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Getting to know the newest Lions

Free agency brings a lot of new faces to every team each year, so it seems like a good time to get to know the most recent additions to the Detroit Lions with a few fun facts:


-- Willson is a native of Ontario. He attended St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic School in LaSalle, Ontario – about 30 minutes south of Detroit – before playing football and baseball at Rice. Willson joked Wednesday in a conference that it took him only 32 minutes to get to Allen Park to sign his new contract.

-- He played with the Canadian Junior National Baseball Team in 2008, and in 2011 signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, but he decided to return to football.

-- At Rice's Pro Day back in 2013, Willson was clocked in the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds.

-- The 28-year-old started a movement in Seattle last year known as "Techno Thursday," which involved blaring electronic dance music at practice and the wearing of short shorts.

"It's a movement, you know?" Willson told "We've got the core group of guys now. I'll bet by Week 12, 14, somewhere in there, we'll have 53, plus 10 practice squad, so 63 guys all wearing it. That's what I think."

Even quarterback Russell Wilson got in on the fun.

"Yes, I'm wearing the short shorts today," Russell Wilson said when asked if he liked Techno Thursday. "You guys will see my thighs today, it'll be fun.

-- Growing up a Lions fan, Willson even dressed as running back Barry Sanders for Halloween ... twice.


-- Kennard is the son of Derek Kennard, who played in the NFL as an offensive lineman with the Cardinals, Saints and Cowboys, helping the Cowboys win Super Bowl XXX.

-- Kennard beat Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith in a race when he was a young boy, but he admits that Smith let him win.

-- While at USC, Kennard was voted team captain and had the top GPA on the team. He was awarded USC's Most Inspirational Player and Co-Lifter of the Year.

-- Even after entering the NFL, Kennard continued to drive the 2005 Kia Sorento he'd been driving since he was 16 years old.

"Just because you have money doesn't mean you have to spend money," he told CNBC earlier this year. "In my family, I'm known as the stingy, frugal person."

He's since upgraded to a Range Rover, but still has the Sorento back home in Phoenix.


-- Blount*attended Taylor Country High School in Perry, Florida, where he was a four-year starter on the football team and three-time 1,000-yard rusher before playing at East Mississippi Community College and eventually Oregon. *

-- His 18 rushing touchdowns in New England in 2016 are a Patriots franchise record. He rushed for 1,161 yards that same year, becoming the first Patriots runner to cross the 1,000-yard threshold since Stevan Ridley (1,263) in 2012.

-- Blount owns a red sweatshirt that says "PATRICIA" on the front with Lions head coach Matt Patricia's face underneath the name. It's from their time in New England together.

"I almost wore it just to give him a laugh and giggles," Blount said in a conference call after signing with the Lions. "But obviously it's a business interview, so you have to dress up and look nice."

-- Blount is the great-nephew of avant-garde jazz musician Sun Ra.


-- Shead was born and raised in Palmdale, California and attended Highland High School, where he also ran track and field, and still holds his high school pole vault record. He finished fourth in the 2009 Big Sky Conference track championships in the decathlon for Portland State.

-- Talk about being versatile, Shead played all five secondary positions during his time in Seattle.

-- Shead doesn't mind mixing it up in the run game. He was graded as the No. 1 run-stopping cornerback in the NFL by Pro Football Focus in 2016 (Shead missed most of 2017 season with torn ACL). He had one missed tackle in all of 2016, and led all cornerbacks with 12 stops.



-- Jones attended Lake Howell High School in Winter Park, Florida, and was ranked the second best outside linebacker in the country by before signing with Florida State. Following his sophomore year at FSU, Jones was voted one of three Mr. Versatiles at the team's awards banquet. During Jones' senior season in 2013, Florida State was the nation's No. 1 scoring defense (12.1 ypg).

-- He played both outside and inside linebacker spots in Chicago's defense, and expects to be a flexible part of the Lions' defense.

"There's going to be a lot of opportunities to do a lot of different things here," Jones said via conference call.

-- Former Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker gave Jones the nickname Cheese because he has such a huge smile.  


-- Williams attended Jefferson City High School in Jefferson City, Missouri, and played football for just one year and started only one game. He wasn't recruited out of high school, and was working in a plant making radiator parts for trucks before deciding to give football another try and walk on at Coffeyville Community College. He eventually ended up at North Carolina on scholarship.

-- A permanent starter from 2014-16 in Denver, Williams helped the Broncos' defense rank eighth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed during that span, surrendering 97.9 yards per game. Tennessee was fourth in the NFL defending the run last season (88.8 ypg).


-- Wiggins can play all five spots along the offensive line, but is hoping to be a guard full time moving forward.

-- He was part of an offensive line last season that allowed a league-low 18 sacks and paved the way for a 1,000-yard rusher in Melvin Gordon (1,105 yards).

-- Wiggins is pretty active on social media. He's posted videos of himself chilling in Yosemite and a surprise he got when he reported to Chargers training camp a couple seasons back.

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