The Jim Caldwell era is officially underway in Detroit.
The Lions new head coach spoke to the media Sunday on the eve of training camp, along with veteran players Stephen Tulloch and Dominic Raiola.
Caldwell talked about creating a new culture and leading the Lions to the playoffs.
“We’re going to field a team that has the right Lions DNA,” he said. “And that’s a smart, fast, and physical team. We expect you to see that on the field, a team that doesn’t hurt itself from a mental standpoint. We won’t beat ourselves, but you’re going to see a team that’s highly physical that can run and cover and certainly do a great job of putting points on the board.”
Tulloch said this is the most talented Lions team he’s played on. “If we can just stay healthy, take care of business on and off the field, come here with the approach of just getting better every day, I think we’ll be headed in the right direction and be able to do big things.”
Tulloch specifically praised new Lions safety James Ihedibo: “He’s a freak. He’s a work hard guy and he’s had the opportunity to play with Ed Reed for many years, so he understands the scheme that [defensive coordinator Teryl Austin] has brought here. He speaks up in the meeting room, as far as letting guys know what to do and what not to do, he’s just a big addition to this team.”
Ndamukung Suh, whose contract expires at the end of this season, was a hot topic with Caldwell. While it’s rumored that the Lions and Suh are still working toward a long-term deal, ESPN reported earlier this week that it’s unlikely the Lions will sign Suh before the regular season begins.
Caldwell, however, remains optimistic regarding the Lions being able to retain their Pro Bowl defensive lineman.
“I think without question they’re working at it. I think something will get done at the appropriate time,” Caldwell said.
Raiola said Suh’s contract status wouldn’t have any impact on the team. “I think the media more so worries about it than what we do. I know when [Suh] gets here, he’s going to work. All the outside stuff that goes on, we don’t pay any attention to it.”
Caldwell also addressed Nick Fairley’s weight issue. Fairley reportedly weighed in Sunday at 305 pounds, after playing last season around 330 pounds. “We’re pleased that Nick is moving in the right direction, and he’s obviously worked very hard.”
During OTA practices earlier this year, Fairley said he replaced fast food, which he said he ate three to four times a week, with healthier meals like baked chicken and grilled fish.
The Lions begin training camp on Monday at 3:30 p.m., and will hold several days of training camp at Ford Field and Wayne State University in order to accommodate more fans who want to attend practices that are open to the general public.