DETROIT LIONS DAILY UPDATE: Shaun Rogers out for the season!

Hondo S. Carpenter

The team announced today that they have placed DT Shaun Rogers (knee) on the reserve/injured list. The team also placed WR Glenn Martinez on the practice squad reserve/injured list and signed WR Craphonso Thorpe to the practice squad.

  • The following players have been listed on the Detroit Lions' injury report: DT Shaun Rogers (knee/IR) and CB Fernando Bryant (concussion) are out. WR Devale Ellis (shoulder) and LB Teddy Lehman (hamstring) are questionable. T Jeff Backus (foot) is probable. Backus, Bryant and Lehman all missed a portion of team practice today.
  • The following players have been listed on the Minnesota Vikings' injury report: RB Chester Taylor (ribs) and QB Brooks Bollinger (shoulder) are doubtful and G Artis Hicks (ankle) is questionable. C Matt Birk (neck), CB Cedric Griffin (neck), LB Napoleon Harris (wrist), T Marcus Johnson (foot), P Chris Kluwe (wrist), WR Marcus Robinson (ankle), TE Jermaine Wiggins (knee) and DT Pat Williams (knee) are probable. All players listed missed a portion of team practice today.
  • Detroit hosts a familiar foe in NFC North opponent Minnesota as the Lions take on the Vikings in the 91st meeting between the two teams this Sunday. Last week, Detroit (2-10) suffered a 28-21 loss to the New England Patriots while Minnesota's (5-7) 23-13 loss allowed the Chicago Bears to clinch the NFC North divisional title. 
  • This week's game will be televised live in Metro Detroit on WJBK-TV FOX Channel 2 with Ron Pitts handling play-by-play and Jesse Palmer adding color commentary. 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.

Opening statement:
"Let me go over the injuries real quick. Shaun Rogers - IR; Fernando Bryant has got a concussion, he'll be out; (Devale) Ellis is questionable; Teddy Lehman is questionable and Jeff Backus is probable, we had him sat him out today, he should be practicing tomorrow. Other than that we had a good work day (and) we're ready to go."

On what the issue is with T Jeff Backus: "He had a foot (injury). He's a stud. I mean, he just needed to rest a little bit today and get him back. Other than that, I think he'll be fine and ready to go."

On if this is a one week sit-out for CB Fernando Bryant: "I'm hoping. I'm hoping that. But, we'll see how he recovers. We'll give him a good full week here and then get him going. He's been playing good too. We've been very pleased with him (and with) his ability to play corner. We'll be anxious to get him back."

On who takes Bryant's spot: "We're looking at Keith Smith and we have (Stanley) Wilson out there. So, we'll just work these guys this week in practice and they'll all get a good opportunity to keep playing."

On what the Vikings are doing on defense that's so special against the run: "I really like their two inside tackles. They both are playing very well. Both Williams' are really a load in there. I mean, they're playing great technique in there, very strong, very physical. They're doing a good job doing some pressure inside of it. But, they're just playing good, fundamental football, you know? Seven and eight-man fronts."

On if he ever allows himself to wonder what his two tackles might have been had DT Shaun Rogers had stayed healthy: "That would be great. But, I got some other guys in here I just have to keep pounding with. I got Cory Redding moving in. I mean, you never know sometimes, the opportunity of him going inside. He's got a tremendous motor. I mean, you've seen him, he's disruptive (and) he's playing very well. So, there's a little bit of a positive as I see it."

On what he can do as a coach to help his guys close better: "We keep talking about it, we keep hammering it and we've got to keep getting in those situations. I talked to them today about. When you get into those situations it's: 'Oh, this is going to happen to us again,' or can you say, 'This is us. We're going to find a way to win this thing.' I just think you keep emphasizing it, you keep working at it, you keep detailing it, you keep pushing it and then you just keep coaching these guys in it. You have to make people so aware of it, you know, it's like anything. You make them aware and then when it comes up, we see how we do and I'm really anxious to get started in this fourth quarter with Minnesota and see if we keep getting practice in there (and) preparing. They got good energy to them and we just have got to go close some deals right now."

On if he sees any improvement in the fourth quarter: "No, it hasn't, that's the thing. That's the thing. We're just off a little bit, we come late. It's these last drives or two and some things we'll be doing well early in the game and the same thing late in the game, (but) we might mess something up. Maybe it's the same call, maybe it's communication, maybe we have to address it better (and) do all those things. But, we've just got to keep seeing it and like those last drives or so, we've got to get good pressure early in the game (and) got to get good pressure at the end of the game."

On how the fourth quarter is different than the first three quarters and if it's possible that these guys still haven't learned how to make that step yet: "Yeah. You're right. Exactly and that's the thing I'm pushing at. Late in the game we've got to do things exactly right."

On how they can get over that hump: "You know, I think you just keep getting in those situations and then you just - the one thing for me, is I keep emphasizing. (I) don't' sugarcoat it. I keep showing them and point it out - who didn't do it - call them out, show them on tape, it's not good enough here, this is the details. You talk about it at the end of practice, the details and you're just as stubborn as anything you've ever seen and you just keep fighting it and pushing it forward."

On not really seeing Rogers play this year: "He had a big one against Seattle and he had a real good game against Buffalo at the nose position; he was a load in there. He missed a lot of camp - got hurt in camp. I'm anxious to see that. We have a couple young guys who are going to play this week up in the middle. The big (Anthony) Bryant kid, we're looking at him. So I'm excited to see some of these guys get ready to go and see what they got."

On if he ever wonders about Rogers' commitment and conditioning: "The thing that we have to do is get him into top shape. Hopefully we'll get him cleaned up right now, get all of the surgeries he needs to happen, get everything, get him rehabbed and get him ready for the off-season. Hopefully he sees the direction we're going and he can be a force in this thing."

On if Rogers needs more surgery: "Well that's up to Al (Bellamy) right now. Constantly as you finish everything up you have check him out: the knees, the shoulders all of those things. We have to just check it out and I think he'll be fine. We're going to get him taken care of and all of the medical things he has to do and then we have to have a great off-season."

On what he knows about Minnesota QB Tarvaris Jackson: "Not that much. The biggest thing when you're going into something - we'll have a chance to go in and look at tape on him - the biggest thing in any of these games right now is to make sure we're doing the things that we do on defense extremely well. Our disguises, what our blitz is and our biggest problem is that we don't execute. It's not about who's at the quarterback, it's our execution. One guy can be a little more mobile whatever but Brad (Johnson) is tough; the way he steps in. People think he's not mobile and he's not overly mobile but just like (Tom) Brady, they work up in the pocket. Those are the guys that are tough to me; the ones that work up in the pocket."

On if he is anticipating one quarterback over the other: "I just think - I couldn't even tell you. We're just going to get down and prepare and if the other guy comes in we're going to play the same defenses anyway."

On if he will call it differently depending on the quarterback (between a rookie and a veteran): "Well it depends on what we're executing well. If we blitz and we can blitz ad have good execution all of those things. Within your system are all of the disguises for a veteran or for a rookie."

On no matter what he does he wants to do it better than it has been done: "Exactly and coming in you know we're going to have to lay the run. They have a very good running football team and they've hung their hat on it all year."

On his offensive lineman grading out pretty good last week even though they gave up 5.0 sacks: "They did, they did do a pretty good job. Sometimes it's a variation of things but I thought they went in and handled themselves pretty dog gone well."

On that being his best combination of offensive lineman: "Yeah it is."

On one of them being a street veteran (G Blaine Saipaia): "He is, but a lot of this league is made up of guys like that, (like) Mike Furrey; guys who just love football (and) working at it. He's big and he's a bright guy. He's a 330 pound man who has good movement, very good movement, very bright. He can play tight end, tackle, center, guard and sometimes those guys off the street are so hungry to be good. He's a very good player."

On if they are going to go in and try to run against Minnesota: "Oh yeah."

On some teams not even trying to run against Minnesota: "Oh I know. They are a load. They are technically really good and they are playing sound football. When we get Kevin (Jones) attempts and going a little bit, boy everything starts opening up for us. It's a challenge and it's something we have to be able to do."

On if he can clarify his quarterback decision going into this game:
"I probably can't clarify it for you guys. I couldn't clarify it downstairs with our guys."

On what he told them: "You'll have to read the transcript. (It's) pretty long-winded. No decision (has) been made."

On if it's a Friday decision or a game day decision: "As late as I can make it, yeah."

On if there's strategic value in the decision as well: "Well, I would think so."

On who's in the running for the quarterback position: "Well, just the guys on the roster; although, we signed Drew Henson here to the practice squad today."

On if they re-signed him (Henson) and why: "We did because Brooks (Bollinger) had banged his shoulder up and he's not going to be able to throw the football today. You need to have enough arms in here so the other guys aren't taking all the reps."

On if he had any impression of Henson at the time he was with him: "I have an impression of Drew all the way back to infancy. His dad was the offensive coordinator when I was at the University of Utah in 1990 and my wife used to look after he and his sister. (He's a) good kid, very sharp, good football mind - obviously, coming from a coaching family and throws it way better then you think he does."

On the status of WR Troy Williamson and if he'll be out: "Yeah, you know, those end up being decisions based on what you have to do at other positions and it's kind of a domino effect. We've had five corners up the last couple of weeks. We had the defensive linemen and took a wide receiver last week. It's kind of like a chess game there, who's up? Who needs people? And who can we possibly do without? So, he ended up being the odd man out last week."

On how big of a loss it is for the Lions to have DT Shaun Rogers out: "Well, you know, I did mention to the guys here, the one thing that you see with Rod's background being with the defensive line is (that) everybody that's come in there has given a great accounting of himself. I'd put, probably, Cory Redding right at the top of the list to be able to kick inside and get him significant snaps as a three technique and he's playing at a high level in there. Shaun Rogers is a good player, but they've played just as hard and with just as much resolve without Shaun Rogers and without (Shaun) Cody. So, I mean, he's a good player when he's right, but he's not there and they're still playing pretty damn well in the front."

On being in the final stages of the playoff race and how he approaches it as a coach and if he looks at where he stacks up in comparison with the other 6-6 teams and the 5-7 teams: "You know, I have an outside, I know who those people play. But, really and truly, that doesn't mean anything. All I can control is us playing the Lions and none of those other people make any difference if we don't do what we need to do."

On if he's been a little surprised to the way other teams have reacted to their run defense from week-to-week: "Well, I think, obviously it's a decision that you make when you step over that line. When you run the football you're trying to exert your will (on) somebody and I think, obviously, New England made a tactical decision. They felt like they had a guy and were set up the way that they played - to be able to play with an empty backfield. Chicago didn't feel that way (and) Arizona did, (they) felt they could do something things with that. It's just kind of how you're set up and how you want to play the game."

On what he expects from the Lions: "Well, I expect a little bit of everything. Mike's (Martz) smart enough to be able to play out of the empty set. He knows what he's doing offensively and yet they're running the football with some counter gaps games as well."

On over their four or five game stretch teams were averaging about 1.5-yards per carry against their run defense and if that's amazing to have that kind of success on a per-carry basis: "Well, I think that, you know, that's obviously what they emphasize. Although, I know that's what other people emphasize as well and those guys are getting great fits from safeties, from corners, from linebackers and there's some talent in there and they're playing at a high level."

On the National Championship selection: "Oh that's a tough one. You know where I'm going to be leaning. But, I think any way you cut it you're going to have discrepancy. You send Florida and obviously everyone in the Big Ten - especially Michigan - is going to be wondering how that happened. You do it the other way and you'll have people in the - I don't know what the right answer is but I was really hoping for a rematch. I think that would have been a good game You lose one game in the year and it's to the No. 1 team in the country and it's by three points at their place I don't know if that's enough to drop two spots."

On if he feels for what T Jeff Backus has gone through here: "Absolutely. We try to talk every week. We play phone tag; we may not physically get back to each other but once every couple weeks, but we leave each other messages at least once a week. He told me a stat early this week that I think he's 22-65 since he's been there or something like that. I've been fortunate really. Even my career in college and in the pros we've had decent records. My first five years and then this year we're not where we thought we should be, just like the Lions aren't where they think they should be. But, we have a couple more wins than them. It's tough. And year in and year out and I really couldn't imagine what he's going though. He's a leader and a guy that really cares about the team and the game and wants to win. That's tough on him."

On if he does anything to cheer Backus up or if the different pro careers they've had are fair: "I don't know if it's necessarily fair. I know you have a guy that comes to work every day, plays hurt, plays banged up, doesn't have any excuses for anything just goes out there every day and every day in the off-season. He's a guy that gets to work two hours before the first meeting and stays an hour after the last meeting just to either get treatment or watch extra film. From that kind of standpoint it's not fair for a guy to put in that much. I'm sure they have a bunch of guys that do that and that team isn't really anywhere near what their record shows. They're a team that probably should have won a handful more of games and sitting in a better position because you watch them on film and they don't look like a team that has two wins. It's just a tough run there and when they get it turned around they're - they've obviously been to the lowest of the low, so their going to keep fighting I guess."

On if Backus has ever expressed any envy: "No, not really. Jeff takes pride obviously because he went to school there, he was born in Michigan (and) he has family there. So, I think Jeff would kind of weather all of this if he could kind of be part of the solution. Maybe string a couple of winning seasons together, try to get in the playoffs and make it through there, so he would take a lot of pride in being part of the solution."

On what he thinks of DT Shaun Rogers: "He's one of the top guys. He runs like an end but he's as big as all can be. That's obviously a disappointment - putting him on IR. He's a great player and leader of that defense. He is one of the top defensive tackles in the league. They have Cory Redding coming in for him and he's playing well. That's kind of the thing about this business is the train keeps going. If guys get hurt, that's the nature of this business and guys have to be ready to step on and be ready to fill in."

On if he has disappointment not being in Seattle: "I probably was earlier. But, like I said this is a business and things happen. I love Seattle. I'm with this team, great group of guys here, close friends, good locker room guys. That's kind of in the past now."

On Coach Holmgren stating Hutchinson wouldn't go anywhere and if he was surprised that ultimately it didn't work out in Seattle: "Well like I said that was in the past. He obviously didn't have control over that or else if he had control over personnel decisions that statement would have held true. Like I said that deal was done last March or April."

On if he's surprised they're just one game out of the playoff race: "It's kind of crazy. Obviously we need to capitalize and win these next four games - the remaining four games - for us to have a shot there. I think with the exception of the Patriots game we were in every game up until the end. The team has a lot of fight in it. The defense has by in large kept us in every game and offensively if we don't turn the ball over or kill ourselves with penalties we have a pretty good shot to put points on the board and move the ball and we've done that a couple times this year."

On if there was a lifestyle change going form the Pacific Northwest to Eden Prairie: "It's a little different. I'm from the east coast, went to school in Michigan and then moved out to the west coast. I think it's a little different - just the way life is out there. (I'm) talking about the real estate and everything. California pricing and houses and the markets (are) a little bit (higher) than the Midwest, but the cost of living is probably a little higher on the east coast. Obviously I feel comfortable here in the Midwest having gone to school and living in the Midwest before. It's kind of nice to get back here."


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