Blogs > Lions Lowdown

One thing you can count on with the Detroit Lions is that they are never, ever boring. Follow the latest news including injuries, roster moves and more here daily from Oakland Press beat writer Paula Pasche. Plus you'll find regular commentary about the team.


Detroit Lions: Two kickers among 10 signed to futures deals

In a clear sign that kicker David Akers will not return next season, the Lions have signed two kickers to future/reserve contracts — John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio.

Potter, who played at Western Michigan, was a seventh-round pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2012. He didn’t kick field goals in 2012, but kicked off.  Early this past season he kicked for the Redskins early and was three of four on field goals including two against the Lions.

Tavecchio spent training camp with the Packers and was cut when Mason Crosby kept his job.

Akers, who signed a one-year deal to replace Jason Hanson, was 19 of 24 on field goals this season with two blocks.

Linebacker Jon Morgan, who was in training camp in Detroit, was also signed.

Also, all seven practice squad players were signed. That includes wide receivers Corey Fuller and Cody Wilson; linebacker Brandon Hepburn; running backs Carlin Isles and Steven Miller; defensive tackles Xavier Proctor and Jimmy Saddler-McQueen.

Fuller (sixth round) and, Hepburn (seventh round) were Lions’ draft picks in April.

Isles is the speedy rugby player signed to the practice squad a week ago.

The 10 players are locked up for the 2014 season. The deals take effect on March 11, the beginning of the new league year when rosters will be expanded to 90 players.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

Detroit Lions live chat set for 3 p.m. Thursday

Join me at 3 p.m. Thursday for a live chat discussing all that is the Detroit Lions, including the coaching search since Jim Schwartz was fired on Monday. Bring your questions and I'll do my best to answer them. Looking forward to hearing the favorites for the head coaching job.

Detroit Lions: Five reasons Ken Whisenhunt would be good choice

The Lions started their coaching search immediately after they fired Jim Schwartz on Monday.

Team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew promised a thorough and expedient search. NFL head coaching experience isn’t a requirement but would be beneficial.

One of the candidates should be Ken Whisenhunt currently the offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers. Because the Chargers are in the playoffs Whisenhunt can’t be interviewed until next week at the earliest.

Here are five reasons Whisenhunt would be a good choice for the Lions:

1. He was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals from 2007 to 2012. Because the Lions have a talented roster, they’re not looking to blow things up. They want a coach who can come in and get the team over the hump. Certainly head coaching experience would be a bonus.

2. Whisenhunt also had some success as the Cardinals’ head coach, taking them to the Super Bowl following the 2008 season. Whisenhunt has a 4-2 playoff record as a head coach and a 45-51 overall record.

3. Matthew Stafford and the offense need some tweaking. Whisenhunt is a coach with experience on the offensive side of the ball. Another plus.

4. Whisenhunt gets credit for developing Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in his first three seasons in the NFL. In fact, Whisenhunt was the offensive coordinator when Roethlisberger and the Steelers won Super Bowl XL at Ford Field in Detroit.

5. He won’t have to make a decision on a starting quarterback. Part of his downfall with the Cardinals was his indecision on choosing a starting QB. He inherited Matt Leinert who was injured often. That opened the door for Kurt Warner. With Warner the Cards went 9-7 in 2008 and 10-6 in 2009. Without Warner as a starter, Whisenhunt’s record was 20-30.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

Detroit Lions: Jim Schwartz's worst five moments

Jim Schwartz’s five seasons as coach of the Lions had more lowlights than highlights.

Here are the top five worst moments:

1. Oct. 16, 2011 — The Handshake. After the San Francisco 49ers snapped the Lions’ five-game win streak at Ford Field, Jim Harbaugh and Schwartz shook hands like all NFL coaches do post-game. Schwartz said he didn’t expect to hear an obscenity from Harbaugh and that’s when he took off to chase him into the tunnel. He was held back by security. The look on Schwartz’s face was intensity mixed with furor. Harbaugh was the instigator but Schwartz let his emotions get the best of him. Not a good moment.

2. Dec. 22, 2013 — Schwartz turned around and yelled at fans when they started booing as the Lions headed to overtime against the N.Y. Giants. He later admitted he should have kept his emotions to himself. It’s not that any fans could actually have heard what he was saying, but lip-readers came out of the woodwork checking out the replay. Lack of discipline on display.

3. Nov. 22, 2012 — It was a game full of miscues — a Jason Hanson missed field goal in overtime and a Brandon Pettigrew lost fumble in overtime were among the lowlights of the loss to the Texans. But overtime would not have been necessary, if Schwartz had kept calm and not thrown the challenge flag following an 81-yard touchdown run by the Texans’ Justin Forsett. Forsett had been down which is why the Lions’ defense let up. But he kept running and scored. Even though Schwartz knew the rule, he threw the flag and was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. And because he threw the flag, the play could not be reviewed. The rule has since changed and is known as the “Jim Schwartz rule.” The Texans won 34-31 in overtime. Once again Schwartz’s emotions were costly.

4. Nov. 11 - Dec. 30, 2012 — After a 4-4 start, the Lions lost their last eight games to finish 4-12. Hopes were high at the start of the season, coming off a trip to the playoffs. Five of those last eight losses were by seven points or less, four were by four points or less. Close doesn’t count. Huge disappointment.

5. Nov. 17-Dec. 29, 2013 — After a promising 6-3 start in a year when the Bears and Packers were down due to quarterback injuries, the Lions could not finish a game. They held control of their own destiny but a loss to the Ravens on Monday Night Football was costly. They won just one of their last seven games even though they held  fourth-quarter leads in all of them. 

(Follow @PaulaPasche on and Read her Lions Lowdown blog at Join her weekly live chat at 3 p.m. Thursdays at


Lions' LB Stephen Tulloch wanted Jim Schwartz to stay, more thoughts

Lions' linebacker Stephen Tulloch had a long relationship with coach Jim Schwartz that started with the Tennessee Titans.

Here are Tulloch’s thoughts after Schwartz was fired on Monday:

— “I played for Schwartz eight years in the NFL, he drafted me in 2006. I know the person he is and what he means to me as a person off the field as a coach he prepared us week in and week out, it just sucks that he’s fired.

— “Everybody was shocked, I speak for myself, I speak for a lot of guys in this locker room, we wanted him back. Obviously we can’t make the decision to have him back. He was a players’ coach, he treated us like men. The ball didn’t always bounce the way we wanted it to bounce. It’s unfortunate and being the head coach it falls on you. But everybody in this locker room has nothing but respect for him and wishes him the best.’’

— “What I can say is, you come off an 0-16 season, you start to bring players in, you start to win games, the culture definitely changed in Detroit. Players are coming here, talented players. There’s something special they’re building and obviously the standards are set high now —  it’s playoffs or bust basically with the talent we have in this locker room. Unfortunately we started off 6-3 and weren’t able to get to the postseason. I think that’s the biggest deciding factor. It sucks, man, it sucks.’’

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

Detroit Lions' QB Matthew Stafford on firings of Jim Schwartz, Scott Linehan

ALLEN PARK — It was a subdued locker room at the Lions facility today just after the players had been informed by Jim Schwartz that he had been fired. 

Also fired were offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and wide receivers coach Tim Lappano.

Here’s what quarterback Matthew Stafford had to say:

— On Schwartz: "It’s difficult obviously, he’s a guy who fought pretty hard to get me drafted here and a guy who has done a lot of good things for this team and this organization.
“I’ve only played for one head coach in the NFL, coach Schwartz. I felt we had a great locker room, it’s not always what everybody hears on the outside. It was a joy to play for him.’’

— On Linehan: “I’ll miss him a ton. He and TD (quarterbacks coach Todd Downing) and really all the guys on offense, we did a lot of really good things here in five years, set a bunch of franchise records and played some of the best offensive football this franchise has ever seen. We’re going to look to continue it. I owe a lot to those guys for sticking with me through two years of injuries, coming out on the other side of it and playing some really good football.
“I owe a ton to him, he’s done a great job of using players here to the best of their ability. Finding ways to get guys the ball and Calvin’s career has taken off since he was here. Reggie (Bush) came in and had one of the best years of his career under Scott. He’s a guy who will be a hot commodity, a guy teams will love to have.’’

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Detroit Lions: After loss to Vikings, 10 things to ponder

It is mercifully over.

The Lions finished the season 7-9 after the 14-13 loss to the Vikings on Sunday.

Here are 10 things to chew on as we wait for the decision on the immediate future of coach Jim Schwartz:

1. The Lions have had one winning season since 2000 when they were 9-7 and didn’t make the playoffs. Schwartz has had just one winning season in five. The Lions lost six games this season by 4 points or less. 

2. They can’t finish a game or a season. The Lions won just one of their final seven. In 2012 and this season, they won two games total in the final eight games of each season. If you remember they had eight straight losses to end the 2012 season. They held fourth-quarter leads in nine straight games to end this season and they lost six of them.

3. Reggie Bush did his part. Yes, he had fumbles, but he went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second time in his career. He also did it in 2011 with Miami and then was 14 yards short in 2012. He added 500 receiving yards to become the first Lions running back with 1,000 rushing and 500 receiving yards in the same season since Billy Sims in 1980. Job well done.

4, With Calvin Johnson on the sidelines, the offense struggles more than usual to find a rhythm. Johnson battled a knee injury all season which kept him mostly off the practice field. Amazingly he missed just two games. Schwartz told reporters after the game, Johnson could need minor knee surgery.

5. We’ve probably seen kicker David Akers in a Lions’ uniform for the last time.  When the Lions signed him to replace Jason Hanson they expected that his struggles in 2012 were behind him after groin surgery. Hanson was missed.

6. Brandon Pettigrew’s absence has been noticeable. He’s an all-around tight end who is probably not appreciated enough for his pass and rush blocking. Matthew Stafford was sacked five times on Sunday while he had been sacked 18 times in the first 15 games. Pettigrew, an unrestricted free agent, should be at the top of the Lions’ must-sign list.

7. What do you do with Louis Delmas? The safety has been inconsistent as heck. Then on Sunday he comes up with his third interception of the season which matches his career total in his first three seasons. He practices just one day a week due to his lingering knee woes. If there is a new coaching staff, they will have a decision to make with Delmas who is signed through 2014.

8. Center Dominic Raiola took a big pay cut to come back this season. Then he went out and had one of his best seasons. Schwartz said Raiola was playing better than he had in Schwartz’s five years as coach. Not only was Raiola solid at center, he was such an influence on the younger offensive linemen. Rookie right guard Larry Warford said he wouldn’t have succeeded this season without Raiola’s help. Sign him.

9. The defensive line has the talent, but it seems they were not the totally dominant force they should have been. They’ve got the right guys, but there’s room for improvement. DeAndre Levy, Stephen Tulloch and Ashlee Palmer sometimes get overlooked, but the linebackers were solid this season. Definitely a career year for Levy.

10. Expect a quick decision on Schwartz. If he’s going to be fired it will happen fast so the Lions won’t be late to the party when it comes to signing a new head coach.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

Detroit Lions: Jim Schwartz's job security still a big question

Watching the Lions’ game today almost seems secondary with all the speculation on whether coach Jim Schwartz will be fired on Black Monday.

No doubt Schwartz is on the hot seat. In fact, he might be getting blistered.

But, other than the Fords, not sure anyone knows what will happen.  And it’s possible they have not made their decision.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported this morning that Lions’ ownership is “leaning toward keeping him.’’

Schefter later said on the pre-game show that Schwartz is "leaning safe."

Other speculation has the Lions making a clean sweep of the coaching staff and firing GM Martin Mayhew.

Mayhew has made a few draft mistakes (Jahvid Best, Titus Young), but I think he’s redeemed himself by building a talented roster with a solid draft this year along with signing two undrafted rookies — right tackle LaAdrian Waddle and tight end Joe Fauria. Both have played significant roles.

Schwartz got the team off to a 6-3 start. But they’ve won just one of their last six. 
In his five seasons, Schwartz is 11-28 in the second halves of the season and 29-50 overall prior to the season-ending Vikings’ game.

Schwartz was hired following the 0-16 season. He has brought them close to respectability. Close, but he’s not there.

In 2012 the Lions were 0-6 in the NFC North. With a win over the Vikings they could be 5-1. It doesn’t matter though.

Schwartz has about $12 million remaining on his contract that the Lions would have to pay him. This buyout could play a factor in the decision made by the Fords. Plus most of the staff would be gone too. That’s a lot of money and the Lions would still have to shell out for a new coach and staff.

My guess is that Mayhew will stay and Schwartz and his staff will be fired.

Just speculation.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

Detroit Lions: Calvin Johnson, Chris Houston among inactives vs. Vikings

Calvin Johnson, who didn’t practice all week with a lingering knee injury, is inactive for the Lions’ season-ending game at Minnesota.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning that Johnson’s knee will require offseason surgery which is the opposite of what coach Jim Schwartz has said.

Johnson played last Sunday against the Giants but was extremely limited.

Kevin Ogletree will start in his place.

Other inactives for Detroit are: Cornerback Chris Houston, cornerback Bill Bentley, cornerback Jonte Green, right tackle LaAdrian Waddle, guard Dylan Gandy and quarterback Kellen Moore.

Jason Fox will start at right tackle for Waddle while rookie Darius Slay will start at corner for Houston.

A win today and the Lions would finish 5-1 in the NFC North after going 0-6 in 2012. Doesn’t really matter, though.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Detroit Lions: Five keys for a win over the Vikings; plus prediction

It’s not for nothing, although it seems like it. The Lions (7-8) wrap up the season Sunday against the Vikings (4-10-1) in the final game ever at the dump affectionately known as the Metrodome or officially the Mall of America Field.

Out of the playoffs, both teams have a little pride on the line in what could be the final game for coaches Jim Schwartz and Leslie Frazier.

Here are five key for the Lions to beat the Vikings:

1. Hold onto the ball.

2. Have a little fun, show a little creativity on offense against the league’s worst defensive unit.

3. Young cornerbacks Jonte Green and Chris Greenwood should get some quality playing time and should make the most of the opportunity.

4. A good game from Matthew Stafford would boost his confidence heading into the offseason. 

5. In fact, a win would help the Lions feel a little better about themselves heading into the offseason.

Prediction: Vikings 28, Lions 21

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Detroit Lions: Five starters miss final practice of the season

ALLEN PARK — Five starters were missing from Lions’ practice today (Friday).
Starters out were: WR Calvin Johnson (knee), CB Bill Bentley (concussion), LB DeAndre Levy (foot), T LaAdrian Waddle (ankle) and S Louis Delmas (knee).

Johnson said on Thursday he wants to play on Sunday against the Vikings at Minnesota. Levy missed practice all last week yet played on Sunday in the loss to the Giants.

Also out today was DE Israel Idonije (knee).

Three returned who were out on Thursday: CB Chris Houston (toe/illness), S John Wendling (ankle) and G Dylan Gandy (illness).

It was the Lions’ final practice for this season. Nothing is on the line on Sunday except for Detroit’s chance to finish at 8-8. 

The Vikings (4-10-1) will be fired up as they play their final game at the Metrodome.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Detroit Lions: Five starters sit out practice including Calvin Johnson

ALLEN PARK — Seven Lions — including five starters — sat out practice today (Thursday).

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson (foot), cornerback Chris Houston (toe), cornerback Bill Bentley (concussion), linebacker DeAndre Levy (foot), safety John Wendling (ankle), right tackle LaAdrian Waddle (ankle) and guard Dylan Gandy (injury unknown) did not participate in the early portion of practice open to the media.

Tight ends Dorin Dickerson (concussion) and Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) have been placed on injured reserve while Matt Veldman has been moved up from the practice squad.

The Lions have also re-signed wide receiver Micheal Spurlock.

It was the penultimate practice of the Lions’ season. They will play the Vikings on Sunday in the final game at the Metrodome.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Transcript of Lions chat with much focus on Jim Schwartz

Coach Jim Schwartz who is wrapping up his fifth season and has a 29-50 overall record. Will he return for 2014? That was our major point of discussion in this week's chat. Check it out. We'll chat again at 3 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 2. We should have some answers by then about the 2014 coaching staff.


Detroit Lions: Jonte Green, Bill Bentley start with Houston, Mathis out; other inactives

DETROIT — The Lions will be thin at cornerback against the Giants today with starters Chris Houston (toe) and Rashean Mathis (illness) inactive for today’s game against the Giants.

Jonte Green will start at right cornerback for Mathis with Bill Bentley starting at left cornerback for Houston. Expect to see Don Carey at nickel. Green also started on Monday night.

Rookie cornerback Darius Slay, who was listed as doubtful on Friday, is active even though he hasn’t practiced since Dec. 6 knee surgery.

Houston, who has had an inconsistent season, practiced all week on a limited basis. Mathis’ absence is key. Jim Schwartz said on Friday Mathis had contagious flu/cold symptoms.

Calvin Johnson (knee) had been listed as questionable, but looked fine in pre-game warmups.

Tight end Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) was listed as out on Friday’s injury report.
Other Lions’ inactives:  Running back Mikel Leshoure, guard Leroy Harris, guard Rodney Austin and quarterback Kellen Moore.

Inactives for Giants: WR Victor Cruz, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, RB Peyton Hillis, QB Ryan Nassib, S Cooper Taylor, LB Allen Bradford and T David Diehl

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Detroit Lions: Five keys to beating the Giants; plus prediction

Every NFL game is big, but on Sunday the Lions must beat the New York Giants to keep their playoff hopes alive.

If the Bears and Packers both win, it won’t matter. But the Lions have the first game of that group with kickoff at 4:05 p.m. The Packers play at 4:25 and the Bears at 8:30 p.m.

Here are five keys for the Lions (7-7) to beat the Giants (5-9): 

1. Catch the ball.

2. Hold onto the ball.

3. Don’t give up on the run even though the Giants have allowed just 57.3 rushing yards, 3.28 yards per carry ad five touchdowns in their last 11 games. 

4. With seven or eight in the box, the Lions should be able to take advantage in the passing game. Although the Giants’ passing defense is ranked 11th in NFL.

5. The Lions’ defensive line should be able to pressure Eli Manning who has been sacked 36 times (In comparison, Stafford has been sacked 16 times.) Manning has had a bad season throwing 16 touchdowns and 25 interceptions.

Prediction: Lions 31, Giants 17

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Detroit Lions: Brandon Pettigrew officially out for Sunday; complete injury report

Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew is officially out for Sunday’s game against the N.Y. Giants.

It’s a big loss for the Lions.

Pettigrew injured his ankle on Monday night and couldn’t finish the game. He has not practiced all week.

Coach Jim Schwartz said they will fill his role by committee getting help from tight ends Joe Fauria and Dorin Dickerson, along with others.

Pettigrew plays an all-around game and with his experience is the best blocker among the tight ends.

“He’s a guy that does it all for us. He’s a jack of all trade,’’ quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “A guy that catches the underneath ball, made a great play on a down-the-field ball on a play that dinged him up a little bit. Blocks great in the run game and the pass game. 

“I don’t know that there is anybody going in to a game that has from a skill position point more on their plate as far as different things to do and different ways to help our team than he does. Week-in and week-out he’s played at a high level this year,’’ Stafford added.

Also from Friday's injury report: cornerback Darius Slay (knee) is doubtful; Calvin Johnson (knee), DeAndre Levy (foot), Chris Houston (toe) and Rashean Mathis (illness) are questionable. Everyone else is probable.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

Detroit Lions: Calvin Johnson returns to work; 5 keys players still out

ALLEN PARK — Calvin Johnson returned to practice today (Friday) after sitting out two days with his lingering knee injury.

Safety John Wendling, who had his left foot in a boot on Wednesday, was also back.
That’s where the good news for the Lions ends as they prepare to play the Giants on  Sunday at Ford Field in a must-win game.

Tight end Brandon Pettigrew (foot) and linebacker DeAndre Levy did not practice for the third straight day. Their absences on Sunday would be crucial.

Also cornerback Rashean Mathis was out for the second straight day with an illness. That’s not a good sign either.

Rookie cornerback Darius Slay, who had knee surgery, missed practice again but was on the field doing stretches like he has all week. 

Safety Louis Delmas (knee) was out but it’s rare for him to practice on Fridays. Usually he only participates on Thursdays.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Detroit Lions: Rashean Mathis out; five others miss practice

ALLEN PARK — Cornerback Rashean Mathis, who was not on Wednesday’s injury report, did not practice today (Thursday). 

Five others remained out: DeAndre Levy (foot), Brandon Pettigrew (ankle), Calvin Johnson (knee), Darius Slay (knee) and John Wendling (ankle).

Slay, who had knee surgery on Dec. 6, was working with trainers on the sidelines.

Johnson went through stretches with his teammates.

Chris Houston was back at work. He was limited on Wednesday after missing Monday night’s game with turf toe.

In practice squad moves: Wide receiver Patrick Edwards was placed on practice squad injured reserve. Tight end Matt Veldman was signed to the practice squad. Veldman was in training camp with the Lions and released on Aug. 31. He spent the 2012 season on injured reserve with Jacksonville.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Transcript of live chat on Lions; plenty about Jim Schwartz

If you missed our lively discussion on the Lions, here is the transcript. With the Lions losing four of the last five, they have to win their final two games to get in the playoffs, plus they need some help from the Packers and Bears. We chatted about Jim Schwartz's job security and much more. Check it out.

Detroit Lions: Chris Houston returns to work; six missing from today's walk-through

ALLEN PARK — Chris Houston, who missed two of the last three games, was back on the practice field today (Wednesday) and participating in individual drills. He missed Monday night’s game with a turf toe injury.

Because the Lions played on Monday night, it wasn’t a practice today it was a walk-through.

Six were missing from the walk-through including Calvin Johnson, who was on the field with the wide receivers but not working; Brandon Pettigrew who injured his ankle on Monday night; DeAndre Levy, who was on the field watching; Darius Slay (knee) who stretched and was running along the sidelines with a trainer; John Wendling who was wearing an orthopedic boot on his left foot; and Louis Delmas (knee) who doesn’t practice on Wednesdays.

The Lions are preparing to play the Giants on Sunday at Ford Field. Kickoff is 4:05 p.m.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Six reasons disappointed Lions' fans should not jump off the bridge

Look, I don’t blame any Lions fans for being frustrated and upset after the loss to the Ravens on Monday night.

This is the team that served up a big platter of juicy, delicious playoff hope by starting the season at 6-3, then they lose four of the last five. 

The worst part is this is nothing new. It’s a franchise that has breaking fans’ hearts for years.

Here are six reasons not to jump off the bridge, just yet.

1. Matthew Stafford is a good young quarterback going through a bad stretch. Did he drop all those balls? No. He’s fearless, he’s intelligent and he’s a hard worker. He feels responsible for this stinking stretch and coach Jim Schwartz expects him to turn it around. Schwartz thinks it will happen in the final two games which they need to win. One of the first tweets I got after the loss to the Ravens was “Release Stafford.” That would be the absolute worst thing the Lions could do. He’s money. He’s 25 with five seasons of experience.

2. The defensive line is deep and talented even though they haven’t gotten as much pressure on quarterbacks as you would think they would. The defensive front seven is all that. The linebackers have been exceptional this season. This is something they can continue to build on.

3. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who is in the final year of his contract, is invaluable. It’s not just receptions he excels at pass and run blocking. Plus he’s got a good young, tall student in Joe Fauria.

4. The offensive line has been improved this season and protected Stafford really well. He’s only been sacked 16 times which is tied with the Broncos for the best in the NFL. ESPN analyst Jon Gruden thinks the line is better at four positions. Only reason he didn’t include left guard is because Rob Sims is playing his usual solid game. 

5. Calvin Johnson is human — he dropped two balls on Monday night. But his ratio of jaw-dropping catches to drops is still quite acceptable. He had a bad game — get over it. It’s surprising and unacceptable, but he’s still Megatron. 

6. General manager Martin Mayhew is coming off a stellar draft. He’s got draft picks Ezekiel Ansah, Darius Slay, Larry Warford and Sam Martin contributing big-time. Plus he picked up undrafted rookies Joe Fauria and right tackle LaAdrian Waddle who are starters. Plus signing wide receiver/returner Jeremy Ross, who was cut by the Packers, has been worth three touchdowns so far.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Detroit Lions: Chris Houston, Darius Slay out tonight; Reggie Bush active

DETROIT —  Cornerbacks Chris Houston (toe) and Darius Slay (knee) will not play against the Baltimore Ravens tonight. Both were listed as doubtful on Saturday’s injury report.

Jonte Green will start in place of Houston. This is Green’s first start this season after five starts in 2012. Rashean Mathis will start at the other cornerback with Bill Bentley playing nickel.

Running back Reggie Bush (calf) is active He was questionable on Saturday’s injury report. He missed last Sunday’s game at Philadelphia after aggravating his calf injury.

Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder) also is active. He was also questionable on the report.

Other Lions inactives: Guard Rodney Austin, tackle Jason Fox, quarterback Kellen Moore, running back Mikel Leshoure and guard Leroy Harris.

Ravens inactives: Safety Brynden Trawick, safety Omar Brown, running back Bernard Scott, center Ryan Jensen, wide receiver Deonte Thompson, linebacker John Simon and defensive tackle Brandon Williams.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Detroit Lions: Five keys to a win over Ravens; plus prediction

It’s a key match-up for both the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens, the defending Super Bowl champions. Both teams are 7-6 and fighting for playoff spots. Both are trending in different directions. The Lions have lost three of four while the Ravens have won three straight.

Here are five keys for the Lions to emerge as the winner on Monday night:

1. Hold onto the ball.

2. It’s not the Ravens’ run game that will cost the Lions, it’s their deep passing game that will test the secondary which could be without cornerbacks Chris Houston and Darius Slay. The Ravens are second in the NFL with passes of more than 40 yards with 13. This has been the Lions’ bugaboo this season — allowing too many deep passes. 

3. That said, the Lions must tighten up and stop the run. Luckily for Detroit the Ravens don’t have a running back with the talent of LeSean McCoy but Ray Rice is a threat. The Lions’ missed tackles last week at Philadelphia were costly. 

4. Matthew Stafford didn’t throw an interception Sunday after 10 in the previous five games, but he had fumble-itis. Most of that could be blamed on the snowy conditions. He has to be on his best game from the get-go.

5. Get on the scoreboard early offensively and the defense must come out pounding to get the crowd into it. In the last Monday night game at Ford Field, the Bears were called for nine false start penalties which resulted in a game ball for the fans. The fans will only be loud if they really have something to cheer about. Just saying.

Prediction: Lions 24, Ravens 21

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Detroit Lions: Coaches can't explain Chris Houston's inconsistent season

Chris Houston has had an up-and-down season after signing a five-year, $25 million contract in March. 

The coaches seem perplexed and aren’t sure if it’s related to injuries. He's doubtful for Monday with turf toe, he missed the Thanksgiving game with a foot injury, in October he had a hamstring and in training camp it as a migraine that brought him down.

Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham shakes his head about Houston.

“He has (had a bit of a down year). He knows it, I know it and we’ve talked about it,’’ Cunningham said Saturday. “I can’t tell you on the injury part, I just try to coach. I’ve had a lot of talks with him, he has to learn how to handle things and come back and play.’’

Houston had a bad game in the Oct. 20 loss to Cincinnati and bounced back the next week with a good effort in the win over Dallas. It's been like that throughout the season.

Schwartz said every player goes through injuries.

“There is no asterisk next to your play or to wins and losses or anything else,’’ Schwartz said. “The whole thing is getting the job done. That’s the only thing that we can take out of it. We can’t point to anything other than our play on the field when it comes to success or failure.” 

Houston has missed practice all week with a toe injury and is listed as doubtful to play on Monday night.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

Detroit Lions: Cornerback a concern with Chris Houston, Darius Slay still out

ALLEN PARK — Looks like the Lions could be short at cornerback on Monday night against the Ravens.

Cornerbacks Chris Houston (toe) and Darius Slay (knee) did not practice today (Saturday) and haven’t practiced all week. The game designations will be released at 4 p.m. today.

Houston missed the game on Thanksgiving with a foot injury and Slay got the start for him that day. Houston now is dealing with turf toe.

Slay missed the Philadelphia game after undergoing knee surgery on Dec. 6.

If both miss the game, look for Bill Bentley to possibly start opposite Rashean Mathis with Don Carey in at nickel.

Louis Delmas (knee) was the only other player to miss practice. He routinely practices just one day per week and that was on Friday this week.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Lions' Calvin Johnson on Matt Elam: 'He's a rookie, he'll learn'

Calvin Johnson responded today to the Detroit media about the comments made by Ravens’ safety Matt Elam that he’s “pretty old.”

“Sometimes you keep your mouth shut,’’ Johnson said. “He’s a rookie he’ll learn.’’

When will he learn?

“Hopefully this Monday.”

Did Johnson know who Elam was?

“Nah, I didn’t.’’

Johnson has had success against previous defensive backs who have slighted him. Coincidence?

“It’s motivation, but moreso coming from somebody I’m actually playing. I’m playing him but I see him, like I say, if I run past him down the field it’s not like he lines up on me every play,’’ Johnson said.

Kickoff at 8:40 p.m. Monday.