Camp Blitz: More Position Battles and Notes

Despite Detroit's 31-81 record since Millen took over, the Lions claim sales remain strong. Also: An update on quarterback Drew Stanton, who looks to shake Martz-itis, more on rookie Kevin Smith, camp battles, and more inside.

  • Despite the Lions' 31-81 record since Matt Millen became team president in 2001, the Lions say sales remain strong. "We're not behind in sales," chief operating officer Tom Lewand said. "We're actually even or ahead in every key category." In the off-season, the Lions beefed up their sales department and began offering split season-ticket packages priced as low as $230. They have been running an advertising campaign. Lewand said the Lions are slightly ahead in season ticket sales at this point over where they were entering last season. He said they also were slightly ahead in corporate sponsorships and about even in suite sales.
  • Quarterback Drew Stanton has discarded virtually all of the changes former offensive coordinator Mike Martz made to his mechanics last year. "I have no idea looking back why all that happened, all the changes that he made," Stanton said. "There's one thing that I still use that he taught me, and that's it. And that was just changing my grip a little bit, and I'm sure just any coach probably would have come along and changed that a little bit, just the difference between an NFL ball and one of those Nike college footballs." Stanton had struggled after spending his rookie season on injured reserve, but he looked better in the Lions' controlled scrimmage on Saturday, throwing two touchdown passes.
  • Roy Williams thinks he and Calvin Johnson rank behind two other NFL wide receiving tandems: Indianapolis' Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne and Cincinnati's Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. "We haven't proven ourselves as a duo yet," Williams said.
  • Rookie running back Kevin Smith is wearing No. 34. He said he wanted No. 24, his college number. But it belongs to safety Greg Blue, and if Blue lets it go, veteran safety Dwight Smith is next in line. "I wanted 24 so bad it hurt my heart when I couldn't get it," he said. "Too much money. ... I was willing to pay, like, ten thousand, and I heard rumors it's going to cost, like, 50. I'm ain't buying nobody no car, now."
  • The Lions need somebody who can step in and snap the ball in case Dominic Raiola goes down. They signed center Andy McCollum, who spent the last nine years with St. Louis, eight as the starting center. "This guy's a quality veteran guy," coach Rod Marinelli said. "He's done it for a lot of years. Smart, high character guy. I'm really kind of anxious to see him get his pads on and go to work."
  • Linebacker Ernie Sims has bone bruise in his right knee, but that's good news. Sims' knee buckled when he leapt for a pass and had an MRI exam. He said the Lions' medical staff was worried he had torn meniscus, but he didn't. Had he, he probably would have needed his knee scoped and missed about a month. "Thank God I didn't have to deal with that," Sims said.
  • WR Devale Ellis appears to have the edge in the battle for the fifth wide receiver slot. He had caught the ball well and shown return ability.
  • LB Jordon Dizon has shown the speed, aggressiveness and instincts expected of him, but still is behind Paris Lenon and Buster Davis at middle linebacker.
  • CB Brian Kelly is nursing a minor knee injury, but the main reason he has been excused from practice often is that he is an 11-year veteran of the Tampa Two system and the Lions are taking it easy on him.

    Lions coach Rod Marinelli still would like to sign free agent linebacker Takeo Spikes, who visited Detroit before training camp. But it appears Spikes is waiting to see how training camps play out around the league before signing anywhere.

  • QUOTE TO NOTE: "I discussed that earlier in the year, and I don't want to talk about it." - Lions vice chairman Bill Ford Jr., declining to comment on president Matt Millen, much as he did at the NFL owners' meetings in April.

    Camp Battle Grounds and Reports

    BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Kevin Smith vs. Tatum Bell for starting RB - When Bell missed a practice for personal reasons, Smith stepped in with the first team and didn't look out of place at all. The rookie had been getting time with the first team, anyway. Breaking tackles was one of the things he did well in college, so it will be interesting to see him in exhibitions.

    OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Shaun Cody has looked lean and quick in camp. He needs to have a big year. He is behind Chuck Darby at nose tackle, but Darby probably can give only 20 snaps or so a game. Leigh Bodden remains behind Travis Fisher at cornerback for now, but it shouldn't last long.

    PLAYER OF THE WEEK: RB Kevin Smith - The rookie has shown the vision and cutting ability expected of him, but he has also shown he can pick up blitzes and catch the ball out of the backfield. His engaging personality is already winning over the media.

    ROOKIE REPORT: Right tackle Gosder Cherilus has rotated in with the first team but still hasn't won a starting job. ... Linebacker Jordon Dizon has shown promise, but remains behind Paris Lenon and Buster Davis. ... Running back Kevin Smith has stood out. ... Defensive end Cliff Avril has drawn raves from coach Rod Marinelli for his speed and instincts. ... Defensive tackle Andre Fluellen started to make an impact in the controlled scrimmage. ... Fullback Jerome Felton has started making an impact; he has had a good battle with linebacker Buster Davis. ... Wide receiver Kenneth Moore needs to improve to make the team, both on offense and as a returner.

    INJURY REPORT: Guard Edwin Mulitalo (elbow), tight end Dan Campbell (elbow), wide receiver Shaun McDonald (knee) and safety Daniel Bullocks (knee) remain on the physically unable to perform list. Linebacker Ernie Sims (knee), defensive tackle Cory Redding (groin), linebacker Teddy Lehman (hamstring), running back Artose Pinner (neck), defensive tackle Langston Moore (shoulder), cornerback Brian Kelly (knee) and offensive lineman Manny Ramirez (knee) are nursing minor injuries.

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