Below is a look at what Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham had to say after Friday's practice. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ QUOTE SHEET
On if CB Darius Slay's confidence was lessened due to his play time early in the season: "Absolutely not. He's still a work in progress. He's going to be a good player. He's worked hard on the practice field. He's on the right path."
On Slay's primary game being man-to-man corner: "He played other coverages in college. Obviously, NFL schemes are going to be different than what guys have been doing in college and that's going to be him or any corner that comes out. Very few of them are ready for everything that goes in a game plan. He's learned well. Like I said, he's on the right track."
On how close to healthy the team is: "We've had a few guys go to IR. We miss those guys, but that's not different than anybody else in the NFL. I think that we take it as it comes this time of year. We have a chance to get some players back. If you ask anybody in the NFL if they're 100-percent this time of year; you're going to a unanimous no. That's just the way this business is. We have a chance to get some guys back and that's always helpful. We spend a lot of time talking about next man up and filling in guys for injured guys and that's just a reality in this business. Every team goes through. There's nothing like having the guys that you put out there as starters. It's easy to say next man up, but there's a reason that the other guys were ahead of them, I guess you'd say."
On the time expectation for a defensive line to make disruptive plays: "Everyone is different. It depends on play action. It depends on how many backs are in the back field and the route structure. Obviously, the timing is going to be different on a three step drop as opposed to a deep play action or even a third down and long situation. The whole thing with those guys is that they have to work hard. Sometimes they're going to be doubled and sometimes they're going to be singled. Sometimes they are going to be completely free. We've seen that before were there are guys that are completely free, but the ball still gets out. You can't let any of that affect you. You just have to keep on coming to the quarterback."
LIONS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM QUOTE SHEET
On CB Bill Bentley returning from injury to play: "It depends if he suits up or not, so we'll see what that decision is. Don (Carey) didn't play as well as he did the week before, but he played about 150 plays, (including) special teams and got worn down. I think we've worked our way through those injury situations, because Rashean (Mathis) can go in there and play, so we've got some options. Hopefully Bill will be ready to play, but we'll see on that."
On if Bentley returning from injury puts everybody on defense back in their normal slots: "It's like any injury you have. A guy comes back that played pretty decent, we'll give him a shot to play I'm sure, but that decision's not made yet."
On CB Darius Slay: "I work with him pretty close every day and talk to him a lot. His mindset is great. He's a young guy. He only played one year at Mississippi State and the junior college game, and one of the things I wrote on my report when we talked about him, is only thing that worries me is he's young. And he is young, but that said, I told you last week he's making progress. He had a heck of a practice out here today. Yesterday he did well and he's getting the idea. The young guys, and you have to coach them that way, they have to become disciplined, play within your system, but yet I think what he's doing is thinking too much. I tried to exorcise that the last couple of days. Like Chris Houston is practicing better again and he has some personal issues, but when you're out here or in this building, you don't think about that. You think about football, so he's coming around as well."
On the defensive line: "If you watch the game real close, we talked about seven-man pass-protection and when they block with seven, then there's three left who go out unless we're playing Canada. So we get that, and really it makes me sick sometimes, but it is what it is. We see those same teams play against other teams that I think are good pass-rush teams and the receivers come out. They end up five to six-man protection schemes and that's easier to break, but when you have all your guys doubled up front it's pretty hard. We talked about the chipper protection. The ends line up, they rush and those two wing guys or two backs come up and hit you in the ribs. I still hate Marcus Allen, although he's a good friend of mine, he tried to kill all the players I have doing that. It's really a difficult thing. The rules are what they are, but I never liked the guy blindsiding me and I got thrown out of a few games, because you can't do anything about it. You can't, and that's what's happening to him (Ndamukong Suh). The two tackles get doubled almost every play. Suh's doubled every snap."
On the defense ranking 30th in pass defense because the defensive line is frequently facing max protection: "They're throwing 10,000 times. We played in some long games. One of the things that's important, I always talk about team play. I was at San Diego with (Dan) Fouts) and my god, we're on the field every play it seemed like. The way the game's gone in the NFL with offenses throwing that much, you're going to be out there. They're going to score. The pass doesn't take as much time off the clock. The games are longer. I think what has happened to us...We've given up 36 big passes I think, 21 of them are for first downs. You didn't think I knew that, did you? When I looked at it yesterday, because I was getting really worked up about some issues, of the 21 long passes, it was a lack of finish on our part. We were in good position, but we didn't go in and get the ball out. The one thing in Chicago, Glover Quin finished on a play, we failed in the scheme. One of our guys made a mistake and he drove the ball and he finished the play. The ball came out and we won the game. Last week, Lou Delmas had one like that. We need to get our bodies on those receivers more and that's a lack of experience of different guys. You have to be real smart at this stage. Confidence is a real fragile thing and we need to get them to play better and there's no question about that, and we will. They practiced well this week, so we'll see if we get better."
On if there is another defensive line he can identify that has gotten the same kind of protection: "No. Not in our League now. No. The Marcus Allen story. We led the AFC in the NFL in sacks for six-straight years. I had two All-Pro ends and two no good, I don't know where they are today, probably hiding somewhere in Idaho, defensive tackles. When we played the Raiders and Leslie O'Neal is by far the best and toughest guy I have ever coached in my life. And why he's not in the Hall of Fame is ridiculous. He was the toughest guy I have ever coached. He came out of the game and said, ‘Gun, put me inside. I'll kill those guards.' Now he weighed 255. He said, ‘Marcus Allen is going to kill me if I keep standing out there.' He hit him, the tackles on him and Marcus took his shoulder and drove it in to his ribs. So yeah, that group got a whole lot. We were a little bit different in those days. The rules weren't on the offensive side."