ALLEN PARK -- There isn't a lot of drama at Lions training camp. There really aren't any battles for starting jobs. The drama is going to come Sept. 1, when rosters must be cut to 53 players.
The coaches want to squeeze everything they can out of those 53 spots, and that potentially could squeeze out one of the Lions' most popular players -- return man Eddie Drummond.
At times, Drummond has been the Lions' best offensive weapon. He went to the Pro Bowl after the 2004 season, when he became only the second player to return two punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns in a season -- even though he played only 11 games.
But Drummond doesn't actually play offense, and that could be his undoing.
Over the years he has tried to convince the coaches he can play receiver, like he did at Penn State. He thought he would have a chance when the Lions brought in Mike Martz last season. That's one reason he re-signed with the Lions as a free agent.
At 5-feet-9, 190 pounds, Drummond thought he could fill the role of the small, speedy receiver Martz had used so successfully in St. Louis. Things went well at first. Almost exactly a year ago, Martz praised Drummond's play at receiver, saying he was "very, very pleased" with him.
But Drummond quickly fell out of favor last year, and he has gotten virtually no reps at receiver this year.
Asked if that was OK, he said with the laugh: "Um, no, since last year I put so much work into going at receiver just because I knew Mike Martz was coming and I would get an opportunity. It was the perfect situation for me. It kind of instilled receiver in my heart last year because I grinded out so hard for it. Just watching them right now and not getting any reps is killing me a little bit. But at the same time, I've got to be focused and got to understand and trust the coaches."
Special teams coordinator Stan Kwan has said he will fight for Drummond. But Drummond knows he might be in trouble. Running backs Aveion Cason and Brian Calhoun can return kicks. Receivers Troy Walters and Shaun McDonald can return punts. Receiver Devale Ellis, who is nursing a knee injury, could be in the mix if healthy.
"Yeah," he said, "I think some of the coaches -- the assistant coaches and stuff -- aren't comfortable with somebody just playing special teams."
CAMP CALENDAR: Aug. 19, camp breaks.
Camp Notes and Quotes