Will Harris Jersey

Ever since Will Harris was a young boy, he was enamored with football. Being the son of an NFL draft pick will usually do that.

Growing up, he wanted to be like his father, Will Harris, Sr., who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the seventh round of the 1993 draft as a wide receiver out of Mississippi State. Though his father’s NFL career never panned out, the younger Harris says he always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.

When the Lions traded up to draft Will Harris in the third round Friday night, his dad was right there next to him in Atlanta. He told reporters on a conference call at the Lions facility in Allen Park his dad has been preaching patience throughout the draft process.

“Wherever you end up going, it’s just time to go to work from there,” Harris Jr. said. “It’s a huge blessing and this is the best day of my life. Detroit picked me up and I’m so glad to be a part of the organization and I can’t wait to go to work. He’s been preaching to me just staying patient and when your name’s called, it’s time to go to work.”

The elder Harris grew up playing wide receiver and his son wanted to do the same, but when BC came calling, it was time to make a difficult decision. After playing on both sides of the ball in high school, Harris ultimately decided to play the opposite side of the ball as his father, and it most certainly worked out.

Harris recorded 225 tackles, five interceptions and six fumble recoveries to boot during his college career and Harris Sr. was encouraging him all along the way.

“I switched over to the defensive side of the ball and it was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Harris Jr. said. “He played an integral part in my football career and in my life. That’s my father, that’s my guy.”

Lions general manager Bob Quinn said Harris, a three-year starter and team captain, is versatile, strong and fast. The Lions were particularly impressed with Harris at the Senior Bowl, where Quinn says Harris was “probably one of the better players.”

Detroit’s defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni was an assistant coach at Boston College when Harris was there. Quinn said Pasqualoni vouched for Harris as a good leader with strong passion for the game. Quinn had visited Boston College practices a few times, as he knew several BC staff members from his time in New England, saying the Eagles had a “pretty good list of prospects this year.”

“There were lot of guys to talk through, including guys that were probably a little bit more, I’d say, ‘names.’ One guy went in the first round, Zach Allen went today. Really, the first guy that a lot of (Boston College staff members) mentioned to me was (Harris),” Quinn said. “Like, ‘This guy’s like heartbeat of our team.’ Not that those other guys were bad, they weren’t. They have a lot of good football players and a lot of good leaders.

“But this guy was voted captain on that team, on that defense. That spoke volumes to me.”

Harris Jr. says his dad was a coach, trainer and mentor for him growing up and to have him by his side when he got the call from Quinn and the Lions “meant the world” to him.

When asked whether he would tease his father over bragging rights about being drafted higher, he laughed and said absolutely not.

“I kid you not, the first thing he tells me when I get drafted, ‘Hey, I got the footballs in the trunk, we’re going back to work tomorrow.’ It’s crazy how it works out because I always wanted to be like him growing up and now he’s my biggest fan. Love that man to death.”

Jahlani Tavai Jersey

Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn said he has no concerns about new linebacker Jahlani Tavai’s character despite a 2018 arrest.

“You guys read the article, you know what it was,” Quinn said after Round 3 of the NFL draft Friday. “I think a lot of people in this room would have stepped in and tried to do the right thing as well. So it was unfortunate. He made a mistake and we are totally fine with him character-wise, 1,000%.”

Tavai was arrested at a Honolulu nightclub last June after he was accused of assaulting a man who allegedly pushed a woman to the ground, according to Hawaii News Now.

Quinn said the Lions brought Tavai in for a pre-draft visit in part to question him about the incident.

“Everybody in the building kind of sat down with him,” Quinn said. “He told the same exact story that he told us at the combine, so it was very consistent from Point A to Point B and he made a mistake.”

Tavai, who was suspended for the first game of Hawaii’s season last year for what was termed a violation of team rules, declined to provide details about the incident when asked about it in a conference call Friday.

The Lions used the 11th pick of the second round, No. 43 overall, to take Tavai.

“I’m trying not to think about that,” Tavai said. “The past is the past and right now I’ve learned from my mistake and I’m trying to move on right now and just show the Lions that I’m ready to go and I’m not allowing anything off the field to ever affect me again from missing time or anything like that.”

Quinn admitted Tavai was “probably off the radar a tiny bit” as a prospect, but defended using a second-round pick on the linebacker by saying Tavai filled a big need, and that other teams picking after the Lions were zeroing in on drafting him.

“That’s a position we really wanted to address,” Quinn said. “Like I said, not giving you every detail of what our draft board looks like, but linebackers that play in this defense that are really very, very good natural fits, there’s only a couple every year. So you wait a year, you don’t get one, you might not get him next year, you might not get him the year after. So this guy was a guy that we had targeted early on, I’d say as early as October.”

Finding linebackers for the Lions defense can be especially difficult because of the size requirements and versatility they want at the position.

Tavai stands a shade under 6 feet 3 and weighs 250 pounds. He topped 100 tackles in both the 2016-17 seasons, but had his senior season cut short by a shoulder injury that required surgery.

“We like thick-built linebackers,” Quinn said. “Really thick guys that can kind of take on blocks so that when they play on the edge they have enough playing strength and enough arm length to set the edge. Like, where (Devon) Kennard plays. He can go out there against good tight ends and hold the edge of the defense, which is crucially important. And then you see him play off the ball when you play him like (Jarrad Davis) or Christian (Jones), that’s the versatility.”

T.J. Hockenson Jersey

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WLNS) – With the 8th pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft, the Lions picked T.J. Hockenson.

T.J. Hockenson is a Tight End from Iowa. The 6-foot-5, 250 pound former Hawkeye, received the 2018 John Mackey Award as top tight end in the nation.

Hockenson is the second Hawkeye tight end ever taken in the first round, joining Dallas Clark, who was picked 24th by the Indianapolis Colts in 2003.

During Iowa’s 9-4 season in 2018, Hockenson caught 49 passes for six touchdowns and led the team with 760 receiving yards. The first team All-Big Ten performer was named Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year, and he was also recipient of the Ozzie Newsome Award from Touchdown Club of Columbus, Ohio, and multiple All-America teams, including first team by American Football Coaches Association and USA Today.

Iowa has had at least one player drafted in every NFL Draft since 1978. Hockenson is the 67th player coached by Kirk Ferentz at the University of Iowa to be selected in the NFL Draft.

Analysts say T.J. is most comparable to Dallas Cowboys Tight End Jason Witten.

The Lions are coming off a 6-10 season, fourth in the NFC Central Division. They were 25th of 32 NFL teams in passing yards with 3,599 in 16 games.

Next up, Detroit is scheduled for the 11th pick in the second round and the 25th pick from Philadelphia in the third round.

Although the Lions could have the 43rd and 88th pick, general manager Bob Quinn has been pretty open about saying he’s willing to listen to trade offers, and if the right one comes up at No. 8, he’d at least consider it.

Lions will most likely make a trade during the three-day draft, but analysts say probably not on day 1.

Quinn has been aggressive throughout his career as a general manager, including trading up last year for Kerryon Johnson and Da’Shawn Hand in separate deals.

The 2019 draft is currently taking place in Nashville. The Lions will play the Cardinals on September 8th in Arizona. The Cardinals got QB Kyler Murray with the first overall pick of the first round.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Quandre Diggs Jersey

Ravens tight end Nick Boyle is tackled as he carries

Quandre Diggs said he doesn’t have any big purchases planned with his new contract.

“Y’all got to understand, I’m from the country,” Diggs said earlier this week. “I’m from a little town right outside of Houston, so we ain’t got nothing to spend money on.”

If Diggs wanted to, he’d have plenty of purchasing power after signing a three-year extension on Monday. His new deal includes a $4.5 million signing bonus and a $2 million roster bonus for 2019 that becomes fully guaranteed on Saturday.

All total, Diggs’ extension could be worth $20.5 million, and includes playing-time escalators of up to $600,000 annually starting in 2019.

With an average annual value of $6.84 million in new money, Diggs is the 15th highest-paid safety in the NFL, according to Spotrac, something that wasn’t lost on him when he signed his contract.

“It’s a good feeling because I have other friends in the NFL that’s also getting extended and getting deals like that so it makes us as feel good and it continues just to bring competition within,” Diggs said. “We’re all competing with each other.”

The Detroit Lions had a busy start to the early hours of Labor Day.

The Lions and defensive back Quandre Diggs agreed to terms on a three-year contract extension worth $20.4 million, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via sources informed of the transaction.

Diggs was entering the final year of his contract, which pays a base salary of $1.9 million, and his versatility to play cornerback and safety proved its worth.

Since entering the league in 2015 as a sixth-round pick out of Texas, Diggs has appeared in 44 games with 19 starts. He solidified his position on the roster in 2017 by starting a career-high 11 games, which included making the switch from nickel cornerback to strong safety in December. With the expanded role last year, Diggs produced a career-high 55 tackles, a sack, three interceptions and nine passes defensed.

The extension signals the Lions’ trust that Diggs can continue the production to help turn around a pass defense that finished the 2017 season ranked 27th in the league.

The Lions made another move Monday morning designed to bolster defense and special teams.

The Lions signed former New England Patriots linebacker Marquis Flowers, Rapoport reported. The move reunites Flowers with Lions coach Matt Patricia, who previously served as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator.

Ricky Wagner Jersey

Scott Otto had just returned to his office Wednesday when he checked his phone to find he had a missed text message from Ricky Wagner.

“It’s Detroit,” read the text, and Otto knew exactly what his former star football player was talking about.

Wagner agreed to a free-agent deal with the Detroit Lions on Wednesday, making him the highest-paid pure right tackle in the NFL.

Players cannot officially sign contracts until the 2017 league year opens at 4 p.m. Thursday, but NFL Network reported Wagner’s deal will eclipse $9 million per season.

Lane Johnson of the Philadelphia Eagles signed an extension last year worth $11.2 million annually, but that was in anticipation of his eventual move to left tackle. Other top right tackles, such as Bryan Bulaga of the Green Bay Packers and Mitchell Schwartz of the Kansas City Chiefs, average less than $7 million annually on their recently signed deals.

The Lions, looking to both upgrade their running game and better protect quarterback Matthew Stafford, targeted Wagner as a replacement for Riley Reiff on their young but emerging offensive line.

Wagner, a three-year starter with the Baltimore Ravens who doesn’t turn 28 until October, was considered the top right tackle on the market, and the Wisconsin native found allure in returning to the Midwest and reuniting with Lions coach Jim Caldwell, his offensive coordinator his rookie season.

Detroit Lions agree to terms with LB Paul Worrilow

“Detroit fits in so many ways,” said Otto, Wagner’s coach at Hale High in West Allis, Wis. “It is close to home. I think they’re obviously a very good up-and-coming team, one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He loves Caldwell. I know that. I believe Caldwell was his O.C. at Baltimore his first year, and so he said he always got along with Coach Caldwell and said, he goes, ‘I have not met a nicer, better, human being than Coach Caldwell,’ so I know he’s really very fired up about that. But if you know Ricky, I still think in his mind this is all surreal. He’s just a kid from West Allis, Wis., that is kind of living his dream.”

Sylvester Williams Jersey

The 2018-2019 NFL season is officially in the rearview mirror. The Miami Dolphins officially have a new head coach. It is officially the offseason. There are a lot of decisions that have to be made over the next few months by new head honcho Brian Flores and the recently promoted Chris Grier. Among those decisions includes the question: what should the team do with its own soon-to-be free agents?

Our beloved Managing Editor Kevin Nogle and I have been working our way through the list of pending free agents for Miami, taking a closer look at each player and giving you the chance to vote on whether the Dolphins should retain the player, tag them, or let them walk. So far, we have yet to find a player who should be franchise tagged, and today’s addition to the list will be no different. Today, we bring you defensive tackle Sylvester Williams.

Williams started out the 2018 season as a member of the Detroit Lions, where he played in six games and started four. Over that span, he accumulated six total tackles. After being released midway through the season, Williams joined the Dolphins to help fill the void of injured youngster Vincent Taylor. Over the course of eight games, Williams recorded eight total tackles while rotating with Davon Godchaux and Akeem Spence in the trenches.

After four productive seasons as a key member of a fearsome defense on the Denver Broncos and a solid year with the Tennessee Titans, Williams was much more of a role player this past year than a reliable starter. One could argue that his track record is reason enough for a team to pay him as a valuable veteran that can plug a whole on the d-line, but players entering their age 30 campaign usually don’t get better out of nowhere.

Devon Kennard Jersey

Allen Park — In his first year with the Detroit Lions, Devon Kennard had his best professional season.

Looking to make another jump in his production, he’s spent the offseason studying some of the best players at his position, looking to add a few tricks to his repertoire.

Kennard gathered tape on a number of top edge rushers, including Demarcus Lawrence, Khalil Mack, Frank Clark and Von Miller in his search for what makes each of those players great at what they do.

“The offseason is a unique time of year where I don’t have to worry about a game plan, or what’s (an opponent’s) favorite play, or how are they going to block you,” Kennard said. “It’s a time where you can take a step back and analyze, not only your game, but other players’ games that you respect and like. I kind of do that every offseason, but having a further understanding of how I’m used (in Detroit’s scheme) and what’s expected of me moving forward, I was able to kind of pinpoint guys that, pass rush-wise, I like. It was fun to watch.

“There’s some great pass rushers who did some good things last year, and seeing what they did and how they fit with what I do and how I can add it to my game for this year coming up is something I’m excited about.”

One of the players Kennard has studied more than most the past two years has been Trey Flowers. Given the Lions defense shares a foundation with the scheme run in New England, Kennard is plenty familiar with his new teammate and he’s eager to pick his brain.

“As soon as we signed him, I thought it was a great signing,” Kennard said. “I really respect him game, what he’s done, his versatility and how he impacts the game in a multitude of ways. I think it’s great. I’m excited getting a chance to meet him, be around him and all that and just pushing forward from here.”

Signed to a three-year deal as a free agent last offseason, Kennard appeared in 15 games, playing more than 90 percent of the defensive snaps in those contests. Being primarily used as an edge defender, he finished with a career-high seven sacks.

Christian Jones Jersey

Christian Jones had a decent season as a solid fantasy starter. He was the number #65 ranked LB and the #408 ranked player overall. Even though he missed a few games he played enough so that his overall fantasy rank was better than what it was based on average fantasy points (#95 LB). He trended up as the season went on. In his first 5 games he averaged 3.2 FPs. He improved to 3.8 in the next 5 games. In his final stretch of games he improved to 4.3 per game. His fantasy production is stable and he is not as volatile as most players based on a below average standard deviation. Our projected ceiling for Jones when he ‘goes off’ is 6 fantasy points (his average is 3.8FPs). Christian Jones (2019 Season Projection: 51 Solo, 25 Ast, 1.2 Sacks, 0.8 Fumrec, 3.5 PDs) is projected to take a significant step downward in the upcoming fantasy season. His rank based on total projected fantasy points has him as the #77 player at his position.

He was the #65 ranked fantasy LB based on total fantasy points. He averaged 3.8 FP per game (#95 ranked based on average). He is trending down based on lower per game fantasy ranking from 2017 to 2018.

Jones tallied 69 tackles, one sack, three pass breakups and one forced fumble over 16 games for the Lions in 2018.

Coming over from Chicago fresh off a 90-tackle season, Jones seemed to be a bad fit in Detroit over the first half of the season. However, the midseason acquisition of defensive tackle Damon Harrison seemed to change things for Jones, as he produced just 19 tackles in six games prior to Harrison coming to town compared to 50 in 10 games with Harrison around. With both Jones and Harrison under contract in 2019, next year it’s reasonable to expect Jones to pick up where he left off — on pace for an 80-tackle season.

Jones recorded six tackles (five solo) and a sack across 59 defensive snaps in Sunday’s loss to the 49ers.

After being limited to only 27 defensive snaps in the season-opener, Jones saw a major uptick in action Sunday. The linebacker played 92 percent of the Lions’ defensive snaps as a starter and tied Jarrad Davis for the lead in tackles. After a strong outing on an otherwise disappointing day, Jones has a good chance of seeing a similar workload Sunday night against the Patriots.

Ricky Jean Francois Jersey

When an NFL player tries to quote Mahatma Gandhi, you know things are getting deep.

You know things are about to get real. You know the frustration has boiled over. Mostly, you know you’re in the Detroit Lions locker room.

Ricky Jean Francois, the veteran defensive tackle and the oracle of Allen Park, had clearly had enough Sunday after the Lions’ latest disappointing loss, a 27-9 defeat that dropped the team to 5-10.

“I think I heard Gandhi say this in a book I read: ‘The only way you can change a culture is you’ve got to change the people within in.’

“You want to change the culture, change the people. I’m not finger-pointing on who needs to change or who needs to go somewhere. But if you want a different regime, you want a different buy-in or something like that, the only way you get a different culture is you change the people that sit in it.”

It’s understandable. The Lions had just lost their second straight game and their fourth in five games. It was their sixth double-digit loss this season.

A vet like Jean Francois doesn’t survive in the NFL by being OK with losing. He has to hate it. And he does. But he’s not sure how many of his teammates hate it as much as he does.

“Excuse my French,” he said, “but I’ll just be damned if I go to work every week, prepare myself, look at film, live inside of a training facility, do everything that this coach asks me to to come out here and keep explaining this. It bothers me. If it don’t bother you, you don’t love football. It bothers me.

“It just bothers me to know that you’ve got to go to practice with the game plan that’s in and just execute it. Be the bigger man. Know that the dude across from you knows what you’re going to do and just beat him.”

There was a somber feeling throughout Ford Field on Sunday. There were plenty of empty seats. The crowd was quiet and probably at its loudest when it cheered the announcement that Mass Cassel had taken over for Matthew Stafford late in the fourth quarter.

The locker room was equally as somber. No one had answers. Darius Slay’s voice was barely audible. Glover Quin’s locker sat empty for the first time I can remember. And Jean Francois was one of the few players who could muster enough energy to vent his frustration with a disappointing season.

Even after 15 games, Jean Francois struggled to say with certainty that enough players had bought in this season. There were glimpses of potential with quality wins against teams like the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers. But there was little consistency and when November came — “when football season really starts,” Jean Francois said — the Lions went 1-3.

“I don’t know,” Jean Francois said. “We must (have) didn’t buy in this year.”

It’s hard to pinpoint the motivations of 53 individual players. Maybe enough players don’t believe in Patricia and his way of doing things? Maybe they don’t believe in the scheme or how they’re being used? Maybe it’s something else?

But I can say this with absolute certainty: It has been a very difficult season for the Lions with no clear fix in sight.

The defense showed improvement this year, and might get better next year with the addition of more pieces that fit Patricia’s scheme. But now one of the defense’s leaders is questioning where the whole team is headed.

Jean Francois is right. But he’s also just right for right now. The season will be over next week and a new season will bring lots of new faces with it. For the good and the bad, there’s little carryover from one NFL season to the next. Maybe Jean Francois’ words will resonate with enough players and coaches who return next season. But maybe they won’t.

It’s impossible to know. After all, even Gandhi wasn’t wise enough to explain one of life’s biggest mysteries: the Lions.

Damon Harrison Jersey

Damon Harrison was added to the Detroit Lions halfway through last season, and made an immediate impact. Now, with Harrison perhaps wanting to stay long term in Detroit on a new deal, he hasn’t shown up for the first voluntary portion of the team’s workout period.

According to MLive.com’s Kyle Meinke, Harrison has been absent from the start of Detroit’s offseason program this week. Here’s a look at what Meinke wrote on the matter:

“Snacks Harrison wants a new contract. And so far, he hasn’t shown up for the start of the Detroit Lions’ offseason conditioning program according to multiple sources.

Harrison hasn’t spoken directly on the matter, so it’s impossible to say definitively whether the former is a motivation for the latter, nor when he intends to report. These workouts are voluntary after all, and so are OTAs after that. The only portion of the offseason program that’s mandatory is minicamp, which opens on June 4.”

So far, Harrison has been one of the team’s only notable absences from the start of the workout period other than the uncertainty with quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is dealing with the very personal matter of his wife’s brain surgery at the moment. A few months back, it was reported by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press that Harrison’s representatives could be eying a new deal in Detroit, but there has been no movement on that front, and might not figure to be until later this offseason according to Bob Quinn.

As Meinke correctly points out, everything to this point on the NFL calendar is voluntary until June 4, so that date could be a better gage of where things are at with Harrison if there is still no movement on a potential extension. He does have two years left on his current deal.

Harrison was a dominating force up front for the Lions in 2018, and that led him to being named the PFF run stuffer of the year while making a great impression on his Detroit team. It lends to the hope that the Lions have figured things out more than a bit up front with Harrison in the fold for 2019 and beyond. That should be a huge boost to the group after some of their weaknesses last year, and it could also help Harrison to stick around long term, too.

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The Lions made a big move to go out and get Harrison a few months back, and while they were not able to win their first game with the defensive tackle on the field, that did not diminish the impact Harrison was able to make for his new team just one week and barely any snaps into his Lions tenure. Harrison came into the game and immediately made his presence felt, racking up seven tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss. It was a huge debut for Harrison the likes of which had not been seen in Lions history from his position on the field, and that makes for excitement in the coming years as the team gets their elite player more comfortable.

The Lions had one major defensive weakness last season, and it’s been the ability to stop the run. Most of the offseason, they spent time upgrading their linebacking group in addition to having one of the most solid secondaries in the game. But their major problem has been interior defense, and a guy like Harrison fits them like a glove for this exact reason. Detroit has been victimized by long runs this season from the middle of the defense, and Harrison is a guy who can powerfully clog those lanes in Matt Patricia’s defense, in hope making the entire group just a little bit better. So far, he’s done that in a big way and the team looks for him to do even more in 2019, Pro Bowl or not in 2020.

So far, so good, as the team’s run defense has gotten better since Harrison come into the fold. And even though Harrison didn’t make the Pro Bowl last season, it’s tough to understate how important he has been for the Lions’ defense since coming to the team, too.

With names like Da’Shawn Hand, A’Shawn Robinson and Harrison together, Lions fans should be thrilled about the direction their defensive front is trending. And it’s safe to say Harrison changed the group as a whole himself. One day soon, that could lead him to a new contract in the Motor City.