- Associated Press - Thursday, August 4, 2011

ALLEN PARK, MICH. (AP) - Cliff Avril welcomed a son Wednesday night and returned to work less than 24 hours later.

The Detroit Lions’ defensive end signed a one-year qualifying offer Thursday morning and joined the rest of the team’s free agents on the practice field for the first time. The restricted free agent could be in for quite a haul by the end of the season.

“This is a big year for Cliff,” coach Jim Schwartz said of Avril, whose deal is worth about $3 million. “He’s always been productive when he’s been on the field but as far as being healthy and playing 16 games, it’s a big thing for him.

“His speed-rush ability, his athletic ability, it’s very important to us.”

The four-year veteran had a career-best 8 1/2 sacks last season while starting all 13 games he played.