When the Lions lost two players for the season in Monday night’s win, the offense and defense took hits.
There’s also another side to the story.
Cornerback Bill Bentley and right tackle Corey Hilliard worked their butts off in the offseason, training camp and preseason. Now they’re scheduling dates with surgeons and they’ll sit on the sidelines for at least the next 15 games.
It is not easy.
Bentley, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, didn’t make himself available to talk this week although he was spotted on crutches in the practice facility.
“He’s not the happiest guy in the locker room for sure, he’s a competitor,’’ teammate Rashean Mathis said. “He’s one of the biggest competitors in this room and he wanted to help this team win. ... I let him know I’ve had that injury before, three years ago and I was an elder statesman, and I could bounce back from it stronger.’’
Mathis is 33, but shows no sign of age.
Hilliard, who suffered a mid-foot injury (known as Lisfranc injury), said he was still shell-shocked on Wednesday.
“It doesn’t feel good, to be honest, because I can’t help the team,’’ Hilliard said. “It definitely hurts, but we’ve got guys here who will pull through and rally, so I’m not worried about it.’’
The Lions, however, are concerned about Bentley and Hilliard. Not physically — they’ll have the best medical attention — but their mental state will be watched.
“I’m always concerned about that aspect, but we have professionals around here too that handle those kinds of things,’’ coach Jim Caldwell said. “But I do without question, know that that’s one area in particular, when a guy goes on the IR, or PUP or whatever it might be, these guys have been on teams all of their lives. They’ve been around a group of men that they’ve grown attached to. Sometimes when they’re detached from it, it can be difficult.’’
Caldwell gave the example of the 23-year-old Broncos’ wide receiver Kenny McKinley who committed suicide after a knee injury that sent him into a downward spiral in 2010.
“He separated himself from his team, he had been injured, things of that nature,’’ Caldwell said “That’s always disturbed me. I’m one of those guys that does have some compassion and empathy. I make certain that I get a chance to speak with them. I like to keep them around as much as we possibly can, but often times, their treatment requires maybe a different location. It just depends. Everybody is a little different.’’
Hilliard said he plans to have his surgery in the Detroit area and be around the team as much as possible, although he can have no weight-bearing on his right foot for two months.
“We try to keep them involved if we can as well, but most important is for them to get their health back and their mental frame of mind also, which is equally as important,’’ Caldwell said.
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