Lions notes: Team mum on Flowers' future; Okudah, Okwara on track for training camp
Indianapolis — The Detroit Lions have a pending — some would say obvious — decision regarding Trey Flowers' future with the franchise. But the team's leadership isn't ready to commit, at least not publicly, on which way they're leaning with the veteran linebacker and team captain.
"We’ll keep open dialogue with Trey and his camp and I think that’s the best thing to do in all these situations, whether it’s players on expiring contracts, or whatever contract status they have," general manager Brad Holmes said on Tuesday. "You just keep the dialogue open."
Holmes essentially repeated himself about maintaining an open dialogue with the player when asked follow-ups about if the team had asked Flowers to take a pay cut and whether his scheduled 2022 salary was tenable.
Flowers joined the Lions as a free agent in 2019 to much fanfare, signing a five-year, $90 million contract after spending his first four seasons in New England. And he was productive during his first year in Detroit, producing at his previous levels with seven sacks and a team-high 62 quarterback pressures.
But injuries have decimated Flowers' output the past two years. He's been limited to 14 games, while recording 3.5 sacks and 19 pressures during that stretch. Yet despite that decline, he's remained popular with teammates and coaches alike.
"Look, I love Trey," Lions coach Dan Campbell said. "He's everything you're looking for from the intangibles and he's had a heck of a career. I love everything that he stands for and we'll make that decision in time."
Key rehabs on track
The Lions lost a number of key players to season-ending injuries last season, but few if any were as concerning, long-term, than the torn Achilles suffered by both cornerback Jeff Okudah and outside linebacker Romeo Okwara.
Okudah, the No. 3 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and Okwara, the team's sack leader a year earlier, were expected to be key cogs in the team's defense. Instead, both were on the shelf before midseason.
But with Okudah recently posting videos on social media of himself working out, including running sprints, there's reason for optimism heading into next season. Campbell confirmed as much, acknowledging both players are currently on track to be back for training camp, and more importantly, the regular season.
"Both of those guys, we feel like right now are right where they need to be, is probably the best way to describe that," Campbell said. "And as long as everything stays the course with their recovery then we should have them hopefully by training camp, at least on a limited basis, which would be good."
As of now, the plan remains for Okudah to remain at cornerback, but Campbell didn't close the door on a position switch down the road, if roster construction dictates a move.
"Right now, we see him as corner," Campbell said. "... We’re constantly talking about our personnel and what’s best for them moving forward. What’s best for us? Should this guy go to safety? Should this guy go to nickel? Should we bump this guy back out to corner? How are our injured guys? What do we add? So we just constantly are going to have dialogue about that."
A special text
Predictably, Ben Johnson heard from a number of industry colleagues following his promotion to Detroit's offensive coordinator last month, but one message stood out.
"Shoot, I'll tell you the one that was cool, and I had a number of guys reach out to me, was Matthew Stafford," Johnson said. "It was the week before the Super Bowl, he's preparing for the biggest game of his life, and I believe it was his birthday was the day he texted me on. But for him to reach out and say, 'Congrats and it's well deserved,' that meant a lot to me. I thought that was pretty special."
Johnson and Stafford overlapped two years in Detroit. The coach originally joined the staff as an offensive quality-control assistant before transitioning to tight ends coach last year.