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Lions bend zero-tolerance policy to sign Quarless

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — The thing about a zero tolerance policy is that it leaves no room for exceptions. Unless, apparently, you desperately need a tight end.

Despite general manager Bob Quinn stating he would not sign or draft any players who had a history with "dangerous weapons," the Detroit Lions announced the addition of tight end Andrew Quarless Monday morning.

The Lions signed Andrew Quarless to bolster their tight ends, who have been hit hard by injuries.

Just last week, Quarless was suspended two games by the NFL stemming from a July, 2015 incident where he was charged with discharging a firearm in public outside a Miami Beach night club. He pleaded no contest, and was given one year probation.

Quinn addressed the decision in a statement, issued through the team.

"We are aware of the upcoming NFL suspension of Andrew Quarless," Quinn said in the statement. "We have thoroughly researched the incident that caused the suspension and have talked at length with Andrew about this. Andrew has been forthright and honest about the situation and he has gone through the process within the legal system.  As an organization we are comfortable with adding Andrew to the roster and look forward to seeing him compete for the rest of the preseason."

The Lions are clearly desperate for some tight end help, with the team's top three options dealing with injuries of varying degrees. Eric Ebron suffered a leg injury a little more than a week ago and hasn't practiced since, Brandon Pettigrew is still working his way back from an ACL tear last December and Tim Wright's season is over, also with an ACL tear.

In the meantime, the Lions have been leaning on a mixture of blocking tight end Matthew Mulligan and a trio of young options, Cole Wick, Adam Fuehne and Orson Charles. In the preseason opener, Detroit's tight ends combined to catch four passes for just 25 yards.

Quarless, a 2010 fifth-round draft pick, has spent his entire professional career with the Green Bay Packers. He missed most of the 2015 season with a knee injury, but averaged 31 receptions for 318 yards the previous two years.

Apparently, that's enough production to ignore the self-imposed zero tolerance policy. In an interview with the Detroit News earlier this month, Quinn did acknowledge the possibility of needing to add players with character issues to the roster.

"We know this league has guys that aren’t perfect character guys," Quinn said. "I promised (team owner Martha) Ford that I’m going to bring the best character guys, off the field, that I can, knowing that it can’t be a perfect slate."

In addition to Quarless, the Lions also re-signed linebacker Dominique Tovell, released tight end Ben McCord (Central Michigan) and placed wide receiver Andre Caldwell on season-ending injured reserve.