June 4, 2009 at 2:07 am

Terry Foster

To running back Kevin Smith, Lions are on the rise

Lions running back Kevin Smith has predicted his team will make it to the playoffs. (Daniel Mears/The Detroit News)

You can never accuse Lions running back Kevin Smith of running scared. Heck, he doesn't even talk scared.

A couple weeks ago on Twitter, he predicted the Lions would make the playoffs this season. And he said his belief was reinforced after three weeks of workouts.

"I am looking at how hard me and my teammates are working during OTAs (organized team activities)," Smith said. "This is like a mini-training camp. The turnaround has been a positive. I know y'all can tell this is different. If you cannot tell, then you are blind. There are different guys making plays. There is a whole lot of competition."

Smith is a different breed. He has confidence, and is beginning to make -- and expect -- the same demands of his teammates.

That's why he makes such bold statements: confidence.

Still, why say his team will make the playoffs considering it finished last season 0-16?

"Because I am a competitor," Smith said. "I believe we have the pieces to make the playoffs. That will be my goal. It is something you think about, and I am not afraid to put it on my Web site."

Joe Vision update

In Pittsburgh, a few hundred fans are expected to gather outside Mellon Arena to watch Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Red Wings and Penguins.

In Detroit, Joe Louis Arena will be dark.

For the second straight season, the Wings will not host Joe Vision.

When the team started its Stanley Cup run years ago, the Wings showed road games at Joe Louis Arena -- and sometimes sold the place out. Typically, the Wings would draw about 15,000 fans.

But those numbers have dwindled as the Red Wings have become consistent -- and constant -- contenders.

Well, guess what?

The Wings said they will show a potential series-clinching Tuesday road game at JLA.

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