Missile Strike: Delmas' Return Provides Spark

Aaron Brown might have owned the exhibition heroics on Saturday, but Louis "Da Missile" Delmas brought the rookie runner back to reality on Wednesday. Much more inside from training camp, including: an update on the linebacker position, Cody Spencer's injury and what it means, and who might have locked up both return positions.

Aaron Brown might have owned the exhibition heroics on Saturday, but Louis Delmas brought the rookie runner back to reality on Wednesday.

Delmas, who returned to practice on Monday after missing over a week with a swollen knee, wasted no time reminding everyone -- especially Brown -- why he's a bonafied starter and first-day draft pick.

Delmas leveled Brown after the former Texas Christian star took a dump pass and attempted to hit the sideline. Although Brown displayed ridiculous speed against Atlanta in his two touchdown jaunts, Delmas was a blur just prior to contact.

The hit sent shockwaves through practice field. On the surface, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz condemned the play, but defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham couldn't help but smile.

"I told him it was an unnecessary hit," said Schwartz. "I know that he could have made that play; he had a couple yesterday that he really did a good job of flying by. Our rule is: first level we want to make contact, but if we ever have a hit on an unprotected player we want to pass that one by.

"There's one thing of making a hit in the hole, or making a hit when the guy is just breaking the perimeter, but when a guy's not expecting it, when a guy is in a vulnerable position, we have to be smarter with that. He was motoring to get there. I appreciate the effort and everything else, but we just need to be smarter about that. We're all on the same team; we just need to practice together a little bit more. I respect him for how much he's been itching to get out to practice but I thought that one crossed the line."

Said Cunningham, "I turned around and smiled and loved every second of it. Boy, he blew him up and that's the kind of tackling we hope to get out of him."

"We've really been working hard at becoming a physical team, and having Louis Delmas back out (helps)."

Terrific Trio

Much hoopla was created prior to camp with the presence of Detroit's big three -- that is, Ernie Sims, and newcomers Julian Peterson and Larry Foote. The revamped linebacking crew was expected to instill experience and talent on a defense lacking both in recent years, but their collective play hasn't cracked headlines. Foote has had difficulty adjusting to his role (MLB) in a foreign defense (he played inside linebacker in a 3-4 previously), the team is still figuring out how to use Peterson properly, and Sims continues to make the occasional mental miscue. Against Atlanta, Sims overpursued the wrong gap and it might have cost the 40-yard Michael Turner touchdown scamper.

But Cunningham was optimistic about his trio, which he is convinced is improving.

"Linebackers are improving," he said. "We're getting a downhill attitude and Ernie Sims is leading it. Larry Foote's getting better; he's getting out of some habits he had at Pittsburgh, and that's not to say they were negative, that's their style of play, and ours is a little bit different, he's adjusting.

"Julian Peterson's gone down and started rushing the passer more every day."

The injury to linebacker Cody Spencer was more of a blow than most people realized. Not only is he the second Detroit defender to suffer a season ending injury (Jared DeVries), but Spencer was considered a solid special teamer and direct back-up to Foote. Rookie DeAndre Levy and second-year player Jordon Dizon have been competing for repetitions in the middle.

Derrick Williams - PR

Derrick Williams has impressed with his receiving skills, but it hasn't deterred the Lions coaching staff from their intentions while drafting the Penn State product: the return game.

Williams has been getting additional reps in both the return and punt games, and might have both positions locked up before the regular season begins.

"Well it was one of the reasons we drafted him was his return resume at Penn State; not only consistency, which is what he brought, but the ability to make a play," explained Schwartz. "Our philosophy is going to be aggressive on defense. We want to push the edge and try to score, and you need playmakers at the return position. He's doing a nice job at wide receiver; he has really taken advantage of the extra reps due to Calvin (Johnson), Bryant (Johnson), and Dennis Northcutt being down.

"That's been a silver lining in those other injuries, is a guy like Derrick Williams has really taken advantage and you've seen him make some plays in practice. But special teams will be extremely important, not just this year but through his career. He's a returner, he can make a play."


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