Lions-Bills connections

Posted Oct 4, 2014

Sunday's matchup features a plethora of interesting connections between former teammates on the field and on the sideline.

When the Lions and Bills square off in Detroit on Sunday, expect the players to unleash their competitive and aggressive tendencies.

But prior to the game and after its conclusion, keep an eye on the interactions, as the matchup features a plethora of interesting connections between former teammates on the field and on the sideline.
Familiar Foe
One Lions player previous played for the Bills, while four others spent time alongside a current Bill on a different NFL team.

  • Lions LB Ashlee Palmer played for the Bills in 2009.
  • Lions S Glover Quin and Bills DE Mario Williams were teammates in Houston from 2009-2011. Lions QB Dan Orlovsky was also teammates with Williams with the Texans from 2009-2012.
  • Lions S James Ihedigbo and Bills LB Brandon Spikes had a brief stint together at New England in 2011.
  • Lions RB Joique Bell began his career in Buffalo as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Wayne State in 2010.
  • Lions CB Cassius Vaughn and Bills DE Jerry Hughes anchored the same defense in Indianapolis in 2012.
Joique BellJoique Bell and Bills RB Fred Jackson (Photo: AP Images)

College Days
Five Lions will reunite with college teammates when the teams take the field on Sunday.

  • Lions QB Matthew Stafford played with Bills T Cordy Glenn and Bills DE Jarius Wynn at Georgia in 2008.
  • Lions LB Stephen Tulloch roamed the same North Carolina State defense with Bills LB Manny Lawson and DE Mario Williams in 2005.
  • Lions LB DeAndre Levy and Bills G Kraig Urbik were teammates at Wisconsin for the 2006-2008 seasons.
  • Lions RB Reggie Bush played on opposite sides of the ball with Bills LB Keith Rivers at the University of Southern California from 2004-2005.
  • Lions DE Devin Taylor was teammates with Bills CB Stephon Gilmore at South Carolina for the 2008-2011 seasons.

Coaching Connections
The Detroit and Buffalo coaching staffs are quite familiar with each other, as multiple coaches have spent time with both organizations, including former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz.

  • Several Buffalo coaches have spent time in Detroit, including Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who served as the Lions head coach from 2009-2013. Bills special teams coach Danny Crossman headed the Lions special teams units from 2010-12, while Bills quarterbacks coach Todd Downing served in Detroit as the quarterbacks coach from 2009-13.
  • Lions running backs coach Curtis Modkins was the Bills offensive coordinator/running backs coach from 2010-12 before coming to Detroit. He coached Lions RB Joique Bell as an undrafted rookie out of Wayne State in 2010.
  • Bills head strength and conditioning coach Eric Ciano also worked with Modkins from 2005-07 at Georgia Tech.  Ciano was the director of player development while Modkins coached the running backs.
  • Lions assistant offensive line coach Bobby Johnson began his NFL career in Buffalo in 2010-11 where he worked as the assistant offensive line coach.
  • Additionally, Bills defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson worked as the defensive coordinator for the Lions during the 2006 season, and Bills offensive line coach Pat Morris was Detroit’s offensive line coach from 2004-05.
  • Lions quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter worked with Bills tight ends coach Greg Adkins at Tennessee in 2007-08. Cooter was a graduate assistant while Adkins served as the offensive line coach.

Remembering two owners and long-time friends
The NFL lost two of the League’s great pioneers in the passing of Detroit Lions Owner and Chairman William Clay Ford and Buffalo Bills Owner Ralph Wilson, Jr. Both men owned their respective franchise for more than 50 years and had a profound impact on the development and growth of modern day professional football. Mr. Ford and Mr. Wilson lived in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich., and had a long-standing friendship.