Below are Jim Schwartz's comments from after Wednesday's practice. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
On Vikings RB Adrian Peterson being a lot like WR Calvin Johnson because teams target both when game planning: "For sure. When you are a running back as talented as him, most defenses start their game plan with finding a way to shut that player down. We see that with Calvin. Both of those players over the course of their career have found a way to be productive regardless of the attention that they get to try take them out of a game plan. I think that's what defines a great player in this league."
On QB Matthew Stafford learning how to play through injuries over the course of his career: "Everything that you go through in this League is a learning process-whether you're dealing with injuries, whether you're dealing with a win streak, a losing streak, adversity, good times, experience going against certain personnel, certain teams. So I don't know any particulars but everything in this League is a learning process."
On how Stafford handled playing with a foot and ankle injury last year: "Doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is, you know, do you win the game? We don't get any extra points for battling through injuries or how you're handling or stuff like that. That way you're handling it do you win games or not? And that's the only thing we judge ourselves on."
On the NFL potentially reaching a deal this week with the regular game officials being a relief: "I haven't heard. I've been on the practice field. It doesn't change our preparation for the week. It doesn't change the players that are going to be on the field on Sunday. It doesn't change the schemes that we're going to use and those are things that are more on our mind right now."
On the luxury of having a player as talented as QB Shaun Hill to fill in for Stafford: "Don't consider it a luxury. It was very important to us. When Shaun was a free agent this year we made a very strong attempt to get him back because we know what he can do. Definition of backup quarterback is a guy that if you lose a starter for whatever reason-if he wakes up with the flu, if he's out for the year, he's out for two weeks, whatever it is, he's out in the fourth quarter of the game and you're down 14 points-the definition is you have to be able to go and give your team a chance to win. Shaun defines that."
On extending Hill's deal the first year he was signed and what was seen in Hill to extend so quickly: "Scott (Linehan) had been with him early in his career at Minnesota so we knew a little bit about him. He had a small body of work in the League. When he was here through OTAs and training camp we saw all the things we had seen on film already, it just gave us confirmation of all those things. It made us comfortable going forward with that."
On comfort level being a factor in the decision to bring P Nick Harris back: "That had something to do with it for sure. Ben wasn't going to be able to punt this week and we needed somebody to come in. We weren't going to have Jason Hanson do it even though he did a very admirable job coming in last week and getting us through that game. Like I said, we've seen some disasters in the NFL where a guy can't even catch the snap or punting it out of bounds or whatever. Jason did a good job there. We're very familiar with Nick. We know he'll come in and do the job for us."
On the challenges of stopping a player like Vikings DE Jared Allen: "He's a guy that can make a play at any time. There are a lot of plays where it looks like he's out of the play-he's stymied in the rush, he's been chipped or something like that. He's very good at making the off-scheduled play. A lot of guys can make the plays that come to them and he can go create a play somewhere. They're (Minnesota) are very strong in the front four. Kevin Williams has been a good player for a long period of time. (Brian) Robison really stepped up when Ray Edwards signed as a free agent. Letroy Guion inside is playing well inside as a nose tackle, and they get a lot of mileage out of Everson Griffen as a swing defensive end, pass rusher. He also plays special teams. It's a good front. Every week it's the same. It started from Week 1.
"I think our offensive tackles have done a good job. We did a good job of responding last week. When you're throwing the ball 50-some times in a game of 90-some snaps and only give up one sack, and on that sack it wasn't matter of somebody getting beat, it was a miscommunication. We've been up to the challenge. We're going to have to be up to the challenge this week with Jared Allen."
On Vikings WR Jerome Simpson being back this week and having to prepare for him even though he hasn't been on film much this year: "He has a body of work last year. We know what he's like as a player. I don't think anybody is going to be surprised if he leaps a couple yards from the goal line (laughter). You've seen him as a player. The thing that's a little different is, in training camp team's aren't generally...they're practicing. They're really not fitting guys into roles. A lot of preseason films all look the same. It's very generic. Over the first three or four games of the season you get an idea of how people are going to use players, what roles they are going to use them in and we don't really have that. We know him as a player. We have a lot of respect for him as a player. He's a playmaker; has been throughout his career.
"They have a lot of playmakers. Adrian Peterson we talked about, the tight end is playing really good football for them. The quarterback is comfortable with him. The quarterback is playing good football. Percy Harvin is probably the definition of a playmaker. They're getting him the ball. I think he might the No. 1 receiver in the NFL as far as number of catches right now. But they're getting him the ball a lot of ways; in the backfield, swing routes, deep down the field routes. They have a lot of playmakers in there and Simpson is one of them."
On the trend of young quarterbacks playing so much so soon: "It's the salary cap era. It's the free agent era. If you wait five years to develop a guy, his contract is over and he's a free agent. By the time you're getting him on the field he belongs to somebody else. It's very rare that if you draft a guy high that he has time to wait for him to be able to get on the field. I think you see that throughout. It's just the way it goes now. Teams don't have the luxury of being able to develop guys and sit them on the bench and those kinds of things. They need production right away. I think the other things is quarterbacks throw the ball a lot more in high school and also in college. They're smart and they've been very well developed. There are six million camps and 7 on 7 leagues and everything else. Guys are probably a little bit more ready for a passing offense in the NFL when they get here."
On QB Christian Ponder's development: "We saw him a little bit last year. He was injured when he was playing us. Didn't have very good mobility, and it made it difficult for him to throw. He was having a rough time in that first half. He's a smart guy, has good mobility. He's made some plays with his legs; scored a touchdown against San Francisco. He's taken care of the football. Four touchdowns, no interceptions. He's had a couple that they were probably lucky not to get intercepted, but it doesn't matter. It's still zero interceptions. So he's doing a good job executing the offense. He's moving the ball down. Percy Harvin's got a lot of throws but tight ends made some plays for him. Smart guy. We've seen the player take sort of the stereotypical jump from year 1 to year 2."
On what the counters are to the quick releases that quarterbacks are using to neutralize the defensive line: "In this last game we already talked about that one. But it's the same thing all the time. Play action, max protect, throw quick and run the ball-lot of ways that you can avoid sacks. The biggest thing is if teams are doing that you can't give up big plays and that was our problem last week. Not as much to do with the pressure. If somebody goes into the game with the objective not to take the sack, they can accomplish that, but they have a hard time moving the ball without a big play. The two big plays were the difference in that one."
On Peterson being held in check the last few times the Lions played him: "I don't know that if you can ever really hold that guy in check. He's one play away from going the distance. I know in the past, there have been times that we've had him bottled up and then he broke off a long run. We've got a lot of respect for him as a player. He's come back very quickly from a knee injury, and you know it's a difficult road back. He's obviously worked hard and you've seen it on the field the first three weeks."
On RB Mikel Leshoure coming back to practice after his extending play against the Titans: "It takes a toll on everybody. It's Wednesday during the regular season. That's life in the NFL. Particularly when you play 90-some snaps on offense. He didn't play all of them obviously, but he played a lot of them. His experience is no different than anybody else in the NFL. They only thing that's different is that he's experiencing it for the first time in the NFL."
On Minnesota struggling last year but having a good start this year: "We played them twice last year. We don't worry about what somebody's record is. We respect their talent on the field and we respect their schemes. We try to do our best to put our players in position to come out with a victory. We were able to come out with two victories. Both of them were hard fought games; both of them came down to the last play of the game. We really didn't pay too much attention to their record. They've had one close win, one close loss and came out last week and had a two score win. I'm sure they're sitting there saying. ‘Hey we could be 3-0,' every team in the League could probably be saying the same things. We have a lot of respect for them. They're in our division. It's a chance for us to get a win and also put a loss on a division opponent. It's an important game on Sunday."
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