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)
Hey everyone. Welcome to the World Cup edition (kidding...kind of) of the Detroit Lions live chat. Just as a quick note before we start -- this will be the last live chat until around the start of training camp. But get your questions in for this week's chat. Let's have some fun as Don McLean's American Pie plays on my Spotify.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who does the Detroit Lions play on Thanksgiving Day?
Michael Rothstein (12:01 PM)
any news on Suh contract? what is it going to take to get him to be a Lion for the next 5-7 years? I think he doesnt want to be in Detroit and will leav first chance
Michael Rothstein (12:04 PM)
Justin, no news on Ndamukong Suh and his contract yet. Don't know when it'll come, either. There hasn't been much said publicly about the negotiations since Suh talked about it during spring workouts. I would anticipate not much more will be said, either, until a deal is done or training camp starts. For now, the thing Lions fans need to pay attention to is whether or not a deal gets done by the start of camp. If it doesn't, that would be a concern -- something I've said since the beginning of all of this following the season. Suh says he wants to stay. The Lions say he wants to keep him. Until a deal is done, though, all of that is just words.
Joe (Tulsa, Ok)
Lions make the playoffs if...
Michael Rothstein (12:05 PM)
The man with the new Lions Super Bowl tattoo has his way. Just kidding. The Lions make the playoffs if their secondary can hold up in divisional games (as well as against New Orleans and New England) and if Matthew Stafford takes the necessary steps in his decision-making and accuracy. Those two things happen and the Lions should have a shot at the playoffs. I've been on record with my Detroit record for this season, so I'm not sold both those things happen.
what is the chance the lions are big players for Flowers and if the lions dont get the "LionsFlower" (what he should called if lands in Detroit) and Houstion gets better will the lions try and pick him back up?
Michael Rothstein (12:08 PM)
Oh, before I answer this, if you don't know what I'm talking about with the Lions tattoo -- here's that story: http://es.pn/1ltaumUNow to this question -- I wrote on this yesterday. I think the Lions will investigate Flowers but he'll end up being too costly for them and, in my opinion, too much of a risk. Multiple reports said he wasn't a great press corner and that's what the Lions are planning on doing this year. He'd be an improvement as a slot/nickel corner, but do you really want to pay that much for a slot/nickel corner when Bill Bentley could make a decent jump this season.
Hi Mike, how do you see Lions using J. Bell this season and is he durable enough to be bellcow if Reggie gets hurt for more than a few games? thanks
Michael Rothstein (12:09 PM)
PJ, you saw that a bit last season when Reggie Bush was hurt (Washington game comes to mind). I think you'll see Bell as a 1A to Bush. He probably won't have as many receptions out of the backfield, but he'll have a good amount of carries and should have a somewhat similar role to last season. He can be a No. 1 back if need be.
What's the status of the FG kicker position and how much will the Lions be hindered because we don't have a proven kicker?
Michael Rothstein (12:10 PM)
Boone, it's a competition between seventh-round pick Nate Freese and Giorgio Tavecchio. Tavecchio has the stronger leg. Freese is probably more accurate. This will be a battle that should go deep into camp.
PU (Ann Arbor)
Hey Mike, great work on the Lions, love your stuff. now call me crazy, but why do most analysts have Da Bears better than our Lions right now? Cutler can't even be healthy for an entire year!
Michael Rothstein (12:14 PM)
Greetings from the same town (I'm typing downtown now). Most people have the Bears better than the Lions right now because they have both proven it before and have made improvements on defense that the Lions did not. Of course, if Cutler goes down (much like if Stafford goes down), all that changes. But healthy, the Bears are better on paper than the Lions.
Why do you think Kellen Moore wont make the roster? Franklin is a running quarterback and there's no way they leave Orlovsky as backup when his history with both Detroit AND Jim Caldwell show he is incapable of winning consistently. I personally feel they brought Orlovsky in so Moore had someone to compete against, not to be the #2.
Michael Rothstein (12:16 PM)
Disagree heavily -- as I've written a lot. Orlovsky was brought in to be the No. 2. He has played for Caldwell before and while he doesn't have a good history in Detroit (the 2008 season), he is a capable backup. It would surprise me greatly if Moore beat out Orlovsky for the job for two reasons: One, Moore has not looked as good as Orlovsky in spring workouts and Two (most important), Moore has no experience. After what Caldwell went through in Indianapolis after Peyton Manning went down, it would be shocking if he went with Moore as his primary backup. Moore could beat out Franklin, but the team could also practice squad Franklin to develop him and open up a roster spot there for someone else.
Chris (Muskegon) [via mobile]
Michael, you had mentioned that you were surprised that Houston was released and not cut. What's the difference between the two?
Michael Rothstein (12:17 PM)
No difference. I was surprised he was outright released, not released with an injury settlement. The Lions classified the cut as a failed physical.
How did leshore seem at camp. I saw you put him on your final roster predictions. Do you seem him as a mark ingram kind of back?
Michael Rothstein (12:18 PM)
He seemed like he wasn't practicing a lot of spring, Aaron. He is on my final roster because he projects as the backup to Joique Bell and right now, Detroit only has a handful of backs on their roster. With the way Joe Lombardi will likely use backs, they are going to have to have a bunch of them. That said, if the team feels comfortable with Montell Owens in a hybrid running back/fullback role or signs another running back, Leshoure could be in trouble.
If Houston gets better and can play will the lions give him a 1 year prove it deal
Michael Rothstein (12:19 PM)
Don't know, Justin. That hasn't been mentioned yet with people I've spoken with. I think if they felt he would get healthy and be useful to them, they would have left him on the roster.
Mike, has Jeremy Ross been really as good as everyone around the Lions camp has been saying? I understand he put in the work @ Cal in order to become a better receiver, and all signs point to it paying off...but will be displace the likes of Broyles (if healthy) or Durham on the depth chart as the slot guy?
Michael Rothstein (12:21 PM)
I believe so, Kyle, but I've been high on the abilities of Jeremy Ross for a while now and admit that. Ross will make the squad as the team's returner. The question is if he becomes the slot receiver as well -- kind of how Jacoby Jones was used in Baltimore -- or if he is insurance for Broyles. If I'm the Lions, I need that insurance because Broyles hasn't been healthy for a full year yet. Ross is also intriguing because he has the size to play outside if need be. That's where he could displace Durham (or Kevin Ogletree) as the No. 3 outside receiver as well. His versatility/flexibility is an asset there.
How about Tim Howard as our kicker? Man does he have a leg #tonymeola
Michael Rothstein (12:24 PM)
Fun story here. I was 13 years old when Meola tried out for the Jets in Hempstead, New York and grew up walking distance (a healthy walk, but still) from Jets training camp. I went...a lot. Vaguely remember him trying out and vaguely remember it not going well. While I don't see Tim Howard making this move -- he makes a LOT of money in Europe -- trying a soccer player would be intriguing. Don't think it happens, though, although the Lions have shown the willingness to try anything before (Carlin Isles...Kickalicious -- and please, no Kickalicous questions now please). That said, all the guys on the US National Team make a lot of money now.
Which WR group is better: Lions or Bears?
Michael Rothstein (12:26 PM)
At the top, the Bears. Jeffery and Marshall are a better combination than Johnson and Tate in my opinion -- although it is very, very close. Overall, the Lions might have the deeper group as a whole. But Marshall and Jeffery might be the best tandem in the NFL.
when does your final roster perdicitions for defence come out
Michael Rothstein (12:27 PM)
Around 1 p.m.
I am sure you have already been asked 300 times in the first few minutes, but why the talk on Brandon Flowers? Granted, Mr. Brightside is a great song, but can he really play corner? Oh, also, the Lions are tapped out from a salary cap angle too right?
Michael Rothstein (12:30 PM)
All of this. Personally, I prefer When You Were Young to Mr. Brightside, but that's just me. I'd also rather see that Brandon Flowers because, man, the national anthems would be glorious. .... Anyway -- I think there's talk about Brandon Flowers because the Lions need corner help and he's a Pro Bowl corner on the market. That said, I don't think Detroit can afford him and I don't think he fits the scheme all that well. I outlined all this in greater detail here: http://es.pn/1pa6S8Q
How has Caraun Reid been doing?
Michael Rothstein (12:31 PM)
OK. Like any other rookie. He'll probably come into camp fourth or fifth on the defensive tackle depth chart behind some guy named Suh, Nick Fairley and C.J. Mosley.
who will be the lions number 1 tight end by the end of the year Ebron or Petegrew?
Michael Rothstein (12:32 PM)
The Lions hope it is Eric Ebron, Mike. That's why they drafted him with the No. 10 overall pick. He's struggled so far, but I wouldn't be super concerned about that unless he keeps dropping passes in training camp. He, Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria will all have roles in this offense, though.
Nathan [via mobile]
Durhams gotta be better than ogletree otherwise ogletree would of been the third guy last year. Durham as a connection with stafford he's a valuable guy. What's the chances he get cuts
Michael Rothstein (12:33 PM)
Long way from that. I have him making the final roster and have throughout this so far. He's a taller receiver and has that rapport with Stafford if need be. Plus, he can play special teams if need be. Right now, I believe he makes the squad. If Detroit adds a receiver, though, I'd be quite concerned if I'm him.
Michael Rothstein (12:34 PM)
By the way, now The Killers are in my head and will be listened to the rest of this chat -- so thanks, Brandon Flowers.
J Costa (Springfield MA)
Hi Mike - Why do think it is taking this group on Defense so long to be elite? Teams would drool over a core of players like SUH, Fairley, Tullocks, Levy, Ansah ect. yet year in and out they seem to under achieve. It can't all be on the secondary.
Michael Rothstein (12:36 PM)
It isn't all on the secondary, J Costa. The dfensive line didn't finish their rushes with sacks last season and that was a major issue. Also, I think you're looking at it from an interesting perspective. Levy really didn't turn into a top-flight player until last season. Fairley was not in good shape last year. Ansah was both hurt last season and a rookie. Louis Delmas really struggled toward the end of the season and Glover Quin was playing hurt, too. Plus, the corners were a rotation of issues last year. It was really on a lot of spots on the defense. That said, from what I've seen thus far (it's only June!!), there should be more of an aggression to this year's defense. That can only help.
Which UDFA has stood out in your mind. and will Lucas have a fighting chance against Waddle
Michael Rothstein (12:38 PM)
None yet, John, mostly because almost all of them were pushed to the third team during spring workouts so it was tough to get a read on them. Cornelius Lucas is a guy to watch, though. He probably has the best shot of any UDFAs of making the 53-man roster both due to his size (he's a legitimate 6-foot-8) and the depth at the position. Wouldn't shock me if a couple of the other UDFAs make strong cases, though. Another one to watch would be fullback Chad Abram.
Marc (Las Vegas)
Hey Michael I am remembering that John Clayton commercial where he has the long hair and the sleeveless Velcro suit that he rips off revealing a SLAYER shirt after doing an ESPN spot and yells "HEY MOM I'M DONE WITH MY SEGMENT!" Would you ever do a comical ESPN commercial if asked?
Michael Rothstein (12:38 PM)
Yes, I absolutely would do one if asked. I doubt I get asked, though.
antonio, El Paso TX [via mobile]
Sorry about earlier it didn't load chat.... What does the offensive line plan on doing with swanson?
Michael Rothstein (12:40 PM)
Right now he's going to be a swing guard/center along with Rodney Austin. The team views Swanson as the likely replacement for Dominic Raiola whenever that comes, but he's shown that he can play guard as well. Right now, that could get him on the field quicker if Rob Sims ends up injured. Center is his future, though. The only way it wouldn't be is if Austin beat him out there...then it would be at guard.
Brett (Baghdad) [via mobile]
How is LeShoure going to make the final roster? He's definitely behind Reggie, Joique, and Theo right now and if you add in the fact that Montell Owens is more versatile with being a ST contributor it's going to be tough keeping him.
Michael Rothstein (12:42 PM)
I have both Leshoure and Owens making the final roster now (along with Jed Collins). As mentioned earlier, if the Lions feel good about Owens as a running back as well as fullback, it could make Leshoure more expendable for Detroit. That will be one of the bigger questions once training camp begins. It was tough to gauge his actual role because Leshoure sat out part of camp. But there is a potential role for him because of the way New Orleans has used running backs in the past.
What role do you think the athletic trainers have in injuries to players and conditioning? It seems the Lions have more conditioning (or lack of it) injuries than most teams and they tend to fade down the stretch.
Michael Rothstein (12:46 PM)
This is an interesting question, Hawke, and I'm not sure the true answer because of how physical football is. I don't know if they have more conditioning injuries and the down-the-stretch fade has not had much to do with conditioning as much as poor decisions from coaches and players. I will say this, though. Yesterday I had a conversation with a trainer I know during the US-Ghana match and he was super frustrated with the cramping and hamstring injuries because he believed those to be preventable with the correct conditioning. That he felt that way should tell you that trainers believe they have a role there. Also, you'll hear the phrase "prehab" from time-to-time. That means, in lay terms, trying to prevent injuries before they happen by conditioning and working certain muscles -- especially if they have been injured before. I'm not sure if that answers your question, but might give you a little insight. It's a tricky question.
Can Lawson challenge Mathis on the outside?
Michael Rothstein (12:48 PM)
If Lawson is challenging Mathis on the outside, Detroit is going to have a problem. As you saw last season, rookie cornerbacks can sometimes struggle and if Lawson ends up threatening Mathis, that probably means Mathis is not having a good season. If Mathis isn't having a good season, then Detroit is probably not doing too well, either. If anything, the Lions are probably looking at Lawson as a replacement to Bentley if he doesn't improve this season as well as being mentored by Mathis (as all these corners are).
Pete/ your house [via mobile]
What position other than the secondary will have the most impact on the season
Michael Rothstein (12:51 PM)
Pete, why are you in my house when I'm not even there? And who let you into my house? This is very uncomfortable and unsettling. You can take the Sauerkraut in the fridge, just leave the TV. Thanks. Now to your question...the easy answer is quarterback. This team will go as Matthew Stafford goes and that's without question. But other than there and secondary, I'd say the progression of the defensive ends. The Lions know what they'll get out of Ndamukong Suh. They hope to get more out of Nick Fairley than they have. If that happens, that should open up rush lanes for Ezekiel Ansah and Devin Taylor (and Jason Jones). The Lions need nice-sized leaps from Ansah and Taylor this season. What that'll mean is Ansah playing at a Top 15-20 defensive end level and Taylor developing into an every-down player. That happens and Detroit could have some success there.
Michael Rothstein (12:51 PM)
Ten-minute warning. Ten minute warning. Get those final questions in.
PU (Ann Arbor)
Hey Mike, I live on Hill St! You should come visit one day! But where do you see the touches in the offense going? I mean let's only cite Calvin and Tate at WR and than a 3rd receiver (Broyles or Ross), then you have Ebron, Pettigrew, Fauria. Then Bush, Bell, Riddick. That's 9 players who are "supposed" to see a lot of touches. Whats your distribution if you gave out 1000 touches this season?
Michael Rothstein (12:57 PM)
I lived on Hill Street in 2010-11!!! The big house right by Main Street that looks very out of place due to its height. Lived with some law students (including a former college teammate of Golden Tate and Joseph Fauria at Notre Dame). Anyway...I'll play this game. out of 1,000 touches I'd say it goes something like this: 250 -- Bush; 200 -- Bell; 100 -- Johnson; 75 -- Tate; 60 -- Ebron; 55 -- Riddick; 45 -- Pettigrew; 40 -- Ross; 35 -- Fullbacks; 30 -- Fauria; 25 -- Broyles; 25 -- Durham(or other outside receiver). That leaves, in your 1,000-snap metric, about 60 plays for everyone else. That's just a very rough, likely not even close guess.
Pete. Your house [via mobile]
Thanks sauerkraut was delicious I was watching your t.v. But I won't take it
Michael Rothstein (12:58 PM)
Appreciate that. If you want to clean some, I won't mind.
How do you feel about the lose of Blimbyburger to Ann Arbor?
Michael Rothstein (12:58 PM)
Sad, although it is returning -- and closer to where I do a lot of my work and live, right on Ashley Street next to Fleetwood.
Michael Rothstein (12:58 PM)
OK, final question...
With Ebron being a top pick, is he going to be the starter over Pettigrew? or will it be alot of 2 TE sets?
Michael Rothstein (1:00 PM)
You're going to see a lot of two tight end sets this season, Kris. I'm expecting that to be the preferred formation the team uses, at least from postition groupings. It would not shock me at all if Eric Ebron is lined up outside a decent amount as well as a wide receiver. Both Ebron and Pettigrew should start.
Michael Rothstein (1:01 PM)
Thanks, everyone, for all the questions. If I didn't get to yours, I'm going to try and hit some more questions tomorrow morning on the Lions page. There's also the mailbag if you prefer, and you can submit questions for that by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweeting with the hashtag #LionsMailbag. ...As I mentioned earlier, the chat is going to go on hiatus for a few weeks. We'll start back up again around training camp. Thanks again for all the great questions and have an awesome summer.