ALLEN PARK TRAINING CAMP UPDATE: William Clay Ford comments on the status of Matt Millen, Rod Marinelli's thoughts on Simeon Rice, the latest on quarterback Kevin Jones' injury, and much more from training camp inside.
ALLEN PARK TRAINING CAMP UPDATE
Owner William Clay Ford said Matt Millen's job has never been in jeopardy, even though the Lions have gone 24-72 since Millen became team president in 2001. "I didn't say, 'You're safe, don't worry about it,' in so many words," Ford said. "But by the same token, I never intimated to him that he wasn't safe. It was business as usual."
Ford admitted his personal feelings for Millen might have clouded his judgment. "It's possible," Ford said. "But I think if you like somebody and you believe in the same things that they believe in, I don't know what other yardstick to put against it."
Coach Rod Marinelli said it wasn't a top priority to pursue defensive end Simeon Rice because he was excited about the defensive line as is. But he also said he had "great respect" for Rice and wouldn't rule it out. Marinelli used to be the defensive line coach at Tampa Bay. "We haven't sat down and said, 'This is what we want to do,' and all those things yet," Marinelli said. "Obviously I'm aware of him and know what he can do."
Former Lions tight end Charlie Sanders continues working on his Hall of Fame induction speech. One night, alone in an empty house, he practiced with a stove timer. "I got zapped," Sanders said. "Twice." The time limit is 10 minutes. That got Sanders through only seven of 11 pages. "I'm going to whittle it down," Sanders said, smiling, "and see if I can squeeze another minute or two out of the Hall of Fame."
The Lions closed training camp to the public in 2002 after moving it from Saginaw to their new Allen Park headquarters, which they didn't design to accommodate crowds. This year they have invited season-ticket holders to attend practices in relatively small groups. It is a trial run of the logistics to see if more can be done in the future. "I just hope someday we can keep working ways to get more stands and more ways to get more people," Marinelli said. "This is a first run right now, so it's something I'm really excited about."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The saddle's on, and I'm in the saddle." -- Coach Rod Marinelli, on riding defensive end Kalimba Edwards.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Tight end Eric Beverly surprised the Lions when he abruptly retired after the second day of training camp. Beverly said he felt he could still play physically and still loved the game, but his passion to play wasn't 100 percent. He had been contemplating retirement since the end of last season.
"It caught me off-guard," coach Rod Marinelli. "But I respect it. He came into my office. He's a heck of a man, and he came right in and said, 'I'm done. It's too much. I've had a good career, and I want to tell you early so you can make plans.' "
RB Shawn Bryson was released because of a failed physical. He went on injured reserve last season with a knee problem. This gives second-year back Brian Calhoun, also coming off a knee injury, more of an opportunity.
CB Keith Smith, a fourth-year player, is being more assertive now that the coaches have simplified his role. He has nickel talent, but they want him to concentrate on just playing corner.
KR Eddie Drummond isn't getting reps as a receiver and has to prove invaluable on special teams to make the roster.
MLB Teddy Lehman, who came back from a serious foot injury last season, is moving well. The Lions hope he can push Teddy Lehman.
RB T.J. Duckett is in shape. Not that he was flabby before, but his abs are distinctly showing now.
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Dan Orlovsky vs. J.T. O'Sullivan for backup QB -- Coach Rod Marinelli praised O'Sullivan unprompted, and O'Sullivan has even gotten reps with the first team while Jon Kitna has rested. Orlovsky has responded by looking sharp.
OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Teddy Lehman has looked good and could push Paris Lenon at middle linebacker. If everyone is healthy, the Lions will have some tough decisions to make on backup offensive line jobs -- especially now that Damien Woody appears to be in shape and effective again, pushing Stephen Peterman to the second team.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: QB J.T. O'Sullivan -- The co-MVP of NFL Europe was expected to be just a camp arm. But offensive coordinator Mike Martz has a history with these guys -- Kurt Warner, Jon Kitna -- and has thrown O'Sullivan into the mix. O'Sullivan has grasped the offense quickly. "It's not like this guy is the guy, but we want to look at him," coach Rod Marinelli said.
ROOKIE REPORT: Wide receiver Calvin Johnson continues to hold out. ... Quarterback Drew Stanton looked sharp before a knee injury flared up. ... Linebacker Johnny Baldwin has been getting an earful from defensive coordinator Joe Barry.
INJURY REPORT: Rookie QB Drew Stanton also did not practice on Monday. The former MSU standout will have his knee scoped to remove loose cartilage and is listed as week-to-week.Running back Kevin Jones (foot) is on schedule and hopes to be back for the season opener, but he isn't ready for contact yet. ... Tight end Dan Campbell (elbow) and defensive tackle Shaun Rogers (knee) are being brought along slowly. ... Defensive end Dewayne White (groin) and wide receiver Kevin Kasper (hamstring) are nursing minor injuries. ... Wide receiver Devale Ellis (knee) should return relatively soon.
TRAINING CAMP CALENDAR: Aug. 4, open practice at Ford Field, Charlie Sanders' Hall of Fame induction. Aug. 19, camp breaks.