LIONS INSIDER

CAMP NOTEBOOK: Rejuvenated Stafford enjoying the challenge

Posted Jul 28, 2014

Tim Twentyman covers all the news from Day 1 of Lions Training Camp including Matthew Stafford's challenge, Nick Fairley's progress and more.

Matthew Stafford is entering his sixth training camp with the Lions. It should be old hat by now, but Stafford admits there’s a different feel to this one.

There’s a new coaching staff and new schemes to learn and the mantra coming out of Allen Park all offseason is that this team is ready and expecting to win.

Changes like those, along with higher expectations, can sometimes rejuvenate a player.

“I think every time the season comes around I feel pretty rejuvenated and ready to go, but there were definitely some fun challenges for me,” Stafford said after Monday’s first practice of training camp.

“Learning a new offense and learning new coaches, just getting to know them on both sides of the football. Learning new teammates. That part of it is fun. It’s a challenge, but we’re excited about it.”

Stafford said he’s doing everything he can to immerse himself in Joe Lombardi’s offense and has benefitted from the jump he got on training camp when he reported Tuesday with the rookies and other quarterbacks.

There’s a lot of pressure on Stafford to pick up this offense quickly and be the floor general for what’s expected to be a potent Lions attack.

“When you can master yourself, which takes time and effort, it’s proven (this offense) can be successful,” Stafford said.

Head coach Jim Caldwell has only been with Stafford for about eight months now but can already sense Stafford’s energy and willingness to work.

“I think the challenge of learning a new system has really peaked his interest at the beginning,” Caldwell said.

“I love his attitude. Any time you have a guy who buys in and buys in quickly, and then goes after it 100 percent, you have to be pleased and we certainly are pleased with his effort.”

FAIRLEY GETS HIS WEIGHT RIGHT

Nick Fairley dropped his weight all the way down to 295 pounds this offseason following a procedure in May to help fix his sleep apnea.

Nick FairleyDT Nick Fairley (Photo: Detroit Lions)

Over the last six weeks since we last saw Fairley at June’s mandatory minicamp, the talented defensive tackle has put 10 pounds back on and Caldwell says he’s now within the desired range they targeted for him.

“We’ve given him a range, his range wasn’t 295, he was far below it at that particular point in time,” he said. “So the concern is a little bit different in that regard, as it is of today."

Fairley’s weight has fluctuated up and down over the last four years as he’s battled to find and then maintain the best weight for him to maximize his potential. Being 295 pounds is obviously too low for him. The times he got into the 320’s was too high.

Fairley told detroitlions.com on Sunday he’s currently weighing in at 305. The Lions have listed him at 308 on their official training camp roster.

Fairley believes this is the weight to maximize his talents.

“I think my body is kind of a 305-type of guy,” Fairley said with a smile. “I feel great. Of course I have to get into a little more shape but that’s camp. That’s what it’s hear for.

“One thing I’m going to harp on this year is being consistent and showing up each and every day.”

That’s something the Lions are hoping, too. The team declined to pick up the fifth-year option on Fairley’s rookie contract and hope he uses that as motivation

“We’re pleased that Nick is moving in the right direction, and obviously he is a guy that’s been working hard,” Caldwell said. “He’s come through some difficult times this spring, just in terms of his couple physical ailments. But I think they’ve helped him in terms of his surgeries and I think he’ll be better for it.”  

VAN NOY INJURES THUMB

It was a frustrating first day of training camp for rookie linebacker Kyle Van Noy.

The Lions’ second-round pick injured a thumb in individual drills early in practice and was held out of the rest of practice.

Coaches and trainers had to actually take his helmet away at one point as he wanted to jump back into drills after briefly going inside to get the thumb checked out.

Van Noy said the injury wasn’t serious after practice.

“We won’t know a whole lot until tomorrow,” Caldwell said. “We took a look at it. He has a bit of an injury to his thumb, but we’ll see how he goes the rest of the week.”

CAMP OBSERVATIONS

-- Cornerback Darius Slay had himself a pretty good first day. He made a couple of plays in one-on-one drills vs. the receivers. He went over Ryan Broyles to break up a pass. He then jumped a Golden Tate route to break that pass up. In the team session he made another nice play on a pass intended for Tate. He looks comfortable in Teryl Austin's scheme

-- Linebackers coach Bill Sheridan got a mini workout in during practice. He was running a passing drill with the linebackers and safeties and every time he threw a bad pass or interception he made himself do a push up. Let’s just say he got a good workout in.

-- When Kyle Vanden Bosch joined the Lions in 2010 we saw how his enthusiasm and work ethic rubbed off on his teammates at practice. We saw lineman following his example and chasing down ball carriers 30 yards downfield. Vanden Bosch has been gone for a couple seasons now, but it seems the defense has still adopted that same rule. In team drills, all 11 players made an effort to touch the ball carrier, no matter how far downfield he was. Fullback Montell Owens had a little fun with rookie defensive tackle Caraun Reid when Owens wouldn’t let him tag him about 40 yards downfield after a play. It turned into a brief two-man game of tag. Reid never had a chance.