Thursday afternoon's practice marked the first that included the full team. With the CBA ratified, Detroit's unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents and exclusive rights players were given the green light to practice at approximately 4:55 p.m. ET.
Among those players was defensive end
"I'm happy to be here," he said. "I trained with Kyle (Vanden Bosch) all offseason. I was anticipating being here and I'm happy to be here."
The fourth-year pro has gotten better with each season, benefitting from the additions of
All of those factors helped Avril to a career-best 8.5 sacks last year.
"His speed rush ability and his athletic ability is very important to us," said Schwartz. "This is a big year for Cliff.”
Schwartz equated the Lions' defensive line to their wide receivers in that each player brings a unique and valuable skill set.
"The speed that he has is something that’s a little different than what Vanden Bosch brings, a little different than what LJ (
Now that Avril is able to practice, his No. 1 focus is football.
"I'm here to play football and get sacks," he said.