April 1, 2023

DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Lions held training camp Saturday at Ford Field in what it hopes will be a step toward home-court advantage this season.

Last year, the Lions went 3-13-1, the lowest home attendance of any team in the NFL. In total, they have won nine home games over the past four years.

The Lions usually hold training camp at Allen Park, but instead hold their annual scrimmage at Ford Field, where 18,000 fans poured into their stadium, the most since 2015.

“It’s incredible,” coach Dan Campbell told the crowd before practice. “I can’t believe you.”

Optimism does not come out of thin air. After starting last season 0-10-1, the Lions have won three of their last six games, including a three-game winning streak at home.

“Our last three home games, the atmosphere was great,” Campbell said. “As players and coaches, we can feel it. I’d say they start over where they left off, you know? It’s not easy to do. Sit there at the end of the year and we don’t win, then we win, you Two wins. Listen, it’s our fans’ credit. They got hope.”

Detroit spent the offseason trying to build that finish, especially on offense. The Lions selected Alabama perimeter Jameson Williams with the 12th overall pick and signed former Pro Bowl receiver DJ Chuck in free agency.

While Williams was sidelined in the college football playoffs with a torn ACL, Chuck showed off his talent to the crowd at Ford Field on Saturday. In the scrimmage, Chuck threw four passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns, including a 33-yard score that ended practice.

“I really have high hopes for this team, definitely for this offense,” Chuck said after practice. “And I want to do everything I can to make that happen.”

Since entering the Pro Bowl in 2019, Chuck has struggled to stay healthy. The following season, he missed three games with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and an ankle injury kept him out 13 games for the final game in 2021. Saturday was his first game in professional football since that injury.

“It feels great,” Chuck said. “It’s the first time I’ve actually been here. Just looking around, getting the atmosphere, the fans are excited. I’m excited. It’s the first time I’ve been back on the field since September 30 or something like that, so I just put my heart into it and enjoy it.”

Despite the optimism, Campbell knows these feelings won’t last long if the team doesn’t deliver. The Lions haven’t made the playoffs since 2016 and haven’t won a postseason game since 1992. Campbell was often recognized in the Detroit area in his second year leading the Lions, but he knew if his team would change the tone of those encounters without starting to win.

“It’s a lot better when you win,” Campbell said. “When you lose, you say, ‘Hey, coach, take this.’ We’re in a good place right now. We just need to get a little better. That’s what we have to do.”

Note: CB Jeff Okudah didn’t play in Saturday’s scrimmage, marking his second straight absence from practice. … Second-round pick DeJosh Paschall remains sidelined after undergoing a sports hernia surgery in the spring, but Campbell said Paschall’s recovery has advanced. … S CJ Moore was removed from the non-football injured list Friday.


More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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