(ALLEN PARK) - The Detroit Lions continue to get all their ducks in a row pointing toward the start of the the 2003 training camp this Friday. Today, Detroit officially inked running back Artose Pinner of Kentucky, their fourth round draft pick and tackle Ben Johnson of Wisconsin, the first of three seventh-round picks, to three-year deals with terms being undisclosed.
Pinner, who when completely recoved from a nagging ankle injury that reduced his effectiveness his senior season at Kentucky, is expected to challenge incumbent James Stewart for Detroit's starting tailback position.
Pinner has good hands and a shifty running style that fit in nicely with Detroit's west coast offensive scheme.
Last season, the 5'9", 229-lb Hopkinsville, KY native led the Wildcats in rushing with 1,414 yards. Over his career Pinner started 14 of 34 games for Kentucky, running for over 100 yards 11 times. He rushed for 2,105 yards and 17 touchdowns on 438 attempts (4.8 avg) and totaled 407 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 58 receptions.
Detroit also hopes it has better results with another Wisconsin tackle, Ben Johnson who will follow in the footsteps of his predecessor Aaron Gibson.
Gibson had an up-and-down career in Detroit was eventually released by Lions president and GM Matt Millen after being chosen in the first round by the team. Johnson hopes to have better success sticking with the team and will vie for a backup offensive line spot on the team, but likely will head for the either special teams or the practice squad.
At 6-6, 329, Johnson has the size and showed some skill staring 9 games for the Badgers over his college career.
Disappoitingly, Detroit released longshot corner Chris Kern. Kern, an undrafted free agent who starred for Mount Union college in Ohio, was impressive early on and appeared to have the early lead on draft pick Danny "Blue" Adams for a backup corner position. But Kern suffered a separated shoulder in practice which severely limited his ability to practice with the team.