Quotes from Friday's media session with Jim Schwartz and Gunther Cunningham.
LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ QUOTE SHEET:
On making a game day decision for left tackle: "Well, it'll go down probably that long. It was encouraging to get Jeff (Backus) back on the practice field but we'll just see where he gets to by Sunday and make a decision that's best for the team."
On if now that Backus' streak has ended there is leeway in percentage of health to play: "No, every player if they can go out and do their job and help us be in a position to win then they'll be out on the field. If they can't, then they won't. It has nothing to do with trying to get records or trying to keep streaks alive or anything else. We have to do what's best for the football team. Jeff understands that. He is probably one of our best team-orientated players as it is so he understands that also."
On the play of DE Kyle Vanden Bosch this year: "He's been steady. Again, when you judge guys by stats you can get a little bit backwards. We talked about (Colts' LB Dwight) Freeney with two sacks. Kyle's made a lot of big plays for us. A lot of them were in the run game and down field where maybe you don't notice them as much as you do a sack. Last year him and (DE) Cliff (Avril) had so many sack-strips that we've missed that impact. That's been something that Cliff has sort of picked it up the last couple weeks is had some sack-strips. We haven't gotten the ball but we've been in some pretty good positions that way. But Kyle's played steady this year."
On if Avril is playing his best football of the year: "He looks a lot like Cliff has always looked. He's battled through some injuries; he had to leave that one game with a back (injury) and it's sort of just been lingering a little bit this season for him. But he's found a way to get out there, without a whole lot of practice time, be able to go out there and make plays on Sunday. He's been alive in the pass rush. He's made a couple of these sacks on the inside moves and like last year most of his stuff came on edge stuff so that's good to see also."
On if Avril is a different player at home: "I think that any time that you have a Ford Field crowd making it hard for an opponent to use cadence and things like that and they have to go on sound, it helps all of our defensive line. That's one of the advantages of being at home. Then also when you're a pass-rusher, the surface being very consistent can make a difference also particularly for a guy like Cliff who has very good speed. A lot of other guys it doesn't matter as much if they have different strengths and stuff like that. But there's an advantage to him being at home and I think there's an advantage to all of our defensive line being at home."
On if WR Titus Young is in the plans to play on Sunday: "We'll see when we get to Sunday, a lot like we said with Backus. When we get to Sunday we'll make the decision on who the best 46 are to give us a chance."
On being happy so far with what he has seen with Young: "We're taking it day-by-day."
On if Houston DE J.J. Watt beating RT Gosder Cherilus for the sack was the first sack Cherilus has given up this year: "I think he's had another one in there but Gosder's played very consistent this year. A lot of times in sacks it's easy to assign blame. There's a lot of things that go into it. On that one the quarterback didn't even get his last foot in the ground so there are some times where a quarterback can help alleviate that. Maybe a receiver getting open, having a quick place to dump the ball, all of those different things go in. Gos has been very, very good for us this year. He's played the most consistent ball of his NFL career. I think all of our offensive linemen have really taken a step and Gosder is a big part of that."
On DT Nick Fairley: "The more he's on the field, the more he makes plays. But I think that his biggest growth has been just within the defense. Nick's always been a guy that can make a play but balancing that with being able to make a play within the scheme, not so much freelancing, but knowing all the ins-and-outs and being 100 percent. It's one thing to be assignment sound, it's another thing to be able to execute that assignment every single time. There's been an adjustment process for him and again, I don't want to give him too much of a crutch, but he missed all of camp as a rookie and didn't get a whole lot of playing time as a rookie. But he's gone through playing the most extensive football of his career and I think you're seeing him not only make the plays that we know he can make, but he's also ironing out some of the inconsistencies and ironing out some of the other things that a lot of other young players go through. So it's been very encouraging for him and for us."
On being a double-edge sword to that intuitive play: "It's not so much sticking with the scheme, but he has such great eyes and such great hands there are some times that he sees that he can make a counter-move inside and he can go make a play doing it but if he does, then somebody else is going to be in that same spot and we can get weak somewhere else. There is definitely a balance between, you could say play with discipline and never, ever make a play. You can go say make a play and not play with discipline and give up gaps in the run game or step up lanes in the pass game and different things like that so there is definitely a line there. He's been aggressive and like I said he's been working his way through a lot more consistency."
On Warren Sapp's criticism of DT Ndamukong Suh for a lack of awareness: "I think he has very good vision. He has very good use of hands and keeps himself alive in plays. You can go too far and too far the other way. There are guys that keep themselves alive and vision and things like that and never make a play. You need to balance both of those. We don't need to respond to anybody else's criticism. We just need to stay on track and do what we do and we have good coaches here and we'll work our stuff. We're not going to be led by what other people have to say."
On CB Bill Bentley's progress: "I really don't have any updates on those guys; they're long-term rehab guys. He's on a long-term shoulder rehab but we look forward to getting him back when he's healthy."
LIONS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM QUOTE SHEET:
On defending DT Ndamukong Suh: "I saw the play. I agree whoever said it on national TV about he has to have eyes in the back of his head. That's the first thing I said. I thought it was ridiculous. I'm so tired of having to say things like that, but it's true. I've coached football for a long time. All kinds of things happen. He was trying to make a play and nobody talks about the guard tackling him on the way to the quarterback and we get no call, they get a call. Or he gets a fine, whatever it was."
On Warren Sapp's comments: Great question. Warren! He's amazing. He ought to watch the tape though. There were seven screens in the game. Three of them were jail break screens to wide receivers. Wide receiver screens, defensive lineman chase. Suh did that. And the three other guys did that. That's how they got us. Their DB's didn't do a good enough job of play entry with the linebackers. They got some yards on that. Conventional screens, they had four. Two of them Suh almost decapitated the quarterback and I was worried that he was going to get a flag but he did a great job. The other one was incomplete. They gained five yards on one. So I don't know what he's talking about. I coach football for a living and I think I do okay at that. I damn sure know statistics. Then there was the draw question, right? It was draws and screen. Well, he should look at the tape. There was one draw, it was third and 18, their guy gained 11 yards. Tully missed a tackle and then three guys hit him. They punted the ball. There were two play-action draws. One, Cliff Avril got the sack. The other one, Suh knocked the quarterback down and it was incomplete. So, if he wants to say anything more, tell him to fly in here, I'll be glad to talk to him about it."
On how Suh has developed from a rookie to now: "I think he's exceptional. I always have said that and anybody who wants to sit down with me and talk football, especially that position, is a pretty easy one. He's a complete player. He's probably played four of five games now in a row where he is just causing havoc inside and having Nick (Fairley) next to him has really developed into something and hopefully we'll get Corey (Williams) back this week. I don't know that at this point. But Fairley and Suh are playing well together and making a lot of big plays."
On how much DT Nick Fairley has grown: "We had a thing happen here on the field. We're in a two minute drill and Kevin Smith said something to Nick and Nick said, hey if this were live, you wouldn't get the ball off. And so Kevin added to Nick, he said look we'll chip you and you won't get anywhere. And I said Nick, do you know what a chip block is? He goes no and I really don't care. And I said to Kevin, you're in trouble. That's Nick Fairley. He's oblivious to everything. When he plays the game, it's how you go up to a player. It's like he's in elementary school. He just likes to play. And he's gotten well. He's in good shape and that's what you're seeing now - the athlete and player that we thought we drafted. It took him a little while with the injury a year ago, but he is dynamo. He can run fast and he's making a lot of plays in not very many reps. He hasn't played as much as Suh has. Together they're going to form a pretty good duo."
On if he meant oblivious in a good way: "Oh yeah. He's oblivious to everything around him. It's like a corner. When you get some of these corners that don't think big play. Nick, I don't know what he thinks about. He just puts his hand down when the ball's snapped and he's ready to go. It's the character. It's a mindset that he has. That's what I like about him. I've always liked that. He makes me smile and laugh every day. He just did it again right in this practice. I can't say enough good things about him."
On if the Texans do more cut blocks: "You all know that. Alex Gibbs is the line coach there. His protégé is the head coach. That's what they do and we used to go at it. Twice a year when I was in another place, why don't you call him and see how well they did there? They didn't do too well. And that goes for the guy in Washington too. They all do it. And what's tough about playing defense in this day and age is the rules they're tough. They're tough. I saw a block by Anquan Boldin last night. I mean I had never seen anything like that. He blocked a San Diego Charger. It was a reception I believe on offense and he came to peel back and drilled somebody. Those kinds of things. You don't coach football to hurt anybody. I never have in my life. I coach tough, hard-nosed football and that's what we play. People are making mountains out of molehills. Some of the rules, I don't want to get into discussing about what happened in that game, for me it's fair. Be fair. Play the game the way you're supposed to or call the game the way you're supposed to. It's a great game and some of these magic acts we've got in computers and video systems are slowing it down too much for me."
On his clipboard punt: "The players always look at my bio and there's a thing in there that I was a kicker. Well, what people don't know, I was a pretty good soccer player. And if I would have missed that clipboard...it would have been...I mean it would have been terrible. That was an easy kick. That was easy. I told Suh this morning. There's a thing called a bicycle kick. I can still do it. I guarantee you I could do it right now. So for me to hit that clipboard was a piece of cake. I was at the point I wanted to eat the clipboard. You go through these things. It happens. It's over. We have to go to the next game."
On DE Kyle Vanden Bosch being graded poorly on film: "He's been banged up all year. There was a stretch from Philadelphia on for about three or four games he played really well. He's tailed off a little bit, but everybody does. You have those sinking weeks where you don't want them to happen, but they happen sometimes. But he's practiced well again this week and I look forward to him playing hard and playing well."
On WR Kassim Osgood saying he wants to play defense: "First of all, if we're going to fine players, there's some shots back when he's playing in San Diego and I was coaching against him, I wanted to choke him a couple of times. He is a great guy. He is a terrific team guy and he is 6'6 I think. He's really tough. And I would love to give him the opportunity to rush the passer one of these weeks, just go out there and get him. But he is a great guy and he sure has the intangibles to go with his height to play defense. He probably should have played defense because he's big and strong."