LIONS INSIDER

Notebook: Reggie Bush sees a little Drew Brees in Matthew Stafford; Darius Slay returns to field

Posted Jun 4, 2013

Detroitlions.com lead writer Tim Twentyman with a look into the Lions' eighth organized team activity of the offseason

Reggie Bush spent the first five seasons of his NFL career with quarterback Drew Brees in New Orleans.
Reggie BushRB Reggie Bush (Photo: T. Altman/Detroitlions.com)

At the time, Brees was entering his sixth season in the league -- his first with the Saints.

Stafford is entering his fifth season in the NFL, but has attempted more passes (1,863) than Brees did (1,809) in his first six seasons before joining New Orleans.

After spending more than a month with Stafford during the offseason training program, Bush says there are a lot of similarities between Stafford and a young Brees -- beyond them simply sharing the same No. 9.

"Stafford is a really good quarterback and he reminds me a lot of Drew when Drew first got to New Orleans," Bush said Tuesday. "Still young, and has a long ways to go in his career, but he's very talented."

"He's a leader. He's very vocal. He has all the intangibles to be a great quarterback in this league and he already is a great quarterback in this league, so I look forward to playing with him this year."

Stafford and Bush are trying to build the same chemistry Brees and Bush had, when Bush averaged more than 70 catches per season his first three years.

Bush and Stafford were working privately off to the side on passing routes during Tuesday's OTA practice.

Bush said it's working on those little things in practice that will make the difference in the end.

"It helps a lot," he said. "Doing the little things, like just going over some routes that we might not have connected throughout practice, that's going to go a long way into the season. Those little things make a big difference."

SLAY, OTHERS RETURN TO PRACTICE

Second-round pick Darius Slay practiced Tuesday for the second time since undergoing surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus following the draft. Slay took part in individual drills Monday and Tuesday, but didn't do any 7-on-7 or team drills.

"It feels good," Slay said of the knee after practice. "(I'm) moving good and moving fluid(ly) and I haven't missed a step, yet."

Darius SlayCB Darius Slay (Photo: T. Altman/Detroitlions.com)

The value in returning to the individual portion of practice for Slay is the individual instruction he gets from coaches and veterans. Tuesday, it was veteran Ron Bartell working with him through some drills.

"He's been in the game a long time and he's teaching me technique," Slay said. "Listening to the veteran, there's no going wrong with that."

Running back Mikel Leshoure also participated in the individual portion of practice after sitting out the last couple weeks with a hamstring injury that limited him at times last fall.

"I'm just trying to take my time and be careful," Leshoure said of the injury. "During the season, I never really got a chance to rest it and get it exactly where I wanted it to be at.

"But like I said, it's offseason OTAs, it's no time to be out here trying to rush and do things. I'm not saying I haven't been trying to get back. That's been the plan. But we're just being a little bit smarter this year, and I feel good today. Today was a good day for me."

Rookie defensive end Devin Taylor (hamstring) and WR Ryan Broyles (knee) also took part in the individual portion of practice.

Not practicing for the Lions were: Calvin Johnson, Louis Delmas, Brian Robiskie, Nick Fairley, and newly-signed Leroy Harris.

Harris is still working his way back from offseason knee surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus.

Johnson had a day off.

"Calvin always works real hard," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said. "He was a little bit sore from some of the stuff he's been doing in the weight room. Just getting sore from lifting and stuff like that and, it was down around his legs.

"So, we've got a day off tomorrow that can help him recover. It really wasn't an injury, it was just more slowing him down a little bit. Every time he doesn't practice is another time he won't dive for a ball. He won't lay out over top of somebody to make the catch and stuff like that. We have a good feel for what he can do. He provides a great example to the younger players. It did provide some opportunities for some other guys to be able to make some plays."

Schwartz said Fairley chose not to participate in the voluntary workout Tuesday.

"Well, there's no such thing as an excused absence on voluntary OTAs," Schwartz said when asked about Fairley. "Nick's been working, but he wasn't here today.

"It's voluntary. He chose not to be here and it's voluntary."

SPURLOCK TO THROW HIS NAME IN RETURN GAME

The Lions signed receiver/return man Micheal Spurlock on Tuesday, in a move that will throw another name into the competition to return kickoffs and punts for the team this season.

Spurlock has five return touchdowns in first six years in the league. He averaged 14.1 yards per punt return with a touchdown in 2012 and averaged 23.4 per kickoff return with a score.

"He's been successful doing it," Schwartz said. "He's had success as a wide receiver, as a special teams player, as a returner, so that's part of his skill set.

"It's part of the reason we brought him here. We'll have a lot of different people competing back there, but he'll be one of them."

Spurlock is probably most famous for becoming the first player in Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise history to return a kickoff for a touchdown in a regular season game, taking a kick back 90 yards for a score in a game against the Atlanta Falcons in 2007.

At the time, Tampa Bay had not returned a kickoff for a touchdown in their entire 32-year history.

But Spurlock said Tuesday he wants to be remembered for his next play.

"That's what everybody remembers, but I try to make new memories every year," he said. "You're only as good as your last play and that's how I look at it. I try to give you new memories every year."

SOURCE: LIONS SIGN WR MATT WILLIS

The Lions have agreed to terms on a contract with WR Matt Willis, according to a source.

Willis began his career as an undrafted free agent out UCLA with the Baltimore Ravens. He's spent the last four seasons with the Denver Broncos, playing in 38 games.

He had 18 receptions for 267 yards and a score in 2011 and 10 catches for 90 yards last season. Willis also has experience playing special teams.

The team has yet to announce a subsequent roster move to make room for Willis on the 90-man roster.

OTA OBSERVATIONS

  • Cornerback Chris Houston opened the 7-on-7 portion of practice with an interception. Houston is playing with so much confidence this offseason after signing an extension this offseason. He is coming off a good 2012 season that saw him firmly move into that No. 1 cornerback spot for the Lions.
  • Receivers Terrence Austin and Patrick Edwards had good days Tuesday.
  • Austin made a number of sliding and diving catches, and even caught one over the top of the defense from quarterback Shaun Hill in 7-on-7.
  • Edwards continues to show terrific hands and is particularly good at catching the ball and getting up the field in a burst. Edwards ran with the first-team defense opposite Nate Burleson with Johnson sitting out of practice.
  • Cornerback Chris Greenwood is coming along. He's started to make some flash plays, but will also have an occasional lapse here and there.