Lions Sign Four Players

DenisePopiolek

Allen Park, Mich.- The Detroit Lions announced today that they have re-signed unrestricted free agents S Vernon Fox, C Brock Gutierrez and LB Nate Wayne and free agent G Tyrone Hopson to one-year deals. Additional contract terms were not disclosed.

Fox (5-10, 200) enters his third season with Detroit as a proven and valuable special teams player as well as a reliable backup safety. He was voted as a special teams captain (tied with Donté Curry and Wali Rainer) by his teammates at the end of the 2005 season for his tough and consistent play in addition to his leadership on and off the field. Fox finished last season third in special teams tackles despite missing two games due to injury.

In 2004, Fox played 14 games for the Lions and contributed nine special teams tackles after being claimed off waivers September 14, released September 18 and then re-signed to the active roster September 22.

San Diego signed Fox as an undrafted free agent April 26, 2002. In two seasons with the Chargers, he played in 28 games (five starts) and garnered 45 tackles (35 solo), one interception and five pass defenses. Fox was a two time All-Western Athletic Conference first-team selection at Fresno State.

Gutierrez (6-3, 304) returns for another season with the Lions after seeing action in all 16 games for Detroit last season. He originally signed with Detroit June 8, 2005 after spending the previous two seasons with the 49ers. He was the starting center for San Francisco and played in all 16 games in
2004.

During his nine NFL seasons, Gutierrez has played in 114 games (23 starts) and has been a steady contributor on special teams while providing solid depth along the offensive line. He entered the league with the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 1996, where he played through the 2002
season.

As a collegian at Central Michigan, Gutierrez started at center for three seasons and earned first-team All-Mid-American Conference honors as a senior in 1995. He attended Charlotte (Mich.) H.S. and earned all-state honors in wrestling and football.

Wayne (6-0, 237) enters his ninth NFL season, his second in Detroit, after first joining the Lions midway through the 2005 season. He played in five games last season, finishing with 21 tackles (11 solo), a sack, a forced fumble and an interception which he returned 20 yards. Wayne was inactive for the final two games of the season due to an ankle injury. He joined the Lions following his release from the Jacksonville Jaguars September 3.

After being waived by the Philadelphia Eagles where he spent the 2003 and 2004 seasons, Wayne signed with the Jaguars May 16. In seven NFL seasons, he has played in 85 games (started in 63), tallied 545 total tackles (352 solos) and collected 16 sacks.

In 2004, Wayne played in nine games with the Eagles and started seven. In those nine games, he totaled 38 tackles (25 solo), forced two fumbles and had one sack. In 2003, he posted a career-high in total tackles (135).

Wayne also brings a significant amount of post-season experience to the club, having played in eight playoff games (started in six) during his career. During the 2004 NFL Playoffs, he tallied four tackles, a half sack, and started against the Minnesota Vikings in the 2005 NFC Divisional game and saw action in Super Bowl XXXIX.

Prior to his stint with the Eagles, Wayne played in Denver (1998-99) and Green Bay (2000-02) where he totaled a career-high in sacks (5.5) with the Packers during the 2001 season.

The Chicago, Ill., native served as a two-year starter at the University of Mississippi where he recorded 293 tackles, 8.5 sacks, three interceptions and three forced fumbles.

Hopson (6-2, 300) rejoins the team after spending the 2004 season and parts of the 2005 season with Detroit. He was on the Lions active roster for four games last season after spending the preseason participating in the team's training camp.

In 2004, he played in 11 games for Detroit and helped clear the way for Pro Bowl KR Eddie Drummond as a member of the wedge unit on kickoff returns. Hopson also saw action at right guard in the season finale at Tennessee (1/2/05).

Hopson originally joined the Lions practice squad October 31, 2001 and finished the final three games of that season on the active roster. He played eight games in 2002 and spent the 2003 preseason with Detroit before being release August 31.

Prior to joining the Lions, Hopson spent two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers who drafted him in the fifth round (161 overall) of the 1999 NFL Draft out of Eastern Kentucky. He saw action in four games, with one start, during his two-year stint in San Francisco.

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