“It feels like there's a cast on my thumb,” Backus said when asked how the thumb and cast felt. “I just got to get used to it. I mean I've played with broken fingers and all that stuff and you can look at my healthy hand, I got tape everywhere so I think the bulkiness of the cast I got to get used to but I'll figure it out.”
Backus didn’t skip a beat in his first practice in nearly a week as he assumed his left tackle position with the first-team offense and participated fully in drills.
“That’s sort of life in the NFL for those guys,” head coach Jim Schwartz said of Backus. “Those guys have their hands taped so many times it’s almost like there are casts out there. Thumbs in particular for offensive and defensive lineman.”
Schwartz said that if Backus was restricted at all he wouldn’t have participated in practice.
Backus has started 176 consecutive regular season games for the Lions since they drafted him in the first round in 2001, which is the longest current streak among active linemen (offense or defense) in the NFL.
“There's a difference between being in shape and being in football shape,” Backus said of the time off of practice the last week. “I need to get in football shape.
“The rest of the guys have a few days on me, I’ve just got to kind of knock the rust off quicker. I didn't practice a whole lot before I hurt my thumb so I have to catch up.”
WHAT MADDEN CURSE?
Former player, coach and broadcaster John Madden visited Lions training camp Thursday. Madden is more famous nowadays for the line of popular NFL video games that bare his name.
The line of games has a perceived “cover curse” surrounding any athlete who graces it's cover, which this year is Lions receiver
“I was on the cover for 15 years and nothing happened to me,” he said with a laugh. “(Johnson) is too good not to be safe.
Madden, who said he’s never met Johnson, was hoping to get a picture like a fan.
COLEMAN AND LACEY RETURN TO PRACTICE
Leshoure has not practiced since Sunday.
“We are just taking it day-to-day,” Leshoure said after practice.
REPLACEMENT REFS AT PRACTICE
It’s not unusual for the team to invite referees to training camp practices to start getting players acclimated to what they’re looking at when they call penalties and how players can avoid them.
The league has yet to come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement with it’s officials and the NFL has gone ahead with a plan to use replacement refs for games this year if an agreement can’t be reached.
Some of those officials were at Lions practice Thursday.
“We’ve been training these officials for the last couple of months,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said while visiting Lions training camp Thursday. “They come with experience. I was with some players yesterday and they were talking about that. I don’t think they have that concern. I think the issue for us is: do we want to get it resolved?
“We have great respect for our officials. We’d like to see them on the field but we also want to do things to improve officiating. We have economic issues but we also have issues that we might want to expand the number of crews so that we can continue to improve officiating. Those things need to be resolved as part of this. In the meantime we’re going to put officials out there that we feel confident in.”
Cornerback Jacob Lacey said after practice that he didn’t notice any difference in the officiating during practice.
“These guys came out and operated no differently than what we’re used to as far as the logistics of working practice,” Schwartz said.
--Rookie first-round pick
--In a pass rushing drill between the offensive linemen and defensive line early in practice, defensive end