The Lions remain optimistic that running back Jahvid Best will be ready to compete fully at the team's mandatory minicamp June 12-14.
"He's been doing everything in the offseason program, and we expect he'll be cleared sometime probably in June," general manager Martin Mayhew said in a local radio interview last week. "We look forward to having him on the field."
Although Best has been working out since December, he has not been cleared for contact. The Lions do not expect him to take the concussion tests until right before the minicamp.
"Those doctors felt like it just made sense to do that in June," Mayhew said. "It gives him the most time. We are not doing anything that involves any contact, and he's been cleared to do everything that we're doing right now (conditioning)."
So, despite the optimism, there are no guarantees - which made it a bit surprising the team opted not to draft a running back last week.
Not only is there uncertainty regarding Best, second-year power back Mikel Leshoure is coming off Achilles tendon surgery and stands to be suspended up to four games after two marijuana-related arrests this offseason.
Leshoure, who has been conditioning with the team and expects to participate in the minicamp, has a preliminary exam scheduled for May 11 in Berrien County District Court. The maximum penalty if convicted on a second charge would be up to two years in prison.
The Lions did sign one undrafted rookie free agent, speedster Stephfon Green from Penn State. He will be in camp along with Kevin Smith, Keiland Williams and Joique Bell.
- The Lions continue to stock their training camp roster with reclamation projects. First it was underachieving defensive end Everette Brown. Last week, they signed receiver Lance Long, a metro Detroit native who has bounced around on several NFL practice squads. The 5-11, 186-pounder caught 20 passes for 178 yards for the Chiefs in 2008 but has since been on the practice squads of the 49ers, Jaguars, Chiefs and Cardinals.
- Here is a list of the UDFAs the Lions have signed: Quarterback Kellen Moore, Boise State; offensive linemen Rodney Austin (guard), Elon; J.C. Oram (guard-tackle), Weber State; Pat Boyle, Temple and Quinn Barham (tackle), Penn State; linebackers Carmen Messing, New Mexico and Ronnie Sneed, Kentucky; receivers Patrick Edwards, Houston and Troy Burrell, Wayne State; kicker Derek Dimke, Illinois; and defensive linemen Michael Cosgrove (tackle), Idaho; Monte Lewis (end), Jacksonville State and Eddie McClam (end), Old Dominion; cornerbacks Alonzo Lawrence, Mississippi Gulf Coast CC and James Harrell, Arkansas Pine Bluff; tight end Austin Wells, Northern Iowa; running back Stephfon Green, Penn State.
- Coach Jim Schwartz said there was no grand plan to raid Oklahoma players in the draft, but three of the Lions' eight picks were Sooners. "We don't rate them higher because they're from Oklahoma, but it just worked out that way," Schwartz said. "We're excited to have them all. They've had a good program, and those guys have been very productive over the years."
They drafted receiver Ryan Broyles in the second round, defensive end Ronnell Lewis in the fourth and linebacker Travis Lewis in the seventh. "I think what they see are people that come to work every day," Travis Lewis said. "Hard workers, people with a great work ethic who love the game of football." The Lions' two most famous former Sooners are Billy Sims and Steve Owens.
- ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., defended the decision to draft Broyles, a receiver, in the second round, though Lions Nation was howling about passing on a cornerback there. "If you're asking me did they lose anything at corner? No," Kiper said. "In fact, (Bill) Bentley's grade was the same as (Josh) Robinson's, so bottom line is no, they got a guy that was right there. He was right there, even with Janoris Jenkins, basically -- almost had the same grade as Jenkins." In taking Broyles with the 54th pick, they passed on cornerbacks Casey Hayward (62nd to the Packers), Trumaine Johnson (65th, Rams) and Robinson (66th, Vikings), as well as several other highly rated defensive players. The Lions still wound up taking three corners.
- QUOTE TO NOTE: "You don't solve needs by drafting poor players. There is a discipline that goes along with this. You have to stick with your philosophy and our philosophy is talent rules the board. But as much as we say talent rules the board - it's talent that fits your team." -- Head coach Jim Schwartz.