Detroit Lions: 5 Things Fans Learned About the Team in the 2011 NFL Preseason
This gives the Lions a perfect record in the preseason, which doesn't mean much. Fans know what happened in 2008 after going untouched in the preseason, so it's nothing to boast about. Regardless, the team looks improved and there is a true excitement in Detroit.
Interviews on the sideline during Thursday's broadcast highlighted the Lions attitude heading into the regular season. Head coach Jim Schwartz and defensive end Cliff Avril said the team "Has a long way to go", while offensive lineman Rob Sims stated, "We got work to do."
Most telling was wide receiver Nate Burleson, who confidently professed that the team has to "create a habit of winning." This speaks volumes as to where the Detroit Lions are headed as a franchise. This should make any fan proud.
On a side note, 41 year-old field goal kicker Jason Hanson went 8-for-8 in the preseason. He is truly a Lions great. With a winning season, Hanson will get the credit he deserves for the two decades of service he's provided for Detroit.
Talk is talk, now it's time for the Detroit Lions to prove themselves and win.
Here are five things that Detroit Lions fans learned in the 2011 preseason.
No. 5: Ryan Donahue Will Be the Punter
As an undrafted rookie from Iowa, Ryan Donahue appeared to have won the battle for the punter position on Thursday.
Donahue went into the preseason competing with Lions veteran punter Nick Harris. Harris has kicked for the Lions since 2003 and was expected to be the man this season, but it seems he has slipped a bit.
The two men went into Thursday night's game versus the Bills neck-and-neck.
Donahue looked like he emerged with the job. He pinned a punt inside the 10 yard line and then booted a 57 yarder.
Harris failed at his chance to punt one inside the 20.
This will be a tough decision for Jim Schwartz and the Lions organization, but Ryan Donahue will be the Lions new punter.
No. 4: Brandon McDonald Will Become a Fan Favorite
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Brandon McDonald turned some heads this preseason.
Coming into the season the Lions had questions in the secondary, but McDonald played very well by showing his ability to make big plays. He tallied 13 tackles in the four games.
Needless to say, he proved himself to be NFL worthy. Playing for a team that has been notoriously bad in the defensive backfield, McDonald will win fans over quickly.
Brandon McDonald will soon become a fan favorite in Detroit.
No. 3: Bobby Carpenter and Maurice Stovall Are Valuable Assets
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Linebacker Bobby Carpenter and wide receiver Maurice Stovall both look like big time contributors on their respective sides of the football.
Carpenter is nothing but a ball hawk and led the Lions in the preseason with 21 tackles. He is part of a much improved linebacker corps and will play a vital role during the regular season.
Stovall scored his second touchdown of the preseason on Thursday night on a 16 yard catch from quarterback Shaun Hill. Stovall had six catches for 108 yards to go along with his two touchdowns this preseason. He also played excellent on special teams.
Carpenter and Stovall are the type of players a good team needs to become a great team.
No. 2: The Lions Offense Has the Potential to Be Great
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Coming into the preseason everyone expected the Lions defense to dominate, while there were still some questions on the offensive side of the ball.
The main question was whether or not Matthew Stafford would be healthy. He looks healthy as the Lions offense racked up the numbers this preseason.
The team averaged 28.5 points in their four preseason games.
The team confirmed their immense talent on the first play from scrimmage on Thursday, as Stafford aired out a 39-yard pass to Calvin Johnson.
In limited time this preseason, Stafford went 25-for-33 for 405 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Lions still have some questions to be answered at the running back position, but Jerome Harrison ran well against the Bills with seven carries for 72 yards.
Keep in mind, Jahvid Best and Mo Morris will get the brunt of the carries in the regular season, but a team can never have enough running backs.
The Lions receiving corps of Johnson, Nate Burleson and Maurice Stovall look tough to tangle. The Lions also have rookie wide receiver Titus Young who'll continue to learn and contribute as the season progresses.
The Lions offense will be a joy to watch all season long.
No. 1: This Lions Team Is Detroit's Newest Version of the "Bad Boys"
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Like the Detroit Pistons of the late 1980's, these Detroit Lions are becoming highly disliked around the NFL.
That Pistons team was known to punch opponents in the mouth (literally) to let them know who was boss. Their ways of going about things upset their adversaries, along with their back-to-back NBA championships.
The 2011 Lions now have the NFL's attention and will get the best effort from every opponent.
The franchise is now turning the corner and rivals are getting mighty fearful because they know their territory is about to be taken from them.
Lions leader and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is already getting a bad wrap as being a "dirty player." To be honest, he's not dirty, he's just stronger than everyone else.
No one likes the new kid in town—no one likes when their little brother grows up and beats the snot out of them either. The Lions are now that team and will prove it on Sundays. They're not "dirty," they're just good.
The city of Detroit and this team are perfect for this role. Built on a tough-as-nails, blue-collar mentality, fans will embrace this image once again. After all, no one in Detroit wants to be known as a prima donna anyway.
Let the critics and the haters say what they will—the Lions will dish out punishments and opponents will be forced to take it.
The 2011 Lions are Detroit's newest version of the "Bad Boys."