the game, rebounding
The Detroit Lions made a significant move on the first day of free agency.
It wasn't an addition.
On an otherwise quiet Wednesday Scott Kingery Jersey , the Lions announced they were releasing tight end Eric Ebron. The 10th overall pick in the 2014 draft would have earned $8.25 million this season if he had remained on the roster past 4 p.m.
Ebron had flashes in his four years with the Lions, catching 186 passes for 2,070 yards and 11 touchdowns, but poor hands and inconsistent play made him a target for boos at Ford Field.
Much of the frustration came from the players Detroit passed to pick him so early in the draft. Six of the next seven players chosen have gone to at least one Pro Bowl, including New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (selected 12th) and Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (13th).
Ebron, on the other hand, never lived up to the potential he showed at North Carolina. Ebron is fast, and the Lions thought he would be a deep threat next to Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate.
However, he only caught 25 of 47 targets as a rookie and scored one touchdown while averaging 9.9 yards per reception. While his hands improved over the next three seasons, he was never able to provide Matthew Stafford with consistent playmaking.
In the first half of last season, he pulled in 18 of 36 targets and was booed when he was shown during a charity announcement on the Ford Field video board. He improved in the second half of the season, but the Lions decided they could find a cheaper option in free agency or the draft.
Detroit re-signed cornerback Nevin Lawson, linebacker Nick Bellore and quarterback Jake Rudock, and also announced the signing of free-agent defensive back DeShawn Shead.
Shead, 28 JK Scott Jersey Elite , played his first six seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, winning a Super Bowl in the 2013 season. He started 15 games at cornerback in 2016, but tore his ACL in a postseason loss to the Atlanta Falcons and only got into two games last season.
Shead is expected to compete with Lawson and Teez Tabor for a starting spot at cornerback opposite All-Pro Darius Slay. Bellore is a special-teams contributor who has seen time at linebacker and fullback, while Rudock will go into his third season as Stafford's backup.
Rudock threw his first NFL passes in relief of Stafford in a 44-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 3. He completed three of five attempts, but also threw an interception that Eric Weddle returned 45 yards for a touchdown.
Deandre Ayton spent Wednesday with the Phoenix Suns with the feeling that this was the start of a beautiful relationship.
The 7-foot-1, 250-pound center went through what he said would be his only pre-draft workout and expressed supreme confidence that the Suns will use the No. 1 overall pick to select him.
”I know I’m going No. 1,” he told reporters.
Not that the Suns have assured him of that, he’s just that confident that the team won’t pass on his combination of size, strength, athleticism and shooting touch.
”Nobody told me,” he said. ”That’s just me. I think I deserve that. I’ve worked hard.”
It would be a comfortable fit for Ayton, who was born in the Bahamas and moved to the Phoenix area during high school. He said most of his family now lives here. Ayton played his one year of college basketball a couple of hours down Interstate 10 at the University of Arizona.
”Everybody knows us now,” he said. ”This is our second home so we just feel welcome, and it would be a blessing if I become the No. 1 pick and stay here and make this home.”
Ayton said teaming with young Suns star Devin Booker would be ”Shaq and Kobe 2-point-0.”
”We could really make something happen in Phoenix,” he said. ”We could really have a spark and start a winning legacy.”
There hasn’t been much winning in Phoenix lately. The Suns have missed the playoffs eight years in a row and had the NBA’s worst record last season at 21-61 Authentic Devin Hester Jersey , second-worst in franchise history.
But there is a young core of talent and most of those players, including Booker and Josh Jackson, watched what Ayton described as ”a pretty intense” individual workout.
For nearly an hour, Suns coach Igor Kokoskov and his staff put Ayton through a series of game situations, as much as possible given the fact no other players were on the floor.
”It was everything that we expected form Deandre,” general manager Ryan McDonough said. ”Obviously we’ve watched him closely at Arizona and we’ve scouted him heavily in person in games, at practice and on film. He showed us what we expected to see.”
McDonough said ”it’s pretty rare” to find such a player.
”I think this is my 16th draft in the NBA,” McDonough said, ”and you can probably count on one hand the number of guys with his size, athleticism, footwork, balance, touch. It’s a unique package.”
He was particularly impressed with Ayton’s outside shooting touch.
”We knew he was big and strong and athletic and moved well at that size, had good length, had great hands Authentic Corey Perry Jersey ,” McDonough said, ”but to see him make shot after shot in a workout in different scenarios.”
And he’s just 19 years old.
The Suns plan other workouts with candidates for the No. 1 pick later this week. The group won’t include Luka Doncic, who is still playing in Europe.
Phoenix is not tipping its hand, but Ayton will be hard to pass up.
”The strength of our team right now are young perimeter players, led by Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren,” McDonough said. ”We’ve been looking for a center to kind of anchor our team offensively and defensively. We think Deandre has that kind of potential. … He’s certainly a unique player and a unique talent that I think would fit in great with the rest of our roster.”
Ayton averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds in his one season at Arizona. He brushed aside questions about his defense.
”I don’t think that’s a weakness,” he said. ”I haven’t had the opportunity to really guard any bigs in college. I was always on the perimeter with the guards.”
Still, he pointed out, he averaged 2.3 blocked shots per game.
On offense, Ayton said, ”I can score inside and out.”
”There will be a lot of mismatches because if I guard them they have to guard me at the end of the day,” he said. ”I can score, I can pick and pop, I can pick and roll Billy Price Jersey , I can put the ball on the ground, rebound, push the ball. It’s an open floor now. Nobody is really double-teaming or triple-teaming.”
He said there is no current player on which he patterns his game. But he mentioned two pretty good ones from the past.
”Kevin Garnett, his intensity on both ends of the floor, how he changes the game, rebounding. From offense to defense, him starting the pick and roll, stuff like that,” Ayton said, ”how he’s so vocal with his teammates. And Hakeem Olajuwon, with his footwork down low, I try to really pick up a lot of stuff with those guys.”
Ayton called himself the most competitive player in the draft. He said there’s none of the laid-back attitude that’s a trademark of his homeland.
”I left at age 12, so I got a little Americanized with the competitive level,” he said.
Ayton planned to get together with Booker and other Suns players to watch Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night.