During an offense vs. defense team period at Lions practice Wednesday, it appeared at first glance that quarterback
Coleman, 30, came into the offseason eight pounds lighter and says he’s at the same weight -- and is showing the same kind of speed and cover skills -- he had in 2008 and 2009 with the Falcons, when he started all 16 games both seasons and recorded 127 and 139 tackles, respectively.
“I played some charity basketball games with (Coleman) this summer and the first time I saw him back from the break I couldn’t believe it,” Scheffler said. “I think he shed 10 pounds and trimmed up. He’s a lot quicker than he was last year. I think he really put a focus on trying to lose a little bit of weight and quicken up and man he looks great out there, I think.”
Scheffler would know; he and the other tight ends work against the safeties more than any group at practice.
Coleman, who missed 12 games last year because of an ankle injury, says being healthy and back in the type of shape he was in a few years ago has him motivated.
“It made me a little more hungry,” Coleman said of the injury last year. “As bad as that sounds – being a veteran you shouldn’t need motivation to work – but it definitely motivated me to work harder and make myself a better player."
The Lions are counting on Coleman and safety
The training camp schedule doesn't allow the Lions any time to feel sorry for themselves with the preseason opener just two days away and the regular season fast approaching. It’s next man up, which in this case means Coleman and Spievey taking over the reins at safety with the first team.
“Right now Amari and I are being called upon to fill that void and we’re going to continue to work hard in practice and in the film room and try to make ourselves better players,” Coleman said.
”It really doesn’t matter what they look like in practice, it’s how they play in games,” Schwartz said. “These next four preseason games will go a long way toward determining how we feel about those guys and how they practice every day and things like that, not what they’ve done in the past. We’ve got some quality guys back there.”
The Lions have given no timetable for Delmas’ return, other than Schwartz disclosing that he’s viewing the injury more in terms of he’s week-to-week than day-to-day.
“We’ve both played a lot of football and we both just have to chip in and be leaders,” Spievey said of he and Coleman.
That’s easier said than done in this case, though. Delmas is the most talented safety on the roster, but he’s also the vocal leader and heart of the defense. Coleman, Spievey, Wendling, Jones or anyone else can’t replace that.
Coleman, Spievey and the others simply need to hold down the fort in Delmas' absence.
“Even as backups we go through every day knowing that we’re one play away from going in, whether it’s the fourth safety or sixth corner or whatever it may be,” Wendling said. “You have to prepare yourself as a starter – that you’re going to be in there every play.”