ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Cliff Avril pulled up to the gate and opened his window as a crowd of reporters converged on his Escalade.
Less than 24 hours after the end of the NFL lockout, the defensive lineman was back at the Detroit Lions' practice facility and he was pleased to see just about anyone.
"I'm glad to be back at work," Avril said. "I miss being around all the guys. I miss being in the locker room."
The Lions are open for business again, and although players aren't scheduled to report until Thursday, they began showing up Tuesday.
There is finally some optimism surrounding the Lions, who won their final four games last season after winning five of their previous 52.
"I can see guys walking around this building with a swagger," defensive lineman Kyle Vanden Bosch said.
With the lockout finally over, teams are frantically trying to prepare for a brief but intense period of roster upheaval. The Lions can expect most of their key players to return, but not everyone's status is settled.
Avril, for example, is a restricted free agent. Teams can talk to veteran free agents but can't sign them until Friday.
"Some of that stuff is still getting ironed out," Avril said. "We'll figure it out. I think it'll all work out."
Draft picks and rookie free agents can start signing right away, although Brian Overstreet, the agent for first-round pick Nick Fairley, said the process was just beginning for the defensive lineman from Auburn.
"We haven't really got the ball rolling," Overstreet said.
Northwestern University said in a release that linebacker Quentin Davie, an undrafted free agent, has agreed to sign with Detroit. The Lions said they don't confirm signings until a player actually signs the contract.
Although Tuesday was a relatively relaxed day for players, they understand there is not much time before the first preseason games. The Lions will begin practicing Friday. Their first exhibition game is Aug. 12 at home against Cincinnati.
Vanden Bosch is entering his second season with the Lions, and he says he is willing to help the team lure free agents if it will help bolster the roster. Vanden Bosch spent five years with the Tennessee Titans, and his teammates included linebackers Stephen Tulloch and Keith Bulluck, who are both free agents now. Bulluck played for the Giants last year.
"I don't know who we have interest in," Vanden Bosch said. "There's a couple of linebackers I've played with in Tennessee that are free agents. They're both good players and good friends. It would be nice to have them."
The Lions could use some help at linebacker, but their defensive line is expected to be a force, with Ndamukong Suh and Fairley teaming up with players like Vanden Bosch and (presumably) Avril.
On offense, Detroit is hoping for a full season from quarterback Matthew Stafford, who played from start to finish in only one game last season and had surgery on his right shoulder in January. Stafford says his shoulder feels good, and he is excited to put aside the monotony of the lockout.
"Not knowing when it was going to be over was the worst part about it — having to kind of feel like you had to be by your phone at all times, because you never really knew," Stafford said. "But it's over now. We're playing football, so that's all that matters."
Vanden Bosch agreed, saying players and owners were both content — and that the Lions, at least, are all on the same page.
"Everything feels normal again," he said. "You feel like, when you wake up and have no place to go, and you've got to find some other place to work out, something's missing. Something's not right. Even though it's going to be kind of a whirlwind these next couple of weeks, there's a sense of normalcy again."
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