“Rise and grind… Either ur gettin better or gettin worse no in between…
Cliff Avril seems to be tweeting something similar to this statement almost daily, and it is the same regimen for everyone else on the team.
The Lions are pushing themselves throughout this offseason to grow and become better. The mindset of these Lions is different than the previous years. It’s obvious from the players and coaches that they are all yearning for something more. This year, their goal is to improve and excel in their game. This year, their goal isn’t to make the playoffs. It’s to go all the way.
Calvin Johnson stated it perfectly: “If you feel you have reached the point where you don’t have anything to work for, then you might as well be done”.
Today is the second day of the three-day mandatory minicamp. These last two days will reflect training camp practices.
Avril didn’t attend any OTAs and will not participate in this minicamp. He is still negotiating a long-term deal with the team. Avril might have to play under the one-year franchise tag that is worth $10.6 million if both sides don’t reach an agreement by July 16th.
President Tom Lewand stated Tuesday that there are tough decisions ahead about whether to re-sign a guy. It’s clear that Avril wants to remain with the team. After the big contract that was given to Calvin Johnson earlier this offseason, it raises the question whether or not the Lions can afford to keep Avril. They may have to sign him for $8 million per year, while someone of Avril’s position in the league should be receiving $10 to $12 million per year.
Hopefully, the Lions make the right choice and try their best to keep Avril. General manager Martin Mayhew said there is no reason to panic. But, for Lions fans with the deadline approaching, they have a right to worry.
The first day of minicamp has already passed. Coach Jim Schwartz has stated that he is going to run the minicamp similar to the OTAs, where there are no pads and no contact. Right now, he is looking for consistency. Last year, the Lions had to rely a number of times on Matthew Stafford’s arm. The Lions threw more passes than anybody in the league last season. Schwartz is using the offseason as a chance to improve the run game. Having a consistent running and passing game will be a great strength for the Lions offense next season if they can figure it out.
On a happier note for the rushing game, running back Jahvid Best has been playing well throughout the OTAs and minicamp. Best’s second concussion shortened his season last year. He has yet to be cleared for contact. His next concussion test isn’t until just before training camp. However, everyone says that he looks great out on the field and he has been impressive. Also, running back Kevin Smith has been performing just as well. If these two can stay healthy, they’re be likely to be a big reason why the Lions may find a decent running game this upcoming season.
As for the defense, they have been evolving, especially the front four, or front eight as dubbed by the team. The secondary, however, has vowed that they will not be the Lions’ weakness this season. They were the last ones to leave the field on the first day of minicamp. Cornerback Aaron Berry knows the stress of how much the secondary needs to improve, especially in a league that is becoming very pass heavy.
After this three-day minicamp, the Lions will have time off and will most likely start training camp around July 26th. Two weeks later, on August 10th, it’ll be the Lions’ first preseason game against the Cleveland Browns.
So far, the attitude of the Lions is to become better, get stronger, and play harder. They want to be a better team this year. They want to become a different team than last season. They want to go all the way.
“I think that’s the attitude we’re taking,” Stafford said. “If everybody takes that next step themselves personally, our team’s going to be that much better.”
Spoken like a true leader. It’ll be interesting to see how far this new found attitude will take them this year.