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 the captains: "You guys got who they were, right? They're voted on by their teammates. We have really good leadership in our locker room. We had votes for a significant amount of guys, but by NFL rules we can only name six of them captains or six guys can wear that ‘C' on their jerseys. I think all those guys have proved that they deserved it. Our leadership doesn't begin and end with our captains. I think we're very strong throughout our locker room."
On how DT Ndamukong Suh is a different leader this year: "I think it's just part of his growth. Each step along the way he has done a better job with everything that goes on to it. He's always been a great player, but we saw the same maturation with Calvin Johnson. Saw the same thing with Matt Stafford. As they were around, they got more and more respect from their teammates. It's reflective of that."
On Coach Gunther Cunningham being in the box during games: "When he was in Kansas City, other than when he was head coach, he was always up in the box. Early in his career and when he was in Tennessee with me, he was up in the box. His first year here he was up in the box. He's comfortable up there. He has a bird's eye view of everything and I think that's important for our defense from a coordinators standpoint. Any corrections that we need made or anything else it's a lot easier to see it up there rather than relaying information from the guys up there. It's a little bit different relaying signals and stuff like that, but I think through the preseason we worked it out pretty good. We're quick with our calls and everything else."
On if Cunningham still makes play calls: "Yes."
On S Glover Quin embodying the young veteran meaning: "He's very serious about the game. He has played a lot of positions in the secondary. Played corner and I think he started his NFL career as a corner. He's played nickel. He's played dime linebacker. He's played safety. He's played all those positions. He has a really good broad understanding of the secondary, but also linebacker because of what he did in the dime stuff that he played in there. He's just very professional about what he does. He's serious about the game. He's serious about how he goes about his work every day. He also has a good personality. He likes going out to practice. It shows in the locker room. It shows in the meeting rooms. It shows on the practice field. The things we were looking for that position, he's given us. He's a very good tackler. He's a good matchup guy for man-to-man. He's not a mismatch on anyplace in the field. He's good in the box. He's good in the deep part of the field. The job description that we had, he's really done a good job of filling."
On if there are many safeties that are like Quin: "I think you're seeing more and more guys like that. It used to be that safeties were one dimensional. You had a strong safety and a free safety. Over the last ten-years or so that line has blurred quite a bit. (Louis) Delmas is pretty good that way too. I just wanted to make a joke there. Those are the reasons we like Lou also. If we can keep that pair of safeties on the field, they can be as good as anybody in the NFL. Hard to mismatch us. Harder we can match tight ends. We can matchup wide receivers. Both guys can play in the box. Both guys are good in the deep part of the field. Both of them are good tacklers. Have good range. It's definitely an advantage for defense to have two safeties like that."
On how much more worth is this Sunday's game rather than other games: "It's one of 16. It's just life in the NFL. All of them are important. Look at Baltimore right now. Won the Super Bowl last year. It's easy to overreact with a win, whether it was Denver last night, or overreact with a loss. That's just the way this league is and the scrutiny that goes along with it. You have to be resilient in this league. You have to persevere. We need to keep in mind it's 16 games. Certainly a win would help us. It's a division game. It's a home game. Those are two real real important reasons right then. We want to get off to a good start. We'll do our very best to do it."
LIONS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM QUOTE SHEET
Opening Statement: "Well, the season's here. The only thing for me is they're coming too fast. I don't like that. I enjoy the game, I love the game, I've been in it for a long time. I came in this morning and I felt like ‘My God, over 30 years have gone by.' But every year is great. It looks like we're ready. They have great attitudes, they've worked real hard, they like each other. That's the best part for me. There's a lot of good communication going on between plays and between drills. Yesterday I talked to a lot of the DBs (defensive backs) and they are really into it and I hope we play as well as I expect. I'm proud of the hard work they've put in."
On if he will be watching games from the coaches' booth and how it is different for him: "I kind of like it. I've been up there a lot in my career and I get to see the game. I get to see everybody play, not just defense. I made a comment, I liked the way our special teams covered last week. I talked to JB (John Bonamego) about it. To sit up there and see the speed we had made me feel good. We have that carryover on defense. So there's a lot of things you see up there, very quickly and I can communicate it down to the sideline, it's really helpful."
On counting on young players this season: "Fortunately for us, our young players are fast, and some of them are really big. They're all working really hard and I try to tell them in one-on-one conversations that preseason doesn't mean anything. The real deal's about to start, and to be sound in their approach to it. The fortunate thing is we've got some veteran players, Rashean Mathis in the secondary and GQ's (Glover Quin) only played a couple of years, but he made some statements to me this morning that I couldn't believe that he knew all those things. Having players like that in a room with young guys is really helpful. And d-line's got that same thing and so have the linebackers."
On DT Ndamukong Suh's leadership taking a step forward this season: "It's amazing, I see the tape and I see the plays, but I never really hear him or anything like that. He's into what he has to do. He and Nick (Fairley) have really made a close relationship, but he's also done that with the rest of the defense. He's really stood up and I enjoy watching it all. We've been through it the last couple of years of where he was headed. And I feel good in the direction he took and where he is."
On the importance of chemistry and guys liking each other for a defense: "I think it's probably the most important thing in life, in every situation. Linebackers get along, the DBs (defensive backs) do, the defensive line when they're all out together, they all get along. They all respect each other. And I think that veteran addition in a few spots, for instance, when (Rashean) Mathis came in, within two to three days, Bill Bentley started to be a different nickel. And I asked Bill point-blank, I said ‘Is it coaching or is it the new guy?' And he looked at me, I said, ‘Tell me the truth.' He said, Rashean (Mathis) really showed me.' And watching the picture in front of you is really helpful. I think that's what's good about the way the team's been put together, so hopefully it'll carry over starting Sunday."
On if there is one thing he is most eager to see: "I think probably, the same thing you all think. What are we going to be? It's exciting to see all the practices and preseason games, but now it's for real. What are we going to be? I'm anticipating it like a fan. That's what you have to do. You can't control too many things. They will. And I'm excited to see how strong we are, how big we are and how fast we are on defense."
On what makes him so confident in CB Darius Slay: "He's a great athlete. The youth....he was the one I was talking about. The DBs (defensive backs) said, ‘He's going to learn to listen,' and I said ‘Well, that's a young thing.' Everybody's like that. I was like that. And (Darius) Slay didn't know that I knew he was standing behind me when I was talking to the rest of the guys about keeping them on point, and all that. I said, ‘Well if he doesn't we'll take him to the woodshed.' That's the chemistry part. They all had a good laugh over it and they all get along. To me, out of everything that I've seen, that's the number one thing I'm most excited about, that they like each other."
On Vikings DE Jared Allen's comments about Cunningham still being ornery during meetings: "Somebody gave me the comments that Jared (Allen) made, and I've said it before, you can't control winning, but you can control helping somebody. And when he said that he was glad he had me when he was young, it really made me proud. We went through a lot of hard times together and I told him he's going to be a great player. He's got to get ready the eight way and to read the comments that he made...I was really proud. It's like being a father. The kids don't like you when you discipline them, but when you get older you realize how much that person that is called your father meant to you. I know I did. The way I read those comments, I was proud of Jared (Allen) for saying it and I'm proud of him for the kind of player and person he's become."
On the Vikings offense changing with the loss of WR Percy Harvin and addition of WR Greg Jennings: "Their design is well thought out and their coordinator has got a good background in Bill Walsh's systems and a lot of systems. They've got that kingpin, number 28 (Adrian Peterson) back there. He makes me not sleep very well at night. They manage the ball and they've got good young players. They've got the receiver from Tennessee, (Cordarrelle) Patterson. (Kyle) Rudolph didn't go to the Pro Bowl cause he's not any good, he's a very good player. Overall, they've added some wrinkles, but they're still based on 28 running the ball.
On if stopping the run this season means they will be better equipped to stop the pass than in past years: "To me, in my history, and Jim Washburn and I talk about his a lot. You can't play the pass unless you stop the run. If they have you in either-or situations, it doesn't matter how good the DBs (defensive backs) are. They will throw the ball at will, because you don't know what you're going to get. And with our size upfront, in preseason we looked pretty good against the run. I hope and feel that I'm right about it, so we'll see what happens and we'll be able to play that pass a little bit better."