LIONS INSIDER

TWENTYMAN: Lions hold local workouts in Allen Park

Posted Apr 26, 2014

The Lions took advantage of an NFL rule that allows them to hold on-field workouts for draft prospects who played their high school or college football in the Metro Detroit area.

A few weeks before the 2012 NFL Draft, a tall, athletic cornerback wowed the Detroit Lions front office and coaching staff during the teams’ annual local player workout.

Then defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham called it one of the best workouts he’s ever seen.

The performance turned into a fifth-round draft selection for Albion’s Chris Greenwood by the Lions. Two years later, Greenwood is competing for playing time and potentially a starting spot this offseason.

A new batch of local NFL hopefuls were in Allen Park Saturday hoping to pave a similar road to the NFL.

The Lions took advantage of an NFL rule that allows them to hold on-field workouts for draft prospects who played their high school or college football in the Metro Detroit area. Each team in the NFL can conduct such workouts with the prospects from their metro areas.

In all, 15 players from 11 different colleges took part.

For a player like Central Michigan’s Zurlon Tipton, Saturday was another opportunity to prove he belongs in the NFL.

The former Chippewa running back missed most of last season after suffering a broken ankle in the season-opener at Michigan. He returned late in the year and ran for 398 yards and eight touchdowns, but it wasn’t the season he was hoping for coming off a 1,492-yard junior campaign with 19 touchdowns.

“If you love football this is what you want to do for the rest of your life,” Tipton told detroitlions.com following the workout. “I feel these workouts are big because it gives everyone in the building a chance to see what you can do and what you’re made of.”

It was a little different experience Saturday for former Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson, who played high school football at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.

Considered by most analysts to be a late first- or early second-round selection next month, Robinson (6-3, 220) didn’t take part in on-field activities, but took the opportunity to meet the front office and coaches.

Bennie FowlerWR Bennie Fowler (Photo: AP Images)

“You dream about growing up and playing football for your hometown team,” Robinson said. “To make it to the level I am now and to possibly have a chance to play for my hometown team would just make it sweeter.”

Robinson set Penn State records for receiving yards (1,013) and receptions (97) last season.

Like Robinson, former Michigan State receiver Bennie Fowler also took the opportunity Saturday to meet with Lions management and coaches. Fowler played high school football at Detroit Country Day and finished his Spartans career with 93 catches for 1,341 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Both Robinson and Fowler took part in February's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

NOTE: The Lions signed center Sherman Carter and receiver Naaman Roosevelt, two players who were invited to tryout for the team at last week’s voluntary minicamp.

Carter was in training camp with the San Francisco 49ers last year, but has yet to play in a regular-season game.

Roosevelt caught 25 passes for 396 yards and a touchdown in 16 games with the Buffalo Bills in 2010 and 2011.