LIONS INSIDER

Notebook: Waddle continues to impress, how playing time will be given out in Buffalo and more

Posted Aug 26, 2013

Undrafted rookie LaAdrian Waddle, competition at right tackle, playing time for starters on Thursday and more from Lions' practice

LaAdrian Waddle was understandably disappointed when he did not hear his name called during the seven rounds of the NFL Draft in April.

Waddle was watching the draft in Dallas with his extended family and said he could feel the sting when his name wasn’t among the 254 names drafted.

The disappointment didn't last long, though. Waddle said the mood changed "pretty quick" when teams started calling toward the end of the draft.

"I had some calls leading up towards the end of the draft and I kind of had some teams set up to ponder over," he said.

Detroit, Miami, San Francisco and Baltimore called the big offensive tackle at the end of the draft wanting to sign Waddle as a free agent.

The fact that he had been on a pre-draft visit to Detroit, knew the coaching staff and the team's unsettled situation at tackle, made Detroit the best option for Waddle and the reason he signed a contract right after the draft.

Waddle, 21, has gotten significant playing time as the fourth tackle all through training camp and has a very good shot of making the final 53-man roster.

He has long arms (36 inches) and is the biggest of the Lions tackles at 6-foot-6 and 321 pounds.

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz was asked Monday what has impressed him the most about Waddle’s performance thus far.

"Just about everything," he said. "We’ve been swinging him back and forth. He’s played some left, he’s played some right.

"Lately he’s been playing a little bit more right. He’s got great size. His technique continues to improve and I think the thing that we probably liked the best about him is, he’s played the best in the games. All he has done is get his guy blocked. I think that’s been really good to see."

Waddle is coming from an offense that asked him to backpedal at the snap instead of kick slide, which is more typical for an NFL tackle. The Lions have pounded technique, technique, technique with Waddle since the offseason and it appears he’s pick it up well.

"Coming from an undrafted rookie free agent, he’s been very impressive in camp and done very well in the preseason games," Schwartz said.

"He’s rusty in some things. He played his whole college career in the left side. When he moves over to the right, he’s not 100 percent with the footwork and things like that. It’s improving and he’s a player on the rise for sure.

If Waddle continues on his current trend, we’ll be talking less about his roster status and more about him pushing the players in front of him for playing time.

PLAYING TIME

Speaking of playing time, Schwartz said he’d like to get his starters who are 100-percent healthy at least some playing time in Buffalo Thursday.

"I think it’s important this 11 days or whatever it is between then and the first game, you’d like to have at least a little bit of playing time," Schwartz said.

"We’ll take them all by case-by-case basis. Certain guys will play a little bit more than others. I don’t think you’ll see everybody coming out at the same time. We’ll just do the best we can with it."

Even if some starters do play, don't expect any extended time. Maybe a series or two.

PRACTICE REPORT

Don’t expect to see receiver Calvin Johnson, safety Louis Delmas or even defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh play Thursday. All three players have missed practice this week, including Monday’s session.

In all, the Lions had 10 players sit out Monday. Joining Johnson, Delmas and Suh were receiver Ryan Broyles, defensive end Ziggy Ansah, punter Sam Martin, guard Leroy Harris, tight end Michael Williams, running back Montell Owens and safety John Wendling.

Defensive end Jason Jones, tight end Joe Fauria and defensive tackle Nick Fairley returned to practice after sitting out Sunday.

RIGHT SIDE

The right side of the offensive line remains one of the last position battles up for grabs, but Schwartz admitted Monday that the picture is "coming into focus".

"There could still be something that could change our minds," he said. "It’s important to finish strong and finish the way we started. It’s starting to come in. All of our positions are starting to come into focus, but none of them are cemented yet."

Schwartz was then asked who the leaders were for the right guard and right tackle spots.

"We’ll keep that to ourselves," he said. "All those guys are competing and they’re all doing well. We’ll have very good options at that position and all the positions that we have sort of yet to be filled. We’ll have very good options for all those."

Jason Fox seems to have won the right tackle spot as he’s taking all the first-team reps this week. Corey Hilliard has been playing both the right and left, which could mean he’ll be the swing tackle.

It still seems likely rookie Larry Warford wins the right guard spot, but the Lions are continuing to rotate players with the first-team. Someone still might have a chance to win that spot over the next three days.

NEW LINEBACKER

The trade that sent Lions quarterback Thaddeus Lewis to Buffalo in exchange for linebacker Chris White became official Monday when both players passed their physicals.

White doesn’t have a lot of time to impress coaches, but Schwartz said he’ll be given every opportunity to do so.

"First, he’s a good special teams player," Schwartz said of White. "He adds to our linebacker depth. We liked him when he was coming out of Mississippi State. We’ll give him a chance and see what he can do.

"He’s got good size, you see him right there. He’s a good athlete. He got derailed with an injury a couple years ago, but he’s got some good production."