Injuries, mistakes already mounting for Lions

Detroit Lions' Nate Freese (3) kicks a field goal against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. The attempt was no good. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) It's hard to say what Jim Caldwell's biggest concern should be following his first loss as coach of the Detroit Lions.

Turnovers? After an impressive season opener, the Lions reverted to old habits, losing two fumbles and an interception in last weekend's loss to Carolina.

Missed field goals? Rookie Nate Freese had two, which cost Detroit points in what was for the most part a close game.

Injuries? Rookie Nevin Lawson needed surgery after going down with dislocated toes, leaving an already suspect secondary facing even more challenges.

''Everything that happened in the game is correctable,'' said Caldwell, who was hired in the offseason to replace Jim Schwartz as Detroit's coach.

After breezing to a prime-time win over the New York Giants in their opener, the Lions lost 24-7 at Carolina on Sunday. Detroit outgained the Panthers and didn't allow a touchdown until late in the third quarter, but mistakes eventually caught up with the Lions - and now injuries are already beginning to mount.

Caldwell said Monday he does not expect Lawson to return this year. Detroit entered the season with a number of questions in the secondary after losing cornerback Chris Houston and safety Louis Delmas in the offseason. Now Lawson and cornerback Bill Bentley are dealing with long-term injuries. Bentley hurt his knee in the season opener Sept. 8 and went on injured reserve.

Safety James Ihedigbo also has been out with a neck problem.

''I think any time you can get consistency where injuries don't set you back a little bit - and every week you have someone new at a spot - I think it helps you,'' Caldwell said. ''Particularly in a new system, a new way of doing things, the more reps they can get the better they'll become at it and I think it's just a matter of time. Overall I think at every position that's key for us.''

Matthew Stafford threw for 291 yards and a touchdown, but his deep pass to Calvin Johnson early in the fourth quarter was tipped by one defender and intercepted by another. Joique Bell and Jeremy Ross lost fumbles.

Freese, who was drafted in the seventh round by the Lions this year, missed twice from 49 yards. He's 0 for 3 so far from 40 yards and out.

''We're still discussing, talking, looking at different options. I still believe that this young man is going to be a fine kicker in this league,'' Caldwell said. ''We'll see how it goes here, but I still believe, you look at him he had three kicks of 50 yards-plus in the preseason, so you know he can get it out there. Sometimes the guys have a bad day but we'll look at that. In terms of whether or not we're going to bring kickers in, we never talk about who we're going to bring in.''

Freese is trying to stay the course.

''I never get too high, never get too low,'' Freese said. ''Even when I'm hitting the ball really well and I make as many kicks in a row, I've still got to approach each game, each week as the same.''

Caldwell would like the team in general to take that approach.

''What you have to make certain of is that everybody needs to understand that this only counts as one game. This team is not 0-12, or anything of that nature, so there's some balance to it,'' Caldwell said. ''Just like last week there weren't a bunch of guys hollering about the win, they were level-headed and I believe they will handle the loss the exact same way. We will be level-headed, get our corrections made, focus on our next opponent and move forward.''

NOTES: Detroit cut DB Nate Ness, according to the NFL's transactions report.

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