ALLEN PARK -- Something dragged down the Lions last year as they went 3-13, second-worst in the NFL.
"There was an undertow that you couldn't necessarily put your finger on," quarterback Jon Kitna said, "and I think we've rid ourselves of that."
The Lions have made major changes. They have brought in two new coaches -- defensive coordinator Joe Barry and offensive line coach Jim Colletto. They have retooled the roster, bringing in more men who fit the mold of coach Rod Marinelli, not to mention more team speed.
"I think you keep looking for the right type of people that I want here," Marinelli said. "It's about team."
The Lions say there is a different feeling in the locker room now.
"I think the credit goes to Marinelli," wide receiver Mike Furrey said. "There's a trust factor in this locker room now that was not here at all last year. There were different segments and groups all around the locker room, and now it's one group and one team."
Rookie to watch: Calvin Johnson -- The Lions drafted a wide receiver in the top 10 for the fourth time in five years. But after going 1-for-3 -- Roy Williams was a hit; Charles Rogers and Mike Williams were misses -- they think they have gotten the best one yet. Johnson, the second overall pick, was considered the best player in the draft, and he has lived up to the billing so far. He made some spectacular plays in off-season workouts -- snagging the ball with one hand repeatedly -- while showing smooth athleticism, proper technique and strong work ethic.
Sudden impact: Dewayne White -- As the defensive line coach in Tampa Bay, Rod Marinelli helped White go from an immature, out-of-shape draftee into a versatile defensive end and a man. White, whose father died when he was a baby, even credits Marinelli with teaching him how to be a good father. Now that Marinelli is the head coach of the Lions, it's no wonder that White left Tampa Bay for Detroit as a free agent this off-season. White will start at left end and he'll set an example of what Marinelli wants -- on the field, in the locker room and elsewhere.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't like to come out and just say something to say something. I have to see it. ... I've just seen this group of men coming together." -- Coach Rod Marinelli, on his repeated assertions the Lions are going to be a good team.