The Lions kick their season off this Sunday at Ford Field against the Arizona Cardinals, a formidable opponent. A lot has changed since the last time these two teams met. Just ask quarterback Matthew Stafford.
"I think I've seen a lot more football, played a lot more football," Stafford said Wednesday. "Put a ton of work in. Not only our team but myself and how I can help us win.
"I think those are probably the biggest areas you improve as a player along the way is experience and seeing things and seeing defenses and getting our offense in the correct play the majority if not all the time."
Stafford has been playing some of his best ball over the last year and half, and it could get even better with the addition of a respectable run game. Running back Ameer Abdullah, who missed the majority of last season with a foot injury, is looking forward to getting back in the lineup.
"I worked really hard," Abdullah said. "You won't see me posting a bunch of workout videos. That's something I've always done. I'm the youngest of nine (in his family). I've always had to work to be noticed in my family. We have a lot of successful people.
"That's something I pride myself on. I worked my tail off. I don't expect anything but good for myself and my team."
Abdullah will be joined by fellow running back Theo Riddick, who also missed significant time last season.
"It's great to have a friend, much more than just a teammate in Theo," Abdullah said. "A guy who wants to see you do well. Sometimes in this league it's so competitive. Sometimes you have some ill motives sometimes.
"But there is nothing (between Riddick and Abdullah) that is ill motives. That's such a genuine connection we have. (I) want to see him do well, he wants to see me do well and we understand that we're only as good as when we're on the field together both healthy."
CATCHING UP WITH THE CARDINALS
The Cardinals are heading to Detroit with high expectations for themselves, and one goal in mind: Win it all.
"That's our goal every year," Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said Wednesday in a conference-call interview. "If you're not setting out to win it, you're in the wrong business.
"We set that goal, then we quit talking about it and get to work."
It's up to the Lions to get in the way of that goal on Sunday.
For Mike O'Hara's full scouting report on the Cardinals, click here.
Some of the moves were expected, and some were surprising, but one of the big themes that stuck out was the emphasis the team is placing on special teams.
"I think being able to do a lot of things on special teams ... the more you can do the better," Jared Abbrederis said Monday of winning one of the jobs at wide receiver. "That and trying to be as consistent as possible and having some experience might have helped too."
For others, like rookie running back Tion Green, it was their preseason performance that made an impression.
"That fourth game was everything for me," Green said.
OTHER NOTEWORTHY ITEMS:
- In Case You Missed It: Lions vs. Cardinals injury report and game designations.
- Who will lead the Lions in receiving this year? Tim Twentyman tackles that question and more in his latest 10 questions column.
- Watch Guard T.J. Lang sit down with tackle Rick Wagner for the very first episode of Talking with T.J.
- Rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis said he's learned a lot from watching his preseason game tape.
- Find out how many mini A'Shawn Robinsons running back Ameer Abdullah says he could take on in this week's #AskALion episode.