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 — Five things learned from win over Bears

Five things we learned from Lions 34-17 win over the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving:

1. The offensive firepower expected all season showed up in all four quarters. We’ve see it in fits and starts, but the problem has been consistency. Yes, playing the Bears’ woeful secondary helped, but this performance should give the unit confidence moving on.

2. The up-tempo play of the offense — it’s wasn’t no huddle, it was quick huddle — helped Matthew Stafford get rid of the ball quicker and sacked less. It was particularly beneficial — and this was no coincidence — with two rookies starting on the offensive line in left tackle Cornelius Lucas and right guard Travis Swanson. Lucas improved over Sunday’s game and Swanson has been solid in his three starts. It’s possible Riley Reiff (knee) could be back against the Bucs on Dec. 7 and Larry Warford (knee) has started running so he’s getting closer too.

3. Defensive end Ziggy Ansah improves week to week before our eyes. He had a sack and three quarterback hurries along with two tackles for loss. Ansah is still learning the game, he’s only got upside.

4. Calvin Johnson is still a game-changer.  

5. Dominic Raiola’s 200th start is an amazing feat when you consider that only four active NFL players have more — Peyton Manning at 251, Charles Woodson at 230, Justin Smith at 212 and Tom Brady at 202.  Coach Jim Caldwell on Raiola: “Obviously, because of the fact that there haven’t been very many guys that have done it, that shows that there’s excellence involved in it. That also shows that he’s been able to stay healthy. What I mean ‘stay healthy,’ it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s been healthy the entire time because you aren’t, particularly at that position, you play through a lot. So, he can play through pain, difficulty, which is hard to do as much banging as they do down in the trenches. The leadership he provides is the apex to our offensive line and is invaluable. We certainly appreciate him.”

(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 — Riley Reiff, Reggie Bush out vs. Chicago Bears

DETROIT — Reggie Bush and Riley Reiff will sit out today’s key NFC North game against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field.

Bush (ankle) is inactive for the third straight game. He had been expecting to play. 
Bush has now missed five of the last seven games. Joique Bell will get the start.

Reiff injured his knee on the first snap on Sunday. He had limited practice on Wednesday. This is the first start he’s missed since he took over at left tackle to start the 2013 season. Rookie Cornelius Lucas will start at left tackle.

Right guard Travis Swanson will start his third straight game in place of Larry Warford (knee). 

C.J. Mosley again will start at defensive tackle for Nick Fairley who is sitting out his fourth straight game.

Other Lions' inactives:  wide receiver Ryan Broyles, defensive end Larry Webster and quarterback Kellen Moore


Detroit Lions — Ten things you should know about Thanksgiving games

Ten things you should know about the annual Lions’ Thanksgiving game which will celebrate its 75th anniversary on Thursday:

1. One of the Lions’ best Thanksgiving games ever was in 1962 when the Lions beat the Packers who had been undefeated going into the game. It was a defensive game for the ages. The Lions sacked quarterback Bart Starr 11 times in the 26-14 win. Defensive tackle Roger Brown had seven of those sacks which would still stand as an NFL record except sacks weren’t an official stat in 1962.

2. The Lions are 34-38-2 in the Thanksgiving Day contests with just a 2-10 record at Ford Field. When they beat the Packers last year on Turkey Day, they snapped a nine-game Thanksgiving losing streak.

3. The Green Bay Packers have been the most common opponent with 21 games on Thanksgiving. The Lions own a 12-9-1 record in those games. For a 13-year stretch (1951-1963) the Packers and Lions met on Thanksgiving. The Bears are the second most common opponent.

4. Calvin Johnson has caught a touchdown in five straight Thanksgiving games and six total, but Herman Moore holds the receiving yards single-game record at 169.

5. Ndamukong Suh stomped Packers’ Evan Dietrich-Smith in the 2011 game which was won by the Packers 27-15. Suh pushed Dietrich-Smith’s head into the turf three times then stomped on his arm after the whistle. He was penalized for unnecessary roughness and ejected from the game. He was suspended for two games by the league.

6. Matthew Stafford owns the passing yards (441), attempts (61) and completions (31) Thanksgiving records. But Bobby Layne, Eric Hipple and Scott Mitchell are tied for four touchdown passes in the traditional game.

7. One of the worst Thanksgiving results was a 34-31 loss in overtime to Houston in 2012. It was the game where everything went wrong for the Lions. Coach Jim Schwartz threw a challenge flag that was costly and Jason Hanson missed a rare field goal.

8. Lions Bob Hoemschemeyer set the rushing yards record at 198 in 1950 and it still stands. The opponent with the most rushing yards was O.J. Simpson (photo) who ran for a blistering 273 yards in 1976 when the Lions beat the Bills 27-14. The Bills gave up on winning and just let Simpson run to set a record.

9. Peyton Manning set an opponent record with six touchdown passes in 2004 when the Colts beat the Lions 41-9. The Colts quarterbacks coach that day was present-day Lions coach Jim Caldwell. No wonder he said he’s had pleasant experiences coaching on Thanksgiving. 

10. The most points the Lions have scored on Thanksgiving was in a 55-20 win over the Bears in 1997. Barry Sanders had three rushing touchdowns that day. Also Scott Mitchell connected with Herman Moore and Johnnie Morton; Ron Rivers had a rushing touchdown; Tracy Scroggins returned a fumble for a touchdown; and Jason Hanson kicked a pair of field goals.


Detroit Lions — Riley Reiff doesn't practice; Reggie Bush, Calvin Johnson do

ALLEN PARK — Lions left tackle Riley Reiff did not practice today (Tuesday) after suffering a knee injury on Sunday.

Coach Jim Caldwell would only say “we’ll see” when asked whether Reiff would play on Thanksgiving against the Chicago Bears.

Reggie Bush, who has missed two straight games and four of the last six, practiced in the portion open to the media.

Calvin Johnson, who usually gets a practice day as a rest day, was working too. 

Ashlee Palmer, who sustained a concussion on Sunday, also practiced.

As expected, Nick Fairley (knee) and Larry Warford (knee) did not practice.

Rookie Travis Swanson could get his third straight start in place of Warford.

 Expect Cornelius Lucas to start at either right or left tackle. It's possible LaAdrian Waddle could shift from right to left tackle.

Also the Lions promoted guard Rodney Austin from the practice squad and released tight end Kellen Davis.

Austin will likely be active on Sunday as the backup guard/center. 

 Davis was signed a month ago when all three tight ends were injured. He was inactive in Sunday’s game.

(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 notes: Caldwell says offense has 'no comfort zone'

ALLEN PARK — Lions coach Jim Caldwell explains the shortfall with the offense without using injuries as an excuse.

“We have no comfort zone, we have no area in which we’re comfortable with at this point in time with our offense,’’ Caldwell said on Tuesday morning. 

The offense hasn’t scored a touchdown in two games.

— Reggie Bush has missed four of the last six games with an injured ankle and it’s uncertain if he will return on Thursday. Caldwell said, “We’ll see.” The run game has under-performed most of the season and is rated 30th in the league. Since Week 4 the Lions have had just two games where Bush and Joique Bell were both active.

— Calvin Johnson has played three games since coming back from an ankle injury but his production has been down.
“I think the biggest thing you can take a look at: Does he still run by people? The answer to that would be yes. Does he still lay out and catch the ball and things he normally does? That would be yes. I think that’s what matters,’’ Caldwell said.

— The coach offered no updates on Riley Reiff (knee) or Ashlee Palmer (concussion). Practice begins at noon today.

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

Join chat on Detroit Lions at 2 p.m. Wednesday

Join me for a live chat at 2 p.m. on Wednesday to discuss the Detroit Lions (7-4) as they look to snap a two-game losing streak on the team's 75th Thanksgiving Day game.

The Chicago Bears (5-6) got off slow, but have won two straight. It will be the first meeting this season between the Lions and Bears who will play again on Dec. 21 in Chicago.

It's always interesting when the Lions and Bears meet. Bring all your questions and I'll do my best to answer them.


Detroit Lions will not discipline Dominic Raiola; league looks into matter

ALLEN PARK —  Coach Jim Caldwell said he has talked with Dominic Raiola and the team will not discipline the veteran Lions' center for his actions late in the 34-9 loss to the Patriots on Sunday.

"He and I talked, we addressed the issue. What we talked about is a private matter, he knows how we like to do things around here,'' Caldwell said at his Monday press conference. "That’s the end of story.''

Raiola took a dive at Zach Moore’s knees and admitted he did so afterward, saying it was payback for the Patriots running up the score.

Raiola also tried to punch Moore twice on the same drive before the cut block. No penalties were called.

The league will address the play according to Caldwell. Raiola didn’t break a rule, but the intent to injure complicates the issue. He could face a heavy fine.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about Raiola on Monday. 

 “Well, I'm sure there's a lot of frustration there from Raiola. That's obvious. They've never beaten us,’’ Belichick said according to team transcripts. “(He) had a tough day in there dealing with (Vince) Wilfork and (Dont’a) Hightower and those guys. I'd say that was probably frustration.’’

Barring a suspension, Raiola will start his 200th game on Thursday.

Caldwell said the Lions will practice Tuesday and Wednesday and “go to war” on Thursday.

The Lions (7-4) are coming off two straight losses, while the Chicago Bears (5-6) have won two straight (Tampa Bay, Minnesota). 


Detroit Lions — Reggie Bush out vs. Patriots; Pettigrew returns

Reggie Bush expected to play today at New England, but will sit for the second straight week with an ankle sprain.

It’s the fourth game Bush has missed with the wonky ankle. He practiced this week on a limited basis and was listed as questionable for today’s game.

The streak continues for the Lions’ offense that has been without all of its skilled players since Week 3.

Joique Bell will start and will share reps with Theo Riddick and fullback Jed Collins.

Tight end Brandon Pettigrew returns after missing two of the last three games. 

Kellen Davis will be inactive for the first time since he signed the week before the game in London.

Right guard Larry Warford (knee) remains out. Travis Swanson will start again in his place.

Defensive tackle C.J. Mosley will start for Nick Fairley (knee).

Also inactive: Wide receiver Ryan Broyles, defensive end Larry Webster and quarterback Kellen Moore.

(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 — Three to watch vs. New England Patriots

The Lions (7-3) have said all week today’s game is important because it’s the next game. That’s fine, but this is a huge game against the New England Patriots (8-2) who are nearly unbeatable at home. 

First, the Lions haven’t lost back-to-back games so far this season. Two, it will give a better indication of just where this Detroit team really stands with the elite teams in the NFL.

Here are three Lions to watch:

1. Matthew Stafford needs a  better game if the Lions are going to pull off the upset (the Patriots are favored by 7). To be successful he needs every player on the field to be in the right spot at the right time. Golden Tate said this week he’s working on running routes better. He is probably not alone. Stafford gets the blame, but he needs blocking and receivers to run the right routes and to get open.

2. Ndamukong Suh seemed fired up this week and that was before Patriots coach Bill Belichick told the Boston media this week that he won’t always double-team Suh. Belichick respects Suh, but still thinks he has a good strategy. That could be interesting and Suh could make the most of it.

3. Joique Bell had his best game of the season last week. We’ll see if he can continue that today against the Patriots’ defense. It’s possible that Reggie Bush (ankle) will sit out so Bell and Riddick could get most of the work. Still waiting for George Wynn to get a chance to carry the ball. He’s been playing mostly special teams.

Kickoff is at 1 p.m. on FOX with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman calling the game and Erin Andrews on the sideline.

(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 Dominic Raiola: 'We'll be fine'

ALLEN PARK — Dominic Raiola will not use the word “relax” like Aaron Rodgers did when the Packers got off to a slow start.

But it seems that word is on the edge of Raiola’s lips since there does seem to be a sense of panic in Detroit. Not in the locker room though.

“We’ll be fine. I’m not freaking out,’’ Raiola said. “We didn’t lose to a bad team, it was a good team. We’re excited to get back out there and getting this bad taste out of our mouth and really letting it fly, letting it all hang out there on Sunday.’’

The Lions are coming off a loss to the Arizona Cardinals (9-1) and heading to New England to face the Patriots (8-2).

“We’re fine, we’re 7-3 and in a pretty good situation and taking a good team to Gillette Stadium. I’m pumped up about that,’’ said Raiola, in his 14th season as the Lions’ center. “We’ll be fine, I’m looking forward to what we’re going to put out there on Sunday.’’


Raiola remembers the Lions last game at New England in 2006. The Lions held a 21-13 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Patriots came back with two late touchdowns to win 28-21.

These Lions are much different. In fact Raiola’s the only one left from that roster.

“They’re one of the elite teams, one of the elite franchises in the NFL, we’re preparing like any other team, we expect to win the game,’’ Raiola said on Friday. “We’re not just saying that with false bravado, we really expect to go out there and perform and play well.

“It’s kind of funny, that Kansas City game, everybody’s calling for (Tom) Brady’s head and he’s done and everything,’’ Raiola said. “We’re kind of in that situation after Arizona, it’s kind of a unique situation to be in. it’s going to be a fun atmosphere to play in.’’

(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 early notes: Jason Jones returns; captains named

ALLEN PARK — Defensive end Jason Jones, who missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday to take care of family matters, will practice today and is expected to play on Sunday.

The versatile Jones has helped fill the gap inside with the absence of Nick Fairley (knee).

— Captains for Sunday’s game at New England will be Matthew Stafford, Rashean Mathis and Jed Collins on special teams.

— The Buffalo Bills are expected to practice at 7:15 p.m. today at Lions facility. Coach Jim Caldwell said Lions will not have to make adjustments. In fact, he said they are happy to help out. The Bills will play the Jets at 7 p.m. on Monday at Ford Field. Ticket information to come.

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


UPDATED: Buffalo Bills vs. Jets at Ford Field on Monday

ALLEN PARK — Monday night football will return to Detroit’s Ford Field much sooner than ever expected.

The Lions announced on Thursday night that Ford Field will be the site of the Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets game at 7 p.m. on Monday.

Lions president Tom Lewand issued this statement: “We are pleased to be hosting the Bills and Jets for their game Monday night. While our thoughts are with the people of the Buffalo area during this difficult time, our team at Ford Field will do everything we can to be good hosts to their team this weekend.”

With the blizzard in Buffalo, the NFL had been looking at alternative sites for the Bills game against the Jets which was scheduled for Sunday.

The NFL released this statement: “We greatly appreciate the hospitality of the Detroit Lions in hosting the Bills and this game, which will be televised by CBS in the New York and Buffalo area markets.’’

Ford Field could have hosted the game on Sunday, but delaying until Monday will give the Bills a chance to practice.

 The Lions’ practice facility will be available to the Bills on Friday and moving the game to Monday night will enable the Bills to practice on Friday and Saturday and have their walk-through on Sunday.  

The Bills could not practice on Wednesday or Thursday due to a travel ban.

The Lions jumped in to help the NFL in a similar situation in 2010 when the Minneapolis Metrodome’s Teflon roof collapsed under the weight of snow. The Vikings became the home team at Ford Field playing the New York Giants on a Monday night. Tickets to the game were free.

Ticket details for Monday’s game will be released on Friday.

The Lions play the Patriots at New England on Sunday and then return to Ford Field on Thanksgiving to host the Chicago Bears.

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

UPDATED — Detroit Lions: Offensive playbook simplified against Patriots

ALLEN PARK — The Lions will reduce the number of offensive plays in the game plan by about 20 percent on Sunday when they play the Patriots at New England. 

The hope is that it will allow them to play faster, according to offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. 

“It will simplify it for us. We won’t be thinking as much because we’ll have less plays and will be able to play fast,’’ running back Reggie Bush said.

— Bush said he expects to play on Sunday. The running back has missed three of the last five games with an ankle injury. He practiced again today (Thursday).

— Joique Bell (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday, but was practicing on Thursday. Before practice coach Jim Caldwell said he’s heading in the right direction and wouldn’t speculate whether he’ll be ready to play.

— Defensive end Jason Jones did not practice on Wednesday and Thursday due to a family matter, according to Caldwell. He did not know when Jones will return and is not sure if he’ll be back by Sunday.

— Calvin Johnson was back at practice after sitting out on Wednesday. He also was out last week on Wednesday but played on Sunday.

— Right guard Larry Warford and defensive tackle Nick Fairley remain out with knee injuries.

(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, Joique Bell don't practice

ALLEN PARK — Lions running back Joique Bell did not participate in practice today (Wednesday) while Reggie Bush, who was out last week, was working.

Bell had his best game this season in the loss at Arizona with 115 combined yards — 85 rushing.

Also Calvin Johnson did not practice. It’s probably just a rest day. The wide receiver didn’t practice last Wednesday either. 

Earlier on Wednesday, Johnson said his ankle was fine. Also he said he had a minor cut on his elbow that was no big deal.

Also out were defensive end Jason Jones, right guard Larry Warford and defensive tackle Nick Fairley.

Rookie wide receiver TJ Jones practiced for the first time since the spring. He’s coming off a shoulder injury and was on the reserve physically unable to perform list.

In preparation for Sunday’s game at Foxborough, Mass., the Lions turned off the heat and opened the vents in the indoor practice facility. Couldn’t see your breath, but it was probably in the 40s in there.

The Boston forecast for Sunday is a high of 48 degrees with a 50-percent chance of rain.

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

Check out transcript of chat on Detroit Lions

If you missed the chat on Thursday discussing the Detroit Lions (7-3) as they prepare to play the Patriots (8-2) on Sunday in New England, check out the transcript here.

The Patriots are riding a six-game win streak while the Lions are looking to find a rhythm for their offense which wasn't effective in Sunday's loss at the Cardinals. 


Jim Caldwell believes Detroit Lions will be resilient

ALLEN PARK — Tough stretch? The Lions haven’t been through a tough stretch yet this season, if you ask coach Jim Caldwell.

The Lions are coming off a 14-6 road loss to the Arizona Cardinals which snapped a four-game win streak. They are 7-3, atop the NFC North and have not lost back-to-back games this season.

So Caldwell said he doesn’t really know yet how this team will handle a tough stretch.

 “One of the things is that it takes you time, I think through an entire season,’’ Caldwell said on Monday. “We really haven’t, I’ve mentioned this before, we haven’t been through a tough stretch yet. One loss, losing a game is not a tough stretch to me.’’

Then he defines a tough stretch.

“A tough stretch is obviously when you go through an extended period of time. A tough stretch is losing four out of the last five like we did in Baltimore, I think it was four out of the last five and ended up winning the Super Bowl. We went through a tough stretch in there.

“A tough stretch is when we were in Indy, the last couple games of the season and one of those games, Jacksonville ran for over 300 and some yards on us and then going into a situation where we’re getting ready to play Larry Johnson in the first game of the playoffs, a guy who could rush it. We went through tough stretches in both of those, how they come out of those is what counts.’'

Caldwell is just 10 games into his tenure in Detroit and said they’ve shown in spurts what kind of team they are.

“Obviously, they have grit, they come back, they fight you and don’t give up,’’ Caldwell said. “Even in this ball game, our effort was unreal, unbelievable effort. When you get that kind of effort, we just have to work on execution in some things and we’ll get better. Penalties we have to clean up, but I do think this team has the fortitude to be really resilient under disappointment.”

(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 — Penalties an issue in loss to Cardinals

ALLEN PARK — Penalties have been a concern for the Lions in recent weeks. It was no different on Sunday when they had nine penalties accepted which cost them 80 yards and possibly the game.

The previous week in the win over the Miami Dolphins the Lions had 10 penalties. In fact, they’ve accumulated 36 over the past four games.

The difference is they won the previous four games. On Sunday the penalties played a factor in the 14-6 loss to the Cardinals.

“Those are a concern, we have far too many penalties. That’s just the honest fact,’’ Jim Caldwell said in his Monday presser. “We have to get it straightened out.

“How do you do it? You just continue to talk about it, you show examples, you make certain you have officiating at practice which we do. You talk about those things in detail. (If) guys are consistent in practice (at getting whistles) you better get somebody else in there to play,’’ Caldwell added.

Rob Sims’ face mask penalty in the second quarter on Sunday took the Lions out of field goal range. 

An interception by Glover Quin in the Cardinals’ first offensive series was negated because of a defensive holding penalty on C.J. Mosley.

“Those are things that make a huge difference. In a game like that is so tight that penalties really jump out at you,’’ Caldwell said “Particularly in the first half we have six, they have none.’’

The Cardinals’ finished with four penalties costing 35 yards.

(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 Caldwell explains Golden Tate's 2-catch day

ALLEN PARK — Golden Tate only had two receptions in the Detroit Lions' 14-6 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday. The Lions wide receiver had 29 catches in the previous three games. 

Coach Jim Caldwell said it’s all due to progressions, not a lack of targets. Tate was targeted just twice.

“Here’s the thing it’s not a matter of going to him,’’ Caldwell said at his Monday presser. “The plays we call, a lot of plays we call, are the same plays where he might have gotten the ball previously. 

“You look at progressions, progressions there may be a guy in front of him so he (Matthew Stafford) has to go somewhere else. Those are the things that happen moreso than saying, ‘You know what? We’re not designing any plays to go to Golden.’ That wasn’t the case. It’s the way things turn out sometimes,’’ Caldwell added.

The coach said every game is different — some games Tate might get 10, some one.

“I think because of the fact we’ve got a number of guys out there capable of getting the ball,’’ Caldwell said, “(Eric) Ebron got a few more this week, a couple guys here got a few more. It changes from week to week.’’

This is nothing new to Caldwell who coached the Colts for years.

“Those of us who have been around, there’s up and downs, there’s ebbs and flows,’’ Caldwell said, “I remember Marvin Harrison went into a couple ball games when he only caught one or two passes. Reggie Wayne the same thing. A number of guys across the board, it happens week in and week out.

“You all think it’s targeting but it’s not targeting necessarily,’’ Caldwell said, “it’s progressions and a lot of factors go into that pressure, all those kind of things that happen on those particular plays.’’

Caldwell said they have much to work on before playing at New England on Sunday, but he is good with the play calling by offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.

“Certainly, certainly I'm satisfied with it. Joe does a good job,’’ Caldwell said.

The coach also said that all play calls — offense, defense and special teams — go through him. If he doesn’t like them, he changes them. And he takes full responsibility for all of them.

(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 fixes that need to be made following loss to Cardinals

After the 14-6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals (9-1) on Sunday, the Lions (7-3) have to move on. It wasn’t a good loss (are they ever?) but it certainly does not mean they can’t still have a successful season.

If the Lions win their final three home games they will finish 10-6. Is that enough to win the NFC North title? Probably not, but should be good for a wild-card bid. That's not a given, nothing is in the NFL>

It doesn’t get easier. The Lions face the Patriots in New England next Sunday.

Here are five things the Lions need to fix:

1. Too many penalties. Please don’t blame the officials. Yes, there was quite a discrepancy in the number of penalties called on Detroit (nine) and Arizona (four), but it’s just too much. Too many silly whistles including Julian Stanford’s taunting call late in the game. The Lions had 10 penalties in the win over the Dolphins. While it was glossed over most of the week in public because of the win, I’m quite certain it was addressed to the players by coach Jim Caldwell.

2. Getting wide receivers open and find them when they are. Give credit to the Cardinals’ secondary, but Matthew Stafford has quite a tandem in Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. The offense should be thriving with that pair and it’s not.

3. While much is made of the front four on defense — and mostly deservingly so — they never sacked Drew Stanton. The Cardinals’ offense line was not the best but the Lions could not exploit that. Stafford was sacked four times.

4. Joique Bell had a good day (14 carries, 85 yards) but the running game still has room for improvement. They have to come through on third-and-1s and fourth-and-1s. On Sunday they didn’t.

5. It is a new offense and coordinator Joe Lombardi is calling plays for the first time. He’s succeeded in those fourth-quarter comebacks, but several plays seemed questionable on Sunday. Each play is scrutinized each week win or lose, so this week will be no different. It’s been tough with personnel changing week to week due to injuries, but this talented offense should have found more of a rhythm after 10 games.

(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 — Reggie Bush, Brandon Pettigrew inactive vs. Cardinals

Reggie Bush won’t play against the Arizona Cardinals today.

The Detroit Lions running back did not practice all week due to an ankle sprain that he tweaked a week ago in the win over the Dolphins. Bush worked out on the sidelines with trainers on Thursday and Friday while his teammates prepared for today’s game. Bush also missed games in Week 6 and Week 8.

The Lions won’t have all their tight ends back. Brandon Pettigrew (foot) is inactive. 
Joe Fauria and Eric Ebron return to action. Fauria has missed six games with an ankle sprain, while Ebron sat out three games with a hamstring. Kellen Davis is also active.

Defensive tackle Nick Fairley and right guard Larry Warford, both with knee injuries, were listed as out on Friday’s injury report.

C.J. Mosley will start for Fairley while rookie Travis Swanson will start at right guard.

Other inactives include: Wide receiver Ryan Broyles, defensive end Larry Webster and quarterback Kellen Moore.

Kickoff is 4:25 p.m. The game will air on FOX.

Detroit Lions — Five keys to a win over Arizona Cardinals; plus prediction

It’s not a do-or-die game for the NFC’s top two teams, but the results could have consequences as the season unfolds.

The Detroit Lions (7-2) have lost to the Arizona Cardinals (8-2) the past two seasons in Glendale. But these aren’t the same Lions, neither are they the same Cardinals. (Kickoff at 4:25 p.m. on FOX.)

Five keys for the Lions:

1. Get after quarterback Drew Stanton early, like last week when Ndamukong Suh and gang rattled Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill in the first series. Stanton cannot be overlooked, he’s a smart and tough quarterback. But this will be just his fourth start this season and actually his fourth since the end of the 2010 season when he was in Detroit.

2. Lions secondary must prevent big plays from wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and rookie John Brown (Pittsburg State). Stanton has thrown three touchdown passes this season and they all went to Brown, a shifty 5-foot-11 fireball.

3. Get the running game going. Still an issue nine games into the season. Did better early last week before Reggie Bush tweaked his ankle. This has been an issue all season, but it’s been glossed over because of the wins.

4. Get the ball to Calvin Johnson and/or Golden Tate. Johnson has had good games against the Cardinals the past two seasons, but the Lions finished both of those games in the loss column. 

5. Stay focused. Caldwell said this week his group does not have playoff fever. “We’re wearing a white mask around here so we don’t have to worry about it,’’ Caldwell said. Lions are at New England last week. Oops, forget I mentioned that.

Prediction: Lions 24, Cardinals 21

Three Detroit Lions to watch against Arizona Cardinals

Three Lions to watch today in the big NFC match-up against the Arizona Cardinals:

1. After missing six games, Joe Fauria will return. Look for him and Eric Ebron to give Matthew Stafford options especially in the red zone. Fauria was so close to playing last week he even had his game paints and socks on when he found out he wasn’t playing. He practiced at full-go all week. Brandon Pettigrew (foot) is inactive for the game. Ebron will get the start in his place. Don't forget Kellen Davis who will also be active.

2. Ziggy Ansah seems to just get better game by game. It started with the contest against the Vikings and he hasn’t let up. In the win over the Dolphins last Sunday, he had a sack, two tackles for loss, a quarterback hit and a forced fumble.

3. Theo Riddick has caught touchdown passes in three of the last four games. With cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie concentrating on Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, look for Riddick to be key again especially because Reggie Bush is unlikely to play.

Kickoff is at 4:25 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.)


UPDATED: Detroit Lions — James Ihedigbo back at practice; Reggie Bush still out

ALLEN PARK — Safety James Ihedigbo, who didn’t practice on Thursday due to a back issue, has improved overnight according to coach Jim Caldwell. Ihedigbo was back on the practice field on Friday morning

“Sometimes guys wake up with stuff, it just happens. I don’t know when he did, where, I don’t have a sense. It’s just one of those things,’’ Caldwell said on Friday morning.

— Reggie Bush (ankle) was working with a trainer on the sideline for the second day.

— As expected, Larry Warford and Nick Fairley did not practice. Both have knee injuries.

— Kyle Van Noy only had two defensive snaps in his first game on Sunday in the win over the Dolphins. Caldwell said it depends on the packages on Sunday on how much he’ll play. The coach said his snaps will increase gradually.

— Caldwell on Sunday’s game at the Arizona Cardinals: “Obviously this is the biggest one because it’s the next one and it’s the most important one because it’s the next one and I think our guys understand that.’’

— Captains for Sunday are:  Joique Bell, Ndamukong Suh and Julian Stanford on special teams.

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