DE Cliff Avril begins his holdout

Posted Jul 26, 2012

Lions coach Jim Schwartz isn’t expecting defensive end Cliff Avril to walk through the doors of the Lions’ training facility with the rest of the veterans today for the start of training camp.

Avril has yet to sign the team’s $10.6 million franchise tag after the two parties failed to come to an agreement before the July 16 deadline earlier this month. Avril has said in a number of interviews that he isn’t expecting to be at training camp initially, and isn’t sure how long he’ll hold out.

Schwartz didn’t seem all that concerned about it when he was asked about Avril during his introductory training camp press conference.

“Like I said, we’re not going to have a, ‘What do we do without Cliff Avril period,’” he said.

Schwartz said he doesn't have any expectations on when Avril will report and that his focus is now on the players that have reported.

“We have 89 other guys and we’re going to coach those guys and not worry about when Cliff is going to be here,” Schwartz said. “Cliff is a very good player for us. He made a lot of impact plays for us last year and that shows in the reason we franchised him.

“Unfortunately, we were unable to get a long-term deal done with him but he’s still our franchised player. When he’s here we’ll get him up to speed. When he’s not, we’re not going to spend a lot of time talking about it.”

Avril led the Lions with 11 sacks and forced six fumbles last season.

The fact that Avril is a veteran and is familiar with the scheme is likely the reason Schwartz doesn't seem too outwardly concerned about his absence. We’re not talking about a rookie who still has to learn the scheme and get acclimated with coaches and players. Avril knows the drill, and when he does report, the transition should be an easier one than say a rookie holding out.

Schwartz did reiterate, though, how important training camp is for all players, even veterans.

“He’s an experienced player, but there’s a reason we do this stuff,” Schwartz said. “We don’t just do it for the fun of it. There’s a reason you go through training camp. There’s a reason you grind out all the practices and the reps. For sure, any player that misses part of camp will be missing it.”