Below is a look at what Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell had to say on Tuesday. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
Opening statement: "We're two days out from our work and from playing a ball game. So we are working through our paces, a bit of a training camp sort of a mode for our practice coming up this afternoon and we should get some good solid work in, but our guys are responding very, very well. Had a good walkthrough this morning and (we're) looking forward to this afternoon."
On how important the fourth game is for players on the roster bubble: "Well, this game is really important to a lot of our guys, (especially) to those that are in tight battles. This is kind of the point of the roster where these games count heavily for the individuals that are playing in the games. A lot of them will get more playing time and some may not have gotten any playing time up to this point and it's a very, very important one for them, so they try to take advantage of it - give them the best opportunity to do well. But it is one of those things indeed where we look at their body of work since they've been here and make the decision accordingly."
On LB Tahir Whitehead: "Well, I think one of the things in particular. That's been of note is that he's been playing well the entire preseason and has done a nice job. From the first preseason game to the last one last week, he's certainly been getting better all the time and improving. He's always been a factor in terms of special teams and I think he's expanded his improvement."
On the importance of Whitehead's emergence: "I think we have a unique set of guys at that position. We do have experience, which is good. Tahir's included within that, but also Ashlee Palmer, obviously (Stephen) Tulloch and (DeAndre) Levy. Those are guys that have been around and played quite well. Travis (Lewis) is also one that has played well at that position. We feel that we have some experience, along with some depth there. It's developing all the time and getting better. Tahir, the way in which he's played here the last three games, has added to that, just in terms of his level of play. With (Kyle) Van Noy being out, obviously, that's a bit of a comfort level."
On if backup wide receivers will get more playing time against Buffalo's first team: "We generally don't base anything we do on what the opposition does. We take a look at what we plan to do in the ball game and however it happens, it happens. Regardless, I don't care who they line up. If he's a player in this league, he's very good and he'll attest every single one of our guys across the board. So I think it will be challenging, regardless of who plays."
On if QB Matthew Stafford will play on Thursday: "That remains to be seen yet. We'll see. We haven't made a declaration in terms of who's playing. In this case, it's not going to be across the board with any particular position or individual. It'll be depending upon who we want to see and need to see and who we don't need to see at this particular time if that indeed happens. The great majority of the guys will probably get some playing time."
On S DeJon Gomes and what led him to be put on Injured Reserve: "He's had a bit of a shoulder injury and that's probably all that I want to go into in regards that."
On who the starting right tackle will be: "At this point in time obviously the guys have been battling for it and doing a great job and we haven't named one as of yet. We've got a while before our first game. The guys are doing a tremendous job I think of working and challenging one another and we'll get a chance to see how they end up."
On what he needs to see from WR Corey Fuller: "I like a lot of things about him. Ironically we had an opportunity to work him out when I was with Baltimore. So we brought him in and certainly could see his skill level. I had a chance to compete against his brother for quite some time while he was down at Tennessee. He's a guy from a football family. He has physical tools, he can run, jump, catch. He can certainly take the top off a defense and stretch the field. He's a willing learner and he's done a great job I think of doing the little things to try to improve himself and he keeps getting better all the time. He's got a tremendous upside."
On if one or two plays can determine a player making the team: "I don't think it comes down to just one or two. Obviously, we've had an opportunity to see them in practice in a number of different settings and we have a decent feel for them. But certainly game performance is extremely important to us. I mentioned yesterday that this is a performance-based business, so everything that they've done and will do, even including this next game, will certainly be taken into consideration."
On if he expects WR Golden Tate's offensive numbers to increase in this offense: "I know I've learned one thing, that you never make predictions about that kind of stuff. You just don't know. It could be game to game. We'll run the ball as well, but you'll see within certain schemes and how they decide to attack you, that one game, one guy might catch six balls and the next game, he may get two. One game, a guy may get 12, the next game he might get none. It depends on the situations, so it'd be tough for me to predict that."
On preseason predictions: "I think you could imagine that there's probably not much that we don't address in that regard, but, we talk about those kinds of things from both ends of it. We talk about it from the ends of, obviously, there are people that predict that you're not going to do well and there are people that predict that you will do well. ‘Flattery is much like flowers,' the old saying, you can smell them but you can't eat them. So many others are like that. And the other side of that is that you have to be temperate in terms of how you approach them, as well. There's a guy named Charles Hodge who is actually a great theologian, but he made this statement- ‘You have to be able to exalt men without inflating them' and the other part of it is, ‘and humble men without debasing them.' So, that's kind of a balancing act for us. We have to make certain that we make them feel good about what they're doing, but not to the point where they feel overconfident. We have to make certain, obviously, that we tell them the truth about things they've done wrong, but we don't have to dog-cuss them and tear them down. So, it's a delicate balancing act trying to kind of keep a team on even keel all across the board, never too high never too low. I used to tell them stories about, often times, with some of the teams we've had an opportunity to be with and coach with or for, I should say. You could walk in the meeting room on Monday and you couldn't tell whether we won the game or lost because they were already focused on the next one, the other one behind them, and we have a new challenge ahead of us. So that's what we try and preach. So yeah, we do talk about it. This is a long-winded answer, but nevertheless I think you might be able to clean something from it."
On the right tackle competition: "You know, one of those things in this league, because of the fact that you just have often times so many injuries and you'd love to stay healthy the entire time. But, let me just tell you something about those two guys (T Corey Hilliard and T LaAdrian Waddle), is that there is a comfort level with them because they both are performers. They do a nice job, they perform extremely well. It is a very, very close competition. So I think at this point we would feel very, very good regardless of which one ends up winning that particular job."
On signing FB Emil Igwenagu: "Hopefully you will see him this week. He's one of those guys that he's going to have to be a quick learner in order for us to be able to utilize him. But, we plan on doing just that. We're going to put him under an intensive sort of learning curve here shortly. Hopefully we'll be able to certainly get him in the game so we can see what he can do."