ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions receivers are tired of hearing about Calvin Johnson. They’ve spent the last few months talking about his unexpected retirement, the impact of his loss and how they’ll somehow manage without the man known as Megatron. It’s the type of offseason scrutiny that can get maddening for a team trying to move forward. The only thing more disturbing is the questions that will come if they really can’t survive without him.
The bad news for the Lions is that there really is no way to replace Johnson, who produced 731 receptions, 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns in what should be a Hall of Fame career. The good news is that his departure opens the door for several other weapons on this team to prove what they have to offer. Johnson spent most of his nine NFL seasons being the dominant target on a squad that needed him to play at an elite level every week. This year’s Lions will have to rely on an assortment of talents to divide the responsibility of making Detroit’s offense dangerous again.
While he remained on the roster through the start of the league year — with Detroit paying a $500,000 roster bonus — it was clear the 31-year-old linebacker was no longer in the team’s plans. The Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday that Tulloch had offseason surgery and nfl cheap jerseys and didn’t pass a physical until today, which was the reason for the delayed release.
“As I have said numerous times since I became head coach of the Lions, Stephen Tulloch has been a consummate professional on and off the field,” coach Jim Caldwell said in a statement. “We thank him for his contributions to the Lions and the Detroit community and wish him the very best in all his future endeavors.”
The Lions lost starting running back Ameer Abdullah to injured reserve with a foot injury. Rookie Dwayne Washington is battling ankle troubles. Theo Riddick is a pass-catching back, not a between-the-tackles player. Zach Zenner has proven ineffective outside of preseason action.
The Lions rank 23rd in rushing, with a meager 89.8 yards per game on the ground for the season. In the past three games without Abdullah, Detroit averaged a pathetic 65.3 YPG rushing — quarterback Matthew Stafford was the team’s second-leading rusher in each of those contests.
“We are aware of the upcoming NFL suspension of Andrew Quarless,” Lions general manager Bob Quinn said in a statement. “We have thoroughly researched the incident that caused the suspension and have talked at length with Andrew about this. Andrew has been forthright and honest about the situation and he has gone through the process within the legal system. As an organization we are comfortable with adding Andrew to the roster and look forward to seeing him compete for the rest of the preseason.”
The news is likely an indication of some looming roster updates in Detroit. Veteran Brandon Pettigrew started the season on the PUP list after a December ACL tear, and Eric Ebron was carted off the practice field a week ago with what appeared to be a serious Achilles injury. Though Ebron was moving well after the incident, he did not play in Detroit’s preseason opener.
In the days leading up to this year’s draft, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the annual event would very likely leave Chicago after two years in the Windy City. New York was the home of the draft for 50 years prior to that.
Though Wood didn’t suggest what year might be ideal for Detroit, other cities hoping to host a draft have targeted dates. Dallas Cowboys officials have had discussions with the league about hosting the draft in 2018, while the Green Bay Packers have expressed interest in the 2019, 2020 or 2021 drafts.
Anyone who watched the Lions this preseason understood it was unlikely Ridley would make the final roster. Ridley was playing mostly with the third-string players, and not standing out against the lower competition — 27 yards on nine attempts (3 yards per carry).
Starting running back Ameer Abdullah hasn’t played a snap this preseason, yet Ridley was playing behind pass-catching back Theo Riddick and after big backs Zach Zenner, rookie Dwayne Washington and George Winn.