The Lions worked more slowly this offseason in the hopes of moving more quickly during the season. The coaches were more patient and kept drilling the fundamentals, so the players could master the bread-and-butter stuff.
"I think it put us in a position where the players have a good base of what is expected of them," left tackle Jeff Backus said on the last day of organized team activities. "We all understand the scheme and why we're doing things the way we are. It's going to give us a good base going into training camp."
"Everybody's moving quicker, because those guys are bringing their knowledge from playing in the system," Redding said. "When they get out there and run it right and run it fast, the other guys behind them see how it's supposed to be run."
On offense, there have been more dramatic changes with Jim Colletto replacing Mike Martz as coordinator.
Kitna concentrated on the mechanics of running the offense, with more control at the line of scrimmage. The linemen and backs worked on the new zone running scheme. Everyone worked to master a smaller number of plays.
Wide receiver Roy Williams said the Lions had only 30 or 40 passing plays and maybe 10 running plays. They had more than 200 plays in their game plans last year.
"I'll tell you what: With the plays that we've got in, we're going to be real good at them," Williams said.
They better be, Furrey said.
"We all know it," Furrey said. "We all know what's going on. We've had eight weeks now to just basically fine-tune it. Now we've got five weeks to go home and get ready to come back physically. We won't have any excuses coming into the season. We need to show up and play some football, and that's it."
Overall, there is a different feeling around team headquarters. The edginess Martz brought is gone. Some players who didn't buy in are out.
"The atmosphere is awesome," Backus said. "I think Rod has done a tremendous job of doing it his way and getting what he wants out of us and making changes when changes need to be made. I'm excited to see what happens this season."
Rookie to watch: Running back Kevin Smith -- The Lions plan to run the ball more and have installed a zone running scheme. That's perfect for Smith, a third-round pick this year, who ran the ball a ton in the exact same scheme last year for Central Florida. His college coach once worked with Lions offensive coordinator Jim Colletto. Even the names of some of the plays are the same. Smith will compete in camp with Tatum Bell, Brian Calhoun, Aveion Cason and Artose Pinner.
Sudden impact: Safety Dwight Smith -- We could have picked any of the new additions in the secondary. Corners Leigh Bodden and Brian Kelly will make an immediate impact, and safety Kalvin Pearson should contribute. But we'll go with Smith because he shores up a critical spot in the Tampa 2 and has a lot of experience in this defense. The Lions' secondary, a big weakness in the past, now looks like a strength.