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O'HARA: Quinn's approach more substance than style

Bob Quinn has established a pattern for how he operates in his 15 months as general manager of the Detroit Lions.

There's more substance than style, more grit than glam – and way more action than words.

The Lions started free agency this year a lot like they did in 2016, Quinn's first year as an NFL GM after coming to Detroit from the New England Patriots.

The positions were different this year, and the contracts bigger based on a higher salary cap. But the approach was the same – with Quinn following his pre-draft statement of a year ago that games are won in the trenches.

Quinn's biggest splash this year was the early signing of former Baltimore Raven Rick Wagner to play offensive right tackle. That's projected to be an upgrade over Riley Reiff, a 2012 first-round draft pick by the Lions who gave the franchise five seasons of good service, with four years as a starter.

As Quinn had stated in his end-of-season press conference, the Lions need to upgrade a running game that ranked 30th in the league last year, and there had to be better protection for quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Lions ranked 18th in sacks allowed per play in 2016.

After Wagner's signing came more depth. It was led immediately by two players for the defensive-line rotation – Akeem Spence at tackle, Cornelius Washington at end – and athletic linebacker Paul Worrilow, a three-year starter for the Falcons who was relegated to primarily playing special teams in 2016.

All three were players signing second contracts, who have an opportunity to enhance their careers. In Worrilow's case in particular, the Lions added a strong special-teams player to a unit that ranked second overall in the league last year.

And there was one notable deletion. When the official free-agent period opened Thursday, linebacker DeAndre Levy was released. Once one of the league's most accomplished outside linebackers in a 4-3 system, injuries limited Levy to six starts in the last two seasons.

The announcement of Levy's release included a statement of thanks and appreciation from Quinn for Levy's contributions on the field and in the community in his eight years in Detroit.

However, the act itself showed a side of practicality in the cut and dried business of making personnel decisions. The value of waiting to see if Levy could get back close to his former level of performance had diminished.

It was simply time to move on.

A roster isn't built in one day or one week of free agency. There is more work to be done in areas where the Lions have obvious needs – the running game and speed at receiver, and impact in the front seven on defense.

But what Quinn has done so far is a solid start – and a predictable one, based on his track record.

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