LIONS HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI
"I'm just going to kind of give you an overview and we look forward to this, the start of the '07 season. We've prepared very well for it, like I've said before the expectations are high, we set a bar and now I think when you set a bar you have got to be secure in your feelings that you are going to reach that level of expectations. The biggest thing now is action, and taking a step everyday. Taking a step everyday towards what we want to accomplish on a daily basis, and that's what camp is for.Â So that is something we've got to get, no excuses no explanations, something I talk about all the time. Sometimes when you under sell, it's a great chance to have built in excuses and I'm not interested in that. This is where we are and we have just got to move on with the camp. We'll start of tomorrow in the AM with full pads and heavy emphasis on fundamentals, everyday. The basics, I want these guys to master their tools and their skills.Â In the PM will be in helmets and shoulder pads and that's how we'll start."This team has earned my trust a great deal, especially how we've been practicing towards the end of last year and the offseason. One thing I'll do is I'll be smart with them and there will be days that I'll take the pads off. No rewards unless earned though, they will earn their rewards and I feel good about that. The thing I want to accomplish as we get into camp is that it's not just the "what". The "what" in football is a line, a sign, block him, play this gap, spill the ball here, and do those things. I'm also very interested in "HOW". The "How" you do things. Your stance, your steps, your keys, your eyes, your vision. How to run a route, how to take a ball, all those things. So the "what" is key, but the "how" is more important to me as we get into camp, the execution, so we've got to do that.
"PUP candidates right now, we will finish up with the trainers tonight and talk to the staff, and I want to make sure I have a chance to talk to the players. I don't see a lot of guys on it right now but tomorrow we'll be able to get that out in the morning because I want to make sure I go through the proper channels before I do that or say anything else about it.
"Unsigned players right now are Gerald Alexander. We expect him to practice tomorrow. He's on his way in, it's not done yet but we expect him here to go tomorrow morning. Calvin is not done yet obviously and it's just a day by day thing. There is a sense of urgency to get it done, but that is life in the NFL. We will just take it day by day. The one thing with him I feel good about is that he is a great study in terms of how to learn and he is in great shape. Obviously you would like to have him here but that is all part of the deal. I did have a chance to visit with Cory Redding and I talked to you a little bit about that a week ago. One thing I'm excited about, we paid our own guy, a guy who is here, who earned it here. It's awesome when you can reward your own players. Sometimes you have to go out and get other players who have done it for someone else and then you still don't know if they're going to do it for you. But you have a guy who came in here, who played defensive end on a contract year and went to a three technique; it's called an unselfish player. He went in and competed and he's earned that contract and we feel very good about him. I'm excited about it and his best years are ahead of him.
"Some areas of importance as we start camp and some things we have got to get done. I think one of the key things we talked about on this staff is developing our depth. We've got some good young players in this program right now. We have got to really, in this camp, develop our talent. Our second and third team players, that we get those guys up to speed as fast as we can. That's one way to combat injuries in this league because they happen, injuries happen, it's the NFL. But the way you can defuse it instead of complaining about it is go do something about it and by doing something about it is that we have got to have position flexibility, these guys have got to play more than one position. Some days you say oh he's playing left guard, he's playing right guard. No, I want to get as many guys, learn as many things as they can in their depth, and develop that depth. That's the one way we can really attack the injury deal.
"Two other areas we just got to keep hammering at, I just named it last minute stamina in a game. Like I talked about last year we lost a lot of games right at the end, last minute stamina. That takes in a lot, that takes the mental toughness, it takes physical conditioning, the strength and trust and teaching on our part and then a guy making a play at the end of a game. We got to get better, we emphasized that all offseason, we hit that very hard. Two minute drills, we run the clock out, getting the ball back on defense, is something that we have got to do. The second phase would be the turnover/takeaway ratio. We have hammered that all offseason, everyday we come in and talk about it. We are stripping the ball, we've got to be good in those areas. We have got to end up in a plus. So going into camp those are the areas I really want to hit. We've got great competition at some positions so that's on us to create the competition and now evaluate it and make sure we choose the right men. Questions?
On signing (Drew) Stanton and (Ikaka) Alama-Francis: "Yes. The only two guys we have (unsigned) are Gerald coming in and Calvin has not signed."
On Johnson being the only pick not to agree to terms: "Yes. Gerald is coming in. It sounds like it's going to be done; it's apparently going to be done."
On the terms of those deals: "I don't, I can get that stuff for you tomorrow"
On Damien Woody's status: "He's in here ready to go to work tomorrow"
On a potential Woody contract situation: "I believe everything has been done, and is all finished up today is where he's at."
On Jon Kitna's guarantee of winning ten plus games this season: "Again, you have to be secure in what you're saying, you know and sometimes the belief is these guys are in the huddle and they see what we brought in, some of the talent this year. You can look at it and see we got some real special people here and now you got to develop the talent and I feel good about it. I think that's a big part of winning is the mindset, but you have to be secure in that mindset."
On the status of injured players: "You know again I'd like to go through all the procedures tonight, I just want to make sure I do it correctly. The trainers are looking at them and I don't want to say something that's something different, I don't want to do that. We'll have it for you in the morning."
On how many players are on the PUP: "I think it's in that 3 to 4 range, I really do."
On why Shaun Rogers stayed at the facility over three hours today: "He came in to say hello and see how we're doing and have a chance to visit with him. He's in a great mood right now, and we just got to get these guys ready to go. Some guys came in and had a workout today and stayed longer."
On Shaun Roger's physical condition and health: "You know we've got some work to do still and he's had a good offseason, and is working at it, but I want to make sure he is looked at with the trainers first and strength coaches and all those things. He could be on the PUP. He's a guy that I want to make sure he is right."
On changing the way he does things: "No I just want to do them better."
On having the fans watching training camp: "I think it's awesome. My background has been that. I would love it, it's something I'm encouraging and I hope the weather holds up enough for us, that's the hope. I want them there. We have got the best fans in the world, and I want to make sure, well, what I want them to see is how this team is trying to work, and how this staff can coach and then our team can see these fans here and I think that's how you build a bond with your fans. They are there and they get to see us at work, not just at a game, but what you do and how you get in a stance and run a drill and all the different drills you use. I think it is special for a young fan, young kids, those things you remember all the time."
On importance of setting the tone early: "It's important tonight. See this is the first opportunity we talk to our team in the '07 season. It's not tomorrow, it's tonight. So how we teach in the classroom tonight that's how we start and then tomorrow is day two."
On the scheduling of the AFC West: "They are good football teams, yep, they are good football teams. So what we do is we do what we do. That's what we do, that's how you play any good football team. Make sure the emphasis is on what we do, how we execute, how we do. If we start worrying about them we got problems. So it's how we prepare, knowing our defense, knowing our offense, how we tackle, how we block, us. Then if we do take care of that and play one snap at a time, we will be fine."
On the Calvin Johnson potential holdout situation: "Talking to Tom, he feels there is a chance in the next three days or something like that. I mean within that vicinity. I hate to give it a number because it could go either way, I'm not sure, but they feel good, Tom does, so we'll just work at it."
On if it hurts that Calvin is not there: "It hurts any player. The amount of work we do in the offseason, I mean you want him here, ok? But the one thing, the amount of work these guys got in the offseason, the amount of reps we get, he picked up the terminology and the formations extremely fast. He's in good shape, but you want him here, but if there is a plus side to this guy is that he learns very well."
On Calvin Johnson focusing on one spot instead of everything across the board so he can be groomed in a hurry: "Mike is trying to do that with him. We just got to get him in a position and get him going."
On the team starting to turn a corner for this year: "You know, I think the key part is how we kept preparing at the end of the year. It's something I kept talking about. Sometimes for a team, when things aren't going well they start putting it on cruise control and start buying Christmas presents. I was like 'I'm not going to do that.' We stayed on the same schedule, everything was the same, I wanted to see who could finish and who could play well and I think they started seeing that we could continually get better if we stuck it out. We had not hadeverybody we started with which was fine, but they kept getting better. That last month we were playing pretty good football, didn't close out a few games at the end, that last minute stand when we didn't do it and we have to get that corrected. Then we finished on a high note. So they could feel what we were trying to do, that practice is meaningful, that meetings are meaningful, walk-throughs are meaningful to the whole design of a football team. So I can see where he (Cory Redding) can see that."
On what tangible has been upgraded from a three win team: "Just kind of what we talked about, we could kind of feel that swing at the end of last year. The biggest thing for me and where I came from in terms of how we did things with coach Dungy, is if we can't learn how to practice correctly and meet correctly and walk through correctly, for me, we will struggle, we will always struggle. Because I don't believe you play football like that. So we got better in the those areas and I think in terms of our offseason some of the players we were able to acquire, George Foster and Tatum (Bell) and T.J. (Duckett), we got some good guys and Shaun McDonald and you draft Calvin (Johnson). Some guys with not just talent but also some real strong character. You pick up a Dewayne White here and just some of the guys we had a chance to get. We meshed those guys, Edwin came in. Just real solid people. So I think the team can feel that so now we just have to go do it. Now they feel good about it and the big thing, it's not necessarily the team with the most talent that wins, it's the best team that wins. The team that can play team football, and that's the thing I'm just hammering. Turnovers, takeaways, that's all part of it. Penalties, that's what a good team does, they eliminate that as a football team. So if we can just keep working on those things, and that starts bonding the team together, then it's not an offense and a defense, it's the Detroit Lions. We really hit that in the offseason, the team chemistry part, and building that. So that's usually the thing that kind of carries a team over the top. With that, part of the team is position flexibility. A guy that will go out and play something else to help this team. Be a great special team, understanding your role. You can have these talented guys who say, 'I don't want that role, I don't want to do that'. You're team goes down. So you are trying to build the team concept."
On being a better coach now than last year: "I'm just going to stay on the same things and improve on the same things that we did last year, I just have got to do them better. Consistency is a strength of mine and I just have to stay consistent, and each and everyday, talent evaluation, the use of our staff, and just keep working at it. Nothing new and genius coming up here, it's just working, go out and practice football."
On whether there is one area that has a further way to go; another area he would like to 'step up': "I would say some parts of our secondary, people don't know a lot about yet and the question is are we going to be good enough back there and all those things. That's an area I'm looking at, but I just really like the offseason work, how they work and when this system is really doing well, and really taught well, they don't put those corners on islands very much.Â You know their re-routers and their tacklers and some of those things. It's getting the thing together right, understanding what we got to do and then I get the feeling that our offensive line, just the additions we've had with Manny Ramirez,(George) Foster, and Edwin (Mulitalo) and some of the guys we had last year and then we had some young guys Frank Davis and (Johnathan) Scott, so that's an area also. So we just got to keep developing and developing our back-up quarterback."
On the area of his team that he really likes coming into camp: "I think our receiving core, quarterbacks and receivers, that's our strength. I mean we've got a chance I think to really be good in that area and I like our tight ends a lot. Our defensive front has got a chance, they've got the ability there and I like the energy that's coming, the motors that are starting to be developed; we're not there yet where I want, but we got to go in and get it done. They've got a chance as a unit to be pretty good."
On development of the quarterback role: "We got to bring in four quarterbacks at camp. Those other three just got a lot of strength. Mike Martz has done wonders with quarterbacks that nobody has ever heard of; that's a strength of his. He's got a lot of strengths, but he's going to have an opportunity to work with these guys and demand from them. I just feel very good about that, we're going to develop a number two and number three that we'll like. I have a lot of confidence in that."
On the importance of the defensive tackles to live up to expectations: "The defense is generated by the front, because you've got to get a four man rush, four man pressure, four man heat. When this system is really working, the worst thing to have to do is to blitz because you have to blitz; it's not good.Â It's great or bad, one or the other. When this system is about creating havoc and pressure up front, and it starts with those inside guys, and then you get a tackle and a nose like this, but we're very fortunate to have a guy like Shaun Cody. Not many people have a third guy in the mix like that, and we can have a chance to have a heck of a rotation. Those ends got to come alive, what happens with the ends now is all of a sudden those inside guys are generating heat, pressure. All of a sudden the slides come, the shifts come with the back; instead chipping outside they start chipping on those tackles which will single up those ends and they got to win."
On whether or not Kalimba Edwards can live up to expectations: "He's got to, I'm putting heat on him now. The heat's been on, the saddle is on, and I'm in the saddle, so I feel very good about it. I feel good, I want the challenge, let's go. I believe him, we got some other young guys, we got Corey Smith we got to teach (Claude) Harriott we got other guys that can rush too. I got to get the best rushers you know? Sometimes you may have to get a nickel group of guys that can just rush and be able to get up. I need a good rush on first down and slide and turn protection. Those type of things we got to be able to beat coming out of a run stance. But that's a big part of what we've got to do. It's on us, we've got to teach it; teach, teach, teach and believe in them and get them to do it."
On his expectations to have players ready and prepared to enter camp: "Oh I'm pushing, I'm pushing. It's on me, it's on us, it's on coaches. Coaches got to be ready to get these guys motivated. I don't care how much money they make, it doesn't matter. You got to go out and stimulate these men and part of stimulating a man is having a heck of a meeting. You know that you're a teacher, you can present material, get people excited about the material, be able to detail exactly what were doing, how were doing it so they can see the role that they're in and make it clear. Make the complex simple, that's what a teacher does. If we can do those things well and do what were supposed to do well, then we have a chance. It's not just on him, it's on the teacher also."
On Jon Kitna's fourth quarter performance last year: "As you look at that whole thing, you'll look at that as maybe a fan or a writer, as you're looking at that you're seeing its just one guy. But there's a lot of other things and I cant sit here and go through it all, but sometimes it's a guy not getting to his spot because maybe it's a fundamental not getting off a defender correctly, or getting to an area as fast as we need. So everything is built on so much timing, so its important as you look at it, and obviously let me watch the tape after a game. Let's look at the tape first and then we can look at it as a staff and say it's here, here, and here but it's like the head coach and quarterback; you're going to get the criticism. You still got to be thick, you got to move on. As long as you believe in what you're doing, and I feel very good about him. He's got to get better and he knows that too, but we like him, we like him a lot. We just got to continue to get better as a whole football team."
On whether Cory Redding was rewarded for his representation rather than his performance: "No, that wouldn't be. What it is, is this guy started nine games inside. He came in and was extremely productive; he was number two in the league last year in terms of inside, internal rushers, in terms of sacks. He led the league the last 12 games of the year in sacks, he was in the top 5 in the league in tackles for losses. So as I look at it, this is an area of expertise for myself. I can look at it and I can see I've evaluated his position, I have coached his position for a lot of years. The thing, you have to have a vision to see where a guy can go. The key is making the right decision, not after four years running it. I can see it, he was on the last year of his contract, so you've got the back side of this, the worst side of it, that he's not here. That's the worst scenario. I couldn't imagine going to camp without this guy and trying to do what we're doing. That under tackle position is key. There's a lot of things that go into it; a certain amount of talent, and hip flexibility, and torque ,and rush moves and dipping your shoulder but if you don't have the motor for that position, you just don't have a chance. That thing is non-stop motor, he's got to be disruptive and he's got to make that center slot, he's got to create havoc. They get down and they see every snap he's coming. If you have a chance as I did to go to the combine last year, a lot of coaches talked to me. You haven't tagged this guy yet? Because I held off on the tag as long as we could. Around the league, coaches like motor, coaches like effort, coaches like every snap, every down full speed. Full speed at the quarterback or down field, that's what you look for. That's what I do when I'm evaluating that position and that stuff is all important to me."
On the strength of their running back core: "We got (Tatum) Bell, Kevin (Jones), a good couple of runners right now, so it's a lot of guys coming into this mold, this mix so it's great. I mean especially going into camp with a bunch of healthy, good looking backs, so we're in good shape there and I feel good about it so far."
OnÂ what we can expect from the design of training camp: "I've got to develop skill, number one fundamentals. But like I was saying, no rewards unless earned. As they go, I'll feel very good about taking the pads off them for a day or an afternoon or a morning, or half a day without pads. And if they've done a heck of a job, sometimes I'll take the helmets off.Â It's not a walk through, it's still a great tempo but really there is no collision. What I always worry about with just helmets and no pads is the collisions on the shoulder with helmets; man that's brutal, I think its worse than being in shoulder pads for these guys. So sometimes you can take the helmets off and still go fast. If they'll go fast and work on the correct steps all the details we want without collisions, then we can get a lot done. A veteran team can do that if they understand exactly what we're trying to do with them. But if they think there's a day to just get healthy and fresh that's not what camp is about, but I am going to do exactly what you said."
LIONS DT CORY REDDING
On the possibility of wearing a captain's 'C' on his jersey: "I was elected halfway during the season last year as a captain of this team, and it was a great honor to have something like that thought about you from your peers, from your teammates. They elected me captain, and I took on the responsibility and tried to do what's best for my team. To have the 'C' on my chest, I mean, it's just great to be nominated as a captain, especially by your teammates, and to have the guys in the locker room think of you in, that nature, then you just have to take it and run with it."
On Jon Kitna's record prediction and if he has his own prediction: "Oh yeah, I welcome that. I saw Kitna, and that's the first thing I told him, I said 'You added fuel to my fire, man, by saying stuff like that.' And it just gives you goose bumps, it gives you that sense of hope, that burning desire, that you want starting from the quarterback, who is a captain of this team, and to trickle down throughout all the players, throughout the equipment guys, through the trainers, through people in the front office. I mean, that attitude needs to be through the whole building. And for Kitna to come out and say that, I stand behind him 100 percent, and I told him he added fuel to my fire, and that we're going to do our best, whatever that is, to get the job done."
On if he feels extra pressure to perform given his contract: "I don't know what's all been written; I stay away from the papers. If I hear it, it is word of mouth, or on TV, if I so happen to be watching the news and something comes up. But I just try to stay away from all that stuff, and now that I've signed the contract, I'm very pleased by it and how everything was worked out by Martin Mayhew: how much my agent and him connected and got this thing together, I couldn't have asked for it to happen any other way. Way more than I ever dreamed in my wildest dreams as a little kid, dreaming about playing in the NFL, I worked really hard to get to this point. I've sacrificed a lot and made a lot of big decisions in my life that ultimately changed the lives of everybody else, and I didn't even know it. So, with that being said, I'm very pleased and grateful for what's happened in the past couple of weeks, and I look forward and welcome the challenges of that contract and what it brings to me: the responsibilities, the things I need to do with this team, working out and all that kind of stuff. That's nothing to me. That's my second nature. I welcome it."
On how he might react to external pressure on him: "It's no pressure it all, I don't play the game with pressure. You're going to get the attention, especially from the size of the contract that I signed for, and things like that. If it's not me, it's somebody else. You're going to get the attention which comes with it. So you just have to roll with the punches, so to speak. I don't dwell in the moment, I don't get caught up in all this kind of stuff, I just try to focus on what Cory Redding can handle. What I can handle. I can't handle everything else. So there's no pressure, no pressure at all - I don't play with pressure. I get out there, and I play the game, relax, calm, and try to do the best that I can for my team and for myself."
On if he is surprised that he is the highest paid defensive tackle in the NFL: "Like I said, I work really hard to get here. What I try to demonstrate to this organization is that I feel like you can't put a price tag on dedication; on leadership; on character; on, when you wake up in the morning, you're not going to see my face on ESPN for beating up my wife, or going to get a DUI, or doing something crazy. You're not going to get that. So you can't put a price tag on that. I mean you have guys like that in your locker room, that hold leadership, that are accountable, dependable, I think that's all the intangibles that come with the person, the player. And whenever you have all these ingredients together, you can have one dominant player, and a lot of dominant players and individuals make a dominant team. So, as long as we have that, I think we'll be great. So, I'm just rolling with it, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other."
On if he can help bring out the best in Shaun Rogers: "Shaun is a very unique player. I've been with Shaun since Texas, and I've been knowing of Shaun and playing against Shaun since high school. I've seen what Shaun can do, and I know what Shaun can do. And I know what Shaun is capable of doing. So for me to have the privilege and honor to play next to Shaun, that's great. I don't see Shaun as Shaun Rogers - he is my brother. I've been knowing him over ten years now, and we've been through thick and thin. And he's a part of my family just as I'm a part of his. And so to play next to my brother, I can't ask for anything better than that. And he knows what he's getting out of me, and he knows, when he's having his dog days, I'm there to kick him in his butt and tell him 'Hey, let's do this, because I'm with you. You're not by yourself. You've got everybody else with you.' That'll bring out the best in him, that'll bring out the best in me, and that'll bring out the best in our team."
On if he's seen Rogers today: "Yes. He looks good, he looks good. I'm looking for him to get back on the field and be the dominant player that he is. I've seen him in the locker room, you know, hugged his neck and just kind of chit-chatted with him for a little bit, because, throughout this offseason, I've been so busy, and he's been in Houston and I've been in Austin, we haven't really connected for a while. But just to see him today, the smile on his face, and I asked him how his life is doing, and how's his mom and everybody in his family, it's just great to get around him and talk to him."
On how the team makes sure they get off the field and wins games this year: "[Holding up fingers close together] This little space right here. In the little things. Marinelli talked about that, and he preached that all last year, but I don't think it really soaked in. Some guys got it, but I don't think the whole team bought into 'the little things.' That is what is going to get us over the hump. Everybody dwells on doing big plays and everything outside of the small little elements, the small little details of getting in your gap, the small details of getting into your zone whenever you're supposed to be 12 yards off the ball, or running the stunt with the tackle and the end right next to you. Doing the little things, and if we focus on the little things as this organization progresses in the year 2007 and further on, we will grow and be so good, that we will take everybody off their feet. I mean I see this, and I feel it. But you have to buy into it, everybody can sell 'woof' tickets, everybody can talk about it, but until you have it down in your heart that you're going to put all your effort into what coach is telling us to do, don't have no questions asked, do what he's telling you to do, be a pro. And don't put yourself before the team; the sky is the limit for us."
On why he thinks this year will be different: "Just by the changes, the new additions, some of the guys leaving might not be in the mix, a great mixture for this team. I don't know. I'm not a front office guy, I'm just a player. But just from me, looking in, through in-house, we have to find the right chemistry, we have to find the right guys, we have to find the right everything for everything to be perfect. You know, you can't make a pecan pie with cherries on the top, it's just not going to be a pecan pie, you know what I'm saying? So you have to have all the right ingredients, the right mixture, the right guys for everything to run the way we envision this team going."
On if there is a theme, motto, or tempo he wants to stress from the first day: "Me, personally, I try to live my life with these four little letters that I've learned through my uncle. And that's H.T.R.A. And as long as you have H.T.R.A., life will be so much better. And those letters mean 'having the right attitude.' As long as you have the right attitude, and regardless of what situation you're going through in life, I don't care if you just lost your job, your wife just broke up with you or needed a little time off, your kids don't want to talk to you, whatever your life is going through, if you have the right attitude and not just go in the tank and, 'ah, man, my life starting to get off track.' Your life would be so much smoother, everything would be so much better. You wont' have a lot of enemies, you won't have pressure, you won't have stress in your life, you won't have heart attacks, pass out, 'why you down? Well I don't know.' It's just the little stuff like that, you have to have the right attitude. I think, if we establish the right attitude among this team, starting day one of training camp, regardless of what coach or anybody tells you to do, you do it, no questions asked, and believe in the next man that he's going to get his job done, then we've got it. H.T.R.A. We've got to have the right attitude."
On the optimism around the team: "Oh, when you're at the bottom, there's only one way to go. And I ain't digging no holes pretty soon. There's only one way to go man, and that's up. So, in order for a guy to go up, you have to hit rock bottom, and if last year was our rock bottom, well, dang it, I'm ready to go up. And I'm so proud that my teammates are starting to build that confidence, and build that swagger, and not just putting it out there. I mean, we know what Kitna can do, he put up good numbers last year, and he did great for himself. He came in and established himself really well amongst this team. So he's doing that, he's building the confidence in our guys, he's building that swagger, just by doing that. So guys have to react to that. You can't hide, you know, an old church-going song, 'The searchlight is on, you can't hide.' Once Kitna said that, he turned the light on. We can't hide from his comments. We have to back him up 100 percent. If not, then everything we've done, everything we did this year in mini-camp and everything, will be in vain. I mean, that's just the bottom line. So we have to get it done."
On if he felt that they were close at the end of the year: "Yes, definitely after the Dallas Cowboys game. I mean, if you really look at it, our defensive unit, I was the only remaining starter on the front line, we had guys banged up on the back end of the line, in the linebacker position, and our secondary was right where they were at, we were still gelling, trying to feel for one another. And we were playing with a lot of guys that really didn't start the season with us. They didn't know what we went through in training camp, they didn't know all the hard work Marinelli tried to incorporate through mini-camps and through off-season and all that kind of stuff. All they know is, we had that one particular game to play, and this is a must win. That's all they knew. So when we got into that game, we didn't care if you had been on the team for five, ten years. We didn't care if you had been on the team for one hour. You're a Detroit Lion now. And we can't end the season with a loss going into the offseason, trying to be very optimistic for next season. We've got to end this game on a positive note, and it took us all the way down to the fourth quarter to almost the goal line for us to make that stand and end the game the way we did. That just sent chills up my spine right now just talking about it. That's something you can build on, and there wasn't any other way to have it, just to end the game we did in that fashion."
On any differences in personal or coaches from last year: "Well, coaching wise, it's always great to bring in experience and having guys that have been around the league and know a lot, things that they learned through their personal lives to bring to this team and make us a lot better: definitely, bringing in guys on the offensive side of the ball to help out Mike Martz and his unique offense to get the ball in the endzone, getting Calvin Johnson, getting all these guys in and getting them in the mix and getting things going on offense. Getting Joe Barry in on defense: his philosophy and his knowledge of the Tampa Two defense that we ran last year, having him come in is going to be a great addition. Bringing the new guys on defenseâ€¦ I mean it's just across the board, we're bringing new faces in, new attitudes, and we're looking to do big things this year."
On the fans who want a reason to believe in the team this year: "Well, I ran into a particular fan when I was in Austin, and he was born and raised in Michigan, in Detroit, and he lived off of Livernois for a long time. He grew up watching the Lions. I believe he was there whenever we won the Super Bowl (NFL Championship) back in the 50's I guess, '56 or something like that. He said, 'I was married to the Lions for 50 years; my week lived and died on Sunday. I either had a great week when y'all won or a bad week when y'all lost.' He said, 'I divorced y'all last year.' And I said, 'What?' He said, 'I divorced y'all last year.' I said, 'Well you've got to change that, man. We believe in not separating from your partner 'til death do us part. And this Lions team hasn't died yet.' I said, 'You've got to come back in this marriage.' And he was like, 'Why is that?' I said, 'Because, we have a new face, a new year, this is different. Something is going to change within this organization, and if you don't get back inside this marriage, you're going to miss out on a lot.'Â And he said, 'Well, you know, it's going to be a little tough,' but since he met me, he said he's going to try and think about it. But, it's the whole fact that he said he divorced this team, divorced this organization, and I told him he needed to get back in this marriage, because great things are going to happen. So for the fans, don't divorce us. Don't divorce us. Hang in there, I mean, we've been through it, tough times, but just hang in there. We are going to turn this thing around, and we want you all to still be there. Fill out the stands, don't leave early, come early, and be loud, and stay late, stay as late as you want to, stay until next Sunday for Christ's sake. But don't leave and don't divorce us, hang in there with us."
On where he met that 'divorced' the Lions guy: "I met him in Austin, in Round Rock. He is a mail man, and he's been watching the Lions for over fifty-something years now. So it was a unique experience to talk to him. [I was over at] my daughter's god-parent's house. This is Calvin Gillery, lives in Round Rock, and he was my defensive line coach when I was in high school, and his wife was my teacher when I was in middle school. So I've been knowing that family for a long time. That's my daughter's god-parent's house, so we were over there and just spending time with them, and then the mail man came over, and she told us about the mail man, and how he loves Michigan and the Lions. So I went out to introduce myself and just say 'hello' to him. And then he started talking to me about the team."
On Shaun Rogers' unique skills: "Well, when the guy turns it on, on Sunday, and grows two inches taller and turns green, when he becomes the Superman that he knows and believes he is, nobody can stop him. You can put one guy on him, he's going to crush him. You put two guys on him, that's going to slow him down a little bit. But you put three, you might stop him. But that's just Shaun. Shaun, when he turns it on, there's no stopping him. He has unbelievable talent, more than myself. Just the guys that I've been around and I've seen, Shaun possesses a lot of talent at this position and he is tremendous when he is playing. He has to be healthy, and when he's on the field on Sundays, it's time to go."
On why Rogers hasn't always 'turned it on' and why he will now: "It's not all the time that he didn't turn it on. As you know that certain situations might happen, you don't know that he might be playing through an injury, you don't know that he probably had a 104 fever the night before, you don't know certain situations why a guy might be off on Sunday or might be on on a Sunday. I can't speak for Shaun himself, but I know, 92 shows up regardless of the fact, I'm going to put all my eggs in his basket, and if he let me down, I know he gave me his best."
On if things are set up for Rogers to be the 'Superman' this year: "Yes, I see things lining up. I see things lining up in Shaun's focus, he missed a lot of time last year, which he really hated, not being on the field. And he wants to make a comeback and go back to the Pro Bowl status that he knows he is and wants to get back on top as a defensive tackle, which he should be."