Lions GM: ‘We have high expectations’

It has been a long time, but there’s a feeling of hope around

the Detroit Lions practice facility these days.

And it isn’t just coming from fans.

”We have high expectations for this year,” Lions general

manager Martin Mayhew said in a rare media briefing Friday. ”We

feel like we can compete for our division.”

Considering the Lions haven’t had a winning season since 2000,

that’s a bold statement about a division that includes defending

Super Bowl champion Green Bay and Chicago.

Mayhew, though, believes the team turned a corner with four

straight wins to end last season, and improved in the draft and

free agency.

”My first year in 2009, we had a scattershot approach to free

agency, because we had so many holes that we were just looking for

any veteran who could come in and compete,” he said. ”Last year,

we had made enough progress that we were able to get a little more


”This season, especially after what we did in the draft, we

were focused on improving our linebackers and our secondary, and I

think we did that.”

With the CBA ratified late Thursday afternoon, fans finally got

their first looks at three players expected to fill those holes –

cornerback Eric Wright and linebackers Steven Tulloch and Justin


”The Lions are building something, and players know that,”

Wright said about choosing the Lions in free agency. ”This is a

good team, and I wanted to be part of it.”

Lions coach Jim Schwartz was just as happy with Wright’s


”He’s a good, veteran player that can step right on the field

and help us,” Schwartz said. ”That’s what we’ve done – we’ve

added more quality football players, and that makes us a better


But Schwartz wasn’t ready to discuss how the Lions stack up

against the Packers, Bears and Minnesota Vikings.

”You do pay a little attention to what the other teams in your

division are doing, but mainly you want to build your own strengths

and let other teams worry about that,” he said. ”We’re going to

take care of ourselves and see where that gets us.”

Perhaps the win column?

”We’ve talked a lot about winning over the years,” Mayhew

said. ”Now it is time to start actually winning.”

NOTES: S Louis Delmas and DT Andre Fluellen both missed Friday’s

practice. Delmas had minor surgery to remove a pin from his hand

and will sit out a few days to let the wound heal; Fluellen broke

his right hand Thursday. Schwartz said he wasn’t sure how much time

Fluellen would miss. … Mike Utley, who was paralyzed from the

chest down while playing for the Lions, paid his annual visit to

training camp. Utley’s injury took place 20 years ago – Nov. 17,