All things considered -- and all qualifiers about not drawing conclusions from a three-day sample duly noted -- coach Jim Schwartz was pleased with what he saw from the Lions' rookie minicamp last weekend.
"It's way too early to tell, but everybody showed why we drafted them," he said. "I think we are excited about every one of them. I don't want to sound like I am not excited about it because they did what we expected them to do. We were already excited about them. Maybe if you aren't expecting much you get a little excited.
"But we were expecting a lot."
Of the eight drafted players, first-round pick offensive tackle Riley Reiff, fifth-round cornerback Chris Greenwood and seventh-round linebacker Travis Lewis seemed to stand out.
Reiff, the only draft pick yet unsigned, appeared to be equally comfortable playing left and right tackle. He also took charge of his position group during the drill work. It took him a while to adjust to locking in on the defensive ends charging from the wide angles the Lions use, but he was mostly stout at the point of attack.
Greenwood's size and athleticism were as advertised. He may have come from a Division III school (Albion) but he did not look in awe or out of place. Of the group though, Lewis might have been the biggest revelation. Almost completely overlooked on draft day (picked 223rd) despite leading Oklahoma in tackles for four straight years, Lewis looks like he will be in the fight for the open fourth linebacker spot this season.
"I just take it day by day and try to get better," he said. "If you are handling your business then everything else will handle itself. It's not my thought process to think about how many 'backers are on this team and what spots are open and available to me. I just go out and do what they tell me to do and let them look at my skill-set and see where I best fit the team."
His ability to lead his group, to quickly learn the system and schemes at both outside and middle linebacker and to execute during seven-on-seven and full team drills was impressive.
"He's the one in this group that played both (outside and inside)," Schwartz said. "He was a four-year starter at Oklahoma and he's a smart guy with a lot of experience so it was easier for him to do that. You know how much we value multi-dimensional linebackers. They have to be able to do those kinds of things so it was important for him to show he could do those things."
Lewis said he's anxious to begin working with the veterans this week, though he knows he may have to tone it down more than he did this weekend.
"I am excited to see how fast it is and how everything moves," he said. "I've never had to compete for a job, never had competition. I've always been the top dog. So I am looking forward to being in an underdog role and going out there having to find my way, getting lost, getting yelled at - it's going to be fun to be in that position. I am going to embrace it."
"I am an outspoken guy," Lewis said. "I get excited about what I do and I try to get others excited. I am sure when the veterans show up my mouth will quiet up a little bit because that's not my role. I have to earn my place on this team."
- The Mobile, Ala., District Court has set a July 31 court date for Lions second-year defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who was arrested on April 3 and charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana. He has already begun the first phase of the NFL substance abuse program, which requires weekly drug testing.
- Running back Mikel Leshoure's legal issues were mostly resolved last Friday morning (May 11) in a Berrien County district courthouse. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge - misdemeanor possession of marijuana - and paid $575 in fines. He will need to show the court next May that he was in compliance with the NFL's treatment program. He was arrested for marijuana possession on March 12 by Baroda-Lake Township in southwest Michigan. It was the second time in a month he was arrested in the area and the second-offense charge was a felony. According to reports, Leshoure has been in the league's 24-month program that includes testing two and three times a week as well as counseling. Leshoure still faces punishment from the league. Commissioner Roger Goodell could suspend him up to four games