Question of the Week is a weekly feature here where we take a cross-section of opinions from Detroit Lions players and coaches (and sometimes opponents) about a singular topic. Most of the time, they have nothing to do with football. Have a suggestion for a question? Email michael.rothstein@espn.com.

Last season’s Questions of the Week.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- They showed up in courtesy vans and their own automobiles, in groups and on their own.

Rookies reported to Detroit Lions training camp on Tuesday to begin their first forays into a true NFL season. For some, it is their one chance to make the squad. For others, it is an opportunity to move up the depth chart and possibly steal a starting position.

They will be the youngest players in camp and likely among the most nervous at first, which led to the obvious first Question of the Week for the 2014 season.

Rookies, what are you most nervous about entering training camp?

Ebron
Tight end Eric Ebron: It’s just doing what I got picked to do. It’s about being a team player, being here for guys, for the team, trying to help us succeed and advance and to do things that we know we are capable of doing. That’s really just, it’s not nervous, but you got picked first. Come on, you’re supposed to help with the whole process. So that’s really the only thing that weighs upon my head.


Receiver TJ Jones: Probably that first big hit. They always talk about it’s faster, they are faster, bigger, stronger in the NFL, which they are, so, really taking that first blindside or not really seeing someone coming and they take you out. Getting that first one out of the way.


Guard Bryce Quigley: It’s a brand new experience for me, so I’m not sure what to expect. I’m just really excited to be here.


offensive lineman Travis Swanson: It’s kind of hard to pinpoint. I think I was most nervous when I first came in here after the draft. You don’t know what to expect. Now, you kind of do, so It’s kind of hard to pinpoint what you’re most nervous about.


Quarterback James Franklin: Honestly just getting the play calls down. I feel confident knowing the plays and being able to execute them. It’s just being able to remember to tell everyone else in the huddle what they need to do.

Pressure is on Eric Ebron

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
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ESPN.com Detroit Lions reporter Michael Rothstein discusses the challenges facing rookies like Eric Ebron.
The Lions, lying in wait for the new year....

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Bryce Quigley took a chance and even though he placed a potential NFL future at risk, it was a decision he had to make. A decision he doesn't regret.

In the final game of his 2013 regular season at San Diego State, Quigley suffered a Lisfranc injury in his left foot. Practicality would have said to have surgery to repair his foot immediately and forgo his bowl game. Except Quigley went against proper convention. He instead chose to play in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Buffalo before having his foot repaired in January.

He said the potential damage to his NFL future was on his mind, but he figured he would have to have surgery either way so he decided to play.

"Our last regular season game, we didn't end it very well," Quigley said. "College, you're with those guys for four years so I was with the seniors for four years because I didn't redshirt and I just didn't want to go out on that note. I wanted to finish off the season the right way with all the guys I've been with together for a long time."

Fully recovered from the injury -- he expects to be able to practice fully once training camp starts Monday -- the undrafted free agent is focusing on a position switch for the second time. He started college as a tight end. Two years in, he moved to offensive tackle.

Now he's headed even further inside the line as he is trying to make the Detroit Lions as an offensive guard. He'll be competing with Rodney Austin, Garrett Reynolds and others to back up starters Rob Sims and Larry Warford. He signed with Detroit after another workout with the New York Giants, but said the Giants chose to go with a more veteran player.

"It's not too much different from tackle," Quigley said. "They work together. There's some slight differences but I'm still learning as an offensive lineman as a whole so, keep learning."

And now, a look around the Interwebs in search of Lions news:
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Eric Ebron understands there is a level of pressure there now, a level of expectation heaped upon him from the moment the Detroit Lions selected him with the No. 10 pick in May’s NFL draft.

He didn’t necessarily ask for it or expect it, but he appears to be embracing it at least. The extremely confident tight end has no other choice, really. He is going to be looked at differently than the rest of his class. He is going to be called on more.

And if he wants to end up being the NFL’s top rookie when this season comes to a close, he knows he has to produce on a major level -- a level befitting the pick the Lions used on him. His goals, though, go a little bit deeper.

Ebron’s goals encompass the entire state he now resides in.

[+] EnlargeCalvin Johnson and Eric Ebron
AP Photo/Paul SancyaDetroit Lions tight end Eric Ebron (right) doesn't want to let his teammates -- or the entire state of Michigan -- down in his rookie season.
“Everybody has their own individual goals, but my personal goal is really to not let Michigan down,” Ebron said Tuesday as he reported for training camp. “You know, you got picked first, you’re here, it’s about us in this facility that grinds and goes out there in this heat and work to be something great. And it’s about our fans, the people that come out and support us.

“That’s really what I don’t, that’s sort of like my goals. Don’t let Michigan down. Don’t let the team down.”

Ebron knows Detroit’s offensive success this season is going to be somewhat tied to his ability to pick up the offense, to catch passes with regularity and to develop a rapport with quarterback Matthew Stafford.

He also knows his room for making mistakes -- like he did from time to time during spring workouts -- will diminish with every practice leading up to the regular season. He needs to transition his mentality from making mistakes and learning from them to no longer making those errors at all.

He isn’t concerned about his physical condition with any of that. It is all about his mental status.

“I’ve never really worried about my body physically,” Ebron said. “Mentally, it is what it is. It’s the NFL, it’s my first year. I’m going to have migraines. I have Advil sitting in my desk in the tight end room ready to chew on. I’m ready.”

As part of getting ready, Ebron had to do one thing first -- clean out his locker. A Lions coach sent Ebron a picture of his mess of a stall asking if he could keep it neat. The reason for the mess? He was using it as storage.

A lot of storage.

“I had about, a smooth 35 pair of shoes. I had a couple systems for my house, by Sonos. They are some people I deal with, the speakers are incredible,” Ebron said. “I had some customized cleats for the season come through from Nike. The Ebrons ain’t dropped yet. Next year.

“That was it. Just shoes took up most of my locker. Now they in the back of my car.”

They were moved into the same car Ebron is leasing right now as he starts to find a way to navigate in his new world both as a Michigan resident and as an NFL first-round draft pick.
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- When Jimmy Graham was going through his arbitration hearing with the New Orleans Saints, Detroit Lions rookie tight end Eric Ebron was paying attention intently. He knew that eventually, he could be in a similar situation.

And after it was ruled that Graham was a tight end, not a wide receiver, Ebron changed his Twitter profile from tight end to "pass catcher for the Detroit Lions."

On the day he reported for his first NFL training camp, he explained the switch was not a political statement at all.

"I like it," Ebron said. "I'm just messing around. It's just funny."

He got the idea after he saw another tight end, Jordan Cameron, do something similar, and his agent had nothing to do with his Twitter profile switch.

Although Ebron was drafted as a player who could stretch the field for the Lions with rare tight end speed, he understands part of his role is to block. He said his position coach, Ron Prince, made sure of that.

Ebron has at least a few seasons before he can renegotiate his contract and would be a long way away from any sort of franchise tag situation, but the former North Carolina tight end knows the game is changing and more players like Graham could be coming.

"They still considering him a tight end and that's what we came to play," Ebron said. "But I believe it's evolving. That's really it. Everything evolves. The game evolves. Planet evolves. Things change.

"He's deserving of the money that he got and I thoroughly believe that through and through."


(Read full post)


ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- TJ Jones had yet to be checked in Tuesday morning, had yet to go through the tests necessary to find out whether the Detroit Lions wide receiver would be able to step on the field with the rest of his fellow rookies this week.

[+] EnlargeTJ Jones
AP Photo/Michael ConroyLions rookie TJ Jones is eager to test his shoulder, which he injured during Notre Dame's appearance in the Pinstripe Bowl.
The issue is Jones' shoulder, which he sprained during Notre Dame's appearance in the Pinstripe Bowl in Rutgers last December. He was told then it was sprained. Then, after being drafted by the Lions in May and showing up for offseason workouts, Jones said trainers informed him it was worse than that.

Bad enough to have surgery, leading to his rehabilitation with Brian Tovin of the Sports Rehabilitation Center in Atlanta during his off time away from the Lions. Jones said he isn't 100 percent yet because he has yet to block or hit defenders.

"I'm feeling real good," Jones said outside the Lions facility before reporting for camp. "There's obviously things I haven't done yet, certain tests I haven't run on my shoulder so that's things we'll go over with the training staff and they'll kind of make the decision what I should do moving forward."

Jones isn't concerned, though, about the injury keeping him out for a long period of time. He said he'll leave it to the doctors as to a timeframe for him to begin practicing, whether it is right away or down the road.

The 6-foot, 188-pound receiver wants to return to the field because he wants to try and use training camp to prove he can play multiple roles in the offense, both in the slot and on the outside. Jones had 181 catches for 2,429 yards and 19 touchdowns at Notre Dame.

"I understand coming in it's the easiest to learn one," Jones said. "You don't want to get too much on your plate at first, but at the same time now it's training camp and I would like to kind of test my limits and see how much I can take in."

Before he can compete with Kevin Ogletree and Kris Durham on the outside and Ryan Broyles and Jeremy Ross in the slot, he needs to be able to get on the field first.

When that happens, he's looking forward to being able to focus on football six days a week without the classes and other things associated with college.

"It's exciting. It's the next step. You dream about the days when you would get this opportunity," Jones said. "If it was seven days a week. If it was seven days a week, it's all we have now, there's no classes, there's no other distractions. Football is life if it wasn't before. It's definitely exciting and it's an opportunity."
Over the next two weeks, we’ll be previewing the Detroit Lions entering training camp, which begins at the end of July. A reminder -- unless a player is an entrenched starter, so much of what will happen over the next month or so will be entirely fluid as players attempt to make an NFL roster.

Position: Linebacker

Starter: WLB -- DeAndre Levy; MLB -- Stephen Tulloch; SLB -- Kyle Van Noy

[+] EnlargeDeAndre Levy
AP Photo/rick OsentoskiDetroit outside linebacker DeAndre Levy seems on the cusp of becoming an elite player.
Depth (in training camp): Outside -- Ashlee Palmer, Travis Lewis, Brandon Hepburn, Cory Greenwood. Inside -- Tahir Whitehead, Julian Stanford, Justin Jackson.

Likely roster spots: 5-6.

What to expect in camp: Like a lot of the other positions on the roster, much of the competition during camp will be to spell the starters and win special teams spots. DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch are entrenched as starters and won’t be losing their jobs during camp barring injury.

The one starting spot somewhat up for grabs is the Sam linebacker, where rookie Kyle Van Noy is expected to win the job but will face a tough competition from veteran Ashlee Palmer, who had the job last season. Van Noy missed part of spring workouts because of injury, so the second-round pick might be a little bit behind when training camp opens next week. But he will be given every possible chance to win the job. If he does, it will be interesting to see if Palmer hangs on to a roster spot.

Tahir Whitehead might be close to a roster lock as well because of his special teams capability. He was a four-team player last season and was named the Lions’ special teams MVP. Considering the team retained John Bonamego and Evan Rothstein as the special teams coaches, this bodes well for Whitehead’s ability to remain on the roster.

The rest of the linebackers will potentially be competing for one roster spot, so it should be a pretty intense battle throughout camp. It will be primarily a special teams slot, and multiple guys -- including Stanford and Lewis -- have extensive experience there.

What Detroit needs to see: This starts with Van Noy. Much like Eric Ebron on offense, he needs to show Detroit he is ready to be a capable starter from the beginning of the season. Though he won’t be relied on quite as much as Ebron because the Lions will play a fair amount of nickel throughout the season, he needs to show he can handle a starter’s role after the team traded up in the second round to draft him.

At some point this season, Van Noy will end up as the starter there. His pass rush and coverage capabilities are too valuable for Detroit to keep him off the field, but the quicker the Lions see he can handle it consistently and without many mistakes, the faster he will supplant Palmer at the top of the depth chart. Ideally for Detroit, it happens by the middle of training camp.

Detroit knows what it has in Levy and Tulloch, although they wouldn’t mind if Levy completes his progression into one of the game’s top linebackers.

With reserves, if Whitehead can become a viable backup, that will give the Lions some flexibility because of his special teams capabilities. Entering his third season, he has to take that step now or be cast as a special teams player throughout his career. Lewis and Stanford are in similar positions. If they show they are able to be good in situations -- much like Rocky McIntosh was in short-yardage last season -- they have a chance to stick beyond special teams.

Justin Jackson is a player to pay attention to when it comes to a potential practice squad spot because of his athleticism, but he will have a rough road to a 53-man spot.
Training camp is a few short days away as the Detroit Lions rookies report on Tuesday. So, let's chat about it.

The Lions live chat returns at noon ET on Tuesday, right at this link. So bring your questions, maybe bring me some coffee, and let's talk about the start of the 2014 season.

 
The Lions, lying in wait for the new year...

The tweets have been coming over the past 24 hours as the Detroit Lions rookies gather themselves into trains, planes and automobiles (OK, we don't know about the trains) to head to Allen Park, Michigan.

Football season has officially begun for them. They are due to report to the team facility Tuesday.

Among the rookies garnering the most attention over the next few weeks:

Tight end Eric Ebron, the first round selection, will be scrutinized a lot. His hands were a little bit suspect during the spring, something that had been a concern before the team even drafted him. He is expected to be a starter and unseat Joseph Fauria as the tight end that can stretch the field for Detroit. He's being looked at as an immediate difference-maker for the Lions and needs to show that from the get-go.

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy is also expected to beat out veteran Ashlee Palmer and be a starter this fall. Unlike Ebron, Van Noy missed part of spring workouts. It'll be interesting to see if he still needs time to catch up following a spring where he wasn't able to do much at all. For rookies, every practice is going to matter.

Tackle Cornelius Lucas was given the most bonus money of any of the undrafted free agents and his size is being compared to last year's undrafted free agent tackle-turned-starter, LaAdrian Waddle. On a team in need of a fourth tackle, Lucas is going to get the first chance to win that job behind Riley Reiff, Waddle and Corey Hilliard.

Safety Jerome Couplin III didn't have the bonus money of Lucas and wasn't drafted like Ebron or Van Noy, but his nickname of "The Osprey" and his athletic ability has caught early notice from fans. He is still very raw, and if he makes the roster it'll likely be as a practice squad player. Unlike last year's sensation with a nickname -- Kickalicious -- Couplin has a chance to actually make the squad in some fashion.

Kicker Nate Freese was taken with a seventh-round pick and is in a competition with Giorgio Tavecchio for the role. If he wins the job, he makes the team. If he loses the job, he doesn't. His situation is extremely simple. While he might not receive the attention of other rookies this training camp, his job might end up more important than anyone other than Ebron during his rookie year.

And now, a look around the Interwebs in search of Lions news:
[+] EnlargeLions Patch
Courtesy Detroit LionsThe Lions will wear this patch on their jerseys this season to honor late owner William Clay Ford Sr.

The Detroit Lions have found another way to honor their late owner, William Clay Ford Sr.

The team plans on wearing patches on its uniforms during the 2014 season with the letters "WCF" in white in the middle of the patch against a black football with one blue and one gray bar in the background.

Ford Sr. bought the Lions for $4.5 million on Nov. 22, 1963, and owned the team until his death on March 9. His wife, Martha, gained control of the team upon Ford Sr.'s death, although his son, William Clay "Bill" Ford Jr., remained the team's vice chairman.

Under Ford's ownership, the Lions won one playoff game in 50 years and had 14 winning seasons and 10 playoff appearances. 

The Lions open their season on "Monday Night Football" against the New York Giants on Sept. 8 at Ford Field in Detroit.


(Read full post)


Over the next two weeks, we’ll be previewing the Detroit Lions entering training camp, which begins at the end of July. A reminder: Unless a player is an entrenched starter, so much of what will happen over the next month or so will be entirely fluid as players attempt to make an NFL roster.

Position: Defensive line

Starter: Open end -- Ezekiel Ansah; Closed End – Jason Jones; Tackles -- Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley

Depth (in training camp): Ends -- Devin Taylor, Darryl Tapp, Larry Webster, George Johnson, Kalonji Kashama. Tackles -- C.J. Mosley, Caraun Reid, Andre Fluellen, Gregory Hickman, Jimmy Saddler-McQueen, Xavier Proctor.

Likely roster spots: Ends -- four; tackles -- four or five.

[+] EnlargeNick Fairley
Paul Sancya/AP PhotoA trimmer Nick Fairley comes off a season in which he posted six sacks.
What to expect in camp: One of the bigger storylines of Detroit Lions camp -- and the season -- until it occurs will be Suh’s contract situation. Until he signs a new deal or says he is not going to, it will be one of the most important focal points of the year for the Lions. That is the main off-the-field piece for Detroit.

On the field, there will be a lot to expect. Figure Ansah to finally work his way into his starting defensive end spot after missing all of spring workouts as he recovered from shoulder surgery. The most interesting competition of the camp will be at closed defensive end, where Jones and Taylor will likely be fighting for a starting role.

The situation at tackle will be set, as Suh and Fairley will occupy starting spots and Mosley will be the team’s third tackle. Most of the main competition will be behind those three, as fifth-round pick Reid will compete with veterans and former practice squad players for spots on the 53-man roster.

At end, the top three players are set and Webster is the likely fourth option at end after the team used a fourth-round pick on the developmental project. Where it could become interesting is if the Lions’ defensive staff believes both Taylor and Jones have the capability to play inside as well as out and if Suh can start playing outside some as well as inside. If that flexibility exists -- and it very well could -- don’t be shocked if the Lions keep the best possible defensive line players instead of a certain amount of ends and tackles.

Having enough players who can be effective at both spots should open up the entire defense to more flexibility throughout the year.

What Detroit needs to see: This begins with Fairley. The defensive tackle showed a slimmed-down version of himself during offseason workouts, allowing him to both feel better about himself and also play better and longer at a smarter weight for him. He has been gone for six weeks, though, and he needs to show he is back in town in the same shape in which he left. If he does that, it is a good sign for the Lions.

The team also could use growth from the two rookies they drafted on the line -- Reid and Webster. Both are going to likely have roster spots -- Reid because of his special teams capabilities, and Webster due to where they drafted him -- so they have to be able to contribute in certain areas. Neither one was used much with the first two teams during spring workouts, but that needs to change in camp.

Detroit also needs to see a healthy Ansah. He battled various injuries throughout his rookie year, including a preseason concussion, and he has to be able to produce for Detroit to have the effectiveness it hopes to have on the defensive line. He is a major piece to any defensive success the team has this fall.
A season ago, when colleague Ron Jaworski tabbed Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford as the 13th-best quarterback in the NFL, there were some questions about why he was so low.

Stafford
Stafford
Stafford is now lower this season.

Jaworski, who ranked 32 quarterbacks, placed Stafford firmly in the middle at No. 16 -- and it has nothing to do with his talent. Jaworski lauds Stafford's arm, saying his physical skills belong in the top 10. But as many have pointed out -- including in this space -- his decisions and certain throws have always been his problem.

General manager Martin Mayhew fired Jim Schwartz and Scott Linehan in part because of this, replacing them with an offensive-minded staff focused on quarterback development. The Lions' hope is Stafford has a strong enough season where he finally climbs into the top 10 on this list, since it was based on last season's production and throws.

Jaworski also took issue with Stafford's accuracy and reading of coverages, common concerns when it comes to the franchise quarterback in Detroit.

Stafford is not the lowest-rated quarterback in the NFC North. Not even close. To find out who is -- check out his rankings at this link Insider.
The Lions, lying in wait for the new year...

The offseason is over and training camp is almost here. While many teams will begin training camp this week, the Detroit Lions will have their rookies report Tuesday with the veterans showing up on Sunday.

The first practice is a week from today when preparations for the 2014 season will begin. The Jim Caldwell era starts with the preseason opener against Johnny Manziel and the Cleveland Browns and the regular-season opener on "Monday Night Football" against the New York Giants.

Yes, the same Giants that eliminated Detroit from the playoff race a season ago.

Throughout this week, we'll catch you up on players to pay attention to throughout training camp, issues that need to be resolved before the start of the season and some of the most critical position battles out there for the Lions.

But we'll start with a twirl around the Interwebs looking for Lions news:

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