Lions back at training camp with renewed hope, expectations

No matter what you might think of football, no time of the year seems long than this one. It’s brutally hot, and this summer’s dry weather has only made things worse. School’s out, and days seem to just run together in a long expanse of nothingness.

Right about now though, the first signs of fall start to show up. For my peers and our parents, now is about the time to register for classes and start to move out to school. Crops are starting to be harvested, with the you-pick berry farms in full service before the cider mills open up.

Most notably though, football will begin soon, one of the biggest tangible signs of the season. For the college football fan, the first rankings of the season will come out next week or so. And for the NFL fan, team training camps are opening around the country.

The Detroit Lions open up camp today in Allen Park, officially beginning one of the most anticipated Lions seasons in recent memory. Practice starts this afternoon, at the team’s practice facility. It will be the start of about a month of training camp, with many questions to be answered, games to be played and events for fans.

This training camp begins with expectation. In 2011, the Lions came back onto the NFL landscape with a 10-6 regular season, many wins that captured the national imagination, and a playoff appearance (that was a loss, but still).

For this season, Detroit fans will be seeing the Lions in a lot of the big stages that we’re not used to. The Lions are scheduled for two Sunday Night Football games on NBC, Sept. 16 in San Francisco and Dec. 9 against Green Bay, along with two Monday Night Football games on ESPN, Oct. 22 at Chicago and Dec. 22 at home against Atlanta. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson is on the cover of this year’s Madden game, and will have a segment in NBC’s Sunday Night opening video. The Lions will be appearing in all the NFL advertisements, in all the video packages, everything. No longer will the Lions be an afterthought in the national picture.

Locally, the team will be more prevalent than ever, as the Lions are now building upon some success, instead of grasping for something to hold onto. Every game will be a big event, and will surely dominate local discussion. This is uncharted territory for most Lions fans, as even the Barry Sanders era had question marks. For this group of Lions, the franchise seems to be built stronger than it was in the ’90s, and there’s greater potential with these younger guys.

Going into training camp, here are the two main points of discussion:

•Will Cliff Avril’s contract dispute be settled? Avril, a defensive end, was one of the Lions’ more unheralded stars last season, and he wants a long-term deal. Arbitration could not settle the issue, so Avril will be playing on a one-year, $10.6 million contract. Avril should be fine to start the season, but probably won’t attend much of training camp to reduce to chance of injury. Of course, a new contract would bring Avril in immediately.

•Will the Lions’ legal issues be resolved? One point of local and national discussion has been the somewhat staggering rate that Lions players were arrested over the summer. Everyone from star Ndamukong Suh (car crash) to relatively unknown running back Mikel Leshoure (pot) fell into legal trouble, and starting defensive back Aaron Berry was cut this week due to his second arrest of the year.

All of this stuff will work itself out with time and practice. Ultimately, the reason why this is such an issue comes down to a long off-season. Yes, arrests are bad. But everything football gets analyzed and over-analyzed by ESPN over the winter and spring, with numerous talking heads beating points into the ground. Then, writers will pick the Lions to struggle, while also painting themselves as making an “edgy” pick and moral arbiter of football. Instead, the Lions will be fine, all of this will get worked out, and those players affected will either learn from the experience or be out of football quickly.

Everything else is just hype upon hype. This city is ready for footbal. Here’s the schedule for the Lions, and for other games on national TV, with some notes attached.

Lions’ Practice Days Date Time
Tuesday 7/31 9:15 am
Thursday 8/2 9:15 am
Friday 8/3 9:15 am
Saturday 8/4 9:15 am
Monday 8/6 9:15 am
Wednesday 8/8 9:15 am
Thursday 8/9 9:15 am
Sunday 8/12 3:00 pm
Monday 8/13 9:15 am
Tuesday 8/14 9:15 am
Wednesday 8/15 9:15 am
For those wanting to go to training camp, the Lions’ camp is largely closed to the public. Since the Lions built their new Allen Park facility in 2002, training camp has been held there, with only the early practice of the day open to the public. Before that, the Lions held camp around the state, with unique locations serving as places where more fans could enjoy the experience. From 1997 to 2001, the Lions held camp at Saginaw Valley State’s campus, open to the public. From 1990 to 1996, the Lions were in the Pontiac Silverdome. Before that, the team spent 15 years in Rochester, at Oakland University, and in Bloomfield Hills, at Cranbrook. Unlike other teams, which have a long tradition in one spot, the Lions are kind of nomads with training camp.  And unlike other teams, with open camp every day, the Lions are usually closed off from the public.
The Lions do have some times during the preseason where fans can come watch practices. First 1,500 people get in, so don’t be late. Those times are below:
Date Fatality Age Sex Address Zip
May 1 Non-Fatal 26 F East Warren and Alter Road 48224
May 1 Non-Fatal 52 F Greenfield and Fenkell 48227
May 1 Non-Fatal 25 M 3300 block of South Fort Street 48217
May 1 Non-Fatal 55 M Woodward and Englewood 48202
May 1 Non-Fatal 22 M 3700 Block of Devonshire 48224
May 1 Non-Fatal 20 M 3700 Block of Devonshire 48224
May 1 Non-Fatal 19 M 3700 Block of Devonshire 48224
May 1 Fatal M 11000 block of Kenmoor 48205
May 1 Fatal 28 M 36000 block of Memorial 48228
May 2 Non-Fatal 16 F 2600 block Glynn Court 48206
May 2 Fatal 32 M 17000 block of Plymouth 48227
May 2 Fatal 44 M 18900 block of Indiana 48221
May 3 Non-Fatal 23 M 16800 block of GreeNon-Fatalield 48235
May 3 Non-Fatal 27 M 16800 block of Schaefer 48235
May 3 Non-Fatal 22 M 2900 block of Doris 48238
May 3 Non-Fatal M 15900 block of East 8 Mile 48205
May 3 Non-Fatal 23 M 20200 block of Van Dyke 48234
May 3 Non-Fatal 16 M 4900 block of Sorrento 48228
May 4 Non-Fatal 13 M 4700 block of Brandon 48209
May 4 Non-Fatal 25 M 20200 block of Syracuse 48234
May 4 Non-Fatal 20 M Horatio and Martin 48210
May 4 Non-Fatal 25 M 14300 block of Stout 48223
May 4 Fatal M 14300 block of Terry 48227
May 5 Non-Fatal 51 M 5200 block of Pacific 48204
May 5 Non-Fatal 24 M West Vernon and Morrell 48209
May 5 Non-Fatal 45 M 5100 block of Burns 48213
May 5 Non-Fatal 21 M Fenkell and Evergreen 48223
May 5 Fatal 27 M 17100 Lahser 48219
May 5 Fatal M 17100 Lahser 48219
May 6 Non-Fatal 18 F 2500 block of Exeter 48203
May 6 Non-Fatal 35 M 12500 block of Promenade 48213
May 6 Non-Fatal 29 M 600 block of Algonquin 48215
May 6 Non-Fatal 23 M 600 block of Algonquin 48215
May 6 Non-Fatal 21 M East 7 Mile and Hoover 48205
May 6 Non-Fatal 34 M East McNichols and Goulburn 48205
May 6 Non-Fatal 19 M Morang and East 7 Mile 48205
May 6 Non-Fatal 19 M Mack and McClellan 48214
May 6 Non-Fatal 29 M Lyndon and Vaughn 48223
May 6 Non-Fatal 41 M 11800 block of Laing 48224
May 7 Non-Fatal 26 M 9900 block of Prest 48227
May 7 Non-Fatal 11 M 9900 block of Prest 48227
May 8 Non-Fatal 50 M 3200 block of Lockwood 48210
May 8 Non-Fatal 33 M 1600 block of Appoline 48126
May 8 Fatal 29 M Lahser and Gd River 48219
May 9 Non-Fatal 19 F Little Field and Wadsworth 48203
May 9 Non-Fatal 25 M French Road and Harper 48213
May 9 Non-Fatal 22 M 8900 block of Robson 48228
May 9 Non-Fatal 24 M Little Field and Wadsworth 48227
May 9 Non-Fatal 18 M Little Field and Wadsworth 48227
May 10 Non-Fatal 25 M 9800 block of Berkshire 48224
May 10 Non-Fatal 44 M 1500 block of Springwells 48209
May 10 Non-Fatal 30 F 14500 block of Wyoming 48150
May 10 Non-Fatal 22 M 14400 block of West McNichols 48235
May 10 Non-Fatal 66 M 14400 block of West McNichols 48235
May 10 Fatal 18 M 15700 block of Robeson 48227
May 12 Non-Fatal 40 M 17200 block of Prairie 48221
May 12 Non-Fatal 20 M 2100 block of Springle 48215
May 12 Fatal 33 M 3000 block of Mont Clair 48214
May 13 Non-Fatal 37 F 15000 block of West 7 Mile 48235
May 13 Non-Fatal 31 M 15000 block of West 7 Mile 48235
May 13 Non-Fatal 36 M 4600 block of Ashland 48215
May 14 Non-Fatal 21 F 6100 block of West Fort 48209
May 14 Non-Fatal 52 F 2100 block of Lansing 48209
May 14 Non-Fatal 25 F 2100 block of Lansing 48209
May 14 Non-Fatal 70 M 9100 block of Wyoming 48204
May 15 Non-Fatal 32 F 9500 block of Carlin 48227
May 15 Non-Fatal 24 F 9500 block of Carlin 48227
May 15 Non-Fatal 15 F 9500 block of Carlin 48227
May 15 Non-Fatal 39 M 24500 block of West 8 Mile 48204
May 15 Non-Fatal 48 M 15800 block of Steel 48227
May 15 Non-Fatal 19 M Cedargrove and Peoria 48205
May 15 Non-Fatal 25 M 19400 block of Sussex 48235
May 15 Non-Fatal 25 M 19400 block of Sussex 48235
May 15 Non-Fatal 22 M Promenade and Newport 48213
May 15 Non-Fatal 58 M 9500 block of Carlin 48227
May 15 Non-Fatal 19 M Evergreen and Santa Clara 48219
May 15 Non-Fatal 19 M Liberal and Crusade 48205
May 15 Fatal 54 F 9500 block of Carlin 48227
May 16 Non-Fatal 23 M 22300 block of West 8 Mile 48033
May 17 Non-Fatal 30 M 4000 block of Hereford 48224
May 17 Non-Fatal 46 M 4000 block of Hereford 48224
May 17 Non-Fatal 18 M Christiancy and Junction 48209
May 17 Non-Fatal 16 M Christiancy and Junction 48209
May 17 Fatal 40 F 1100 block of Lawrence 48206
May 18 Non-Fatal 30 F 19000 block of Albion 48234
May 18 Non-Fatal 19 F 8100 block of Fenkell 48238
May 18 Non-Fatal 38 M Evergreen and Plymouth 48228
May 18 Non-Fatal 22 M Plymouth and Southfield 48228
May 18 Non-Fatal 17 M Cicotte and Otis 48210
May 18 Non-Fatal 24 M 6000 block of West Outerdrive 48235
May 18 Non-Fatal 40 M 100 block of Michigan Ave. 48226
May 18 Non-Fatal 15 M West 7 Mile and Ferguson 48235
May 18 Non-Fatal 25 M Ohio and Schoolcraft 48238
May 18 Fatal 32 F 4400 block of 14th Street 48208
May 18 Fatal M 5000 block of French 48213
May 19 Non-Fatal 30 M 11900 block of Lakepointe 48224
May 19 Non-Fatal 22 M 11900 block of Lakepointe 48224
May 19 Non-Fatal 27 M 11900 block of Lakepointe 48224
May 19 Non-Fatal 18 M 11900 block of Lakepointe 48224
May 19 Non-Fatal 19 M 14355 Stahelin 48223
May 19 Non-Fatal 26 M 900 block of Glynn Street 48202
May 19 Fatal M 12000 block of Faust 48228
May 20 Non-Fatal 73 M 81000 block of Wetherby 48228
May 20 Non-Fatal 47 M 81000 block of Wetherby 48228
May 20 Fatal 55 F 81000 block of Wetherby 48204
May 21 Non-Fatal 20 F Morang and Kelly 48224
May 21 Non-Fatal 47 F 12000 block of Stout 48228
May 21 Non-Fatal 29 M 12000 block of Stout 48228
May 21 Non-Fatal 36 M Linwood 48206
May 21 Non-Fatal 51 M 4000 block of Burlingame 48206
May 22 Non-Fatal 22 M East Outer Drive & Helen 48234
May 22 Non-Fatal 35 M 1700 block of Harper 48211
May 23 Non-Fatal 26 F Meyers and Schoolcraft 48227
May 23 Non-Fatal 48 M Elmhurst and Dexter 48206
May 23 Non-Fatal 27 M Linwood and West Davison 48238
May 23 Fatal M Linwood and West Davison 48238
May 23 Fatal 16 M Sharon and West Vernor 48209
May 24 Non-Fatal 31 M 12700 block of Griggs 48238
May 24 Non-Fatal 63 M 13600 block of East Wood 48234
May 25 Non-Fatal 71 M 5500 block of Guilford 48224
May 25 Non-Fatal 16 M Moran and Hancock 48207
May 25 Non-Fatal 19 M Moran and Hancock 48207
May 25 Non-Fatal 16 M Moran and Hancock 48207
May 25 Non-Fatal 30 M 19400 block of Schoolcraft 48223
May 25 Fatal 55 F 6000 block of 15th 48208
May 25 Fatal 64 M 6000 block of 15th 48208
May 26 Non-Fatal 24 M Taylor and Linwood 48206
May 26 Non-Fatal 57 M 16700 block of Kentfield 48219
May 27 Non-Fatal 27 M 220 block of South Luther 48217
May 27 Non-Fatal 49 M 14900 block of Tireman 48228
May 27 Non-Fatal 18600 block of Whitcomb 48235
May 28 Non-Fatal 41 M Linwood and Puritan 48238
May 28 Non-Fatal 24 M Stoepel and Eaton 48238
May 29 Non-Fatal 32 M Hubbell and West Outer Drive 48235
May 29 Non-Fatal 39 M 100 block of Arizona 48150
May 29 Non-Fatal 43 M Faust and West Chicago 48228
May 29 Non-Fatal 23 M Monica and Grand River 48204
May 29 Fatal 28 M 15400 Rockdale 48223
May 30 Non-Fatal 18 F Morang and Kelly 48224
May 30 Non-Fatal 35 M 9300 block of East Jefferson 48214
May 30 Non-Fatal 22 M Clarita and St. Marys 48235
May 30 Fatal 24 M 23600 block of West 8 Mile 48033
May 31 Non-Fatal 27 M Maxwell and Pressler 48213
May 31 Non-Fatal 14 M Auburn and Elmira 48228
May 31 Non-Fatal 34 M Conant and Victoria 48212
May 31 Non-Fatal 21 M 14500 block of Mettatal 48227
May 31 Non-Fatal 25 F 5200 block of St. Antoine 48226
It looks like it could be another enjoyable fall for Lions fans.  More substantial Lions coverage will be coming soon, but now is the time to simply enjoy that football is back. In some way. But it’s back.

Gordie Fall

Gordon Fall has been around the Detroit sports scene for his entire life and even entered the world with a Red Wings hockey stick in hand. With a variety of connections around the Detroit area, Fall will be presenting the unspoken, yet optimistic truth of our city’s sports scene.