Chris Chase

Camp Sunshine! Detroit shoots for the middle

Chris Chase
Shutdown Corner

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Every team is a Super Bowl contender during training camp, at least that's what the local media in each NFL town seems to think. Puff pieces about teams/players/coaches often read something like, "[Player X] is poised to have a career year because he's getting over [ailment/personal tragedy/weight issues/immaturity]. He will have a key role in [Team Y] making [playoffs/Super Bowl] after last season's [surprise/disappointment]."

To celebrate the brimming positivity being felt by each of the NFL's 32 fanbases, this month Shutdown Corner will take a team-by-team look at the flowery and buoyant prose being written by local columnists and writers, and the hopeful quotes of players and coaches in our daily feature, Camp Sunshine. Today, the Detroit Lions, coming off a 2-30 record in the last two seasons.

Different like 10-6 different or 1-15 different?

When the Lions began training camp this week, there was the same starting quarterback, the same offensive coordinator and the same system in place as there was a year ago.

That's only happened twice in the last decade in Detroit, and after the first full-pads practice of camp Tuesday, veteran center Dominic Raiola(notes) was asked what that felt like.

"It's different, isn't it?" he said, smiling.

-- John Niyo, The Detroit News

The Lions' offense is well-versed in feeling like it's a man down:

Tuesday was the first day the Lions were in full pads. There were two drills that featured full, to-the-ground tackling. The most intriguing was a 9-on-8 running drill.

"We put the offense in a really tough position with the defense having eight men in the box," coach Jim Schwartz said. "It was a hard box with no disguises. It had a short-yardage feel to it in that the offense had to stay between the numbers. We shortened the field so they couldn't run wide."

-- Chris McCosky and John Niyo, The Detroit News

Camp Sunshine, where even Nate Burleson(notes) is an asset:

Nate Burleson is here to help, any way he can. If that means getting open so Calvin Johnson(notes) isn't dragging three defenders all over the field, that's what he plans to do.

If it means providing veteran leadership, no problem. If it means organizing weekly bowling outings to bond the receivers, sure. If it means being the voice of the famously low-key Johnson, hey, Burleson will stretch those vocal cords.

-- Bob Wojnowski, The Detroit News

They were applauding because it finally ended:

The Lions received a standing ovation Saturday afternoon in Allen Park. No, seriously. When the season's first practice ended and the players took knees around Jim Schwartz in the middle of the field, the fans lining the sidelines rose and applauded. Loudly.

-- Detroit Free Press

Party pooper:

As with the completion of any sensitive negotiation, both sides publicly and politely complimented each other for finding the necessary common ground. But can somebody tell me exactly what did Ndamukong Suh(notes) concede in his freshly inked Lions' contract?

He got a five-year deal instead of a six-year deal, putting him on a faster track to another new contract in possibly as soon as three years if he outperforms this deal and the Lions negotiate an extension with even more guaranteed money.

He got less in total guaranteed dollars ($40 million) over the life of the full contract than Matthew Stafford(notes) ($41.7 million), but gets a higher annual average over the duration of the deal because Stafford signed last year for six years.

Suh won in a blowout reminiscent of a typical Lions' Sunday. [...]

You can't blame Suh for smiling Wednesday. He may never be as Ndominating as he was in the process that finally got him into training camp.

-- Drew Sharp, Detroit Free Press

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