A Long Road

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Justin Vanfulpen - LionsFans.com

PONTIAC - When it comes to the play of the first defensive unit last Friday night, what more can you say. Even with missing three starters (DE Tracy Scoriggins, DT Luther Elliss, CB Bryant Westbrook) that most likely will be there when the Lions go to Green Bay September 9th, the Lions defense showed to everyone around Michigan and Detroit what the people witnessed for the past 25 days in Saginaw.

“The good thing we played pretty solid in the first half which we have something to build on and continue to get better at,” said Chris Claiborne.

“I saw a lot of good things on the tape and also of the field when the actually game was going on,” said Ron Rice. “Obviously we have work to do, we didn’t win the ball game. But that was are first step in a long road to a championship season.”

The Lions goal is to win a championship, and bring Detroit something it has never had -- a Super Bowl winning team. The defense is a key; last year the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl with the strength of their defense, giving up just 165 points, the fewest ever in the NFL. On the other hand, the Lions gave up 307 points, but did take the ball away 42 times. The defense was the strength on the team and the Lions will be even more aggressive this season, and you will see the Lions blitzing more as well as more blitz from Ron Rice. This is something the Lions in the past have not done much of, bringing their safeties on the blitz but something they will do this season.

“I’m able up in there to do some things and cause some havoc,” said Rice. “I’m sure you will see a lot of it.”

The Lions' core group of players on defense is back, with all 11 starters returning from last year. The Lions also added some free-agents on the defensive side of the ball, with cornerbacks Todd Lyght and Robert Bailey. They just recently added Alonzo Spellman to their defensive line. Linebacker Chris Claiborne believes the addition of Spellman will create a large impact.

“It’s going to make a world of difference, it’s going to add some rotation so those guys aren’t so tired,” said Claiborne.

With everyone the Lions have on defense, they are all learning a new system that new defensive coordinator Vince Tobin is putting in.

“I think the way our scheme is a little bit different, the biggest difference is the way we play, but we have the same nucleus of guys and that is helping us to convert over,” said Claiborne.

“We are playing a little bit of everything (cover) 2, (cover) 3, and a little cover one, we try to give the offense a couple of different looks,” said Rice. “Of course we have to adjust to what they are doing but we try to give a lot of cover 2 shells and roll to 3 and play cover one, you try to give the quarterback some miss reads.”

The Lions staff, and their fans, are hoping that the defense can continue to look as well as they did in the first quarter of their first pre-season game. If that does happen, Ron Rice's statement of the Lions taking their first step in a long road to a championship season could be fulfilled.

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