When the Lions and Bills square off in Buffalo on Thursday, expect the players to be aggressive and competitive.
But prior to the game and after its conclusion, keep an eye on the interactions, as Thursday’s matchup features a plethora of interesting connections between former teammates on the field and on the sideline.
One Lions player previous played for the Bills, while six others spent time alongside a current Bill on a different NFL team.
- Lions LB
Ashlee Palmerplayed for the Bills in 2009.
- Lions S
Glover Quinand Bills DE Mario Williams were teammates in Houston from 2009-2011. Lions QB Dan Orlovskywas also teammates with Williams with the Texans from 2009-2012.
- Lions WR
Golden Tateand Bills DT Alan Branch played together at Seattle from 2011-2013.
- Lions RB
Joique Bellspent time with the Bills in 2010. Lions CB Cassius Vaughnand Bills DE Jerry Hughes anchored the same defense in Indianapolis in 2012.
- Lions S
James Ihedigboand Bills LB Brandon Spikes had a brief stint together at New England in 2011.
Seven Lions will reunite with college teammates when the team takes the field on Thursday.
- Lions QB
Matthew Staffordand Lions WR Kris Durhamplayed with Bills T Cordy Glenn and Bills DE Jarius Wynn at Georgia in 2008.
- Lions LB
Stephen Tullochroamed the same North Carolina State defense with Bills LB Manny Lawson and DE Mario Williams in 2005.
- Lions LB
DeAndre Levyand Bills G Kraig Urbik were teammates at Wisconsin for the 2006-2008 seasons.
- Lions RB
Reggie Bushplayed on opposite sides of the ball with Bills LB Keith Rivers at the University of Southern California from 2004-2005.
- Lions T
Michael Williamsand Bills DT Marcell Dareus were teammates at Alabama from 2008-2009.
- Lions DE
Devin Taylorwas teammates with Bills CB Stephon Gilmore at South Carolina for the 2008-2011 seasons.
The Detroit and Buffalo coaching staffs are quite familiar with each other, as multiple coaches have spent time with both organizations, including former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz.
- Several Buffalo coaches have spent time in Detroit, including Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who served as the Lions head coach from 2009-2013. Bills special teams coach Danny Crossman headed the Lions special teams units from 2010-12, while Bills quarterbacks coach Todd Downing served in Detroit as the quarterbacks coach from 2009-13.
- Lions running backs coach Curtis Modkins was the Bills offensive coordinator/running backs coach from 2010-12 before coming to Detroit. He coached Lions RB Joique Bell as an undrafted rookie out of Wayne State in 2010.
- Bills head strength and conditioning coach Eric Ciano also worked with Modkins from 2005-07 at Georgia Tech. Ciano was the director of player development while Modkins coached the running backs.
- Lions assistant offensive line coach Bobby Johnson began his NFL career in Buffalo in 2010-11 where he worked as the assistant offensive line coach.
- Additionally, Bills defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson worked as the defensive coordinator for the Lions during the 2006 season, and Bills offensive line coach Pat Morris was Detroit’s offensive line coach from 2004-05.
- Lions quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter worked with Bills tight ends coach Greg Adkins at Tennessee in 2007-08. Cooter was a graduate assistant while Adkins served as the offensive line coach.
Remembering two owners and long-time friends
The NFL lost two of the League’s great pioneers in the passing of Detroit Lions Owner and Chairman William Clay Ford and Buffalo Bills Owner Ralph Wilson, Jr. Both men owned their respective franchise for more than 50 years and had a profound impact on the development and growth of modern day professional football.
Mr. Ford and Mr. Wilson lived in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich., and had a long-standing friendship. The Bills and Lions have played each other in the preseason each of the last 13 seasons and Thursday’s game marks the teams’ 34th all-time preseason meeting. Unfortunately, this will be the first time the two teams will play without Mr. Ford and Mr. Wilson as owners.