After practice on Friday, both Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham met with the media. Below is a look at what they had to say. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ QUOTE SHEET
On Rams' RB Steven Jackson and Head Coach Jeff Fisher's preference of good runners: "He's got one for sure. Steven Jackson has been not just productive in a short period of time, but over a long haul. It's been inside, outside passing games. He's a very good running back and for sure that's a guy that we're going to have to stop. I've said it with some other running backs; that's not a guy you can stop nine out of 10 times. That tenth he has the ability to go to the house with it. I want to play our very best on defense."
On heading into the season-opener with four new faces in the secondary: "It's life in the NFL. We'll see when we get to Sunday how it looks, but our job doesn't change. Our job is to score and to limit scoring on offense and defense. Whether we have 11 new starters or one new starter it doesn't change that job. It doesn't change the confidence we have in the guys we'll put on the field."
On Rams' QB Sam Bradford being a low completion-percentage-passer: "It's preseason. You can't judge anybody on what they did last year. None of that matters. They have a different scheme, they have a different coaching staff, he's probably healthier, he has different players around; they drafted a lot of wide receivers. He has a healthy running back. Last year all the time he didn't have a healthy running back so things change quite a bit. They've changed some of their offensive lineman; they took a lot of sacks last year. His completion percentage will be what he makes on Sunday, not what it was last year."
On the biggest challenge Bradford presents to a defense: "He's got good command. He knows where to go with the football. He's got good size and he can throw accurate passes. Like most quarterbacks in the League, we'll have our work cut out for us."
On some NFL teams sustaining success while others are more up and down: "There are a lot of things that we want to do. We want to have consistency in schemes; when you can marry that with your personnel you're not starting over too many times. I think that's important. It's important to have continuity at the quarterback position."
On having a home-opener before several road games: "It's nice. Since I've been here we haven't had a home-opener. We opened up at New Orleans, we opened at Chicago and last year we opened down in Tampa. It's definitely exciting to open at home. The last game experience we all had at Ford Field was San Diego on Christmas Eve. Our crowd has been there for us not just last year; it's been building for a while. So a home-opener is very exciting. An opener in any sport is exciting, football you only have 16 (games). There are very few opportunities for it. So the crowd will be there. We have to do our jobs to give them something to cheer for and keep them in the game and affecting the game."
On it being strange that after Sunday there is only one more home game until the end of October: "I know we play the Rams. Honestly, after that schedule comes out you don't really think about that. You only play the one that you have coming up and we have the Rams at home and I'm glad to be at home. I want to play our very best against the Rams on Sunday and that's all we're really thinking about."
On the hope he has for CB Chris Houston and S Louis Delmas to play on Sunday against the Rams: "Well hope isn't a good strategy. Both of those guys are getting better and we'll see where they are on Sunday. Both of them are veteran players; both guys can step in and play with little or no practice time. But we'll just see when we get to Sunday."
LIONS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM QUOTE SHEET
On playing with an inexperienced secondary: "That's a tough question to answer. You know, I mean, you can't worry about that. It's like talking about injuries. You can't worry about anything. You just got to go out there and put 11 guys on the field and play every snap as hard as you can. I think we'll do that. You know, players ask me do you have any concerns about calls or anything like that and I go ‘nope, I think we're ready.' We practice hard, and we've been doing it for a long time. I have faith in the coaches and most of all I have faith in a lot of the players on our defense."
On CB Drayton Florence being ready to play: "Oh yeah, he's played for a lot of years. You know, I told him the other day James Hasty came to Kansas City at 32 and had never been in a Pro Bowl. Then he's all-pro four years in a row and that brought a big smile on his face. He's done a great job with the young players within a week and a half. Bill Bentley said he's the smartest guy he's ever talked to so, you know, it's rubbing off on the other guys. He knows how to play and I'm glad we got him."
On the defensive line's expectations this year: "Well, you know, I think there are a lot of personal goals. I know I have goals that are personal. I don't talk to the players about that, and all the players on this team have goals individually and the groups to as well. I think Kyle (Vanden Bosch) puts a lot of pressure on himself and that defensive line does well. I'm going to be cheering for them. Just keep coming. They've got the ability, it just depends on how teams approach us. The way it has been the last year and a half, it's a three-step passing game or a five-quick, you know, ball comes out under two seconds. Either that or they go like New Orleans and bring the kitchen sink. So, you know, people game plan against to keep those guys off the quarterback, and I don't blame them. We've got some good players there. So we'll see."
On his impressions of Rams rookie CB Janoris Jenkins coming out of college: "I liked him a lot. He had some problems off the field. On the field he's a very good player. You know, I saw him play his whole junior year I think it was at Florida. I did it in the summer because he was going to come out early, and I thought he was the top corner coming out."
On the uncertainty of the secondary putting pressure on other defensive units: "Well, I think that's a good question, but I think that defensive line gets pressure every day they show up. You know, I used to do that job and Kris Kocurek and I work really close together. Probably as good of a line coach as I've ever been around. He's only about 33 years old and he knows the game and does a great job with those guys. Those guys need to take care of us, but we've got three, four really good linebackers and a couple good young kids. I think Levy, Tully and Durant playing behind those guys really, really helps us. They're smart, they're fast, they understand the game completely. So the front seven is pretty darn good."
On DT Ndamukong Suh having a rebounding year: "Oh, no question. The way he's approached every day's been unbelievable on the practice field. You know, he's changed some of his technique and we watch film together. I visit with him quite a bit and Kris (Kocurek) does a lot of one-on-one. In the groups I watch him every day. He knows what he has to do now. I think, no matter how smart you are, no matter how good you are, sometimes you think you got it when you don't have it in this league. Something different every week. You know, it's just like game-planning for a coach. You think you got it, and about that time they hit you between the eyes. As an individual player, you can't ever think that. Some of that might've creeped into him, but you know all in all he played really well last year. The sack numbers were down, but the rest of it was really positive as far as I could see. I did every play personally."
On Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher using the run game: "Oh yeah, Jeff likes to ride the horse. You know, I was there with Jeff at Tennessee and Eddie George was the horse. And he rode him for many years. So I'm sure he'll do the same thing. You know, Bradford's got a howitzer for an arm. I know he's had some injury problems, but he can throw it and Steven Jackson can run it as well as anybody in the NFL."