2009 NFL Preview: #32 Detroit Lions

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Offseason Additions: Julian Peterson (LB); Larry Foote (LB); Phillip Buchanon (CB); Grady Jackson (DT); Bryant Johnson (WR).

Offseason Losses: Leigh Bodden (CB); Shaun McDonald (WR); Mike Fuerry (WR); Shaun Cody (DT); Paris Lenon (LB); George Foster (OT); Dan Orlovsky (QB).

Player to Watch: Louis Delmas, S.
Delmas, the Lions’ second round pick this year, immediately started turning heads in OTAs and continued to impress coaches with his aggressiveness and tenacity throughout training camp (although he did miss time due to a swollen knee). The former Western Michigan product is already drawing comparisons to the Colts’ Bob Sanders, which is quite a compliment considering how accomplished Sanders is. Delmas isn’t afraid of contact and flies to the football. While he needs to develop his pass coverage skills, he might lead the Lions in tackles this season.

Team Strength: There isn’t one positional unit on this team that can be deemed a strength, although wide receiver Calvin Johnson is so good that he can probably carry the moniker on his own. Johnson is a phenomenal athlete and gives the Lions’ offense a dynamic playmaker at receiver. Opposing teams try to blanket him in coverage and he still finds ways to get open and come away with the ball. As long as he stays healthy (he missed two weeks of training camp with a sprained thumb), CJ is in store for another monster season, no matter whom the Lions wind up starting at quarterback.

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Lions sign linebacker Larry Foote

According to Mlive.com, the Lions have reached an agreement with former Steelers’ linebacker Larry Foote, who will play middle linebacker for them next season.

Foote, who turns 29 next month, is hoping to eventually sign a more lucrative contract after this season turned down the two-year offer.

Foote, a seven-year veteran, was a full-time starter for the Steelers for the last five seasons and didn’t miss a game during that span. Foote’s tackling numbers have declined in each of the last four years, from a high of 102 in 2005 to 63 last season.

Now we know why Lions’ GM Martin Mayhew passed on a middle linebacker with the No. 20 and No. 33 picks in last month’s draft when USC’s Rey Maualuga and Ohio State’s James Laurinaitis were still on the board. Mayhew knew that the Steelers would eventually release Foote and that he wanted to come to Detroit, which is where he grew up and attended high school.

Mayhew has done a nice job in his first offseason with the Lions. He added talent via the draft in quarterback Matthew Stafford, tight end Brandon Pettigrew and safety Louis Delmas and he has signed quality role players in free agents Grady Jackson, Philip Buchanon and now Foote. Whether or not all of his moves will pan out is still up in the air, but Lion fans have to at least be pleased that Mayhew has a plan and is executing it.

Media needs to be more careful with steroid talk

According to the AP, six to eight players are under investigation by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy by taking a weight-loss diuretic that could (could being the operative word here) be considered a masking agent for steroids.

Three of these players under investigation are Minnesota Viking defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, as well as Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jackson.

Granted, there’s no way of knowing at this point whether or not those players used the diuretic to cut weight or to mask the use of steroids, but given their size and stature (especially Jackson’s), it’s probably safe to assume that these athletes were trying to drop some pounds.

The media needs to be careful to not lump every NFL player who is found guilty of violating the league’s drug policy into the steroid category. The NFL even bans some cold medicines because of the ingredients in them and therefore, it’s not fair to suggest that every player caught has been cheating and taking steroids.

I only feel the need to mention this because one, the media has a tendency to over blow things and two, fans have a tendency to over blow things. Let’s wait until all the facts are released before labeling these players as cheaters.

Report: Vikings DT’s Pat Williams and Kevin Williams face suspension

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Saints’ players Deuce McAllister, Charles Grant tested positive for league-banned substances and could face suspensions. Now apparently Pat Williams and Kevin Williams of the Vikings also face suspensions according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports.

FOX Sports has learned that both of the Minnesota Vikings’ Pro Bowl defensive tackles, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, are also facing suspensions for testing positive for the same product. Losing one of the Williams would be a major blow to the Vikings but to possibly lose both would serve as a major blow to the NFC North contenders.

The Williams aren’t the only defensive tackles facing the penalty as well. FOX Sports has also learned that the Falcons’ Grady Jackson tested positive for the water pill and is facing a four-game ban just like the other players who are currently fighting the suspension.

Water pills are deemed illegal in the NFL because they can be used to mask positive steroid tests. However, considering the players who have tested positive, the intent appears to be to cut weight, and not for a masking agent.

Many of the players who have taken the product have long used water pills in order to make weight as the show up to camp or in order to make certain weight on a weekly basis. Guys like the Williams duo, Grady Jackson, Charles Grant appear on the surface to clearly fall under this reasoning.

It’s a shame that players who use such pills, which are readily available at drug stores and health food stores, are swept in the same category as those who try test positive for juicing.

Some reports have incorrectly stated that these players have test positive for steroids, but water diuretics aren’t in the same class and certainly don’t have the same affects. But the problem is that they can be used to mask other performance-enhancing drugs (including steroids) and the league can’t decipher which players are using the diuretics to cut weight, and which ones are using them to hide the use of other drugs. Unfortunately there might not be an easy answer to resolve the problem, either.

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