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Lions quotes: Friday's comments from Jim Schwartz, Gunther Cunningham

Quotes from Jim Schwartz and Gunther Cunningham's media session after Friday's Detroit Lions practice.


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.)


On who makes the decision if WR Calvin Johnson will play on Sunday: "That has always been a group decision. First of all, it's the team's doctors and trainers. If they have ever said that a guy can't go then there is no other alternative right there. If they give clearance then it's a group decision of whether he can be affective in the game plan and how much we can use him. We'll see when it gets to Sunday with him. He hasn't been able to get on the practice field this week. He's had a couple of games this year where he has been limited, but still been able to play except that one game he wasn't able to play. We are prepared however it comes out."

On T Riley Reiff: "He didn't play very much as a rookie. He played as a tight end and started one game. I thought that he showed the reasons why we drafted him and showed that he had a good future. It was a big step for him this year going from sort of a part time role as a rookie to going week-in and week-out and having to be relied on to shut down top notch pass rushes every week. I think he has done a nice job. Offensive line-wise, it's really not about individual play. It's about the group. I think as a group they performed pretty well this year. Riley is a big part of it. He also had some injury situations. He had to get out there and play when he was injured and I think that a player has to work on dealing with those. He's got a great future. He was a first round draft pick. He has done nothing to disappoint us so far."

On the offensive line's left tackle position close to being considered a one-on-one position: "Probably as close. You could say a million different things. If it's a three-four team in the center, a lot of times it's the one-on-one guy. Depends on where the tight end is and where the back is and where the chips are and how much are the guards holding space inside. It's never a one-on-one. It's never a one-on-one because there is always some kind of help somewhere. I think that you have to have a combination of individual skills, but you also have to be able to play with the guys around you. I think Rob Sims and Dominic Raiola have really done a great job this year from an offensive line standpoint. For the most part of the year we had a rookie right tackle, a rookie right guard and a second year left tackle. We really leaned on the vet leadership and the experience of Rob Sims and Dominic Raiola upfront."

On the young talent on defense: "I think our defensive ends have shown the whole year. Devin Taylor started off as inactive then had to go in and play. He's made plays when he's been out there. He's improved over the course of the season. Ziggy (Ansah) is sort of the same way. He battled some injuries. He had some time where he wasn't out there, but he also persevered through that and came out and has been very affective. He's made plays not only against the pass, but also against the run. Corners are probably a little bit different because those guys are pressed in the service due to injuries. Jonté (Green) started off as an inactive player and played a little bit of special teams. I think he did a good job of answering the bell and showing a little bit like we talked about with Riley Reiff that he is on a good career progression. We really had a hard time evaluating where it was because after training camp his role wasn't to be out there and playing, but when he needed to with some of the injuries to the other guys, I think he stepped up. (Darius) Slay sort of the same thing. It was rough for him early, but he was able to persevere through that. He kept working and kept his confidence up. He played really well on Thanksgiving Day. This will be another big step for him to be able to come back in this game and see if he can continue to build upon that. Chris Greenwood (is) sort of in the same boat. Started off in the practice squad, went to Dallas for a couple of weeks, came back here on the practice squad, became an active player and had to go in and play. I think he has represented himself well and showed that he is still a developing player and has a bright future head of him. Each of those guys is in a little different spot."


On if the season was frustrating: "Football is like that. You all are in it. You understand it and see it every day. You understand the highs and lows every day and it can tear a man apart. Whether you're a trainer or a coach or anyone who works in this business, it's tough. They all get attracted and become popular and want you to ask them for autographs. When I first started doing that stuff, when people started knowing who I was, it lasted for about 15 minutes because the job is so tough. If you lose your focus in anyway at all, you are going to get beat and that's what happens. As far as the defense is concerned, there are plenty of plays that we should've made. I said it after the Arizona game that it was going to come back to haunt us at the end. Cincinnati was another example. You can't allow a team to do that, you can't allow them to kick a 61-yard field goal at the end of the game if you are going to be in a playoff game. We need to make sure that never happens again."

On if the third-and-15 against Baltimore and the fourth-and-seven against New York stand out more: "You don't forget those. I can recall 1991, 86, 81, things that happened to us. You never forget those things. The problem is that in an organization you work with all kinds of people and coaches and coaches have ideas and you go ‘Oh my God, I've been down this road before' when you make an adjustment and you've been beat by it. You don't forget those things and you try to correct them as fast as you can."

On what tells him that this defense has the pieces it needs for the future and what else needs to be added: "I think you always need to add to a defense. The thing that I like is that there is a good glimpse of some good corners coming up, young ones, fast ones, big ones. (Darius) Slay and Chris Greenwood last week. Disregard the game, he made my day the way he played. I have always been high on him and he didn't let me down. I spoke to the defense this morning, that's how you have to play when you get the opportunity. His problem was that he has been injured. Now that he is well, I mean, I look back in the history when I watch him, and I have been around some really good corners, this kid has a lot of upside. Slay is the same way. People don't realize that he was operated on a couple weeks ago and stepped out there ready to play. He practiced all week. We have a future there. Now the two tight ends, there is no telling what is going to happen with those two guys. They have size, speed, they're always ready, they practice hard. Obliviously the inside people and I think the addition of C.J. (Mosley) has really helped us. Sometimes they don't play enough but he has stepped into a veteran role like Rashean Mathis has in the secondary."

On what areas need to be addressed in the offseason: "I think it is too easy to tell that right now. We have to look at all the tape and that's how we go into the offseason to evaluate things."

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