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Lions quotes: Thursday's comments from Jim Schwartz, Scott Linehan

Quotes from Jim Schwartz and Scott Linehan's media session after Thursday's Detroit Lions practice.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

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.)


On making a decision regarding the starting job between three healthy right tackles: "Same way we do any other position. Who we think is best for the team. All those guys we have confidence that they can do well in the game and all of them have proven themselves that they can. Our depth has already been tested at that position. We feel good about that position. We'll make the decision we think is best for the team."

On their in game performance weighing most in the decision: "I think so."

On the Steelers defense being underrated: "I don't know that you'll ever have a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that's underrated. They have played some really good games this year. We're going to have our hands full. They have players. Guys like Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, (Lawrence) Timmons, (Brett) Keisel. A lot of guys who have played a lot of good football. They play their scheme really well. They understand what they're being asked to do. They rarely make mistakes. They make you earn your way down the field. It's going to be a tough matchup."

On the Steelers' poor performances: "You look at the game that got away from them, the Patriots, that game was pretty close for most of the game. The Patriots scored a little bit at the end. It didn't look real good. They made a lot of plays early in that game against the Patriots. The Patriots really had to keep on grinding. Got a couple of penalties that helped them out. I think you have to look past the score and those other games. We look at the players and the schemes. Like I said, they've kept them in some games and we're going to have our hands full."

On why the Lions are doing so well on the road: "Good players. I don't know. I think there are a couple of things playing on the road. You have to have players that are good players in good positions. I think that, so far, we have been pretty consistent that way. You can't get rattled on the road. I think a lot of that goes to the quarterback. Matt's got a lot of experience playing on the road. He doesn't panic when the crowd gets against him or when something happens. We're three and two on the road. I don't think that's very much to puff our chest out about."

On the team maintaining their focus: "I wouldn't say we didn't handle our focus very well. That's just part of the climate of the NFL, probably all sports. There is a lot of criticism that goes on, players are used to that. There is also the other side of that and you have to deal with success and praise. Not just our team, but sometimes that's harder to deal with than criticism. Sometimes people use criticism as a chip on their shoulder and as motivations, but it's a little bit harder when it's praise. You just need to put it in its place. The team, when they leave here just sort of ignores all the other talk that goes on and concentrates on the next opponent. I think we have a good personality that way."

On the benefits of the continuity at the safety positions: "I think we're still a work in progress when it comes to just every part of our team. Having the same players out there allows you to improve from week-to-week. It allows you to have similarity in game plans. It makes your preparation a little bit easier when you're not trying to get a player ready that hasn't played before that year, regardless of what he did in training camp and stuff like that. It's been a big benefit that way. Those guys haven't been on the practice field a lot, but they have played all the reps out on the field and I think that's been a difference maker for us."

On little plays: "Well I think you don't have a better example than our last game against the Bears. People look at Nick's (Fairley) stop on the two-point play and Calvin's (Johnson) touchdown catch, but there are a lot of other plays in there. Glover Quin had one when Alshon Jeffery had that ball in the end zone, he's making a clean catch and Glover comes over and forces him to hold on as he has contact going to the ball, he ends up bobbling the ball. That's probably a four-point play right there. We had one earlier in the game at the end of the first half where (Ndamukong) Suh tipped that ball and (DeAndre) Levy intercepted it. That's at least a three-point play. There are a lot of other examples. Rocky McIntosh stopping a fourth-down play. That might have been a three-point play, it might have been a seven-point play. The accumulation of those plays, you know, games are close when they come down to it at the end. There are a lot of plays, plus or minus, that can either cost you points or be on the positive side of points during the game."

On Steelers S Troy Polamalu: "He plays safety. He plays linebacker. He blitzes. He plays in coverage. I say this all the time about Calvin (Johnson) we know what number he wears. He's pretty easy to spot out there on the field. He's a guy that can make a big play. He can change the course of the game. He's always been that guy and we're up to guard against him sacking the quarterback, stripping and intercepting the ball, tackles for losses and those kind of things."

On the change in players' day off to Monday paying dividends: "I think we settled in to that schedule. There are definitely some positives in it. It does give our players, as a group, started on the next opponent a little bit earlier. When you play teams for the first time like the Steelers, the first time we have played them in four years, I think there are some benefits there. I don't know how beneficial it is like last week when we played the Bears and we were coming off the bye week. I don't know if we needed that extra preparation. It was a team that we knew well and already had an extra practice day. We don't actually physically practice on the field, but we do have a good walk through and a good meeting. I think, over the course of time that certainly helps. It makes it a little bit easier on the Wednesday and Thursday. We just bite off a little bit of that game plan on Wednesday and Thursday and it just makes it a little bit easier. Those days are packed in there pretty tight. It just helps players sort of divvy up the game plan over an extra day."

On not winning in Pittsburgh since 1958: "Three Rivers, Forbes Field, Heinz Field. It's hard for me to comment on the '58, I wasn't alive. A lot of that stuff, we went through that whole thing with the Redskins and you can't hold one team accountable for something that they have nothing to do with. To play good on the road, we have to limit our turnovers. We're going to have to stay strong as a team and play good team defense, offense and special teams. If we do those things, we can come out with a win. It's going to be about the players on the field, not any ghosts that are lingering around."

On the forecast impacting an offensive game plan: "We always take a look on Monday. It's way out, but you get an idea of what it's going to be like and things like that. You never know. You're prepared for anything, but as we get closer we'll have a better idea. There is a chance we'll get rain. It doesn't look like it's going to be too cold, but there's a chance we'll get rain. That will affect the shoes that the guys wear and potentially play call and stuff like that. It just depends on what the field conditions are going to be like.  I understand that there is a high school game on Friday night, there's a college game on Saturday and we're the third team that is going to play on that field in like 48 hours. That's going to potentially be an issue."


On making the decision as to who will start at right tackle with all three candidates healthy: "We just practice during the week and then Saturday night we make that call. It's just good that they've all had experience, and that when the times they've all played, they've played well for us."

On if he can coach T LaAdrian Waddle on how to tie his shoes better: "I don't know what the deal is on that. That's happened more than once, hasn't it? Maybe just lace them up, do the double knot. My dad taught me the double knot when I was in first grade, because I think he got tired of me walking around with my shoes untied.

On how Waddle has filled in so seamless in the starting lineup: "He's played a lot of football and obviously at a very high-competition. He has probably went up against good players from the time he got there as a freshman until the time he left as a senior. I don't think there's any big transformation for him to come in the NFL and block really good players again. He just has that mentality and it's good to see. That's what you want to see in your offensive line."

On if he had any concern about having two rookies in G Larry Warford and Waddle on the same side on the offensive line: "No, the guys have played well. We just base it on how they perform in practice, training camp, and building up to the season and preseason. That had a lot to do with it. I remember there was a game we played in preseason where we had those two young kids playing together with the first unit and they played well."

On WR Jeremy Ross playing in the slot: "He's done a nice job. He's a natural in there. Very smart and he's picked up things quickly. When we've asked him to step up and make a play or two, he's done it and he's done a good job in the run game."

On if Ross is stronger than the typical slot receiver: "He's got a little more size. I think he's 205 pounds, somewhere in that category. That's not a bad thing, especially when you're matching up against nickels in the slot, in the run game, or even a linebacker you can hold up."

On TE Brandon Pettigrew being more involved in the pass game as of late: "It's like anything else, it's what they're (the defense) giving us. Matt (Stafford) has a great amount of confidence in him, especially in situations where we want to move the chains or we know people are going to be playing for an outside route. Tight ends usually can be pretty effective in the inside part of the field when they're overlapping the safeties for the outside part of the field. That has a lot to do with it."

On Pettigrew's mindset: "He's a very determined kid and he's a great competitor. Very prideful and he worked very hard to get himself ready for this season as he has every season, but this season he's had that little edge to him and I think you're seeing it on Sundays."

On if Pettigrew is getting more space: "Yeah, some. He's done a good job in all assets, whether it's run blocking or it's pass protection. With route-running, as guys do as they get more experience in this league, they start studying how people are playing them. I think he's created some little tricks of the trade in his route running that has given him some more things that have created opportunities for him to get some separation and have Matt (Stafford) get him the ball."

On if Pettigrew is thriving because he is now a third option at best: "I don't know. He's first option depending on the coverage, but it definitely helps when you get the ball being spread around. Tight ends usually can benefit from that when teams are game planning. Obviously Calvin (Johnson) gets the attention and Reggie (Bush) has made his impact, so other guys can feel that and they have taken advantage of those opportunities, especially Brandon in the last couple weeks."

On why the Steelers have been good at containing big-time receivers: "Very well coached. They have a very experienced secondary. It's not Coach (Dick) LeBeau's first rodeo, going against great players throughout his career, so he knows what's going on with that. We have a big challenge. These guys are playing very underrated defense. They're in the top third in most categories. Last week was as dominant a defensive performance that I've seen a team have this year that we've been scouting getting ready to play. We're going to have our work cut out for us."

On the Steelers not defending well against the run: "That stat is a lot of the times misleading. I think some teams have probably been ahead in some of the games that I've seen, where they've been really kind of emphasizing the run in the fourth quarter, so there's more run stats there then maybe that are real. It's not that they aren't real yards and things like that, but I'm sure they're working very hard and they did it last week against some pretty good runners at limiting the big play. I think that's the one thing that we all try to do offensively. We're trying to create big plays and defensively, keep them down. I think they had some big runs against them and it looks like they've been able to limit that, especially last week. It's going to be a challenge to try to create that, that one or two explosive runs you have to have to have that run game that you want to have."

On if Johnson not playing changes whether the team decides to play WR Nate Burleson: "There's no decision on who or when we're going to use guys until Saturday night. We haven't made those decisions until then."

On Steelers S Troy Polamalu: "Just know he's going to be everywhere. It's like they have 12 guys on the field when he's out there. He's as instinctive a safety in recent memory who have played in this league. You have to be aware of him. He's a wild card, because he can show up in the passing game making a play and you can get in a run situation and he's the guy flying over the pile making a loss yardage play, or stripping the ball. You have to be on your game when you're playing a guy like that."

On if Polamalu's presence changes the snap count: "I think you have to. We do. I think Matt (Stafford) and the o-line and the guys do a good job of keeping that. You have to be conscious of it for sure."

On wind and field conditions having an effect on the play-calling: "I don't think so. Both teams have to play on it."

On QB Matthew Stafford wearing a glove on his off hand: "You see a lot of the quarterbacks doing it now. We've talked about it. It just helps your grip. That's why receivers wear gloves. It used to be you wouldn't let them wear gloves, kind of the old-style, but those gloves are so good now, it just helps catch the ball. He's catching shotgun snaps, just having a little extra grip on the other hand, it just gives you a little more confidence that you're not going to have any troubles handling the ball. Your hands get dry, not sticky. Having that little sticky feel in your left hand helps with your grip."

On if the gloves hold up well in the rain: "I think they did. Receivers don't take them off. The material is so good now, that's why those guys wear them."

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