Training camp postcard: Lions
The Lions hold camp at the same $36 million Allen Park training facility they use in the regular season. The joint probably seemed a little more impressive back in 2002 when it was built, what with the fingerprint ID technology at various checkpoints inside. It's
The team practices out back on twin fields devoid of any character or, for the most part, fans. But coach
Why Williams? Because if you ask enough times, he'll actually come over to the sideline. It's his schtick. Twice on Monday, the receiver walked away from practice to lollygag alongside the fans. The first time, he posed for a picture and left without signing autographs. The second time, he returned with a dry erase board and appeared to school fans on the intricacies of an offensive play. Or not. When asked, most fans agreed that they had no clue what he was talking about. One reporter explained, "It's just Roy being Roy. I think it's cureable."
And the security guy? That's
1. Speaking of Roy Williams ... At camp, he's really a sight to see. After an offseason during which he -- and the team, for that matter -- waffled about his departure, Williams makes sure he's always center stage. On most days, he dons what have become his trademark pants, a pair of sweats that he cut and frayed at the knees, evoking
2. It seems unfathomable that Detroit's secondary will be as bad as it was last year. In '07, the Lions allowed 258.2 passing yards per game, second-worst in the league. Only three teams have put up worse numbers over the last five years. In that time, no one has allowed more than the 32 TDs Detroit yielded. To remedy that, GM
3. The depth chart -- or lack thereof. Marinelli insists that he likes what he's seen in quarterbacks
Again, it's all about Weeks 10-17. In '07, Detroit jumped out to a 6-2 start and led the NFL with 14 INTs while feasting off questionable QBs like
But in November and December, they'll face the Jags'
Like most teams, the Lions keep hitting to a bare minimum. But two rookies looking to impress bent the lines a little bit during goal-line drills on Monday, and Marinelli loved what he saw. Late in the full-pads morning practice, Kevin Smith took a short swing pass in the left flat and ran full speed into an equally fully-steamed
• You've got to love
• Beat writers preach this all the time, but it was nice to hear from an actual player: You can't judge squat from training camp. Dwight Smith reiterated as much when one reporter asked how the defensive backfield was shaping up. He angrily snapped, "Until we get those live bullets and four quarters of football -- third-and-8 or something -- we won't know anything, man. Anybody can act like they can hit someone." It was a prime example of Smith's intense personality. He's an easily agitated player and the vocal leader Marinelli was looking for in free agency -- a drill sergeant in the huddle. But I could see this turning bad easily. Just imagine the first time Smith gets in Williams' face as he's taking the field, harping about a three-and-out.
• No matter what the coaches say, I can't believe a little guy like
• Like it or not, I'm lending my fantasy expertise here because I actually believe there's a correlation to the real game. (How can there not be? Some readers have disagreed.) Offensively, I'd take Williams over Calvin Johnson in a contract year. He may be crazy, but he's not that crazy. And he looks the part of breakout star in camp. In this new offense, I like tight end
• I know people love to rag on Millen. I'm familiar with his draft history. I get it. But the guy's a ramped-up riot even at 8:30 a.m., which is when the Lions often practice. As print and radio writers huddled around him early Monday morning, Millen yucked about
• My favorite part of camp remains my stroll through the players' lot. And in the Motor City, I was especially thrilled to see players buying American. In all, I counted at least a dozen Ford -- -almost all customized with chrome rims and spiffy tires, of course.