Air of mystery surrounds Lions, Matt Patricia as season nears

By Matt Schoch
The Detroit News
Matthew Stafford

Allen Park — Lions coach Matt Patricia was asked again on Wednesday if Matthew Stafford would make his season debut in game action on Friday night at Ford Field.

Once again, there was no clear answer.

The second-year coach was later asked if he’s enjoying the guessing game he’s leading with everyone before the third preseason game, the so-called dress rehearsal for the season.

“Do I enjoy that? That’s a good question. I don’t know if I really enjoy it, I guess it’s probably just the truth to be honest with you,” Patricia said, calling it a “day-by-day” process.

After two preseason games without Stafford quarterbacking the new offense and most of the potentially dominant defensive line held out with injuries, there is an air of mystery around the Lions.

They’re 0-2, but have spent the preseason mostly resting regulars after competitive joint practice weeks with New England and Houston.

After being asked about being a “mystery team,” Danny Amendola deadpanned Wednesday: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

But the veteran wide receiver might have let one slip later, saying he’s “ready for the opportunity to play live football this weekend” after being held out of the first two preseason games. But that’s the message Patricia has been sending to his team: Prepare to play, even if you won’t.

The former St. Louis, New England and Miami wide receiver is used to all of this from his first 10 years in the league, which began in training camp with Dallas in 2008.

There, he was profiled as a plucky underdog story on HBO's "Hard Knocks," getting plenty of air time and game reps before the Cowboys made the undrafted rookie one of their final cuts.

“There’s different strategies to try to keep your guys healthy,” said Amendola, now with 485 career receptions, 4,684 yards and 20 touchdowns. “Regardless, we always talk about it each year in the preseason, but when football season comes around, we tend to forget about it.”

Against Houston on Saturday night, quarterbacks Stafford and Tom Savage; wide receivers Amendola, Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay; cornerback Teez Tabor; linebacker Jarrad Davis; tackle Tyrell Crosby; and defensive linemen Trey Flowers, Da’Shawn Hand, Mike Daniels and Damon Harrison Sr. were all held out.

“We can continue flying under the radar pretty much,” Golladay said. “I don’t really think we got to prove anything to no one.

“It’s really just all in-house pretty much. We just got to go out there and make the plays that we know we can make. The rest will take care of itself.”

Ex-Lions LB Copeland hit with PED ban

A third former Lions player has been hit with a suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Jets linebacker Brandon Copeland will serve a four-game suspension starting Wednesday, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Copeland joins Golden Tate, a wide receiver with the New York Giants, and Nevin Lawson, an Oakland defensive back, as former Lions hit with bans.

Copeland played every game in his two seasons with Detroit, notching a half-sack in 2015 and starting one game in 2016.

Copeland, 28, started 10 games for the Jets last season.

On the mend

Former Lions tight end Michael Roberts announced on social media that he underwent surgery on Tuesday night for his ailing left shoulder.

The Toledo product was traded by the Lions to New England for a conditional pick in June, but the move fell through the following day, reportedly because of a failed physical. After 13 receptions and three touchdowns in two seasons, Detroit cut the former fourth-round pick.

Roberts, in his Instagram post announcing the surgery in Texas, acknowledged tough times because of the tough offseason.

“I’ve faced depression, weight gain, huge feeling of unworthiness, uncertainty and so much more,” Roberts posted. “BUT NOW God has put me in a position to REBUILD and that’s what I’m here to do.”

Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.