ALLEN PARK - The Lions offensive line is starting to take shape quickly under new offensive line coach Larry Beightol. Beightol was a major reason Detroit was able to recruit new left guard Ross Verba away from two other teams. With his addition, it all but locks up the starting unit.
Verba was very vocal about starting at the supposedly up for grabs left guard position next to returning franchise player Jeff Backus. Verba intimated that the Lions had given him the feeling that he would be the starter if he signed with them.
"I was looking at several teams and Detroit gave me a good, fair contract and I felt like I wanted to come here and be a part of what they're trying to do."
The nine-year veteran from Iowa basically became a street free agent after buying his unconditional release from a Browns organization that is still hated to this day by several ex-Browns because of` the duplicity of former coach Butch Davis.
"They lied to me, basically," he said. "I'm a man of my word and integrity and they didn't up hold their part of the bargain, so I gave them back the money," he said referring to the $459,000 signing bonus he got from Cleveland. He admitted the timing of his decision was not the greatest.
"By [that] time, it was probably late June when this had all went down and everyone's cap was tight. No one was expecting for me to be on the market. No one could give me what I felt like I deserved and what I felt like I wanted."
Verba said that shouldn't bother Lions fans since he will be the starter at left guard. "This is going on my year ten for me, I feel like I'm in my prime. I know that I am."
The former Packer and Brown said the presence of Beightol was a big factor in his choosing Detroit.
"I have a lot of respect for him, he's been in the league 22 years. He coached me at Green Bay and really felt that I could help this team improve as a guard. I wanted to play next to Backus. I think me and him on the left side could be something good."
The veteran has played both left tackle and guard in his career and says he's at the point where he can swing between the two in a pinch and believes he and Backus could be a dominant tandem on the left side.
What about Detroit hinting he would be the starter here? "Of course, I'll be starting," stated Verba matter of factly. "Oh, I'll earn it," but then he reasurred, "I don't 'not start.' "