Below is a look at what Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan had to say after Thursday's practice. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ QUOTE SHEET
On the inconsistencies on defense: "You just have to keep on working. I think if you look at our breakdowns they have been in different areas. If you have similar breakdowns, obviously that's something that you need to address whether it's scheme or personnel. It's been different things. We're like 31 other teams, we're trying to work hard to correct our mistakes and trying to extenuate the things we do well. Trying to battle every week to correct mistakes and be able to be consistent. There is a reason why everybody is not consistent, it's because opponents are tough and competition is high in this League. We're a pretty good third-down team. If we can make teams drive on us, that will go a long way to getting a drive stop. Big plays turn in to points, both offensively and defensively. It's been a point that we have been working hard on. A lot of times you talk about takeaways and things like that, but there is only so much you can do scheme-wise for stuff like that. Big plays we can certainly play some of those better. Even in the games we won we have given up some big plays.
On big plays not happening on third downs: "Wherever they come, they come. If we knew where they were coming, that would be a little bit easier to address. Some of it's been in coverage. We have given up some runs. Going back to the first play of the season, we gave up a long run. Like I said, our guys are working really hard to try to adapt to a game plan each week and try to correct things that they to need to correct from week-to-week. Like I said, that's one we're still working hard on."
On how WR Kevin Ogletree is fitting in: "He's done a nice job since he's been here. He got up to speed quickly with terminology and things like that. He made a big play for us last week. He was here for a couple days of practice and he had a few catches in the game. He's a pro player. He works well in preparation. He understands concepts and things like that. He's got a wide variety of skills. He's got good size, good speed and has really good hands. He's done a nice job for us."
On T Riley Reiff coming back to play even with a hamstring problem: "I think some of that is leftover from #76 (Jeff Backus) playing that position for so long. You still have some of that still sitting in there, that residual. Most offensive linemen are like that. They're tough as can be. If there is a spot that you can play with having a pulled hamstring, that's probably one. With a wide receiver, running back, or a defensive back that would have taken guys out of the game, but it was a tough situation. When we needed him to come back, he was able to come back in and at least get us through that game. He wasn't 100-percent, but then again nobody is really 100-percent this time of year. Things like that happen within the game, you have to be able to adjust and be able to go. I think Riley is a good young and tough player. He's very prideful in being on the field and trying to help us win."
On if C Dominic Raiola is playing at a Pro Bowl level: "When I just say, ‘Pro Bowl level' I'm not campaigning or anything. I'm just saying he's playing at a high level. I guess it's just a synonym for high level. I think Dom is. I think he's playing the best football maybe in the five years that I have been here. He's been consistent from week-to-week. He's won his matchups. I think you're correct in that assessment."
On Raiola's success due to the weight he added to combat defensive tacklers: "I think that has a little bit to do with it. He's in outstanding shape. It's not just adding weight. Adding weight alone is not necessarily a good thing. In that case, adding weight alone wouldn't have helped him. He's been very committed. He's a very prideful guy also. We talked about Riley on the offensive line being a prideful guy and wanting to be on the field. Dom is a true vet. He's been around for a long time and he wants to see this through. He definitely has played well this year and has committed himself to doing that."
LIONS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR SCOTT LINEHAN QUOTE SHEET
On if WR Calvin Johnson's injury is behind him after his performance vs. Cincinnati: "Yeah, it was obvious that he was moving much better. His production in the game shows that. The week before we got some productivity out of him and he was effective on the field, but he certainly wasn't there yet and he's worked very hard to get closer. Last week we could really tell even in pregame warm-ups that he was closer to his real self. I don't know what his percentage is or any of that kind of stuff, but he was definitely I think feeling it last week."
On WR Kevin Ogletree: "He's done a nice job. He's had a role going into each game as far as third down or red zone or a different personnel group where we're going to put him in. He's been productive in that. His targets and catches have been very good for us. He's a veteran, played in a system when he was with Dallas that has a little bit of carryover for him for here, so I think that helped him. He's a veteran and he's a guy that works very hard to be ready for anything you ask of him and his blood pressure doesn't change when he goes on the field and that's nice."
On not gaining as many rushing yards in the losses compared to the wins: "I think in the games where we had the yards that we had, we had some pretty impactful plays, explosive runs, things like that. Usually when you see a good run game stat line, there's probably one or two explosive runs in there and we haven't been able to get those in the games that we haven't had the yardage. But we want to have an effective run game and it's an important stat when it comes to being able to change the complexion of the game. When you're able to get big plays, not just through the air, but through the run game, it certainly makes you a little harder to defense I would think."
On how difficult it was to mix in the offensive tackles with the injury issues along the offensive line: "I thought they handled it great. They're prepared for it, that's why you have the depth that you have at tackle. I thought L.A. (LaAdrian Waddle) did a great job at coming in, playing. Riley (Reiff) was out, then he was back in. Dylan (Gandy), there's not a position he hasn't played and he doesn't practice every day for us. You just have to keep playing and I thought those guys played very well. On paper it's a difficult situation but they sure didn't act like it and really didn't miss a beat as far as what they were doing from an assignment standpoint and executing and what we were asking them to do. I was proud of him."
On T Riley Reiff's playing through a hamstring injury: "He's a tough guy. He didn't really notice it and guys have to play through that sometimes. It's never easy, but everybody's dealing with something and he was able to go in there and battle. He was able to get the job done and we really respect him for being able to go in there and gut it out."
On if he learned anything about Reiff that he did not already know after he played through injury: "He's a young player, but there's nothing about Riley that surprises us. He's an excellent football player. His toughness is obvious from him playing with that last week and being able to finish out says a lot about him. He's an excellent player and a super-tough guy and we're really glad we have him."
On what has contributed to the Lions' lack of turnovers this season: "I think good-decision making. That's all part of it, it's all part of guys being able to be available to the quarterback and good pass-protection. I think guys are taking care of the ball better in traffic, as far as running with it. We had one of the things that affected us last year was that we had balls that were stripped, that were lost in fumbles. I don't think the interceptions changed, but we had more lost fumbles. I think there's paying more attention to detail and they know the importance of protecting the ball and how critical that is to keeping us in the game, giving us a chance to win."
On if C Dominic Raiola has been playing the best football that he has seen in his five years with the Lions: "I think it's fair to say. You look at the whole body of work when the season's over, but at this point in the year, his consistency and his ability to match up. I think he's matched up real well, even with some bigger plays, which is a hard time for any center to do. He worked really hard, even at his age, stronger and a little bit bigger and maintain that. He's obviously a very valuable part of what we do. He's a critical part when it comes to how the line's playing and I think how he's playing is a great reflection of how the whole front's playing at this point."
On if Raiola gaining extra weight has helped his play: "I think so. I don't know how much bigger he is, he looks a little bit bigger to me. I think he'd be the first one to tell you he worked really hard to get himself in a position where he could matchup a little bit better, because there are some big dudes that you have to play. That on top of playing and being involved with a group and a scheme for this many years. You just get better and better through the years. I think he and Matt (Stafford) have a great rapport and communication. We did some things communication-wise where the quarterback took on some things too, so that the center doesn't have to do it all, all the time. Collectively together they do a really good job of getting us in right calls and things like that. He's a heck of a player and I think he is probably playing as good as he's ever played."
On the close competitions in training camp helping the offensive line gain more experience: "It helped because they all worked at some point with the first group, and not just in practice but in games. L.A. (LaAdrian Waddle) played some significant time for us in a preseason game with the first group, so that all I think was a very good decision and plan that Jeremiah (Washburn) had with playing those guys, knowing that at some point we're probably going to need one or even two like we have. It definitely gives us some security that those guys have played and played well with the first unit."