CAMP NOTEBOOK: Lombardi expects offense to be flexible

Posted Aug 7, 2014

Tim Twentyman covers all the news from Thursday's training camp practice including Joe Lombardi's expectations for his offense and the return of CB Drayton Florence.

Joe Lombardi made it sound pretty simple on Thursday when he was asked what he wanted to see from his offense come Saturday’s preseason opener vs. Cleveland.

“Oh, move the ball and score points and protect the football,” he said with a smile.

But seriously, this offense has a lot of weapons and Lombardi said he most wants to see how flexible his guys can be.

“If we’ve got to get in 22 personnel and pound the ball to win the game in four-minute offense, we want to be able to do that,” he said. “We also have the weapons to spread them out and throw the ball around a little bit. So it’s flexibility. Doing whatever it takes to win the game.”

It’s that mindset that made the Lions go out and sign a player like fullback Jed Collins. It’s the same reason they made Golden Tate their No. 1 free-agent target and drafted Eric Ebron No. 10 overall.

On paper this offense appears to have the ability to pound the ball behind a fullback, play a lot of two tight end sets and even spread defenses out with three-receiver sets. It's versatile.

“They’ve had a lot of success here (on offense), so we’ve certainly kept some continuity with some of the terminology and some of the principle they’ve run here in the past, so you just try to mix a little bit of old with a little bit of the new," Lombardi said.

It's the new that fans will be eager to see on Saturday.


Drayton FlorenceCB Drayton Florence (Photo: Detroit Lions)

It was around this time last year the Lions signed veteran free-agent cornerback Rashean Mathis and he turned out to be their best cover man last year.

They’re hoping lightning strikes twice with the signing of veteran Drayton Florence on Thursday.

Florence returns to Detroit after playing in eight games here in 2012. He missed the other eight that season with a broken forearm.

He played in Carolina last season and made five starts and intercepted two passes.

“Obviously, he’s a guy that has experience and background so he just gives us another veteran player that can come in and bolster our roster and make it even a little more competitive,” head coach Jim Caldwell said of the signing.

“It’s a competitive situation now, but (it will be) even more so.” 

Florence adds some veteran depth to that secondary and will compete with Cassius Vaughn, Chris Greenwood and Jonte Green for those last couple roster spots at cornerback.


It’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer size of Cornelius Lucas.

The undrafted tackle out of Kansas State stands 6-foot-9 and weighs in at 325 pounds.

“He impresses me when he walks in the building,” Lombardi said.

Lucas appears to have the inside track for that fourth tackle spot behind Riley Reiff, Corey Hilliard and LaAdrian Waddle and he’s been impressing coaches through the first two weeks of camp.

“We were just talking about him earlier today,” Lombardi said. “He’s got these long arms that really helps him in pass protection and he’s coming along on his run blocking. He’s a guy we’re excited about.”


Caldwell said he’s had conversations about sitting some veterans on Saturday and has even come to a decision on some, but he isn’t ready to share those names just yet.

“We’ve talked about some situations, and we are considering some,” he said.

“The positions, I’m not going to name – I know the follow up question. But nevertheless, we’re looking at it and we’ll wait until we get a little closer to game time and see how it shakes out. Every day is a little bit different, you know we had a couple of guys get a little banged up. So we’ll go in and reassess ourselves and see where we are.”


The Lions were without Calvin Johnson, Ebron, Ziggy Ansah, TJ Jones, Darren Keyton and Cory Greenwood at practice Thursday

Caldwell said Johnson had an excused absence for personal reasons.

Safety James Ihedigbo left practice briefly after getting kicked in the right leg in a seven-on-seven drill, but he returned a short time later after getting checked out by trainers.

Guard Rodney Austin left practice during individuals and did not return with an undisclosed injury.