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First responders guest star at Lions practice

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Dearborn — The Lions held their second practice away from team headquarters Monday night, but the guests in the bleachers at Edsel Ford High took center stage ahead of the location.

About 1,100 first responders — police, firefighters and emergency medical workers — attended the practice about 2 miles down Rotunda Drive from the team's Allen Park facility that was otherwise closed to the public.

"To have an opportunity to visit with them, talk with them, share this night with them, is pretty special," coach Jim Caldwell said. "I don't think until there's some sort of a national catastrophe that they actually get their due and respect."

The Lions arrived for the Monday Night Lights practice around 7 p.m., and football players and cheerleaders from Edsel Ford greeted them as they took the field. The school's band performed, too.

Earlier this month, the Lions held a night practice at Novi High, and the team announced attendance at about 7,200 people. The Edsel Ford practice will be the final one of training camp held away from the team's facility. While there was rain during the practice, Caldwell said the chance to expose the players to the elements was a good opportunity for the team, assuming the lightning stayed away.

And although holding a practice for first responders is a commendable idea, Caldwell declined to take credit or say whose call it was.

"It's not who's right; it's what's right," he said.