LIONS INSIDER

Notebook: Patrick Edwards making an impression; Larry Warford returns to practice

Posted May 12, 2013

Tim Twentyman on Patrick Edward's opportunities, the roster getting bigger and stronger and Larry Warford's return on the final day of rookie mini-camp

Patrick Edwards knows he missed a pretty good opportunity to make the Detroit Lions' active roster and play in a game last year.

After earning a spot on the Lions' practice squad out of training camp a season ago, Edwards could have found himself as the replacement for receivers Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles after they went down with season-ending injuries.

Unfortunately, Edwards himself was on the mend after tearing a quadriceps muscle the first month of the season.

"I took it like a redshirt," Edwards said of going on injured reserve after the injury. "Just trying to learn everything and work and get everything down pat."

Fast-forward one season and Edwards is again trying to find a way onto the Lions' 53-man roster. He used the three-day rookie mini-camp in Allen Park over the weekend as another opportunity to show coaches he belongs.

"I like a lot of things about him. I liked him last year," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said.

"Availability was a big thing last year. He would have a really good day in training camp and then he would miss a couple days with a hamstring or some other injury. His availability to practice and to put one good practice on top of another one and be out there and available is an important thing for him."

Schwartz said Edwards (5-9, 175) is a lot stronger than he was last year and is running routes much better and has a better understanding of the offense.

"He's another guy that's in the mix returning kicks and punts," Schwartz said. "But just that availability to be out there all the time, to be consistent from practice to practice is going to be his challenge."

Edwards was the 2011 Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year with 89 receptions, 1,752 yards, 20 touchdowns and a 19.7 average per catch. His last two seasons at Houston, he averaged 15.4 and 14.0 yards per punt return, respectively.

He returned both punts and kicks during the mini-camp and said he'd like to do both for the Lions this season.

"Whether it's an opportunity at wide receiver or special teams, there are going to be a lot of opportunities for him," Schwartz said. "He might be able to take advantage of a Ryan Broyles recovering knee surgery or Nate Burleson recovering a broken leg and things like that.

"There are opportunities in our offense as well as special teams."

BIGGER AND STRONGER

General manager Martin Mayhew had very specific goal heading into the 2013 NFL Draft.

"We wanted to get bigger, we wanted to get faster and we wanted to get more athletic," Mayhew said during the draft.

The Lions did exactly that with a number of their selections and it translated to the field during the weekend's mini-camp.

Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah (6-5, 271) and Devin Taylor (6-7, 276) are long and athletic defensive ends, much different than the smaller ends the Lions have featured in the past.

Ziggy AnsahDE Ziggy Ansah (Photo: C. Wywrot/Detroitlions.com)

Third-round pick Larry Warford (6-3, 333) is a mauling-type guard, who has a thick base and great lower-body size.

Even though he didn't participate on the field during the camp, when Darius Slay (6-0, 192) stretched and warmed up with his teammates, a size difference was apparent among the other defensive backs.

Linebacker Brandon Hepburn (6-4, 235) and receiver Corey Fuller (6-2, 196) have good size and speed.

Even some of the undrafted players the Lions brought in, like tight end Joseph Fauria (6-7 1/2, 255) and tackle LaAdrian Waddle (6-6, 321) are tall and athletic players.

The Lions are certainly implementing Mayhew's vision of where this roster needs to be.

WARFORD BACK AT PRACTICE

Third-round pick Larry Warford, who missed the end of practice Saturday because of a minor neck injury was back at practice Sunday, though he was held out of the contact portions.

"I mean, it gave everybody a little bit of a scare when anybody goes down," Schwartz said Sunday. "But he bounced back from it quickly. Like I said, when he came back out to the field yesterday, even though he didn't continue practice, he was feeling a lot better then. He could have gone through everything today, but we just limited him to just individual today.

"We didn't want him going through any of the half line stuff or the team stuff or anything like that. So, we made the decision to limit him just to err on the side of caution. Like I said yesterday, he had a good weekend and it looks like we'll be able to put that behind us quickly, hopefully."

Linebacker Alex Elkins did not practice Sunday after tweaking a left hamstring during individual drills Saturday.