Originally written August 05, 2012 on Fox Sports Detroit:
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The last thing the Detroit Lions need right now is another prolonged controversy. Defensive end Cliff Avril put an end to that possibility Sunday morning when he reported to training camp after signing his 10.6-million franchise tender for this season. Avril missed the first week of camp, which isn't ideal but wasn't that big of an issue. He made a little bit of a statement after he and the club failed to reach an agreement on a long-term contract. He avoided a possible injury during the eight practices that he skipped. And he didn't have to miss his son Xavier's first birthday, which was Friday. Avril wrote the following message on Twitter shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday: "If (your) heart is filled with faith then you can't fear ... back to work, let's get it WIN." A couple minutes later, teammate Ndamukong Suh tweeted back, "It's good to have the Whole Dline (defensive line) in the building now! Welcome back Fam!" By NFL rules, Avril must practice twice without pads before he can take part in contact drills with the rest of the team. The Lions have a practice scheduled for Sunday night at Ford Field. Avril, who led the team last season with 11 sacks and six forced fumbles, is hoping that another big year will help him secure the type of long-term offer that he covets. He is eligible to become a free agent after this season. The Lions reportedly offered Avril a three-year, 30-million deal, but he turned it down. Others at his position have had better offers, including Arizona's Calais Campbell, who got a five-year, 55-million contract with 30 million guaranteed. "He's very optimistic about how he's going to perform this season," Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said of Avril in an interview a few days ago. "We made a very solid offer to him that we felt was a very good offer. He was willing to bet on himself and bet he's going to outperform what was on the table. I like that." The Lions are coming off a breakthrough, 10-win playoff season. They are suddenly considered a potential Super Bowl contender. But the club suffered through a rough off-season that included a league-high seven arrests and the departure of cornerback Aaron Berry and offensive lineman Jonathan Culbreath, who combined for three of those. Running back Mikel Leshoure is suspended for the first two regular-season games because of his two arrests. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley faces a similar suspension because of his arrests. What's more, top running back Jahvid Best still hasn't been cleared for contact after missing much of last season because of concussions. The Lions simply don't need any more problems heading into this season. For the most part, Avril's absence hadn't been a major distraction, but it was likely going to become a bigger one very soon. No worries now. He's back, determined to prove he's worth his long-term contract demands.
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