Bly returns to Detroit 4 years after unhappy exit

When Dre’Bly left the Detroit Lions, he didn’t expect to come
back to the team.

He’s happy to be wrong.

Bly was traded away after publicly blaming quarterback Joey
Harrington for head coach Steve Mariucci’s firing in 2006, but
signed a free-agent contract with Detroit in July.

”I honestly didn’t think I’d ever be back here again after what
happened with Joey and the trade,” he said Sunday. ”But I’m glad
it worked out, because I played the best ball of my career in
Detroit, and I’m glad to have a chance to possibly finish
here.”

In his first stint with the team, Bly was a two-time Pro Bowl
selection, but this time, the expectations are lower. In the first
week of training camp, Bly has spent most of his time playing
nickel back.

”I’ve played nickel in San Francisco and Denver, and I even
played it here a bit,” Bly said. ”I don’t care what spot I’m at –
my preference is just to be on the field.”

At 33, Bly doesn’t have the same athletic abilities that he had
coming out of North Carolina in 1999, but he thinks that his
experience more than makes up for it.

”I haven’t lost my ball skills, and I have better instincts
from playing in the league for this long,” he said. ”I was never
a blazer to begin with, so that was never the main ingredient to my
game. I think I can help this team and make plays.”

Lions coach Jim Schwartz isn’t worried about Bly’s diminished
quickness.

”Playing cornerback in this league isn’t about speed – it is
about covering people, and there are a lot of ways to skin that
cat,” he said. ”Once you have the kind of experience that Dre’
has, you can put yourself in position to cover people without
speed.”

Bly left the Lions as the Matt Millen era was plunging toward
its lowest point, and is thrilled by the changes put in place by
general manager Martin Mayhew.

”The attitude in this place is completely different,” Bly
said. ”Martin has done a great job of changing the entire demeanor
of this franchise.”

NOTES: The Lions practiced twice on Sunday, but Schwartz cut the
first session to just 67 minutes. ”There are times in camp where
you have to step on the gas, and times you have to cut back,” he
said. ”We didn’t want to give them a day off, but we limited
things and I thought it went well.” … The Lions don’t play their
first preseason game until Saturday, but Schwartz said that Sunday
night’s Hall of Fame game will give his players a boost. ”It is
sort of a shock to see people already playing, but I know when you
see that first game on TV, your eyes light up a little. It means
you are getting closer.” … DT Joe Cohen missed practice with a
knee injury sustained in Saturday’s public practice at Ford Field,
and Schwartz said the team isn’t sure of the severity.