DETROIT LIONS DAILY UPDATE FOR MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2007
- The Lions had meetings today and reviewed film from Sunday's 36-21 win at Oakland. The team will return to the practice field on Wednesday and begin their on-field preparation for their home opener against the Vikings.
- DE Dewayne White, who was signed by Detroit as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, made his Lions debut and was a force that sparked Detroit to 36-21 win on the road at Oakland in the opener. He took the game over in the fourth quarter shortly after the Lions regained the lead 26-21. With the Raiders driving, White dropped back in the flat, picked off a pass one-handed and returned it 28 yards. That interception led to a Lions' field goal to pushed the team's lead to 29-21.
- On the next Raiders offensive play, White recorded a sack-fumble-recovery that gave the ball back to the Lions. That turnover led to a Detroit touchdown that put the Lions' lead out of reach. With a closer look at the play, White actually forced the sack, caused the fumble, which was originally recovered by Raiders TE Zach Miller, and he then forced Miller to fumble, which White recovered. Officially on the play, he recorded a sack, two forced fumbles and a recovery.
- In his Lions debut, WR Shaun McDonald led the Lions passing attack with 6 receptions for 90 yards and had one touchdown reception. His 32-yard TD grab in the back of the endzone turned out to be the game winner with 4:15 left to play in the game. On the previous play, the Lions were facing 3rd-and-9 and he took a 5-yard pass and spun out of a tackle for an additional 8 yards and the first down.
- WR Calvin Johnson, the second overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, got off to a great start in his rookie season. He caught 4 passes for 70 yards (17.5 avg.) and scored his first NFL touchdown in Detroit's opener at Oakland. Johnson had receptions of 26, 16, 16 and 12 yards.
- The Detroit Lions come back to Ford Field for their regular season home opener against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, September 16 at 4:05 p.m. The Lions look to open their season with two consecutive victories for the first time since 2004 after defeating the Raiders 36-21 last weekend in Oakland. Minnesota opened their regular season at home and dominated the Falcons with a 24-3 victory. This week's game will be televised in Metro Detroit on WJBK-TV FOX Channel 2 (subject to blackout) with Matt Vasgersian handling play-by-play, J.C. Pearson adding color commentary and Jennifer Hammond reporting from the sidelines. The game will also be broadcast on the Lions Radio Network (WKRK 97.1 FM) with announcer Dan Miller handling play-by-play, Jim Brandstatter adding color commentary and Tony Ortiz reporting from the sideline.
LIONS HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: â€œFirst thing Iâ€™ll cover is just the injuries. The only one, it was just like last night, is a mild high sprained ankle with T.J. (Duckett). Weâ€™ve just got to kind of see it tomorrow and kind of wait and see in terms of when, see how heâ€™s feeling. But weâ€™ll kind of have to play it from there.
â€œJust kind of recap from what I talked about last night, nothing more than that. The team didnâ€™t blink, and thatâ€™s the thing I talked to them about today. Itâ€™s something weâ€™ve emphasized day in and day out, and I think we did a good job just playing one snap at a time, and they fought through some adversity, which, thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m looking for. I was pleased with both sides of the ball in terms of the up-front men. I keep using the term, â€˜It starts up front.â€™ I thought our offensive line protected very well against a good rush front, two good rushers, and we opened up some seams in the running game. That was good. I thought the front on defense played well. They pressured very well. So, that was pleasing. The special teams I thought were very good. Obviously, Jason Hanson, going 3-for-3 in the kicking game; he kicked two from the dirt, and thatâ€™s tough. Boy that was a tough infield. Just as important, though, our rush team: Shaun Rogers blocked one, and then, once he got that first one, boy, the tempo was set. We were getting great heat. So, those things were big in terms of that game. I was very pleased with no penalties in our return game; itâ€™s something weâ€™ve hammered. Weâ€™ve wanted to make sure the drive charts were good all year long for our offense and our defense, and that was big. We had no penalties in the return game. One of their goals is to lengthen the field for the defense, shorten the field for the offense, and our drive chart ended up good, where we started at the 42 yard line, and they started at the 28. So, thatâ€™s important in field position and youâ€™re trying to play good offense and good defense. But I was very pleased with our special teams and thought they did a heck of a job. Area of concerns still: I want to tackle. I thought we missed some tackles in this game; screen game hurt us a little bit, and it was more the fits, where we had No. 2 making sure we get outside the block, we had a guy getting inside a block. So weâ€™ve got to make sure those are things that you correct. Weâ€™ve been on them. But weâ€™ve got to get those things corrected, and weâ€™ve got to obviously protect the ball at all times. No. 1 is weâ€™ve got to protect the football.
â€œOne thing that was positive, we were plus one (in turnover margin). I think nine out of ten teams yesterday that were plus one or over won. You constantly emphasize the importance of ball security, protect the football, and taking the ball away.
â€œThe last thing Iâ€™ll say before I answer questions, is I want to get away from this game as fast as I can. Weâ€™ve got a heck of a tough game this week with the Minnesota Vikings coming in here. All of our focus once the team finishes watching this film is all about Minnesota. Thatâ€™s all Iâ€™m interested in talking about. If we actually believe in playing one snap at a time, good play bad play, we let something good go and move on to the next thing. Right now, itâ€™s Minnesota Vikings, and thatâ€™s what weâ€™ve got to do. And we need our fans this week, big time. I want to create a playoff atmosphere at Ford Field. Weâ€™ve got the best fans around, weâ€™ve got to get them something to cheer about, and thatâ€™s our job. We need them to bring their A-game, and Iâ€™m looking forward to that.â€
On the demeanor on the sideline indicating that his message has gotten through: â€œYou could feel their energy on the sideline. The only thing I can (tell you) is what I feel. They were wired. I mean, nobody blinked on that sideline. There was no panic. It was just, â€˜Hey, letâ€™s go play this series, letâ€™s go play this snap.â€™ And thatâ€™s what youâ€™re supposed to do. Thatâ€™s what football is about. Thatâ€™s what men do. Youâ€™ve got to go do that type of stuff, and itâ€™s a teachable skill. Thatâ€™s what people donâ€™t understand. Itâ€™s a teachable skill, and, as a teacher, you present an outline, a lesson plan for it, and you repeat it, and you repeat it, and you repeat it. You create it on the practice field. You repeat it in the classroom, and you do it over and over. And you put them in adverse situations. Sometimes, you have to create artificial adversity, which I did. You do that, and now you put them through adversity, and then they understand it. And then you teach it again. And weâ€™ll fail somewhere along the line. You donâ€™t panic, and you do it again. Then, eventually, they understand it if you get the right people with you.â€
On how else he has created artificial adversity: â€œOh, Iâ€™ve just done it. Different ways Iâ€™ll do things. But, no, itâ€™s somethingâ€¦ I donâ€™t do it as much right now, because they understand what I want. But you donâ€™t try to make things easy. You donâ€™t try to make things comfortable, because this is not about comfort. To win a game, itâ€™s being uncomfortable. Youâ€™ve got to be in a position during the end of a game, you are very uncomfortable. Youâ€™re tired, youâ€™re winded, all those things. And now youâ€™ve got to be able to listen, youâ€™ve got to be able to communicate, youâ€™ve got to execute. Youâ€™ve got to rely on your fundamentals. Hopefully, as teachers, thatâ€™s our job. If they fail in that area, Iâ€™ve failed. So weâ€™ve got to be able to create that. Youâ€™ve just got to keep doing it. Itâ€™s something you canâ€™t get away from. Once you think you have it, you donâ€™t. You never have it. You never have a lock on it. Itâ€™s like tackling. You never have a lock on tackling, you work on it every week.â€
On if he does it daily: â€œDaily. Itâ€™s a mindset.â€
On the importance of finding the right player at each position: â€œYeah, thatâ€™s a great question, great question. I guess one of the things I could say would be this: because there was a sequence in the game I brought up to the players, that really kind of emphasized team, that was really kind of neat. You remember when Nick (Harris) had a nice punt down to the 2(-yard line). So, our punt team goes out, and they cover it well. Mike Furrey goes down and downs it at the 2. Our defense comes on for three plays. Right now, you couldnâ€™t tell who made the tackle, who made the plays on that. Nothing spectacular; everybody did their job, they went three and out. They punted the ball at that point. Troy Walters comes back, makes a nice catch, we had a great block by (Travis) Fisher, and Troy Walters gets 18 yards. Boom, next play, we break a run for 17, 18 yards, boom, touchdown to Roy Williams. Thatâ€™s the concept weâ€™re talking about. Thatâ€™s team: you donâ€™t even know what names are brought up. Guys are just doing their jobs as a team. And now all units are working together. The kicking unit creates it, the defense does their job, the kicking unit shortens the field, offense does their job. So thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m looking for in that team concept. Itâ€™s not the most talented guy, like Iâ€™ve said before. The key guys are the bottom ten on your roster that: understand their role and will willingly do their role. It could be covering kicks. Jon Bradley is a guy we have who loves being a defensive player. We moved him to fullback. Heâ€™s a guy, now, gives us depth on the defense every game. Weâ€™ve got an extra defensive lineman out there, and youâ€™ve got a guy playing fullback. Itâ€™s Gordie Lockbaum, heâ€™s out there. Gordie Lockbaum is on our team, and thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m looking for. Guys will do whatever it takes to help us win.â€
On forcing turnovers at the end of the game: â€œTwo sack fumbles, yeah. Thatâ€™s what weâ€™re supposed to do. I thought a lot of that tied into playing one snap (at a time). I think our strength and conditioning is very good. Iâ€™ve been saying that all along. Our conditioning, weâ€¦ you know, youâ€™re at our practice, you see how much we run in practice. We run. I mean, we donâ€™t need to condition. Our practice is conditioning, and our strength is very good. Theyâ€™ve been on it, and with that, now, you can be in great shape and be strong, but without the mental toughness part it doesnâ€™t matter.â€
On the difference in toughness between this year and last: â€œSee, that mental shape, I guess Iâ€™m talking about that mental toughness; you believe. And Iâ€™ve got some guys. Dewayne (White) can rush, he can rush. Thatâ€™s why I got him. Heâ€™s got movement, he can rush and heâ€™s athletic. I believe in Kalimba (Edwards). Iâ€™ve given him the keys to the car, too. Heâ€™s going to go do it. Guys have got to make plays at that moment. I think I talked about it a couple of weeks after the Indy game. We knew what to do, we knew how to do it, we were trying to be physical, but when there is an opportunity to make a playâ€¦ donâ€™t guess, but when your opportunity comes to force the offense to self destruct, youâ€™ve got to make those plays. Youâ€™ve got to, and they did.â€
On what he saw of DE Kalimba Edwards on film: â€œYou know, it wasnâ€™t just the rushes he had â€“ boy, he was there. He could have had a four sack game. He was there quite a bit. And then (Barry) Sims is a good pass blocker, so I was pleased with that. But he ran the field well; he made some plays down the field. He recovered that fumble late in the game â€“ when Dewayne had the sack fumble and then he (Dewayne) forced another fumble on the same play â€“ Kalimba came all the way across the field, hustling, and made a play. Itâ€™s not just that. Itâ€™s like Shaun (Rogers), I though Shaun was a force in the game. He didnâ€™t have the big stats, but he was a force. He constantly disrupted the inside and the run, and he pushed the pocket. When youâ€™re doing that, those ends can take deeper rushes. All ends, speed ends, like deep rushes. They all like it. They prefer not to have to go inside. If you can get the pocket pushed, and it works, to get four guys equal to one.â€
On how many snaps DT Shaun Rogers played: â€œI want to say 33, 34 in that vincinity; middle 30â€™s.â€
On what the plan is for Rogers going forward: â€œGame condition is big right there. Hopefully each week you start increasing it and see how his body is holding up â€“ the wear and tear on his body. We just have to be smart; the timing of when weâ€™re putting him in is really important.â€
On when they tried to play Rogers: â€œSometimes I liked him on third down. They were struggling picking him up on third down; their center had problems with him. I might give him a blow on first and second down and get him in on third. The next series, letâ€™s start him at first down. Heâ€™s a dominant run player. You have to feel how he is feeling at that moment. Sometimes he got rested for a little bit and he was able to go longer.â€
On how Rogers felt today: â€œHeâ€™s going to be sore. We just have to start our preparation again this week with him.â€
On who substitutes him: â€œI have (Joe Barry) do it, but we talk through how I want these guys rotated. Then there is just the thing where you feel it during the game because if you just stick by the numbers you could have a long break in between a series or a short break, a turnover and youâ€™re back on the field. With him, and a couple of guys, I want to feel it and see how their wind is holding up, â€˜hey he looks tired letâ€™s get him out.â€™â€
On how he judges who is actually tired: â€œThey all want to (play). (Rogers) is good, he is really good. Iâ€™ve talked to him. I feel that I can see after a play if they start bending over, if their pad level is coming up to quick. That means that itâ€™s a sign that their legs are getting tired.â€
On how he reacted when Oakland took the lead and what he wants to portray to his team in adversity: â€œPoise, poise, poise. You are not running around and grabbing somebody by the neck or something. Itâ€™s just poise and doing what we do. I keep telling them: just do what we do. Our offense, they didnâ€™t blink. They just went out there â€“ and Mike (Martz) called a great game â€“ and they just went right down the field and just did what theyâ€™re supposed to do and executed. The defense had to go back on the field and go out and put out the fire at the end. I think that itâ€™s no panic, just poise. The preparation is there. You do a good job in practice all week, which you try to. Practice is key. Game day is the test, the test should be easy. Itâ€™s the practice and preparation.â€
On what area needs to be worked on: â€œLike I said, tackling.â€
On how he felt about the running game: â€œYouâ€™ll never be pleased, but it was better. We work at it and work at it, but I was really pleased at the end of the game. We had some nice runs in there, some real nice runs. Itâ€™s getting better. We just have to keep working at it. Our passing game will set it up. Those guys will get tired on defense â€“ when (they) rush that much, especially if (theyâ€™re) not getting there. It wears those guys down.â€
On having Raiders QB Josh McCown out there: â€œThe difference is he is running some things different than he ran here. We just knew Josh was a really good athlete. Heâ€™s a heck of an athlete and heâ€™s got a nice arm. He did a good job. We knew we had to stay after him. We knew the boot(legs) were coming. They changed, they ran some boot(legs) a little differently than we saw in terms of the preseason. We adjusted to those ok, but he did a good job. He was under duress a few times and flipped it out of there, and the screen game was good.â€
On what he likes about the Lionsâ€™ wide receivers: â€œThe first thing is the leadership of Roy (Williams). I think he has really stepped up in that area. He is a heck of a player. Mike (Furrey ) and Mac (Shaun McDonald), one is that they have been with Mike (Martz) before so they really understand this system. They are so confident, thatâ€™s the thing right there. They both are very confident; they donâ€™t drop many passes; they are very sure-handed and then you brining our young guy into this situation. He (Calvin Johnson) really stepped up yesterday; I was really excited about that. Youâ€™ve got two big ole guys out there, then youâ€™ve got the three short guys coming out there who are really quick and they get inside. That gives you a nice combination. The thing Iâ€™m impressed with is that nobody is selfish. The ball is moving around. Each guys got 4, 5, 6 catches. When you can do that itâ€™s going to make it a special year.â€
On how the Raiders covered the Lions receivers: â€œThey were playing some man and a little bit of bracket. It look like they (bracketed Williams) a couple times.â€
On if that freed up WR Shaun McDonald: â€œAnd other guys underneath. Then you get matchups underneath which you like. Iâ€™m not saying they (bracketed Williams) every down. We just get some two man, they played some cover 2 and different things. We just go to our routes and do what we do.â€
On if thatâ€™s what they want teams to do: â€œIt comes down to our ability to protect. Thatâ€™s what it all comes down to. Like I was saying at the beginning, it starts up front. They did a nice job of protection; they gave Jon some nice time in there. Jon moved around well. It starts up front on both sides.â€
On how any given week someone new will lead the team in receiving: â€œThatâ€™s the whole system. The guys are sprinting and running. The coverage is going to dictate who is going to get it and they have to sprint to spots on the field, and then just be unselfish; get there and block for each other and make plays for each other and that starts up front with the protection.â€
On WR Shaun McDonald: â€œHe is a pro. He is just very confident, heâ€™s got great hands and he is so quick. He catches that ball and boy heâ€™ll make a guy miss right now. Youâ€™ve seen that all the way through the preseason. It was an excellent get for us. He brings value in terms of the kicking game also.â€
On why the offensive line protection is better: â€œIâ€™d say two things that I really believe. One is Edwin (Mulitalo) and George (Foster) have been really good additions â€“ theyâ€™re good players. I think Jim Colletto is really good at it. He really understands the protections well and he works extremely well with Mike (Martz). Itâ€™s been very good. Itâ€™s been good all the way through the preseason. Iâ€™ve been saying that. We gave up two sacks yesterday; really one because right at the end Kitna just took it and ran it. We really only gave up one legitimate sack in that game. Itâ€™s a lot of throwing and against some good rushers.â€
On what the test is with Minnesota: â€œOur test is us, not Minnesota. Itâ€™s us. Itâ€™s our ability to go out and prepare just like we did last week, itâ€™s the same. They are faceless grey helmets coming in here. I donâ€™t care who the opponent is. Itâ€™s what we do. Itâ€™s how we present ourselves in our meetings. As soon as they leave here theyâ€™re wired in for our meetings on Wednesday. Itâ€™s how we present ourselves in a meeting. Itâ€™s how we go to take care of our business in a walkthrough. Itâ€™s how we prepare ourselves for a padded practice. Itâ€™s our details. Itâ€™s not about what theyâ€™re going to do. Itâ€™s about how we prepare. If we can do that each and every week that gives us the best opportunity to really be successful on Sunday. Thatâ€™s all I want for them. Forget about your opponent. Us, itâ€™s us.â€
On whether thatâ€™s true even if they play New England or Indianapolis: â€œItâ€™s us. Thatâ€™s all that matters. Itâ€™s what we do. Once you get enamored with an opponent, you take away from yourself. You take away from what you do. Itâ€™s our preparation. Itâ€™s our rules. Itâ€™s our alignment. Itâ€™s our pad level. Itâ€™s our rush technique. Itâ€™s our tackling angles. Itâ€™s understanding our rules. Itâ€™s determining how weâ€™re going to play one snap at a time and how hard weâ€™re willing to play that snap each and every time. Itâ€™s our ability to deal with adversity. They bring nothing. Itâ€™s us, itâ€™s what we do.â€
On if he has more of those kinds of guys in his locker room now: â€œThey do. The best part of the whole thing was I thought when we hit some adversity in that game, thatâ€™s when it came to the forefront. If we would have kept on and won 24-7, you donâ€™t know. Thatâ€™s why that adversity on the field, they responded with it. That was good, and now you have a chance to build on it and every time youâ€™re in that situation they know they have been there and they know they have conquered that situation. They did nothing about the opponent. They conquered it themselves. Thatâ€™s what you are looking for.â€
On why he kept DE Ikaika Alama-Francis and DE Jared DeVries down: â€œLangston Moore (is why). With Shaun (Rogers) I donâ€™t know how many snaps going into the game he is going to handle. (Shaun) Cody is still coming off a foot from last year, and Cory Redding still has that elbow. All three tackles are banged up a little bit here and there. Langston has also learned to play the end position, especially on first down. He gives me a nose tackle; he gives me a three-(technique) and an emergency defensive end. Really by suiting seven guys up and him being one of the seven, Iâ€™ve suited eight; four ends and four tackles. Thatâ€™s the biggest reason right there. I only like to suit seven up front and then Corey Smith brings us a really good core special teams player.â€