Allen Park — Lions players reconvened Monday for the start of voluntary workouts at team headquarters, and according to one player, coach Jim Caldwell’s welcome message was simple.
“The message was just having a winning program — winning,” wide receiver Jeremy Kerley said.
Over the next two weeks, the Lions won’t be working much on football. Under the collective bargaining agreement, strength and conditioning coaches are the only coaches allowed to work with players on the field, so the focus will be on strength and conditioning for now.
Offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz said the first day of the workout program simply consisted of a meeting, following by running and lifting.
Schwartz, who joined the Lions after previously playing for the Giants, Chiefs, Vikings and Panthers, said he didn’t hear players discussing Calvin Johnson, the star wide receiver who retired last month and left a void in the Lions offense.
Instead, players like Schwartz and Kerley — both of whom were free agents — spent some time trying to meet their new teammates and get acclimated to their new workplace.
And both Schwartz and Kerley, who spent the last four years with the Jets, said they were impressed with the new weight room. The Lions did their first major renovation to the weight room since the Allen Park facility opened in 2002.
“Everything in there is catered to the players,” Kerley said. “Everything is accessible. You can use anything in there. Everything in there is top grade. Everything looks real nice.”
Players didn’t discuss football roles, but Schwartz’s off-field role is already apparent. At 29, he’s the veteran in the offensive line room.
“I feel great for being the old guy,” he said. “It’s a new role for me really. I’m embracing it. It’s good to be a veteran and do what I can to help the young guys and help our offensive line.”
With his new team, Kerley had a chance to show off a past Lions-related purchase, sporting a gold chain with a lion pendant.
“Actually I had it when I was in New York,” he said. “Now it fits. I’m glad I got it.”