ALLEN PARK -- After months of OTAs, minicamps and off time, the NFL season has finally become visible in the horizon.
The Detroit Lions gathered at their training facility in Allen Park on Friday, preparing for the grueling grind that is the NFL training camp.
With the season fast approaching, the message to the team is simple: focus on improving today in order to be great tomorrow.
Oh, and maybe one more thing.
"Get to work," said wide receiver Nate Burleson as he recapped the message from the coaches. "We don't need to talk about the future, let's just talk about today. We get through each day, trying to fix the problems that we have and build."
As the Lions attempt to build on last season's 10-6 record and playoff berth one of the areas of opportunity will be avoiding penalties.
In 2011, the team surrendered 1075 yards on 128 penalties.
That is not a lost fact within the locker room and coach offices, even if the team doesn't like to openly comment on it.
During Thursday's meetings, head coach Jim Schwartz showed the team penalty statistics to emphasize the important of discipline.
The team will focus on much more than on-the-field discipline during the handful of weeks leading into the regular season but there is no doubt the Lions aren't interested in once again finishing as the league's third most penalized team.
During 11-on-11 drills, defensive tackle Nick Fairley jumped early, barely going offside. After the play had ended, defensive line coach Kris Kocurek briefly scolded the young defensive tackle, preaching the importance of watching the ball and waiting for it to move.
That moment of coaching exactly matches the mantra during training camp: keep your eye on the here and now and focus on improving. The season will come but being overly anxious can be detrimental.
The message seems to be resonating with the team.
"It's about coming together as a team," said cornerback Bill Bentley. "Trying to get better every day, not looking forward to the season. It's all about training camp and trying to compete, staying healthy and having fun."
It's one of the oldest clichés in sports, but the Lions truly are focused only on the current day. There seems to be a sincere enthusiasm amongst the team to simply be working together and improving day-by-day.
The longest journeys still begin with a single step. The Lions hope that by focusing on their initial steps, they can create a long journey, taking them all the way to New Orleans in Febuary.