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Coach Jim Schwartz on DE Cliff Avril: “He’s been very consistent in camp. He’s taken the step he needed to take in his career. He’s not just a pass rusher, and he’s gritted out a lot of things. We’re looking for a big year from Cliff.”
Coach Jim Schwartz on OG Manny Ramirez filling in for Stephen Peterman: "Manny’s an experienced player. He’s stepped in and done well. We haven’t missed a beat with him out there at all."
Coach Jim Schwartz on playing time for starters Saturday at Pittsburgh: “I’ve never been a big quarters type of guy. You target a number of plays for each guy and manage injuries. You want to match certain players up. Nothing is set in stone.”
RB Jahvid Best on his relationship with RB Kevin Smith: “We talk to each other on the field all the time. Today we had a two minute conversation about one play. We pick each other’s brains and make us both better.”
WR Nate Burleson has been nothing short of exemplary all camp. He converted several routes over the middle, routinely splits coverage for completions, and twice saved bad passes by wrestling the ball from defenders. Only Calvin Johnson has been a more consistent WR in camp.
Jonathan Hefney is adjusting to his conversion from CB to S. Hefney had some growing pains during the first week of camp, but is starting to challenge the ball more. The Lions like his quickness, so look for him to be featured in the second half Saturday.
DT Sammie Hill has been giving extra effort since losing his starting job to DT Ndamukong Suh. The effort has showed, and Hill has become a de facto starter. His presence will give depth to what had been a weak point a season ago.
After a stellar workout Tuesday, QB Matthew Stafford continues to be precise in practice. Stafford's improved arm strength creates passing windows in places that did not exist a year ago. He has the trust of his receivers and is authoritative under center.
S Randy Phillips continues to gain respect in the defensive backfield. In the week since his signing, Phillips has challenged the ball well and earned first-team reps. With S Louis Delmas unlikely to play Saturday at Pittsburgh, look for Phillips to start.
S Louis Delmas continues to work back into drills. He ran a full 7-on-7 workout, and a few team snaps. CB Amari Spievey was limited to individual drills. Spievey has not run a contact drill since injuring his hip.
T Jason Fox and OG Manny Ramirez have had good days in team drills. Both sprung several blocks that led to long runs. Ramirez is making the most of OG Stephen Peterman's injury. Fox, however, needs to continue to impress to make the club.
DT Ndamukong Suh has made up for his missed practices nicely. He looks sharp in line drills, gets good penetration and gets off the ball well. Suh has formed a bond with fellow DT Corey Williams, and the two work well together.
The final period of practice was devoted to goal-line drills. Jim Schwartz is intent on reversing the Lions' red zone struggles of a year ago. Fade routes to Calvin Johnson and routes to TEs Tony Scheffler and Brandon Pettigrew are central to the plan.
The first-team offensive line during team drills: LT Jeff Backus, LG Rob Sims, C Dominic Raiola, RG Stephen Peterman, and RT Gosder Cherilus.
The first-team defense during team drills: DEs Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch; DTs Sammie Hill and Ndamukong Suh; LBs Jordon Dizon, Julian Peterson and Zack Follett; CBs Jonathan Wade and Chris Houston; and safeties Randy Phillips and C.C. Brown.
WR Derrick Williams continues to be the No. 1 kick and punt returner in special teams drills -- indication that Williams is the leader in the race for the fourth WR spot.
S Louis Delmas is not participating in drills. CB Amari Spievey is taking contact reps for the first time since re-injuring his hip.
Speaking of St. Martin, he was not at practice today, and a source close to the team told us that the Lions will be snagging us fans an early Christmas present. We were sworn to silence, but I can say that there are going to be a lot of smiles in Motown in a matter of days.
Take it with a grain of salt but posting to point back at if a trade happens.
And some practice notes from the article.
Zack Follett had the day’s only interception when he jumped a Dan Gronkowski crossing route. Gronk is a physical specimen, but his routes will be his downfall.
Jahvid Best isolated outside linebacker Julian Peterson on a pass in the flat. Peterson didn’t have a chance in what was a monumental mismatch. Now that’s what being on an island in the NFL must feel like. Helpless.
Tony Scheffler got into the fun. He caught a Shaun Hill touchdown at the end line. He can elevate, folks, and has the awareness to get his feet in bounds.
Defensive tackle Robert Calloway, the signed, released, and re-signed rookie from Saginaw Valley State, made some noise when he batted a Stanton pass into the upper deck. The crowd roared in approval.
Drew Stanton was Drew Stanton. Inconsistent. OK on the short stuff, but too many “limp ducks” down field.