Below is a look at what Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell had to say on Thursday. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
On how much credit Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin deserves for the way the defense has played thus far: "I think what he's doing is basically what we all know. It's always been a player's game, but yet you have to have someone to provide framework for them in terms of scheme, that can look at what they can do from the technique and a fundamental standpoint and putting them in the right place at the right time. Teryl has been able to do that. He's always had a real unusual knack for that. I could see it even back in 1993, he actually went with me to Wake Forest when we left Penn State and he was there as a graduate assistant. You could tell that he was quite a mature individual in terms of football knowledge for his age. He worked with us at Wake Forest for a few years and then went on to Syracuse and certainly gained a lot of experience along the way. When I met with him again in a work environment it was at Baltimore and it didn't take very long to see that he had great passion for the game, but also his knowledge of the game, his breadth of it is broad and wide and he has just a great knack of communicating. He's a hard-nosed guy with a great temperament with defensive football and he's doing a nice job."
On what credit Austin should get for the secondary's play: "You really have three guys that have been very good, that have been excellent teachers in terms of secondary play. Alan Williams and T.O. (Tony Oden) and then also Teryl, those guys have done a tremendous job and are really good at what they do. I think when you look at it overall in terms of schematics, I think they've all done the things that I think good football coaches do. They've tried to make certain they put players in position where they can extenuate their strengths and tried to minimize their weaknesses, because we all have them. But also, I think you have to look at our defensive front with Jim Washburn and Kris (Kocurek), those guys do a tremendous job of getting those guys to the passer, where he doesn't feel comfortable sitting back there all day long, which kind of helps your coverage. Coverage is across the board. It's not only just in the perimeter itself and the secondary, but also your linebacker play. Bill Sheridan is a veteran coach in this league and does a nice job. All of those guys do a great job over there."
On how close the Lions were to trading up and drafting WR Sammy Watkins: "I'm not certain about that and I think it was more driven outside of this building than inside. Folks caught on to it and I think that was probably more so than anything else."
On what he thought of Watkins coming out of school: "Excellent, absolutely excellent. The guy is an unusual talent. He can run and catch. I watched him work out and he had probably one of the best workouts I've ever seen. He's a natural, he's got speed to burn, he can get to the ball deep and is an excellent route runner for a young guy. He can come out of his cuts. He just has all of the things that everybody in the League knew that he had and obviously he's displaying those week in and week out. We're trying to make certain or hope that he doesn't get loose on us."
On if he's leery of giving RB Reggie Bush 25 to 30 carries if RB Joique Bell can't play on Sunday: "I think the most important thing as you try to look at it is that you try to do what's best for your team to win the game. We take them one at a time and that's our focus right now, on a very good Buffalo team. So, we have to look at it and kind of do what we think is best, and if that's what's required, it could happen. Also, you have to agree as well that we do have a number of different options. I think you see that we run in several different personnel groupings often during a course of our game. It could also push us in a direction of using one more so than the other, which indeed could take a little bit of the pressure off our backfield and just kind of adjust it where we need to. Joe Lombardi and the rest of those guys on offense do a great job of adjusting."
On if he has any concerns about TE Eric Ebron hitting the rookie wall: "I think the rookie wall is probably more mental than physical. Although for a great majority of them, the season is a bit longer than what they've experienced in the past. But I've seen more often than not, rookies excel and continue to grow and develop just like the rest of the guys on the team. I've only see the rookie wall hit when things haven't been going well, in terms of a season or something of that nature. That's the only time that it ever comes up and I don't anticipate that happening."
On how much he expects Ebron's progression to accelerate since TE Joseph Fauria is out: "I still think he'll progress at his own speed, basically. He gets possibly a few more reps because of the fact that Joe is not around, so he may be taking on a couple of things, but he plays a little bit different role because his skill set is different than Joe's. His role is a little bit different and I do think that you see that he's coming along and making progress. I think that it's been steady. I think you can tell by the way in which he practices. I think you can certainly determine that by the way in which he's grasping the material. Often times, it's very difficult for you all because you're not in our meetings, you don't watch every bit of practice to see that kind of progression, but we can see that the foundation of it has been built. We can see his reaction to different situations that he's confronted with on the practice field and during the course of the game, but we think he's making good progress."
On if Ebron is where he expected him to be at this point: "No one is. I set lofty goals, very high goals and there's not a person on our team at this point that has met those challenges, just in terms of being where I expect them to be. So, he wouldn't be out of the ordinary in that regard."
On where he stands on allowing players to express themselves religiously: "I really do think that's a personal view. I do think one's religious persuasions are up to them and I don't think that I have a platform to talk about that in terms of how it affects other people. I can certainly talk about mine, if I wanted to. I kind of leave that up to them. I don't encourage it or discourage it, and I'm certainly not shy about sharing mine when time is permitted and allowed and when I feel like it. But to go into deep discussions about what you should do and shouldn't do in the end zone and how you should go about it, they know the rules and we try to comply by them."
On his players participating in fantasy football: "They don't talk to me about it, but I do know without question, it's very popular. It's huge and it's something that I'm sure they watch and pay attention to with the advent of social media and the Internet and the proliferation of information that's evolved. It also creates venues for people to get involved in those kinds of things. It has been just unbelievably popular. I heard some ridiculous stat about the popularity in relationship to some other events that were going on in the country in terms of who was paying more attention to some crisis that we're having in the country as opposed to what folks are doing in fantasy football, and fantasy football was winning. I do understand and I would not doubt that they participate in those things."
On how he keeps his team from taking anything for granted: "I do think that part of it is not really difficult, to be honest with you. All we have to do is point out a number of different things in terms of where we are because when you look it, it's not like this is the end of the season and we're two games away from finishing it up. This is just the first quarter, we're going into the second quarter. There's a whole lot of football to be played. I don't think there's guy in our locker room that even feels remotely close that we've arrived. And I think that's kind of the thing that's been really pleasing about these guys. These guys are hungry. They want to play and play well and they understand that we've still got a lot of work to do. The other thing is that we try not to look ahead too far. If you want to find a very quick way to get thrashed and drug around the stadium, start looking ahead and not focusing in on the next team that you're going to face. I think our guys understand that and thus, I think that's why their focus and concentration has been to this point really good."
On how difficult it is to prepare for a game when one of his top players (Bell) is out with a concussion: "I think there's protocol that's involved and they (the training staff) follow the protocol. If they follow the protocol, at some point in time we'll know what his status is. Until that time, we have to go along and move ahead until there's some clarity to it."
On if the team is acting like Bell won't play on Sunday: "Yeah, right now we have to go from what we see and understand and adjust until when they say everything is in great shape."