The Lions were waiting for years — 11, in fact — to make the playoffs before breaking through with a 10-win season in 2011.
They weren't able to build off that accomplishment and celebrate a year ago. Several players were arrested during the offseason and one, Titus Young, punched a teammate, Louis Delmas, when he wasn't looking in one of the receiver's decisions that led to his release.
The Lions didn't come out of this offseason unblemished — linebacker Ronnell Lewis and safety Amari Spievey had brushes with the law — but overall they had fewer off-the-field problems.
Schwartz said it was more of a "distraction free" offseason.
"The players have been able to focus more on football over the last six months, and that's been beneficial for them," he said.
The Lions will have some closely contested competitions at some positions, especially at right guard and tackle, to replace Stephen Peterman, who was cut, and Gosder Cherilus, who wasn't re-signed. They took one player out of the mix, releasing guard Bill Nagy. Detroit acquired Nagy off waivers Aug. 16, 2002, from the Dallas Cowboys and put on injured reserve later that month.
Perhaps the No. 1 reason Schwartz expects a lot from this season's team is he can envision the defensive line being more like it was in 2011, and less like the lackluster unit the Lions had last season. Suh will lead the deep unit which includes defensive tackles Nick Fairley and C.J. Mosley along with defensive ends Ansah, Jason Jones, Israel Idonije and Willie Young.
"I think we have the potential to be just as effective, if not more," he said.
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