LIONS INSIDER

NOTEBOOK: Ross not sweating what he can't control

Posted Jun 4, 2015

Tim Twentyman covers all the news from Thursday's OTA practice including Jeremy Ross' take on the return competition, Xavier Proctor's move to offense and more.

Jeremy Ross knows what's up.

He heard the talk from coaches and the Lions' front office about needing to get better in the return game. He was watching on draft weekend when the Lions selected Ameer Abdullah.

Now two months into the offseason program, Ross isn’t sweating the stuff he can’t control. He’s worrying about what he can do to be a better football player.

“I can’t control who’s back there and what guys are competing for a spot,” he said after Thursday’s OTA practice. “All I can control is myself and working and doing my best.”

Ross admitted, however, that the return role does mean a lot to him and he plans to fight for it this offseason and into training camp.

Jeremy RossWR Jeremy Ross (Photo: Detroit Lions)

“I definitely want to be back there,” he said. “I love being a return man. I love doing punt returns and kick returns. It’s an exciting place to be. You get to make a lot of big plays for your team, so it’s definitely important.”

Ross won the duties full time midway through the 2013 season and served in that role all of last season. His production level dipped as a returner from 2013 to 2014, however.

He averaged 16.2 yards per punt return with a touchdown in 2013. That fell to 8.9 yards per punt return last season with no scores. His kickoff return average was 29.3 with a touchdown two seasons ago. It dipped to 25.4 with no touchdowns last year.

Ross was a bigger part of the offense last season than he was in 2013. Coaches suggested at times last year it might have had an effect on his return numbers. Ross caught 24 passes for 314 yards with a touchdown.

The Lions have worked Golden Tate, Abdullah, TJ Jones, Ryan Broyles, Quandre Diggs, Lance Moore and others into the kick and punt return rotation so far this offseason.

“Jeremy’s a competitor,” head coach Jim Caldwell said. “Not only do you see that he’s doing well in terms of the return game portion, but also in the receiver position as well. It’s all part of it.

“I think that, without question, when you bring guys in, if you have a number of guys that can do significant things in different phases of the game it becomes very competitive. I think that’s a good thing.”

Ross said he’s working on being more decisive and running more downhill.

Time will tell if he can hold on to the reigns of the Lions’ return duties, but he’s not worried about that right now.

“I think when you get so concerned with circumstances or things around you, that’s when you start getting shaken,” he said. “But if you just focus on one thing – what you can control – and say, ‘hey, I’m just going to control myself and get better and take care of myself.’

“If I go out there and I’m not giving my best and I’m not the return man then that’s on me. If I give my best and give everything I’ve got to being the best that I can be, and I don’t get it, hey, more power to you. You're just better.”

PRACTICE REPORT

The Lions were without Calvin Johnson and Haloti Ngata for Thursday’s voluntary OTA session.

The team also practiced without running back Joique Bell, offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle, tight end Joseph Fauria and cornerback Darius Slay.

Caldwell said Slay has bruises on both hands and will be out “a couple days.”

Linebackers Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy did individual drills, but didn’t participate in the team portion of practice. Levy is getting over an undisclosed injury and the team is taking it slow with Tulloch, who had ACL surgery eight months ago.

Cornerback Mohammed Seisay left practice and didn’t return after a collision downfield defending a pass.

LEADERSHIP ROLE

With longtime center Dominic Raiola no longer on the roster, quarterback Matthew Stafford, receiver Calvin Johnson and tight end Brandon Pettigrew have become the elder veterans for the offense.

The quarterback is always a leader on offense, but Stafford says he’s embraced that role even more this offseason. He’s been out to dinner with various players and took the offensive lineman to a Detroit Tigers game a couple weeks ago.

“It’s on us,” Stafford said of veterans turning into leaders. “We have new guys in the system. We have young guys. We have all sorts of new challenges in front of us. It’s on us to carry the load and bring them along.”

WHY THE MOVE FOR PROCTOR?

Xavier Proctor hasn’t played offensive tackle since high school, but in an effort to stay in the NFL, the 6-foot-6, 315 pound former defensive tackle has made the switch to offense.

“Often times you look at a guy who has size, strength, can bend and there were a number of times we had him on the offensive side because maybe we were short offensive linemen during the course of last year,” Caldwell said. “Every single time it happened there would always be a couple offensive coaches saying, ‘you know what? I think that guy makes a pretty good lineman for us offensively.’

“So, we’re giving him an opportunity there. This is a great time to do it, seeing what kind of growth we can get involved there positional for him here in the next couple of weeks. I think he’s a willing guy. He wants to find a way to play in this league and I think he will.”

Proctor spent the last two seasons on the Lions’ practice squad as a defensive tackle.