DE Cliff Avril rejoins Lions
Cliff Avril welcomed a son Wednesday night and returned to work
less than 24 hours later.
The Detroit Lions’ defensive end signed a one-year qualifying
offer Thursday morning and joined the rest of the team’s free
agents on the practice field for the first time. The restricted
free agent could be in for quite a haul by the end of the
”This is a big year for Cliff,” coach Jim Schwartz said of
Avril, whose deal is worth about $3 million. ”He’s always been
productive when he’s been on the field but as far as being healthy
and playing 16 games, it’s a big thing for him.
”His speed-rush ability, his athletic ability, it’s very
important to us.”
The four-year veteran had a career-best 8 1/2 sacks last season
while starting all 13 games he played.
He has 19 career sacks and eight forced fumbles, both better
numbers than Kansas City’s Tamba Hali, who signed a five-year, $60
million deal on Wednesday.
”More motivation,” Avril said after hearing the comparison of
career stats. ”It’s good to see guys get money (if they get) after
the quarterback, and hopefully I can be one of those guys.”
He should get plenty of chances to make an impact playing next
to tackles Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams, each of whom should be
disruptive in the middle of what could be one the NFL’s best
defensive lines. Injured rookie Nick Fairley, who’ll miss several
weeks after foot surgery, will add even more power up the middle
when he returns.
Kyle Vanden Bosch lines up on the strong side and should get
plenty of attention from opposing defenses.
”I’m here to play football and get sacks,” Avril said. ”I’ll
let my play work for me and we’ll go from there.
”If the (defensive line) sticks together, we can do some great
things. I trained with Kyle during the offseason, so why wouldn’t I
want to be here?”
Lions president Tom Lewand said the franchise is committed to
keeping a young core of players together, but would not say if the
team was negotiating a longer deal. Avril said he would leave any
such matters to his agent and didn’t feel the lack of a long-term
deal would be a frustration during the coming season. He added that
he hopes he’s in Detroit’s long-term plans.
”I was part of the 0-16 (2008) team and I definitely want to be
on a championship team here,” he said.
He and his fellow free agents had to wait a few minutes to hit
the field Thursday afternoon while the team awaited word of the
ratification of the collective bargaining agreement. They made a
dramatic entrance, coming from under a half-closed roll-up door
while shouting ”we’re free” about eight minutes after the rest of
the team began stretching.
The Lions delayed the start of practice more than 30 minutes
while they waited for word from the league office that the NFL year
had officially begun.
Avril’s son Xavier – a future basketball player – his father
insists, was resting comfortably with his mother at the