Yesterday, the Lions released guard Greg Niland, and brought in former Spartan center Chris Morris. Morris, drafted by Oakland in 2006’s 7th round, had worked his way into the starting lineup by 2009, running with the ones for the first eight games. However, he lost his starting gig to Robert Gallery at the bye week, and made only two more spot starts after that. With Gallery having made him expendable, Morris was cut. He spent last season with the Panthers, but only dressed for four games.
Lions signed C Chris Morris, formerly of the Patriots.
Morris lasted just ten days in Patriots camp earlier this month. The journeyman 28-year-old made ten starts for a terrible Raiders offensive line in 2009.
Well gee, when you say it like that . . . Morris doesn’t sound like a sensible pickup. With Dylan Gandy and Rudy Niswanger already on the roster, why bring in another backup G/C? The operative word in that Rotoworld quote is “Patriots.” Morris had been camping with the Patriots, until a left leg injury forced them to release him.
As the Lions are—right now, today—gameplanning for their third preseason game, this suddenly makes sense. With a national television crew coming to witness the suddenly-buzzworthy Lions host the perennially title-contending Patriots, the stakes are high. Jim Schwartz signing a recent Pats cut to pick his brain is proof The Grandmaster is taking this matchup seriously. Very seriously. Maybe . . . too seriously?
Commenter @LineBusy made this analogy on Twitter, and it flat-out slayed me. Sure, this preseason game is a very real, very important measuring stick for the team and franchise. But there’s also doubt that Schwartz wants to prove himself to Belichick, his first NFL mentor. Don’t forget, Schwartz’s first job was an unpaid internship in the Browns' front office, under Belichick. Schwartz worked long hours, sleeping in a team-provided apartment and eating only Browns cafeteria food. Belichick even walked in on Schwartz sneaking the last of Belichick’s lunchmeat.
Last Thanksgiving, the Lions—thanks in large part to a brilliant coaching job by Schwartz & Co.—managed to hold the Patriots to a draw until the fourth quarter, when the dam finally burst. Obviously, Schwartz and the Lions can’t “really” avenge that regular-season embarrassment with a preseason win. But taking the field and going toe-to-toe, starter-to-starter, with the league’s best? Even gaining the upper hand in the first half would be a huge momentum builder for this team.
The Lions need to convert the hype into reality; they need to back up all the talk. They need to wake up the people who are sleeping on them. They need to convert the faith of believers like me into truth. They need to prove it to themselves, and everyone else, that they’re ready to punch their ticket to the postseason. That’s why this preseason game—which doesn’t even really count—is vitally, crucially important. The Lions must seek out every conceivable advantage, no matter how small the edge or how great the cost.
Thanks for the boost, Chris.