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Ford thinks Lions are running smoothly

The SportsXchange

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Bill Ford Jr., the Lions' vice chairman, rarely comments publicly about his football team, but after watching the team's workout on Tuesday, he was compelled to show support to both general manager Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz.

"You have to go into every season expecting you have a chance to win, and we do," Ford said. "We'll let it all be decided on the field, but I very much like the talent and the coaching staff that we have."

Ford praised not only the signings of Reggie Bush and Glover Quin, but also the impact that new senior personnel executive Brian Xanders has had.

"I think Jim's got a really good staff that he's put together this year, and I think Jim would be the first to admit that there have been times where he's learned on the job," Ford said. "But I think he's a very good coach. I think Martin has done a terrific job of building a very professional front office, and I do like the direction."

However, Ford, would not comment on the future of Schwartz or the contract status of Mayhew.

--The Lions beefed up their special teams this week signing two veterans -- former Pro Bowler Montell Owens and return specialist Micheal Spurlock.

Both played in Jacksonville last year for new special teams coach John Bonamego. The Lions wanted Owens badly, signing him to a two-year deal worth $2.5 million plus a $250,000 signing bonus. Owens, 29, played seven seasons in Jacksonville and made the Pro Bowl in 2010 and 2011. Spurlock, 30, has returned two punts and three kickoffs for touchdowns, including one of each last season.

The Lions had close to 100 percent attendance during the three weeks of OTAs. Safety Louis Delmas was the only player not around. His absence was prearranged so he can continue rehabilitating his knee at a facility in Miami.

Defensive Nick Fairley, however, was a no-show on Tuesday. "There is no such thing as an excused absence on a voluntary OTA," Schwartz said.

"Nick's been working, but he was not here today. He chose not to be here."

Schwartz would not say whether Tuesday's absence was Fairley's first.

-- The Lions signed veteran receiver Matt Willis on Tuesday. Willis, 29, was with the Denver Broncos from 2008 to 2012. He was with the Ravens from 2007 to 2008. He has 30 career receptions for 385 yards.

-- The team released two players Tuesday -- receiver Troy Burrell and tight end Nathan Overbay.
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