Lions GM surprised Best hasn’t been cleared yet
Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew prides himself on
not sharing too much information.
He laughs at reporters who try to exchange more than
pleasantries with him throughout the year when it’s not one of the
rare days he makes himself available to the media.
However, Mayhew did take and answer questions on Tuesday morning
and couldn’t hide his feelings about waiting for Jahvid Best to be
cleared for practice.
”I’m a little bit surprised, a little bit disappointed,”
Mayhew acknowledged. ”Everything was trending toward him being
ready to go the first day of training camp.”
Best had a season-ending concussion on Oct. 16, 2011 – his
second of the year and at least his third overall – and seemed to
be making progress during the offseason.
Like the Lions, Best isn’t pleased that he’s being held out by
doctors despite not having any obvious concussion symptoms.
”It’s definitely frustrating,” he said.
Detroit is counting on Best to help strike a balance with its
stellar passing game led by quarterback Matthew Stafford and
receiver Calvin Johnson.
The Lions are also banking on defensive end Cliff Avril
reporting to camp to sign a $10.6 million, one-year deal after he
and the team couldn’t agree on a long-term contract.
”Eventually, I know he will be here,” Mayhew said. ”And he’ll
be in great condition when he gets here.”
Messages left with Avril, seeking the planned date of his
arrival in Allen Park, haven’t been returned.
”If anything is positive or encouraging to me, he’s very
optimistic about how he’s going to perform this season,” Mayhew
said. ”He has his reasons for not being here. We made a very solid
offer to him that we felt was a really good offer. He was willing
to bet on himself and bet that he’s going outperform what was on
the table, and I like that.”
The Lions, ranked No. 11 in the inaugural AP Pro32 NFL power
rankings, are coming off their first appearance since the 1999
season. Mayhew said he thinks this team is better than the last
one, but he’s not willing to say returning to the postseason is an
expectation of his.
”It’s important for us to not start focusing on the playoffs
right now,” he said. ”My focus right now is to have a good
practice today and I think a lot of our teams feels that way. I
know Jim (Schwartz) preaches that. The only way you get back to the
playoffs is by taking care of the steps along the way.”
Center Dominic Raiola has endured a lot of losing since Detroit
drafted him in 2001, including the NFL’s only 0-16 season just four
years ago. He said the Mayhew-led front office deserves a lot of
credit for turning the franchise around.
”If you look at the talent that we’re bringing in and keeping,
it’s night and day,” Raiola said. ”They’re giving us everything
it takes to win.”
Detroit is missing only one starter from last season, cornerback
Eric Wright, who signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent, and he left
a void that Aaron Berry was projected to fill this year. However,
Berry had his contract terminated last week after being arrested
twice this summer. That leaves the Lions with lackluster options –
Alphonso Smith, Jacob Lacey, Justin Miller along with rookies
Dwight Bentley and Jonte Green – to start opposite cornerback Chris
”My belief in the spring was that we had a very heated
competition at the right cornerback spot,” Mayhew said. ”There
were a number of players involved and a lot of those guys are still
Mayhew said he would be willing to add a veteran running back or
cornerback at some point, but believes it is too early to make such
So, what is his biggest concern a little more than a month
before opening the season at home against the St. Louis Rams?
”Not saying anything silly right now in talking to you guys,”
Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/larrylage