squad if the Lions want a scout team quarterback for practice in Stanton's absence. And you have to wonder whether coach Rod Marinelli really will feel comfortable with two true tailbacks and four receivers heading into the regular season. Is he simply waiting to see if anything better is out there?
As they transition to a more balanced offense, it's clear the Detroit Lions aren't totally satisfied with their backfield depth.
ESPN.com's Bill Williamson reports the Lions hosted Oakland running back LaMont Jordan on a visit last week, making at least two veteran runners the Lions have looked at this summer. The other was their former tailback, Kevin Jones, who held a workout June 28 near Detroit.
As of today, veteran Tatum Bell is the Lions' most likely starter. Rookie Kevin Smith will get plenty of repetitions in training camp. Other running backs on the roster include Aveion Cason, Brian Calhoun and Artose Pinner.
But after releasing Jones and bidding farewell to T.J. Duckett, the Lions certainly have some questions at the position. It's not clear how much interest the Detroit has in Jordan, who remains under contract with the Raiders. At the very least, however, the Lions are gathering information on their options should their current group prove underwhelming during training camp.
It's an especially critical position for the Lions, who are re-emphasizing their running game under new coordinator Jim Colletto. Bell has experience in Colletto's zone running scheme, having played in a similar system in Denver from 2004-06. Otherwise, the Lions don't have a lot of past production on the roster.
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