No preseason, no problem: Lions' Trey Flowers ready to grow with new team, city

By Matt Schoch
The Detroit News
Trey Flowers

Allen Park — Trey Flowers will likely make it two preseasons in a row without any game action after Thursday’s exhibition finale in Cleveland.

That’s just fine with the Lions, as long as he duplicates the rest of the way too.

The free-agent defensive end pickup said Tuesday that not playing preseason last year with New England was something he worked through.

“It was a transition, something I had to work at,” Flowers said. “Not going through camp, obviously you’re missing a lot of time as far as not building the fundamentals. But as far as just running mentally, I'm able to gain an advantage that way, understanding the game, watching a little bit more film — bridging the gap that I couldn’t do physically.”

Flowers followed up his preseason absence with a 7.5-sack season, helping the Patriots to the Super Bowl. The output helped earn him a five-year, $90-million contract this offseason from Detroit.

Offseason shoulder surgery has kept Flowers on the shelf, leaving Lions fans without a full preseason glimpse of what could be a strong defensive front.

While Flowers sat out again, defensive linemen Mike Daniels and Damon Harrison each played a couple drives apiece against Buffalo on Friday night at Ford Field, along with Romeo Okwara and A’Shawn Robinson, who also both played in Week 2. Okwara, Detroit’s sack leader last year with 7.5, has played in all three preseason games.

Flowers, started practicing late in camp after coming off the physically unable to perform list on Aug. 10. He's making up for some lost time with teammates — Daniels, Harrison, Robinson and Okwara also missed time in camp. 

“It’s going well, you have a lot of guys that work hard and want to get the fundamentals down,” Flowers said. “All the way down the line you’ve got a lot of dominant players. If one person is causing a double team, obviously you’re single-blocked somewhere. That’s just the great group of guys we have, anybody can make a play any given moment.”

Flowers recently established the Flowers of the Future Foundation, which has a stated mission to “establish community engagement, promote physical fitness, develop positive values and engage philanthropic values to better the youth,” according to its Instagram page.

“I understand I have a voice, so anytime I can help out or inspire or educate, touch the lives of kids, then it’s always a positive in my eyes,” Flowers said. “With me, I’ve always loved kids. When you’re a kid, life can be hard in some situations. You didn’t necessarily choose your life in some situations, sometimes you grew up in situations when your life chose you.

“Understanding and knowing that if you can change the perspective of one child, or change the mentality, or tell them something that could encourage them or inspire them, or kind of push through all the struggles of life … just kind of keep them encouraged and keep them inspired.”

In July, he had an event in his hometown of Huntsville, Alabama, contributing to the Huntsville Inner City Learning Center. Flowers, a father of two daughters, also met with teens at an event in Detroit last week, he said.

In conjunction with Teen HYPE, Flowers' foundation is hosting a Back to School Community Day at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center, featuring a backpack and school supplies giveaway, free food and haircuts, a DJ, and a talent show.

Flowers, 26, was a New England fourth-round pick out of Arkansas in 2015. After playing one game as a rookie, the defensive end had 21 sacks in his last three seasons for the Patriots, winning two Super Bowls and helping them to another.

In Detroit, he’s apparently interested in growth — for himself and for the city's youth.

“They’re the future,” Flowers said of why he's chosen kids as his cause. “Anytime you can instill in them values and ethics and things like that, catch them young as far as building at the foundation, where they’ll potentially have better character or just be a better person.”

Lions at Browns

When: 7:30 Thursday, FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland

TV/radio: Ch. 2/760

Line: Browns by 4

Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.