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 his confidence with the offense now that everyone is back in their normal positions: "Well I mean it's regular season now. It's not preseason. There are a lot of things that teams do, we're not the only people in that boat, but there are a lot things that teams do. There are different agendas in preseason. I don't think anything that we did in the preseason we can expect to carryover. Whether that's getting turnovers, protecting the ball, run, pass or anything. That includes any struggles offensively, defensively or special teams."
On how much he looked at the red zone offense and how is it different this season: "I mean we didn't throw it in the red zone, but we were in those ball zones. You look at our touchdown efficiency, and stuff like that, and our numbers were still very good in the red zone. It was just that we had a lot more rushing touchdowns than passing touchdowns last year. Let me know when it counts more to throw it across as oppose to run it. That's just the NFL. We're going to try to score touchdowns any way we can. If we can't then we're going to try to kick the field goal. We've been a very good red zone offense and we expect to be again. There are no style points there or anything else. In all due respect, the fantasy players and stuff like that that's not any of our concern. We're trying to score touchdowns any way we can get them."
On how capable is RB Joique Bell after what he saw last year and what he saw in training camp: "He had a good season last year. Really his first extensive playing time as a pro. He continued that in the off season program and training camp and preseason games, but this is a new year and what he did last year really doesn't mean anything now that we're in to this year. He's going to have to prove himself all over again. Joique is no different than fifty-two other guys in the locker room. You have to prove yourself every year in this league. He's been hungry. He's been working hard. I think that you'll see the results of that hard work and the attitude that he has shown."
On what is it that makes Bell so good considering he isn't the heaviest or fastest player: "I wouldn't necessarily consider him not that big. Try to tackle him. He's pretty big. You can say what you want about his speed, but there's a bunch of times that people don't catch him. He's got really good balance. I think that's probably his best thing as a runner. He keeps cleats in the ground and he has really good balance and he's hard to bring down that way."
On how Vikings' DT Kevin William's status affects the Lions' game plan: "I won't comment on our injuries, so I comment on the
Vikings injuries. Nice! He's a veteran player. If he can be out there on Sunday, we know he will be. He has a long track record. We know what to expect from him. It's the opener. All hands on deck. We're expecting him to play. We'll be prepared for it. He's a difference maker on the inside and he's a tough matchup. We'll certainly be ready for him if he plays."
LIONS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR SCOTT LINEHAN QUOTE SHEET
On how tough a test is it for the offensive line to block Minnesota's pass rush: "It's a tough test. Every week it's going to be that way, but we know these guys. Their fronts' one of the best in the league. It's going to be a fun challenge though, I'm looking forward to it."
On how good of a gauge Minnesota will be with three new faces starting on the Lions offensive line: "Every opening day has its challenges. That's going to be one of them. These guys are up to it. They've been working hard against a pretty darn good d-line during camp. I think we're ready to go."
On having WR Calvin Johnson back in the lineup changing the look of the offense: "Calvin's a pretty big factor in our offense, so we're glad to have him back there ready to go. The other guys have done a great job picking up the slack in some areas that we've asked them to. I'm looking forward to watching them play Sunday."
On if he plans on giving T Riley Reiff help by double-teaming Vikings DE Jared Allen: "Well, I don't know about the lot of helpers, things like that. I think we get rid of the ball pretty quickly and we do things like that. If you keep guys in, they can kind of just play zone and cover the other guys. So it's a fine line you got to play. Riley's ready for the challenge, he goes against some pretty good players in practice. Gets him ready for those kind of guys. It is going to be easy? No, but that's why we drafted him and that's why he's playing for us. We're excited."
On if there is any continuity issues with the offensive line not having played much together: "Well I think they've worked together from the day we had these guys together in OTAs (Organized Team Activities) through training camp and four preseason games. You're only going to get continuity over time, as far as playing time, by going out and playing. I think they've done a great job though of handling that. They're young, and the great thing about being young is you don't put too much thought into it. You got to go out and play every play one play at a time and they're going to be ready to go I think."
On RB Reggie Bush opening up everything else the offense wants to do: "We brought him here to be a difference maker. Not just because he can do stuff in the passing game, from the backfield. He's a very, I don't want to call him underrated running back, but he runs all of our runs. There aren't just certain types of runs that we call for him and certain types of runs we call for other guys. He's the primary tailback and then we got other guys that are going to do some things. Reggie (Bush) just gives us that kind of duel-back that has the ability to carry the ball when we call runs and catch the ball and/or pass protect if he had to when we call passes."
On RB Joique Bell earning playing time based on what he did last season and this preseason: "Yeah, Joique's (Bell) had a very quietly excellent year for us last year. He came in, stepped in and showed that he can be pretty versatile. Had a very good preseason that way. I think you saw the same things you saw from Joique during the season in the preseason. He's earned the right to get out there on the field and help us win."
On how much better TE Brandon Pettigrew is going into this season than last season: "Yeah, I think he feels much better. He's not going to tell you this, but he was pretty...I don't know if it's banged up or sore, or whatever. You can see it. The guy's a big guy in there, takes a lot of plays for us. He doesn't come off the field much. You can see a guy that's really worked hard to get himself in the best shape of his career. I see great things from him this year."
On if he sees Bush as being more of a load-carrier in the offense than people give him credit for: "I think Reggie's (Bush) going to touch the ball a lot. We got to spread it out somewhat in the running game, but he's a guy that you want to build your run game around, utilize as a matchup player in the pass game, and not always be a guy that you take out because you want a running back in there to pass protect. He can do all those things. I just think, as we go through, he's just kind of figure out how we target him. Some games it might be more as a runner and some games more as a receiver."
On if feels the team is better equipped to close games with the running game than previously before: "Well, one way we'll be able to do that is having the lead, in certain situations we had a couple times last year, where that would have been something we can do. I just think you got to be able to, like you said, we get in those tight games. Two years ago, we got in some tight games and we finished them off. Last year there were some close games where we didn't. And that's an area we have to improve on this year."
On Bush's impact on the passing game and pass protection: "Yeah, that's a big part of our offense. We don't hold the ball very long in our offense, we try not to. I don't think anybody in the League really does. I mean, there's too many good d-linemen. We learned that by practicing against our d-line. Those kind of things, those quicker developing type plays can benefit you from just from a standpoint of it doesn't take forever to protect for those plays. You got to have some diversity in that sometimes. If you're willing to hold the ball, you got to fit your protection with that. Reggie (Bush) does give us another option, a matchup option in our passing game that I think will really help us."
On if he was surprised by TE Joseph Fauria's blocking: "I knew a lot about him, because we evaluate the tape and see him receiving the ball and catching touchdowns and his height. I was very pleased with his progress as a competitive blocker. He's so long and he's strong that he's able to do things a little different than (Brandon) Pettigrew or even Mike Williams, guys like that in the run game, because of that length and that overall body strength. It's going to be fun to watch Joe (Fauria) develop in our offense. He's going to have a nice little niche I think."