Lions safety Delmas back on practice field

Detroit Lions safety Louis Delmas returns to the practice field for the first time since late July.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — After a 1-3 start, the Detroit Lions needed something positive -- anything — in the middle of a bye week.

They received that type of boost Wednesday with the return of safety Louis Delmas to practice.

Delmas hadn’t practiced since late July, early in training camp, before undergoing knee surgery on Aug. 7.

His status for the team’s next game, Oct. 14 at Philadelphia, won’t be determined until next week.

“I practiced today,” Delmas said, making a statement to the media but not answering any follow-up questions. “Yes, I did for the first time since my second day of camp. It felt great.

“Playing time is questionable. I’m going to leave it up to my trainers and my coaches. That’s pretty much it.”

John Wendling started the first three games in Delmas’ absence before being replaced by Ricardo Silva for Sunday’s 20-13 loss to Minnesota. Silva had been elevated to the 53-man roster from the practice squad the previous night.

Delmas has missed the last nine regular-season games, including the final five last year, also because of a knee injury. His only appearance since the Thanksgiving Day game last year came against New Orleans in the playoffs.

His presence gave his teammates that much-needed lift.

“He’s huge, man,” linebacker Justin Durant said. “Lou’s one of our vocal leaders. Everybody’s just hyped to see Lou. He’s a character in itself, a fun guy to be around. He brings a lot of energy.

“He flies to the ball, spirited, everything you want in a safety. It will be a big plus for us if we get him back.”

Linebacker Stephen Tulloch added: “He’s one of the premier safeties in this league.  He can cover the deep third (of the field) … he can come down in the box and make plays.  He’s all over the field.

“If we keep him healthy for the course of the season, we’re definitely a much-improved defense.”

Delmas (5-foot-11, 202 pounds) is in his fourth season in the NFL after being a second-round draft pick, 33rd overall, by the Lions in 2009.

Coach Jim Schwartz is taking a wait-and-see approach on whether Delmas will be able play in 11 days against the Eagles.

“Too soon to tell,” Schwartz said. “He only did individual (drills) today, but he did it at a high level.

“I think the key for him is going to be not how he did today, because he did well, it’s going to be how he does tomorrow, how the knee responds, if it swells up, if it’s stiff. If he responds well to this, then how he responds through a week of practice.”

The Lions don’t practice again until Tuesday. The collective bargaining rules added last year require teams to take time off during their bye week.



Defensive end Cliff Avril, who left Sunday’s game because of a back injury, didn’t practice Wednesday. Others who sat out included Tulloch, Durant, cornerback Bill Bentley, center Dominic Raiola, offensive guard Rob Sims and tight end Brandon Pettigrew. Schwartz indicated that none was a long-term concern.

… Cornerback Lionel Smith, released by Dallas, was signed to the Lions’ practice squad.