Monthly Archives: January 2020

Custom A’Shawn Robinson Jersey

ALLEN PARK — A’Shawn Robinson might have already played his final game for the Detroit Lions.

Robinson has been ruled out for the season finale on Sunday against Green Bay. He’s been battling a shoulder injury that sidelined him the last two games. Detroit is expected to free up the roster spot by moving him to injured reserve on Saturday.

And with his rookie contract set to expire with the start of the new league year in March, it’s possible Robinson’s time in Detroit has come to a close.

He was a second-round pick in Bob Quinn’s first draft class back in 2016, but only occasionally delivered on his promise. He’s started 37 games in four years while accounting for 172 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, 14 QB hits, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and one pick-six off New Orleans’ Drew Brees in 2017.

He ranked among PFF’s 15 best interior defenders last season, his first in the Matt Patricia defense, but has fallen all the way to No. 100 this year. Mike Daniels has been hurt most of the year, and Da’Shawn Hand too. Even Snacks Harrison’s play dropped off, and that cratering in the middle of Detroit’s highly anticipated defensive line has caused problems all season.

Now with Robinson and Daniels both eligible to become free agents in March, Detroit has serious questions to mull as it figures out how to repair a defense that has allowed 5,974 yards this season. That’s 29th in the league, and Detroit’s worst defensive season since 2010 with one game still to go.

Linebacker Devon Kennard (shoulder), linebacker Steve Longa (quad), kicker Matt Prater (illness), right tackle Rick Wagner (knee) and safety Tavon Wilson (hamstring) are questionable against Green Bay.

Custom Kenny Golladay Jersey Large

The Detroit Lions routinely don’t generate enough respect in the NFL landscape, and Kenny Golladay is perhaps the latest example of this.

In spite of a season in which Golladay led the NFL in touchdowns (11), placed a respectable seventh in yardage (1,190). He also had an amazing six catches go for 40 yards or more, which was the third highest total of any wideout. Golladay also had 22 catches go over 20 yards, the second highest total of any wideout in the league.

As a whole, Golladay was an all around big play waiting to happen, but didn’t mange to crack the Pro Bowl. This past week, Golladay was snubbed again, failing to generate enough All-Pro votes to appear on that team as well. That’s in spite of being a statistical leader in multiple ways at a key spot on the offense.

Call him the latest victim of the national anti-Lions bias.

Never mind that, though. Just focus on the numbers. Silently, Golladay’s trajectory is obvious. He’s put up 2,730 yards and 19 touchdowns in his short three year career. After being an unknown draft pick out of Northern Illinois, Golladay has turned himself into one of the top players in football at his position.

That should count for something, even though it apparently doesn’t to those making the choices for awards, recognition and the like.

Even such, Golladay has shown that he doesn’t care about awards, and is merely focused on grinding and finding a way to be the best of the best. That’s all that matters, even if it would be nice to see him get more love for what he’s already accomplished.

There’s no question Golladay deserves more attention, but he’s going to be a force moving forward no matter who gives him the love.
Kenny Golladay Makes Lions History in 2019

Not only is Golladay is one of the leading receivers in the NFL, he piled up the yardage as well as the impact plays for the Lions, who were incredibly needy for big plays this season. Arguably, to this end, he was the team’s MVP.

Lucky for Detroit, Golladay is making explosive plays a habit for the team. How much of a habit? Golladay has broken records for the Lions that have been standing for decades. As the team’s PR account pointed out on Twitter, Golladay has caught a touchdown 40 yards or more in three straight games, something which hasn’t been done in 88 years since 1931.

The last player to accomplish the feat? Bill McKalip, who managed to do it with the Portsmouth Spartans. In other words, the last time the Lions had a wideout as explosive as Golladay, they weren’t even officially the Lions yet.

Facts like this should only serve to prove the point about how solid Golladay has been.
Kenny Golladay’s 2019 Stats

From nearly the start of the season until the finish, Golladay had an excellent year catching the ball. He put up 1,190 yards and 11 touchdowns. He had multiple huge games this season, given five times Golladay has gone well over 100 yards in a game catching the ball for the Lions.

In total, Golladay has enjoyed arguably the best start to a career of any wideout in his 2017 draft class not named JuJu Smith-Schuster. Golladay looks like an obvious top dog in Detroit for the foreseeable future with Matthew Stafford tossing him the rock. That’s good news for the Lions, who have long pondered how to find production at the wideout position minus Calvin Johnson. Not an issue anymore with Golladay taking over.

The Lions are going to be happy to keep Golladay in the mix for 2020, and his emergence as one of the top wideouts in the NFL will be easy to see next season with more team health.

No matter how many award lists he’s snubbed from, nothing can slow down the trajectory he’s shown. To the wideout and his fans, that fact should matter more than anything else.

Custom Jamal Agnew Jersey Large

Detroit Lions return man Jamal Agnew’s 2018 season was a disaster, and it looked for a minute like his 2019 season might be worse.

But after a rough start to the year, including a muffed punt in the season’s first game, an ankle injury that kept him out three weeks and a brief benching, Agnew is set to close his third NFL season with a bang.

Agnew scored his second return touchdown of the season last week against the Denver Broncos and he heads into Sunday’s season finale against the Green Bay Packers as one of two qualifying players who rank in the top 10 in both kick- and punt-return average.
Lions cornerback Jamal Agnew returns a kickoff for a touchdown during the first quarter on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Philadelphia.

Lions cornerback Jamal Agnew returns a kickoff for a touchdown during the first quarter on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Philadelphia. (Photo: Eric Hartline USA TODAY Sports)

“It’s definitely nice just because I haven’t had many opportunities this year,” Agnew said. “A lot of teams have been either kicking it out the end zone or trying to force fair catches. But I’m just grateful for that opportunity. I knew they don’t come in bunches, but just to take advantage of that and help the team try to get a win. I’m just happy to do that.”

[ Agnew rebounds from ‘rough 2 weeks’ with 100-yard kickoff TD return vs. Eagles ]

Agnew was one of the most electric return men in the NFL as a rookie in 2017, when he returned two punts for touchdowns and led the league with a 15.4-yard average on punt returns.

Last year, he missed 10 games with a knee injury and was only mildly effective when he was on the field, averaging a paltry 4.8 yards per punt return.

More on LIons: Graham Glasgow: It’d be ‘dumb’ not to test free agency in offseason

Agnew won an open competition for both return jobs this year, but he muffed a punt in the Lions’ season-opening tie with the Arizona Cardinals and fumbled away another punt in a Week 2 win over the Los Angeles Chargers only to have that turnover nullified by offsetting penalties.

The Lions took Agnew off their return team during the Chargers game, but went back to him a week later and were rewarded when he returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.

In last week’s loss to the Broncos, Agnew scored on a 64-yard return, the seventh longest in the NFL this year, and he played four decoy snaps at receiver as the Lions tried to jumpstart their sputtering offense.
Lions cornerback Jamal Agnew catches the ball before running back a 100-yard touchdown return during the first quarter on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Philadelphia.

Lions cornerback Jamal Agnew catches the ball before running back a 100-yard touchdown return during the first quarter on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Philadelphia. (Photo: Bill Streicher USA TODAY Sports)

“Everybody blocked (the touchdown) pretty well,” Agnew said. “He was doing the end-over-end Aussie kick. I think he was trying to force a fair catch. But the jammers on the right side held up real good, so I knew I had room, so I caught it and just let my feet do the rest, honestly.”

More on Lions DBs: This is what Darius Slay says about his team, his coach, his city

The Packers didn’t give Agnew much of a chance to return punts in their October meeting, and given the Lions’ offensive struggles it’d be a surprise if they kicked to him Sunday.

But after Agnew’s early-season ups and downs, Lions coach Matt Patricia said Friday he was happy to see his return man finish on a high note.

“Obviously, I think he’s a dynamic player. He can turn any play into a big play at any time,” Patricia said. “So it’s good to see him out there. I think he gives a great charge to the team and we all know he can make those big plays, so we’re excited when he’s out there, and I think that encourages and lifts everybody up to do their job a little bit better in those situations. It’d be great to get another, obviously, big play out of him this weekend.”
Briefly

Defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson will miss his third straight game Sunday with a shoulder injury. The Lions listed five players as questionable: Right tackle Rick Wagner (knee), linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring), kicker Matt Prater (illness), linebacker Steve Longa (quad) and safety Tavon Wilson (hamstring). … The Lions promoted linebacker Anthony Pittman from the practice squad to fill the roster spot that came open when they put Jahlani Tavai on injured reserve earlier this week. … According to ESPN, the Lions did a simple restructure on Matthew Stafford’s contract, converting a $6 million roster bonus he was due in March to a signing bonus. The move allows the Lions to prorate that cap hit over the life of the contract. ESPN reported the deal saves the Lions $4.8 million in cap room next season, which means the Lions added a voidable year to the end of the deal.

Custom Devon Kennard Jersey Large

Devon Kennard has heard the joke before.

The Detroit Lions linebacker is involved with so many causes that help metro Detroit youth — from funding scholarships, encouraging reading, raising money for worthy causes, adopting a family at Thanksgiving and working on social-justice and social-resiliency initiatives — it wouldn’t be hard to believe that being a role model is Kennard’s full-time job and that his NFL gig is just a side hustle.

“Hey, I’m very efficient,” the Lions’ co-leader in sacks said with a laugh. “People joke all the time. I’m not a guy that wastes a lot of time. Like I’ve got extra film to (study), I lock in, turn the phone off, get the film done. I go home and spend some time with my family. Then I got the off-the-field stuff. Definitely stay busy.”

Because of all his good deeds, Kennard recently was named the Lions’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. The winner will be announced Feb. 1. All nominees received a donation of up to $50,000 for their charity of choice, which for Kennard is the Midnight Golf Program of Detroit.

More: Detroit Lions’ 2020 free-agent class: Who’ll be back? Who’ll be gone?
Lions linebacker Devon Kennard speaks with kids during a Midnight Golf event.

Lions linebacker Devon Kennard speaks with kids during a Midnight Golf event. (Photo: Photo courtesy of Midnight Golf)

“He’s always been a guy that wants to make an impact off the field in the community,” Lions defensive end Romeo Okwara said. “That’s something I definitely look up to as well. As a teammate he’s definitely someone I look up to as far as setting a good example for what it takes to be a real pro.”

The NFL encourages its players to be active in their communities. Some give money. Some give their time. Kennard gives both.

In August 2018, his first season with the Lions, Kennard met Midnight Golf students at training camp and he was instantly taken with them. In 2001, Renee Fluker founded the program that mentors 265 high school seniors four nights a week at Marygrove College through life-skills training and proactive coaching.

“I just go and hang out with the kids,” Kennard said. “Honestly, they’re operating so well that it’s cool just to sit back and watch for a while. Every time I go, I end up speaking to the kids, sharing whatever’s in my ear that day and opening it up for Q and A.”

Kennard makes it seem like it’s not a big deal. But Fluker knows better.
Lions linebacker Devon Kennard speaks with kids during a Midnight Golf event.

Lions linebacker Devon Kennard speaks with kids during a Midnight Golf event. (Photo: Photo courtesy of Midnight Golf)

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“Last (week) he came out and did a presentation,” she said. “The kids were so excited he was there. He told his story about how he went to college and became an NFL player. Just a little background about how passionate he is about young people.

“They’re so excited about him. He’s a great young man, a great role model.”

In the spring, Kennard attended the Midnight Golf closing ceremony and gave $5,000 scholarships to Maya Solomon, who has a 4.0 grade-point average at Florida A&M, and to Jalen Fountain, who has a 3.5 GPA at Eastern Michigan.

But Kennard didn’t make it easy. He has a passion for reading. Last year, he was featured on the PBS series “The Great American Read” and spoke about Gary Paulson’s inspiring young-adult novel “Hatchet.” He wanted the scholarship applicants to explain how they were inspired by a book and they in turn didn’t make it easy for him to choose two winners.
Lions linebacker Devon Kennard awards two scholarships at the Midnight Golf graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 9, 2019, in Detroit.

Lions linebacker Devon Kennard awards two scholarships at the Midnight Golf graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 9, 2019, in Detroit. (Photo: Photo courtesy of Midnight Golf)

“I just loved the work they were doing,” he said of Midnight Golf. “I felt there was a need there and there are some very bright kids. I wanted to encourage them to read books and really reflect on some books they read, so I created a scholarship.

“So I asked them to choose a book, read it and not only give me a summary of the book but talk about the impact it had on their life, what they learned from the book, how they can apply it to their life. I ended up getting over 60 applications. I read every single one personally myself.”

Need comes in different forms. Kennard met D’Anyra Jones through Midnight Golf and when her mother wasn’t working during Thanksgiving in 2018, Kennard adopted the family and provided them with a Thanksgiving meal and gave them tickets to a Lions game. Jones is a freshman at Bowling Green University and has a 4.0 GPA.

Kennard also donates his time at the Downtown Boxing Gym, which serves about 150 students from 57 schools across metro Detroit. Around Thanksgiving, Kennard joined Matthew Stafford, Danny Amendola and Jarrad Davis to surprise the gym with a new Ford Transit 15-passenger van to transport students.
Lions outside linebacker Devon Kennard picks up a fumble for touchdown against the Giants during the first half at Ford Field in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019.

Lions outside linebacker Devon Kennard picks up a fumble for touchdown against the Giants during the first half at Ford Field in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (Photo: Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press)

Another important cause for Kennard is Detroit Lions Inspire Change, a player-driven social justice initiative he was instrumental in launching after the 2018 season. This summer, Kennard and some teammates met with Detroit police and a panel of male students to discuss finding success despite negative circumstances.

“We had real talks about social resiliency,” he said, “what they’re going through, how to overcome adversity, some challenges they’re facing and how to deal with it.

“And a message I really wanted to send is they’re at a pivotal point in their lives and the decisions I made at their age are having a ripple effect now. And I had friends who made bad decisions at their age and they’re dealing with the repercussions of that as well. So the decisions they make will greatly impact their lives. Moving forward, what kind of decisions are you going to make?”

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Kennard said the players’ efforts in 2018 helped support several organizations that Lions owner Martha Ford also has helped support.

“Last year, we raised a bunch of money between what we did in the locker room and Mrs. Ford matching it,” he said. “We want to do the same this year and really start to take strides with that and raise more money.”

The money is great. So are causes. But mostly, to Kennard, it’s about time. He makes sure not to waste it so that he can spend it being around kids and doing whatever he can to help.

“My approach has always been that the best thing you can give to our youth is time,” he said. “I take the position I’m in seriously of being a role model to kids like that. Just be there. Just hang out for a while and shoot the (breeze) for a little while and just talk.”