Chat with Michael Rothstein
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN NFL Nation Detroit Lions reporter Michael Rothstein drops by to chat and answer all of your Lions questions.
Rothstein joined ESPN.com in 2011 after covering the University of Michigan for AnnArbor.com, Notre Dame for the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette and a host of colleges for the Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, Va.). A Syracuse graduate and an East Meadow, N.Y. native, he lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Send your questions now and join Rothstein Tuesday at noon ET!
Michael Rothstein (12:01 PM)
Good afternoon everyone and welcome to this week's Lions live chat. Minicamp starts in a few hours and I'll get to see all three days of it so it should be interesting. Now, let's get to your questions.
LeShoure getting cut?
Michael Rothstein (12:02 PM)
Not yet, Chris. The Lions maintain they have a role for him and considering how Joe Lombardi is probably going to use running backs (multiple guys in different situations) there may be a fit for him. He's likely no higher than the No. 4 back right now, but unless Montell Owens becomes more running back than fullback or Steven Miller stuns some people, he has a good shot of making the squad and potentially having a role.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What NFL Team does the Detroit Lions Open the 2014 NFL Season with?
Michael Rothstein (12:03 PM)
The New York Giants on Monday Night Football, Chris.
How are the coaches and management viewing Ebron? He was basically a ?luxury? pick. Luxury picks usually are viewed with having a leash of a few years to become a standout player. This offense is totally different than his college offense.
Michael Rothstein (12:05 PM)
There are going to be a lot of expectations on Eric Ebron early on, Mitch. Some will be from the coaches and front office, as they drafted him as a guy who can be a mismatch right away. More, though, it'll likely come from the fan base. Much of the base wanted the Lions to focus on defense, so if Ebron struggles early and the defense has issues, that will only exacerbate the issue. Ebron is a talented player, but he's going to take time to develop. The coaches and front office likely understand that.
Larry (FL by way of MI) [via mobile]
Assuming Bill Bentley plays mostly in the slot, what are the odds that either Green, Greenwood, or possibly even Nevin Lawson steps up and overtakes Mathis and establishes themselves asthe true #3 cb?
Michael Rothstein (12:06 PM)
Tough to say Larry. Greenwood has barely been healthy and Lawson is still learning everything. Jonte Green would be the best option there, but he hasn't shown a ton so far. Will be watching him in minicamp a lot.Right now, I'd pencil Mathis in as a starter opposite Slay. Until Houston comes back and shows consistency, I'd go with the guy who has been there and done that. I'd be surprised if Mathis doesn't make this team and play a good amount.
Bryce (Westphalia (MI))
Hello Michael, I was really skeptical about drafting Ebron in the 1st round, and so far his dropped passes were showing in OTAs. What is your take on Eric Ebron so far and what do we need to watch for during madatory minicamp this week to shine some positive light on Ebron? Thanks!
Michael Rothstein (12:08 PM)
Bryce, I was on record before the draft saying I didn't think the Lions should take Eric Ebron at No. 10 because of the drop issues and other needs. That appears to be showing up so far, but understand the caveat that it is only June and he's still learning the offense. His athleticism is fantastic and he has extremely strong playmaking ability. The rest, the Lions hope, will come in time -- perhaps before the start of the season.
Hello, Can you tell me why Detroit is not working on there secondary? Even when they went 0-16 they had an offensive that kept them in the game only to allow the Defense to lose the game for them.
Michael Rothstein (12:10 PM)
They have been, kind of. They signed James Ihedigbo to replace Louis Delmas and he should be a nice pairing at safety with Glover Quin. Bringing Rashean Mathis back was underrated, in my opinion. That's a savvy move even if he doesn't end up starting. To compare this group to 2008 is unfair. Way more talent -- and way higher expectations -- on this squad. The Lions are betting on their young corners making strides. That's the main thing here.
any chance the lions go sam martin as the kicker since the ones we have dont seem to be doing verry good
Michael Rothstein (12:10 PM)
No. Not a chance. Sam Martin will punt. He could end up kicking off depending who wins the kicking job. He'll hold. He'll continue to be a good and interesting quote. That's...about it.
I AM EXCITED TO SEE THIS NEW CENTER THEY PICKED UP IN THE DRAFT THIS YEAR (TRAVIS SWANSON). I AM EXCITED BECAUSE I BELIEVE HE WILL REALLY HELP WITH PASS PROTECTION AND THE RUNNING GAME ONCE HE PICKS UP THE DIFFRENT COVERAGES BECAUSE HE IS THE SIZE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE IN A STARTING CENTER. WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN OUT OF HIM IN THE WORK OUTS THUS FAR THIS YEAR? (SORRY ABOUT THE CAPS ITS JUST A BAD HABIT)
Michael Rothstein (12:12 PM)
You have the same bad habit as my father, who will send me emails in all caps all the time. I enjoy being yelled at by him over email. Seriously to your question, though....haven't seen a ton out of him so far, but it's early still. I don't envision him being the starting center this season unless Dominic Raiola gets injured and he could end up being the swing backup center/guard until 2015 at least. He's clearly the center of the future, though. Way too early to make any judgments on any of the offensive linemen at this point since the team isn't in full pads yet.
Hi Michael, how do you see the RB split for this year - what is your confidence level that Bush can stay healthy and be on the field for at least 13 games . thanks
Michael Rothstein (12:15 PM)
PJ, it is tough to get a true gauge on that right now (I know, I know, that's a common answer theme) but based on what New Orleans has done in the past, I'd imagine something around 150 carries for Bush and Bell each and maybe around 75 or so for Riddick. Most of what they do is going to come in the short passing and screen game. Bush's health is somewhat key to this season, but not as much if Riddick can emerge as a playmaker. The Lions are a better team with a healthy Bush, so they'll need him for at least 13. I'd put it at 60 percent he plays at least 13. Don't have a ton of confidence he plays in all 16, though. Just hasn't happened often enough in his career.
Hey Mike! What are the chances that the Lions go and grab somebody like Jabari Greer as an insurance policy for the secondary? I know Greer has lost a step or two but he can still make plays and has great hands.
Michael Rothstein (12:17 PM)
It will really depend. Martin Mayhew made a savvy move last year in signing Rashean Mathis during training camp and it worked out. He has shown he isn't afraid to make roster moves like that if need be and if the corner situation isn't comfortable for him, then a guy like Greer or Terrell Thomas could end up getting a look.
We're all hoping that Slay and others make the leap this year. Are there any players you see playing worse than they did last year?
Michael Rothstein (12:21 PM)
That's a tough question, Johnny, because it is still so early in the year. There isn't a specific player I would peg for an actual decline, although I'm sure some players will see their numbers drop. Depending on what happens with Eric Ebron, Joseph Fauria is a guy who could see some of his numbers go south even if he is playing better than he did a season ago. Chris Houston is a guy who could see his role marginalized depending on his health. Also don't think Kris Durham will see nearly as many snaps as last season, so that could hurt his productivity. But most of these issues are going to be with snaps, not a dip in actual play.
Have the new coaches giving there full support to Stafford? Or will he be a tighter leash this season?
Michael Rothstein (12:22 PM)
So far they are supporting Stafford. I do not think this staff will be unwavering in their backing of him, though. If he continues to make errors as he did last year, the Lions will say something about it. At least in my opinion.
Can we get an update on the Ebron contract situation?
Michael Rothstein (12:23 PM)
No update yet. As long as the Lions sign him by training camp, they are fine. Right now they don't have the money to make the move. They need to either get Suh's extension done or restructure a contract or two. I don't anticipate it being an issue.
Larry (Windsor, Canada)
I like Sims? Why not redo him over 3 years to create some of the cap space we need?
Michael Rothstein (12:24 PM)
I think Sims would like that, Larry, but the team needs to see him a bit more first in my opinion. He's a good player who is a calming veteran presence and wants to stay in Detroit. Those are all positives for him. But it will depend what he wants, dollar-wise, before they make any sort of move there.
Anthony (Grand Rapids)
I get the feeling you're not a huge Lion's fan, nor enjoy reporting on them at all. Especially in your videos.
Michael Rothstein (12:25 PM)
I do not root for any team, Anthony. But I do enjoy my job.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Were you covering Notre Dame when Golden Tate was there? Wht do you see in his skill set that he's improved on, or is he the same player?
Michael Rothstein (12:27 PM)
I did, Scott. He was an excellent baseball player. ... It was interesting because Tate was really young when I covered him and he didn't have that much knowledge of route trees or anything like that. Notre Dame, under Charlie Weis, essentially had him run go routes all the time and then threw it up to him because he was so athletic. By the time he was in his final year at Notre Dame, he was one of the best college receivers in the country. His route running is leaps and bounds better than it was then. He still has the same speed and same swagger he always had, though.
Travis/Fargo [via mobile]
Does Theo Riddick have a chance to have a Sproles- like impact for the Lions as some have mentioned?
Michael Rothstein (12:28 PM)
Possibly, although I think he'll have a lesser role this season. It'll still be Bush and Bell in the backfield. That said, I see Riddick spelling both of those guys more than a season ago to try and keep all three as fresh as possible for the stretch. Riddick has grown a lot in his game since college. He could end up being a true NFL weapon (of sorts) this year.
What are the odds the Lions try to sign Ed Reed? I feel he would fit well and has at least two more years in him, if we could get him on the cheap after doing terrible last season i think they should try.
Michael Rothstein (12:29 PM)
Jim, I really don't know if Ed Reed has two years left. That he hasn't signed with anybody yet, in my opinion, is a bit telling. If there are injury issues then maybe the Lions would look at him, but I don't see it happening otherwise.
Gary Wang (MI)
Thanks for all that you do Michael, love reading your columns!
Michael Rothstein (12:29 PM)
Mork (Tomorrow )
Jabari Greer blew out his Knee in November he's a ways away from playing football...and he's 32Do lion fans understand the worst CB on the team last year was Houston?
Michael Rothstein (12:30 PM)
This. My point, Mork, was that if there are major injury issues or they really aren't happy with what they are seeing, then Mayhew isn't afraid to make a move if necessary. Right now, I don't know if it happens with Greer. I think the Lions would want to go younger.
Who do you think wins the role opposite ansah?
Michael Rothstein (12:31 PM)
Devin Taylor should end up winning that role, in my opinion, but it might not come until midseason. As long as Jason Jones is healthy, he brings a run-stopping dynamic there that I'm not sure Taylor has yet. Both are going to play roles in this defense, though, because both can be interchangeable on the inside and outside if need be. Plus, Taylor could play the open end in a pinch.
BigJShaky (Champaign, IL)
Hi Michael thanks for all of the great coverage. Any concern about a potential lack of pass rush from the current defensive line (ends in particular)? Is Jason Jones fully recovered? Any showing about what new addition Darryl Tapp is capable of?
Michael Rothstein (12:33 PM)
Big J, Jason Jones is getting there. Not 100 percent yet but I'd imagine he'll be there or close by the start of camp in July. No true idea on Tapp yet. I'd imagine he ends up backing up Ansah -- or loses that job to rookie Larry Webster. From what every person has told me, the Lions are going to rush a lot more this season from a lot of different avenues. That should mean more open rush lanes for guys like Suh and Fairley. That was the big issue last season. They rushed four too often and when six-seven guys were blocking, there's only so much they could do.
Obligatory Suh update?
Michael Rothstein (12:34 PM)
Obligatory nothing new yet answer.
Does Caldwell give enough time for special teams, or does he spend all of practice on offense and defense?
Michael Rothstein (12:34 PM)
There is a good amount of special teams time, Jack -- almost all during the start of practice. They aren't neglecting that area at all.
LongTime Lion (Detroit)
Houston was good in 2010-2012. 2013 poor play was due to his hamstirng and toe injuries. Houston can bounce back but Mathis is a great backup plan.
Michael Rothstein (12:36 PM)
That Houston has missed all the offseason work is a concern, in my opinion. If he isn't ready for the start of camp, that's an even bigger issue. I'd personally start Mathis over him at this point.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Hmm, ~38 keystrokes to aplogize for using all caps, vs. one keystroke to turn caps off...who do you see having more receptions this season - Golden Tate or Reggie Bush?
Michael Rothstein (12:37 PM)
This is an interesting question. I bet they end up around the same, but I'll take Reggie Bush. I will do so because I think you will see a lot -- A LOT -- of short passes and screens to get Bush in space. He is still the team's most electrifying performer who isn't a Transformer and can turn a short gain into a long touchdown.
Gavin (United Kingdom)
With the compition for the depth wide receiver being open who is currently posed to be on the roster come the start of the season
Michael Rothstein (12:39 PM)
Greetings, Gavin, thanks for joining us from the United Kingdom. Right now, I'd say Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and Jeremy Ross are locks for the roster. Ryan Broyles and TJ Jones will likely compete for a roster spot, although it is easy to see both making the roster. So what you're looking at is a likely competition between Kris Durham, Kevin Ogletree, Corey Fuller and Namaan Roosevelt for one or two spots. Have a tough time seeing Patrick Edwards or Cody Wilson making this team at this point. I'll be making my next 53-man (plus P-squad) predictions next week after minicamp is over.
How many ints for the Lions this season? 7 again for the LBs (maybe not Levy 6 and Tulloch 1, but more for Tulloch and Van Noy), 6 for the safeties (Quin and Ihedigbo 3 and 3 last year). Surely more than 2 ints for the CBs in 2014?
Michael Rothstein (12:42 PM)
I hate this type of prediction game because sometimes interceptions are right place, right time. That said, I'll go with seven for the linebackers, four for the safeties and six for the corners. So that would be 17. That would have put the Lions tied for 12th in the NFL last season.
Bryce (Westphalia, MI)
There are 3 Notre Dame guys on the roster so far (2 of them drafted). Is this coincidence or there something going between the 2 programs?
Michael Rothstein (12:43 PM)
Coincidence, Bryce. Actually, there is more than that technically. Theo Riddick and Golden Tate both spent their entire careers at Notre Dame. Joseph Fauria (UCLA) and Alex Bullard (Tennessee) both transferred away from the school. There is nothing going on there, though, other than coincidence.
Michael Rothstein (12:44 PM)
Hey everyone, I'm going to have to wrap up a few minutes early. Have to run a work errand before minicamp. I'll take one or two more questions.
Grant Gibbons (Ann Arbor)
If Fairley has a torrid start to the season, do Lions extend him?
Michael Rothstein (12:45 PM)
No. The Lions are going to want to see a full season of production from Fairley before making that sort of decision. Even then, the Lions could have a tough decision to make depending on what happens with Ndamukong Suh.
Joe (Royal Oak)
Everyone needs to stop asking if we are moving on from Stafford if we don't make the playoffs this year. He is way too talented and his stats are impressive even in a pass first offense. Isn't there a better backup we could have had though? Maybe Hasselbeck or a true veteran like we had to this point. Orlovsky running out of bounds during 0-16 will never leave my mind.
Michael Rothstein (12:45 PM)
Michael Rothstein (12:47 PM)
Joe, I don't think Detroit would move on from Stafford after this season barring something catastrophic. That said, if he continues to struggle throughout the year and doesn't show signs of improvement, the Lions could end up taking a quarterback somewhat high in the 2015 draft to compete with Stafford. Then, after 2015 make a decision on his future. That's when his numbers become more manageable under the cap as well. So this is a big year for Stafford, developmentally. That's the point I think a lot of people -- including myself -- are making. He is a good quarterback and personally think he has the skills to become elite. But he isn't there yet, despite what the numbers suggest.
Michael Rothstein (12:48 PM)
As always, thanks everyone for all the questions. If you have anything else -- or if I didn't get to yours -- I'll answer some more of the questions in the queue on the Lions page tomorrow morning. Also, you can tweet me @mikerothstein or send me a question for the mailbag Saturday.I'll leave you with this as well...wrote about Jeremy Ross this morning. Think you'll find it interesting: http://es.pn/1o9TiWUHave a great week everyone.