Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE
Quotes from Thursday's media session with Jim Schwartz and Scott Linehan.
LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ QUOTE SHEET:
On WR Calvin Johnson getting named NFC Offensive Player of the Month: "Well, he had a historic month. I didn't know it but I saw after it came out that he was named player of the month that (he) set an all-time month record ahead of Hall of Famer Lance Alworth. Calvin has been productive and I think one of the key things in that is that most of that month he's dealt with injuries. The first few weeks in that he barely practiced, still went out and was productive on game day. Last couple of weeks he's been on the practice field a little bit more but he's still dealing with a lot of those things and his production has stayed the same."
On if as a coach he is aware of instances where Johnson is approaching a new record or landmark: "If you or Bill Keenist or somebody say it. I mean that goes way back to what I said before: we're trying to score, we're trying to move the ball, we're trying to get first downs. We're not trying to set any individual records or do anything other than score points. But after it happens it's certainly recognizable that the kind of company he's in with some of those things. We've never been a team that you know call down in the fourth quarter and say so-and-so needs another catch or another 50 yards or 20 yards or anything like that."
On keeping that philosophy even if the record were on the line in Week 17: "Our decisions would always be what help us win the game, what helps us move the ball, what helps us score. If it coincided with that then it would be fine but we're not going to do anything just to do it. It becomes hollow if you do it at that time anyway. It's not in the natural course of the game."
On QB Matthew Stafford potentially breaking the record for passing attempts in a single season and if an arm can wear out for a quarterback like it can for a baseball pitcher: "No, I think it's different for a pitcher. A pitcher throws pretty much at max-velocity on just about every throw. Quarterbacks have a lot of plays that they're throwing a check down or throwing a screen or they're throwing a swing pass or even a nine-route or something like that. That doesn't really take a whole lot of arm. Those guys have traditionally been able to go through a season and it's a little different than a pitcher."
On the hits that a quarterback takes: "I think that those are certainly concerns. But there have been a lot of guys that have thrown a lot of passes and have been able to stay healthy. I think Matt's done a good job of doing that."
On T Jeff Backus being back at practice today and working with T Riley Reiff: "Jeff is a just a special kind of player. He started a 185 or 186, I can't remember what it was, but to have that kind of streak - I think I said this last week, you don't do that just on talent, you don't do it just on toughness or work ethic. It's got to be a combination of all of them. He's a great teammate also. He's a team-first player. He was rooting for Riley the whole time he was on the sideline on Thursday. If he's out there than I'm sure Riley will be rooting for him. If Riley's out there, Jeff will be trying to help him the best he can. That's just the kind of guy he is. He's worked very hard. You don't make it through all those games unless you're tough and you also have a good tolerance for pain to be able to get out. It was encouraging to see him move around a little bit today."
On if it is a tough decision to start DT Corey Williams if he is able to play over DT Nick Fairley based on Fairley's productive play: "I think the thing that is important with our defensive line (is) all those positions, it's not like the offensive line or quarterback or corner or one of those things. All those guys play. There's not a whole lot of distinction between who the starter is and who's not. All those guys are good team players. All of them just want to make the most of their opportunities when they're on the field. That's what we'll judge out stuff by. Corey has obviously been a good player for us and means an awful lot to us. We've missed him on the field. If he's able to get back that will be a big boost to us. We've gone with just three defensive tackles for a few weeks now. We base our D-line on keeping them fresh and staying fresh over a long period of time and during the game. That's been affected a little bit. A little bit like defensive ends last year when we lost Willie (Young) and LJ (Lawrence Jackson) and all of a sudden we were down a bunch and it took a little toll on our defensive ends. So anything that he would be able to give us would definitely be a plus."
On reclaiming home field advantage after losing three games at Ford Field: "It's certainly something that we aspire to do. We want to win at home. We want to win on the road also but particularly the advantage that our home crowd gives us. I think we saw it the last couple games. Our crowd against Green Bay was fantastic. Other than not getting the win it was a game that kept the crowd in the game; same thing with the Thanksgiving Game. It means an awful lot to us and we certainly feel a responsibility to win particularly at home in front of our home fans."
On if stamina or endurance is something that Fairley needs to work on: "No, he's in great shape. He can run and all those things. But there is a nature of being out there and pass rushing and defending the run and all those things. As the reps go on and on, I don't want to say a wear down factor, but there is that kind of thing. We expect our defensive lineman to play at a really high tempo all the time. That's one of the reasons we have the substitution patterns that we have. (Ndamukong) Suh and Nick, Sammie (Hill), those guys have done a really good job in that. That's no fault of theirs."
On if Fairley's production was what you thought that you had when you drafted him: "You know what, I still like to look at Nick as a developing player. There is still more that he can do. A lot like (RB Mikel) Leshoure, he's still working through some inconsistencies, but both of those players have flashed some really good stuff and have been productive. The big thing is trying to maintain consistency from week-to-week. Put one good performance over the top of the other and that's a challenge of any young player, rookie. And both of those guys...Leshoure missed a whole year last year and Nick missed most of the year so they're going through stuff for the first time in a lot of cases. There's still more that Nick can give us, there's still more that Leshoure can give us, most of our young players."
On whether or not Leshoure has gotten his speed back: "I think any injured player coming back, we have (WR Ryan) Broyles and Broyles will be quicker and faster than he is right now. There's a difference between being cleared to play and being 100 percent. This time of year nobody is a 100 percent but when you're recovering from a season-ending injury, a long-term injury, there is some sort of comeback from that. I think he has good speed and he'll show that."
LIONS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR SCOTT LINEHAN QUOTE SHEET:
On LT Jeff Backus practicing: "Well he worked some, we'll see where he's at as he works through it. But if there's ever anyone that's going to get back before their projected time it'll be him I would say. We don't have anything to base that on cause he's never missed it before. I would be surprised if he's not out there in the near future. Don't know if it's this week or next or whenever."
On if there is a projected return date for Backus: "No, no it's just when he's ready."
On the incident on the sidelines vs. Green Bay with him and wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson: "Well, I mean, it was really a matter that stays between us. It was not an argument between us. We were a little bit frustrated with, and the word frustrated, with how some of our sideline mechanics had gone and it spewed over and it's behind us. It was not a matter between either him or I. He was definitely, you know, upset about something and I was listening to him and it was over as soon as that was over. That was over, we had to move on."
On if the argument was about WR Titus Young: "It was about a matter on the sideline and I'll leave it at that."
On if Young is in the game plan for this week: "Titus is practicing. We'll see. You can talk to Jim (Schwartz) about who the active guys will be on Sunday. But he's back out on the practice field."
On if Young's absence has been a distraction: "No, we're moving forward. Our guys have been, I thought it was one of our better offense days even though we didn't win the game this last week."
On WR Ryan Broyles and WR Mike Thomas: "I thought they played well. We called their number more than once and when we did, they made a play. Mike Thomas got in the end zone, Broyles ended up with 100 yards. So for their first added impact, I guess, they were able to help us."
On if their production has made Young's absence easier: "Well those guys, we have a lot of faith in those guys. Whenever you're given an opportunity you need to take advantage of it and I think both players did that last week."
On if WR Calvin Johnson's recent success has given him solace: "Well, he's a great player. It's not that difficult if you can get the ball to him which is a testament to Matt (Stafford), our offense staff putting together things formation wise, things like that, to get him the ball because, quite honestly, he's getting triple covered and has been since I've been here. Even last year he was, he ended up with over 1,600 and 16 touchdowns. This year he's got quite a bit of production from a yardage standpoint. Touchdowns are starting to come around. He's missed out on short getting in there. But if there's a better receiver in football you'd have to show me who he is."
On if he has given thought to being the coordinator if Johnson were to break WR Jerry Rice's single-season yardage record: "Well, we're trying to figure out a way to get us our fifth win. All the other stuff's great. I'm proud of Calvin. He's a great player, great person. He deserves to at least have an opportunity to chase that record because he's that good."
On why the team has not won games despite the numbers of Stafford and Johnson: "We're short one play as a team. I think there's a couple games maybe we needed more than one. But there's been the last two games and even going back to earlier in the season where we're just a play short. Last season this point in the season we had made those plays. This year we're short a ball placement here, a catch here or a third down conversion, whatever it is. We've got to figure out a way to get that one more play to get on the winning edge."
On if TE Brandon Pettigrew needs to work on fumble problems: "Well we're all working at getting better at things. If holding onto the ball and putting the ball in the right place or blocking a little better, I think everybody's just got to focus on that. Brandon's got a tough job. He's catching the ball in a lot of traffic and gets hit quite a bit. So I think that as we move forward he knows it's not going to be easy and he's got to continue to work harder at that but everybody's got to make it a little better. You can put the ball in a little bit better spot or give the quarterback a little more time so he can let the play extend a little longer. If we all kind of focus on that I think we'll all get better at what we need to get better at."
On if QB Kellen Moore is getting better: "Oh yeah. I mean, he works very hard. He doesn't get a lot of reps, Shaun (Hill) takes a lot. But that kid works extremely hard and he's extremely bright. His future is ahead of him."
On if Pettigrew has lost a step in an effort to add weight: "I don't think so. I think a lot of people know, probably for five games he was really struggling with some sore knees. I think that affected him. I think he's getting his legs back and once he gets all the way back I think you'll see a little more of a spry individual. I saw a lot, I guess from a movement standpoint, a lot more improvement from him in the last two games."
On if Pettigrew's health has been a process this year: "Yeah, it's been tough. He's had, it's not an excuse, but it's been something he's had to deal with. He is improving though."
On what the Colts do well on defense: "They keep the score down. I mean, they've had two or three games where game's blown up on them but a lot of it hasn't always been their defense. I mean, other teams have scored on special teams or things like that. So, they've kept the games close and then they've been able to close out games in the fourth quarter."
On if the Colts rushing attack is similar to the Steelers': "A little bit. It's different, they're background, the whole thing with Pittsburgh is they've done that for years. These guys are transforming from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4. Anytime you've got Freeney and Mathis playing on the edge you've got some things you've got to deal with, challenges you've got to deal with offensively."