ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Jim Caldwell rarely expresses disappointment in individual players, but this was different for the Detroit Lions head coach. This was something that could have been easily avoided.
Considering his team’s issues along the defensive line, it’s understandable the fourth-year head coach would be at least a little bit perturbed. Defensive end Armonty Bryant is suspended for the first four games of the season. Tackle Khyri Thornton will miss the first six games. Both violated the league’s substance-abuse policy. Both were brought back to the Lions this year — two of the few free agents who were retained — to give depth and stability to a defensive line needing improvement.
“The league has rules,” Caldwell said. “We have rules in place and those two guys broke the rules. You break the rules and there’s penalties. They’re going to serve their penalties. We’re disappointed in them, upset with them, the whole bit, but the fact of the matter is, every situation and case is handled differently, so they’ll be punished for it.”
So, too, could the Lions. Thornton and Bryant can practice throughout training camp. They can play in preseason games. But they are hampering a team that is still trying to figure out how to improve a pass rush ranked No. 30 in the league last season and a run defense that allowed 4.37 yards per carry.
And their absence is just the start of the Lions’ issues along the line. Bryant is also starting training camp on the physically unable to perform list, one of four defensive ends on the PUP or non-football injury lists along with both potential starters — Ezekiel Ansah and…
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