Camp notes: Record fan attendance sparks spirited practice
Allen Park, Mich. -- The Lions and their fans are ready for some football, with the players especially looking forward to facing a different team.
The Lions announced that Saturday's crowd of 6,034 fans set a new record, beating the previous record of around 2,200.
"They’re excited for the same reasons we’re excited," coach Jim Schwartz said. "It’s just a great day in Michigan. Beautiful day for football, fans came out and they enjoyed it. Our players enjoyed it.
"I think there’s no coincidence that our spirits were up during practice. Our tempo was up as a result of having all the fans out here. I think that helps our guys push through days in training camp."
Unlike some other teams the Lions have not had any camp brawls yet.
During Saturday's afternoon practice, there was a bit of pushing and shoving, but no actual fights.
"I'm always going to talk trash, and to be honest, I wanted a fight to break out," receiver Nate Burleson said. "That gets tempers going and your adrenaline rushing, but it's fun. It's all in good spirits, it's the competitive nature. I don't see nothing wrong with a scuffle.
"Now, taking it off the field and going to the locker room, that's a whole different conversation but pushing and shoving out on the field, that's what it's going to be like. Let's not get it twisted. It's going to be like that this year. There's going to be flags thrown and late hits. It's a violent game. Don't take the fight out of the dog. We still gotta fight."
Schwartz liked the intensity the players showed without crossing the line.
"I thought the players did a good job of controlling it," Schwartz said. "It was spirited and they were competing and it was physical. There were a couple of times where guys were sort of pushing, but it never got beyond that. I thought that was a very good sign from them."
Defensive tackle Nick Fairley was in such good spirits Saturday that he agreed to chat with the media for a few minutes after he finished signing autographs.
Fairley said he made a concerted effort to lose some weight in the offseason so he could come into camp ready to go.
"Really just watching what I eat, cut down on fast food, cut down on my fries, just eating healthy and just continue with my cardio and keeping my body in shape," Fairley said. "Things have worked out really good and so happy I dropped so many pounds."
Fairley, who said he's currently between 306 and 310 pounds after playing from 315-320 last season, said he can feel the difference.
"Really I just feel like my first step is quicker," Fairley said. "Being able to chase the ball down from the D-linemen, being in shape really helps you out with your wind and all that, so it helps me a lot."
Fairley, Ndamukong Suh and Ziggy Ansah were among the defensive linemen running way down the field during team drills.
"I told (Suh) today, we need to get out here and run to the ball," Fairley said. "If we run to the ball, the rest of the defense is going to follow. It kind of showed today."
Schwartz knows how much of a difference Fairley can make for the Lions this season.
"Nick’s had a really good beginning to camp," Schwartz said. "He made an outstanding play today where he had a great chase play. He’s been available for practice each day. He’s been rushing well. He’s been playing the run well.
"We’re really looking forward to what he can do in there this year. We still have a long way to go, but it’s been very encouraging to see what he can do. We always knew what he could do, but it’s just going to have to be a consistent time on the field. That’s been the thing in the past."
Schwartz was referring to the various injuries (foot, shoulder) that have kept Fairley off the field in each of the last two seasons.
It's something Fairley has thought about, too.
"This is going on my third year and that's one of my main focuses, really one of my big goals is to make it through all 16 this year," Fairley said.
DURHAM MAKING AN IMPRESSION
Receiver Kris Durham would love to be known as more than the guy who played with quarterback Matthew Stafford at Georgia.
The last couple of days of practice have helped as Durham has caught a few touchdowns and gotten attention from his teammates.
"Kris Durham? Kris Durham! The white Calvin Johnson?" Burleson announced within hearing distance of Durham. "Oh, my gosh. I'm going to say this, all he does is catch touchdowns! For anybody reading these publications, me talking right now, please Google Kris Durham the last couple weeks of training camp. He is balling!"
Durham just laughed at Burleson's hyperbole, saying he's just trying to prove himself.
"Just trying to make the most of the opportunities that I get," Durham said. "There's not as many as I would like but fortunately I've been able to take advantage of it. The ball's put in the right spot, the line's protecting, just been able to make the play."
Durham said he gained six or seven pounds in the offseason on his 6-foot-6 frame.
"The most this offseason I tried to improve on is my physicality," Durham said. "I've been trying to go up, be stronger, attack. Just don't back down, continue to fight for every little inch."
Durham, who was in training camp with Seattle last season and joined the Lions' practice squad last September. Injuries hit the receivers and Durham played the last four games, starting three.
"Especially coming in and playing at the end of the season, it definitely helped me learn the offense so now I'm coming here, I'm more comfortable with the adjustments, I can see Matthew signal out or check something at the line, I'm able to focus on that instead of just being like, this is the play, this is the adjustment," Durham said. "I just feel more comfortable."
Safety Louis Delmas did not practice for the third straight day as the team continues to try to keep his knees healthy.
"There’s no real update there," Schwartz said. "We knew that we were going to have to manage it through. There’s no difference from when we first opened up training camp. We knew there were going to be some times where we were going to manage it through. We’ll just play it day-by-day with Lou."
Also missing practice were cornerbacks Jonte Green and Chris Greenwood (hamstring), safety Amari Spievey (hamstring), receiver Devin Thomas (PUP) and defensive ends Willie Young (leg), Israel Idonije (leg) and Jason Jones (leg).