Struggling Lions feeling the pressure


Struggling Lions feeling the pressure

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) At this time last year, the Detroit Lions were one of the NFL's most refreshing success stories. With a dynamic young roster and a rejuvenated fan base, the franchise was in the middle of a long-awaited breakthrough that ended with its first playoff berth in a dozen years.

That seems like a long time ago now. The excitement of 2011 has been replaced by frustration, inconsistency - and a growing sense that the Lions are running out of time if they want to avoid taking a clear step back.

With the season slipping away, Detroit returns home for a crucial three-game stretch at Ford Field, starting with Sunday's game against Green Bay.

``This is huge,'' linebacker Stephen Tulloch said. ``I've been in a lot of situations, but this situation here is very important for us.''

At first glance, the Lions (4-5) seem to be right in the thick of the postseason race with plenty of time remaining. If the season ended today, there would be a tie between Seattle and Minnesota for the last NFC wild card spot - and the Lions have only one more loss than those teams.

But although Detroit plays five of its last seven games at home, the schedule is looking like quite a gauntlet. The Lions play Green Bay both home and away, and also host Houston, Atlanta and Chicago. That would be a tough stretch for anybody, especially a Detroit team that's in last place at the moment in the NFC North.

That makes the home games - specifically this next stretch against the Packers, Texans and Indianapolis Colts - very important.

``Playing only three home games in our first nine is tough,'' quarterback Matthew Stafford said. ``Hopefully Ford Field will be rocking.''

Detroit fans developed an impressive reputation last year, forcing false start penalties and giving the Lions a real home field advantage in a city that hadn't seen much good football over the years. Stafford and his teammates could use an atmosphere like that this weekend, but if Detroit falls behind early, it's fair to say there will be a good deal of anxiety in the air.

And if there's one thing the Lions have been consistent at this season, it's falling behind early. They've trailed at halftime in every game but one.

``We certainly want to be aggressive on offense. We want to score touchdowns and those things but you need to combine that with making good decisions and not turning the ball over, too,'' coach Jim Schwartz said. ``A lot also depends on how well you are running the football and how that is affecting coverage too as far as getting the offense jump started. ... However we do it, we just have to get in the end zone more in the first half.''

Detroit's offense seemed to have a particularly bright future coming into the season, with Stafford and star receiver Calvin Johnson the two headliners. But Stafford has thrown only 11 touchdown passes after finishing with 41 last season. Too often, the Lions haven't seemed to click until it was late in the game and they were trying to rally for a win.

``This team feels like they're never out of it, no matter what,'' Stafford said.

It's still too early to panic, but each setback from here on out will be significant, and the Lions will have to play some of their best football of the season to finish strong against elite competition.

``We've got to come together the way we know how to play,'' Tulloch said. ``Guys understand that.''

NOTES: DT Ndamukong Suh was credited a sack for a 7-yard loss from last weekend's game at Minnesota after a review by the Elias Sports Bureau. In the third quarter, a 7-yard loss by Vikings QB Christian Ponder was originally ruled a rush and was later determined to be a pass play. ... DL Cliff Avril didn't practice Wednesday because of what was listed as a back injury, but says he's making good progress after suffering a concussion last weekend. ``I feel great,'' he said. ``I'm ready to get things going.''

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Redskins 53-man roster projection, ver. 2.0

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Redskins 53-man roster projection, ver. 2.0

<< Click here to see Redskins 53-man roster projection ver. 2.0 >>

The Redskins are halfway through the preseason and the first two games may have done more to muddy the waters when it comes to who will make the 53-man roster than they did to clarify things. 

Here is my second training camp prediction of who will make the final cut for the Redskins. See where players are safe and where the hot spots are for competition. 

Among the big battles taking shape:

—An injury and one player’s impressive preseason have juggled the wide receiver depth chart. 

—With Orlando Scandrick cut, the cornerback position looks set but the rookies had better not do anything to shake the coaches’ confidence in them. 

—There are seven safeties who may be worthy of roster spots, but only four are likely to make it. 

—Despite the Hogan-led rally last night, it still looks like the roster will have only two QBs. 

<< Click here to see Redskins 53-man roster projection ver. 2.0 >>

Redskins 2018 news:

-Redskins vs Jets: Must-see photos from the game
-Analysis: Five Redskins-Jets observations

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

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John Wall's sneaker closet is next-level – here are his favorite Adidas

John Wall's sneaker closet is next-level – here are his favorite Adidas

When John Wall re-signed with Adidas this past January, it was time to stock his shoe closet with all the newest, most exclusive Three Stripes designs. 

The brand is known for its designer collaborations and limited releases that can push the pricetags up into the hundreds. 

Cost is no object for Wall, who invited Chris Miller into the shoe closet of his Miami mansion. You can watch the full closet tour in the video player above.

Wall keeps thousands of dollars of footwear organized inside specially lit display cases. But what are his favorites? He pulled out six Adidas designs he's been loving this the summer. 

1. Raf Simons Replicant Ozweego Independence Day – These sneakers are the product of Adidas's collaboration with Belgian designer Raf Simons, who has worked as creative director of fashion houses Christian Dior and Calvin Klein. Wall got his hands on the Independence Day colorway of these sneakers before they were released in July. They're available retail for $450 at Saks Fifth Avenue

2. Yeezy Boost 700 "Wave Runner" – Designed as part of Kanye West's Yeezy collection, the "Wave Runner" has been a popular model since its first release in February 2017. A third release is scheduled sometime later this year, but to purchase them now, Flight Club sells pairs ranging from $575 to $1,320

3. Twinstrike ADV – Wall has the Twinstrike in multiple bold colorways. The shoe debuted late in 2017 and is more attainable than the first two pairs he showed off. They're available at Barneys New York for $180

4. EQT Support Ultra King Push “Bodega Babies” – These EQT Support sneakers got an update in collaboration with rapper Pusha T. The sock-style primeknit has been a popular design feature for Adidas. The sneakers are limited release, but retail at $220 at Barneys New York.

5. Pharrell NMD Hu Trail “Holi" in Pink Glow – This exclusive collaboration with hip-hop producer Pharrell Williams was inspired by the Holi festival of colors in India. Released in limited quantities in early March of 2018, the shoe's retail price was $250. To buy a pair now, it'll cost anywhere from $325 to $480 at Flight Club

6. Originals Gazelle – Finally, Wall gets to a classic! The Gazelle was originally designed in the mid-1960s and became one of Adidas's most recognizable, popular designs throughout the brand's history. They're popular, easy to find and affordable. The Adidas website has a whole section devoted to the Gazelle, which comes in men's, women's and kids' sizes. A standard pair of men's costs around $80 at retail

For those not keeping track, the six shoes above combine to cost around $2,000 or more. But whether people can afford them or not isn't the point. 

Wall told Miller how he couldn't afford the sneakers he loved as a kid, but still kept track of all the new releases and special styles. As he made money and started to build his shoe collection, he treated it like collecting fine art.

But also like art, you don't have to own designer sneakers to appreciate them. 

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