PHOENIX – Detroit Lions team president Rod Wood sat down with beat reporters Tuesday to review some of the major topics discussed by the league’s ownership at the Annual League Meetings this week, and also to touch on some news and notes pertaining to the Lions.
The biggest news to come out of Arizona Tuesday was the approval to extend replay to include pass interference calls, including no calls, in the replay review system. Coaches will be able to challenge those plays like any other challengeable play, and any review of those calls in the last two minutes of each half will come from the replay booth.
The Lions voted for the change.
“There was a lot of discussion about replays, I’m sure you guys have heard, and there were a number of proposals,” Wood said. “The one that we ultimately settled on kind of came together this afternoon after the discussion this morning on it. I think there was some concern about having it all done upstairs and coaches challenging in the last two minutes on Hail Mary plays and I think they kind of found a middle ground that keeps the current system in place and utilizes the replay official upstairs in the last two minutes and it takes the play that ended the NFC Championship Game off of the table of being a discussion item as opposed to something that was reviewed.”
Wood also disclosed that he submitted a proposal to the NFL to schedule at least one preseason game around planned joint practices. Wood actually made two proposals for two separate joint practice sessions during the preseason, but did not disclose the other teams involved. He’s confident he’ll get at least one request approved, but is hopeful to get the OK on both requests.
“Hopefully we get what we requested and we would have some joint practices,” Wood said. “More to follow on that.”
Also from Wood, there are no plans for changes to the uniforms, no plans to take any of the preseason home games on the road and no big update projects in the works at Ford Field.
With the recent announcement of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski’s retirement, Lions head coach Matt Patricia had a good Gronkowski story from his time in New England.
“We do a goal-line seven-on-seven period every day in Friday practice," Patricia said. "I would usually stand over the cans – we’d put the trash cans out there as the O-line – and they’d be running crossing routes. And a lot of times, when you’re doing seven-on-seven passing plays, advantage goes to the offense.
“So being a defensive coach, I was trying to make it as difficult as possible. So Rob is running a crossing route behind me, and I knew he was. So I took the garbage can, and I just slung it backwards, and I caught him right between the legs. He goes down. Hard. And he’s laying on the ground, and he’s not getting up. I’m like, ‘This is the Friday before a game. That’s it. I’m done. Gronk’s not getting up. This is it (for me).”
“And he was playing it off. He was fine. I was like, ‘get up right now before I get fired. What are you doing?' So yeah. Great guy.”
PLAYER SAFETY DATA
The NFL’s owners received an annual update on player safety and got some new information on concussions. The league saw a 29 percent reduction in in-game concussions. Overall, including practice and games, the league saw a 25 percent reduction in concussions overall.
The NFL saw 74 percent of players wear helmets that performed at the best level to reduce concussions. The goal this year is to get the remaining 26 percent into those “green” performing helmets.
One big initiative for the league this year is to look for ways to reduce concussions among offensive linemen, which data shows suffer the highest amount of concussions in practice than any other position group.
New England head coach Bill Belichick briefly crashed Patricia’s media availability at the coaches breakfast Tuesday morning.
“Wanted to stop by and say hello,” Belichick said, as he patted Patricia on the back and shook his hand.
Both coaches were wearing very similar jackets, to which Belichick commented: “We got the coat memo.”
TIGHT END WITH AN ARM
Logan Thomas was signed as a free agent last week to add depth at tight end, but head coach Matt Patricia hinted – with a smile -- that his football background might allow him to have a more versatile role in the offense.
Thomas was drafted by the Cardinals in the fourth round in 2014 out of Virginia Tech as a quarterback. Thomas was switched to tight end when he went to Buffalo in 2017. He had 19 catches in two seasons with the Bills.
As a quarterback, Thomas completed one of nine passes for the Cardinals in 2014. The completion was an 81-yard touchdown. He completed his only pass in Buffalo for a 15-yard gain.
“He can throw a little bit,” Patricia said Tuesday. “You never know when one of those plays is going to come out. He can do a lot of things.”