Lions Notes and Quotes – Monday 10-20-14

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TRANSACTIONS

  • The Detroit Lions announced today that they have signed free agent TE Kellen Davis and released S Jerome Couplin. The team also announced today they have signed WR Ifeanyi Momah to the practice squad. Contract terms were not disclosed.

GAME INFORMATION

  • The Lions began their preparation for their game against Atlanta in London today with meetings at the team’s practice facility in Allen Park.
  • The Detroit Lions will take on the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at Wembley Stadium in London with kickoff slated for9:30 a.m. ET. The Lions will be looking to win their third straight after beating the New Orleans Saints, 24-23. The Falcons are looking to bounce back after a 29-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
  • The Lions and Falcons meet Sunday for the 36th time in series history. The two teams faced off in their inaugural contest on September 25, 1966 as the Detroit knocked off Atlanta, 28-10. In the teams’ most recent meeting on December 22, 2012, the Falcons defeated the Lions 31-18 at Ford Field. The Lions lead the all-time series, 23-12-0.

NOTABLES FROM SUNDAY
QB MATTHEW STAFFORD

  • QB Matthew Stafford completed 27-of-40 passes (67.5 pct) for 299 yards and two touchdowns en route to a 24-23 come-from-behind win against the New Orleans Saints.
  • Stafford’s two touchdown passes moved him into a tie with Hall of Fame QB Bobby Layne (118) for the most career touchdown passes in team history. His game-winning 5-yard pass to WR Corey Fuller tied the Lions record for career touchdown passes.
  • His 4th quarter comeback was his 13th career game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime, and it was his ninth career game-winning drive with less than 2:00 to play in the game.
  • Stafford’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Fuller was his ninth career 4th quarter game-winning touchdown pass and fifth game-winning pass with under 2:00 to play.
  • Stafford’s 73-yard touchdown to WR Golden Tate was his sixth career touchdown pass over 70 yards.

WR GOLDEN TATE

  • WR Golden Tate set career highs in both receptions (10) and receiving yards (154) in the Lions’ 24-23 come-from-behind win vs. New Orleans. He sparked the Lions comeback with a 73-yard touchdown, including 65 yards after the catch, with 3:38 to play in the fourth quarter to close the gap within 6 points to 23-17.
  • Tate’s 73-yard reception was the second-longest of his career.
  • With 154 receiving yards vs. New Orleans, Tate registered 100 receiving yards in his third game this season, and he set a new career high for the most 100-yard games in a season. Prior to this season, he had three career 100-yard games, and he has now equaled that in the first seven games this season. It was his sixth career 100-yard game
  • With 10 catches against the Saints, Tate (48 receptions) became the third player in Lions history with 45+ receptions through the first 7 games of the season. He joined WR Herman Moore (49 in 1995, 55 in 1996 and 50 in 1997) and WR Brett Perriman (46 in 1995) as the only players in team history to accomplish this feat.
  • His 48 receptions are the fourth-most by a Lions player through the first seven games of the season and the most since Moore (50) in 1997.
  • He also became the fifth player with 40+ receptions through the season’s first seven games, joining Moore (1995-97 and 43 in 1998), Perriman (1995), WR Roy Williams (40 in 2007) and WR Calvin Johnson (41 in 2011; 41 in 2012).
  • With Tate’s 154 yards against New Orleans, he became the 5th Lions receiver, now with 649 yards, to reach 600+ receiving yards through the first seven games. Tate joined WR Pat Studstill (664 in 1966), Perriman 643 in 1995), Moore (612 in 1995, 723 in 1996, 716 in 1997) and WR Calvin Johnson (679 in 2011 and 638 in 2012) as the only players in team history with 600 receiving yards through the season’s first seven games.
  • Tate became the Lions first player with 150 yards in a game besides WR Calvin Johnson since RB Jahvid Best (154) vs. Philadelphia September 19, 2010. The last Lions wide receiver other than Johnson with 150 receiving yards in a game was WR Roy Williams (204) at Philadelphia September 23, 2007.

S GLOVER QUIN

  • S Glover Quin intercepted a Saints pass and returned it 23 yards in the fourth quarter with 3:10 left to play that led to the Lions’ go-ahead score as Detroit claimed a 24-23 comeback win vs. New Orleans. The interception gave the Lions the ball at the Saints 14-yard line.
  • The interception was Quin’s third interception this season, matching a career single-season high. He also had three interceptions last season for Detroit and three while with Houston in 2010.
  • This is the first time in Quin’s six-year NFL career that he has three interceptions in the first seven games of the season.

S JAMES IHEDIGBO

  • S James Ihedigbo recorded a sack (7-yard loss), 8 tackles (seven solo) and one fumble recovery in the Lions’ 24-23 comeback win against New Orleans. His fumble recovery in the second quarter gave the Lions the ball at the Saints 47-yard line and Detroit would connect on its first score (21-yard FG) of the game on the following possession.
  • Ihedigbo now has 2.5 sacks this season, which is the second-most he has tallied in his eight-year NFL career.
  • Ihedigbo’s 2.5 sacks are the most in the first four games he has played in a season.
  • Since sacks became official in 1982, Ihedigbo 2.5 sacks on the season tie for the fourth-most by a Lions defensive back with S Corey Harris (2002). Harris is also the last Lions defensive back with 2.5 sacks on the season.
  • Ihedigbo has the second-most sacks by a Lions defensive back through the season’s first seven games, trailing DB Demetrious Johnson’s 3.0 he had through seven games in 1985. Only Johnson and Ihedigbo ever had 2+ sacks by a Lions defensive back through the first seven games of a season since sacks became official in 1982.

LIONS HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL QUOTE SHEET
Opening Statement: “It was a big win for us, it’s one that as time goes on, they’ll get bigger and bigger. It was extremely important for us obviously. I think the guys did a nice job of hanging in there, we had some adversity, some of it self-inflicted and some of it the fact that we were facing a very, very good quarterback and good defense that gave you some schematic problems. For the most part, I think it probably reminds you of two things. You know the statement I always talk about to you, ‘You’re never as good as you think you are when you win and never as bad as you think you are when you lose.’ When you look at the stats, obviously it shows that we still have a lot of work to do in a lot of different areas. It kind of reminds me of a boxing match, probably in the early 80’s or so with big John Tate and Mike Weaver, it was a slugfest. Matter of fact, it went on for 14 rounds and I believe Weaver lost every single round in terms of points. Every single round was finished and all of the sudden they’d flash up the points, he was behind. In the last round he found a bit of a burst of energy and was able to knock Tate out in that last round to win a championship. We didn’t win any championship but I do think that we found a burst of energy at the end that was brought on by, obviously a defense that did a nice job in terms of limiting them when they had to, but then on offense also that moved the ball down the field and put it in the end zone when they were called upon to do so. In the last quarter I think they scored six points, they had two field goals, we had two touchdowns and I think that was obviously the difference in the game. When you can get touchdowns rather than field goals you’re going to have a chance. I think you can sense and see that we have a team that’s got some character. Obviously, we have talent but they got the wherewithal and a real desire to play hard and not give up. I commend them for that but like I said, we have a lot of work to do. So now, we have to travel over to London. The thing that I think is important to note as well is that it’s a business trip for us. It’s an opportunity for us to play a game in a different part of the world and have them experience some of the things that our fans have an opportunity to experience. But for us, it’s a business trip, it’s not a vacation. Most of us that are working are coaches and players, won’t have an opportunity to do the things that tourists normally do. But perhaps, probably some of the people that are going over there with us will have an opportunity but our business is to go over there and get ready to play certainly a hungry Atlanta team in a game that means a lot to us. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

On deciding to leave early for London: “We did, as you can imagine, a lot for research on it. We looked at the teams that had gone over late and weighed that out. The teams that go over early get acclimated, we looked at all the parameters. We have several guys on this staff that have been there. Joe’s (Lombardi) been over, Alan Williams has been over, there’s a number of guys. So, we had a lot of firsthand information and we also just researched everybody that had been over to see what they thought and try to weigh out what we thought was the best avenue.  It doesn’t fit everybody, we weighed out what fits us best. So, we’re going over early, get ourselves an opportunity to have a normal week of practice, as normal as it can be with skipping time zones, get our guys acclimated and forge ahead.”

On if they scout out the practice facilities: “Yeah, we’ve looked at every single thing, every place we’re going to stay, hotels, you could imagine. You know how this league is, very rarely leave anything to chance. We know what the practice facility looks like. Our trainers have been there already, not just recently, I’m talking about this was in the spring. Our advance men are guys that have gone over, Cedric (Saunders) and Derek (Stamnos), they’ve been over there a week now and they’ve also been over a couple times before. So, there aren’t too many things that happen in this league that just all of the sudden you say, ‘Hey guess what? We’re going to London, let’s pack up and go.’ Doesn’t happen that way, so it’s a pretty involved process.”

On getting the run game where it needs to be: I think it’s Browning’s statement, he said, ‘A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for.’ Matter of fact, I mentioned that a couple years ago in a meeting when I was dealing with a team. I was giving out bonus points, sometimes I would ask questions and make it a five dollar bonus question. So, I quoted that and no one in the room quite got it. Somebody finally toward the end Googled it. They had their iPads in the room, so they Googled it and they got it so I discounted it. After the meeting was over with, one of the guys came up to me and said, ‘You know what, I’m embarrassed to tell you this but I have that quote tattooed on my arm.’ Getting back to the point, we haven’t reached it yet but we’re striving to do so. We just have to keep working. It’s one of those things where I think we ended up running the ball sometimes pretty well where we had to, find a little crease here, Joique (Bell)did a nice job getting up the field and particularly in a couple of those drives got  us down into scoring territory. But, you know, we just haven’t been as consistent as we’d like. We haven’t blocked consistently well enough, we haven’t run it consistently well enough with the ball in our hands. There’s a number of different things. The blocking includes not only linemen, not only tight ends, the lead back or whomever it might be, but then also on the flanks as well, the receiving corps. So, all of it, we’re constantly in an evaluation mode with that trying to find out what suits us best in terms of what we do best. That’s been the struggle, so we just have to stay after it.”

On if he is concerned about the health at the tight end position: “I’m always concerned about numbers, particularly any place that we get thin within there, obviously. So, that’s a concern. But, yeah he (Pettigrew) was hobbling a bit but the effort he put forth to finish that game out was quite admirable. Those are the kind of guys we have, they’re tough, they get after it and find a way.”

On how difficult it would be to add someone today because of passports and travel issues: “It could be quite a task if you didn’t have the Tuesdays like we have. Generally, Martin Mayhew has done a tremendous job for reasons like this of kind of staying ahead of the curve if there’s anything that you have to do, we have a pool that we’ve worked with. We kind of know who the next guy in line is at a number of different spots, wherever it might be because you really don’t know until you come out of the ball game. All the little things too, you have to make sure that some of those are questions that are asked. Who knows what time of year it’s going to happen, ‘Do you have a passport?’ All those things are covered. In worst case scenario, obviously if something happened to you when you got over there you still have to fly somebody over to look or have somebody work him out here, whatever it may be. But, you have to be able to get it done.”

On if he could add someone if he needed to: “Oh yea, yes. Absolutely.”

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On if he is taking the practice squad to keep it like a normal trip: “Yes, we’re trying to make it as normal as we possibly can. It would be undoubtedly difficult for us to go over and just practice against the first and second team without having our practice squad guys which make a tremendous difference for us. You add the travel along with that kind of wear and tear on the body that’s been inordinate for any other week would put you at a real disadvantage in that regard. So yea, our practice squad guys go and they’ll help us.”

On injured players traveling: “Everyone’s in a little different category. Not everyone will go but it just depends.”

On if WR Calvin Johnson plans on making the trip: “Absolutely. He’s been with us every place we’ve gone and I thought Jen (Hale) may have been referring to guys that are on IR or something of that nature. That’s a little different category. But guys that are capable and have a chance to play, you know they’re going to be with us.”

On how much of a jump he saw from receivers such as WR Jeremy Ross, Corey Fuller and Golden Tate: “I think we’ve mentioned a few times that we had a chance to kind of see them in practice maybe a little bit more than what you see during the game time because sometimes it’s just difficult to kind of gauge and judge. Also, it’s difficult to determine exactly what you’re going to get at a given time when a route’s called. In practice you may hit the deep-post and in the game the crossing route may come open. But, the young guys, Fuller, he’s just barely scratching the surface. He’s long, he can run, he’s smart, he’s tough and obviously you can see he can go up and make plays for you as well. I think you’re just going to continue to see him get better. Obviously, his role is a bit different with Calvin not in. He’s been able to answer the bell there a little bit. Ross has made some plays for us, obviously Golden, like you mentioned, has been called upon to do a little bit more and obviously you can see I think he’s up for the task. His quickness, ability to stop and start, get extra yards, run and he had a little extra boost there at the end on third down and fourteen. That’s a heck of a play to put that thing in the end zone, was quite a feat.

On if RB Reggie Bush re-aggravated his ankle in the game: “I’m not going to talk about injuries, per se, but I can just tell you that you could see it was obvious that as the game went on he had a few issues. But he kept going in, kept trying to give us everything that he had. He’s a real pro in that regard and just kept trying to do his absolute best.”

On DE George Johnson and DE Darryl Tapp: “They’ve been extraordinary, you know, really. I mean, those guys have been not just role players but guys that have a real impact on the game. You think about Tapp last week blocking or tipping two passes and really being a factor in the run game, and you think about George, I mean, all year long he’s been able to get pressure for us. The play you’re talking about at the end, he came underneath and really got in Drew’s (Brees) throwing space and created a little bit of a short throw. Those are the kinds of things that make a difference for us, and particularly with the kind of rotation that we’ve been able to use back and forth, try to keep guys as fresh as we possibly can, to have a couple guys like that that come in and play as well as they play is great. Devin (Taylor) is the same way. He comes in and spills a guy here or there, but the production that we’re getting out of that group has been very, very good.”

On if Tate fits into the offensive scheme even better than he thought he would: “No, not better than I thought it would be. I wouldn’t say that because, obviously, if we didn’t think he could do what he’s doing, he wouldn’t be here. You watch him and he’s been able to play very, very well under any conditions that he’s been involved in if you throw the ball to him. He’s going to make plays and make some things happen. He’s been doing that since he was in college, you know? I remember Bill Polian coming back when his son was coaching at Notre Dame and Golden was young. He’d come back after watching those guys play and I think part of it was for enjoyment and part of it was actually having a chance to do a little evaluating as he was there as well. I think I knew more about Golden Tate before he graduated from college than any other player possibly. The things Bill described that he could do, you could underestimate him, but the fact of the matter is when the lights go on and as T.O. (Terrell Owens) would say, when they start selling popcorn, this guy can really make a difference for you.”

On Stafford’s progress without having Johnson in the offense: “I think he has been adjusting well. It’s not easy when one of the absolute all-time greats is no longer in your lineup and a quarterback’s been accustomed to throwing to him, so it’s going to take a bit of an adjustment. But I think he’s adjusted well when you look at how many different receivers he’s been able to spread the ball around to. I mean, he’s used it to the max in that regard. I think we have maybe six guys this week, maybe seven guys or so last week, somewhere in that area, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that he follows through on his progressions. He’s starting to trust other people as well, you know, that he has within the system and I think you’ll even see him just continue to get better. But hopefully he doesn’t have to go on much long without the big fella back.”

On what non-football activities the team will partake in in London: “We’re going to try to keep it as much like a normal week as we possibly can. Our schedule’s the same in terms of when we practice, so for coaches it’s a pretty steady work week. What we do Friday evenings and Friday afternoon, we do get a little break in the action there, so I’m not certain what I’ll do. I know have some responsibilities in terms of media and that kind of thing. I don’t have a whole lot of time, but it’s like I’m going to tell those guys that it’s going to be great to be over there and get a chance to see. I’m sure where we’re staying downtown at one of the locations, we’re fairly close to Trafalgar Square, so we may be able to see a few things there. But like I tell them, if you’re really looking for a real good time and you want to take a real, true tour of the city in Europe, win a lot more football games, you’ll have a little extra money in your pocket and you’ll be able to do so.”

On if athletes around the world will take more interest in the NFL if the league continues to play games overseas:“I’m not sure. I’m not certain if it will be quite like basketball, you know, because of the fact that basketball, they play in the youth programs and things of that nature. There’s not a whole lot of American football being played around the world outside of military bases like there used to be and those kinds of things. I know in Japan, we went over to the Japan Bowl when I was at Indy in 2005 or 2006, somewhere around there. They did have an American team over there, so they had interest. I think that’s the object in terms of the NFL trying to promote the sport, trying to get it to the point where people take a real strong interest in it. Perhaps that’s something down the line in the future, but more than likely way beyond my career.”

On the NFL adding an international franchise: “I’m sure that would be something that’s certainly going to be entertained at some point in time, you know, with the popularity of the sport. The difficulties that you have to deal with, I think some of these games are a test run for that, you know? It’s giving you a sense of what it would take and some of the issues that pop up. I think all of us that have been over, all the teams that have been over before and all of us that are going, these kinds of things have to be dealt with and worked out. Do I think it’s possible? Absolutely, I do think it’s possible. But nevertheless, it takes a little bit of a reconnaissance mission from time to time. We’re going to win a game, but also I think there are some things from an education standpoint in terms of being able to function over there on a daily basis will give them certainly an idea.”

On the positive conversations taking place between the offense and defense on the sideline: “I think that’s probably one of the most important things that takes place. The first is self-talk, what you tell yourself, and then it’s what you tell others. I think then it all of a sudden becomes contagious, but I’m a big believer in self-fulfilling prophecy. Be careful how you think, your life is shaped by your thoughts. We try and talk about those things. The mental is to the physical 10 to one. If you can’t envision it, can’t see it, it’s very, very hard for you to accomplish it. I think our guys, the great thing about it is we have those two guys you named (S Glover Quin and C Dominic Raiola) amongst others that are in every single room. You’ll find a guy with the same kind of attitude, the same kind of belief, the same kind of drive, the same kind of determination. With that, you’re always going to have a chance. It doesn’t mean you’re going to win every game, but I know one thing. When it’s all said and done, regardless of what it looks like on the scoreboard, you’ll find a bunch of guys out there still scratching and digging, trying to get it done. It’s been very, very easy for some teams to fold in a couple of those different situations, but particularly after an interception, a guy goes down, they stop him and hold him for a field goal. They let him score a touchdown in that situation, it’s a little different ball game. You’re still within striking distance, but it’s a little different game. They held them, they fought hard, still kept it within striking distance, and then both sides stepped up to help one another.

I don’t know what the score of that game was, but we were down by a considerable amount of points when I was at Indianapolis against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I just remember the date, it was October 6. I can’t remember the year because that was Tony Dungy’s birthday, that’s the only reason why I remember the date. But what happened was, we ended up scoring I don’t know how many points in a very short period of time. Most of the people in the stadium, we were playing down there in Tampa, the stadium was pretty much starting to really, really clear out. So, when we came back and we won the ball game, the great majority of the people that I know didn’t realize that we won the game. It was a Monday Night game and it was a late game, so it went way into the wee hours of the morning. Everybody saw the score, everybody went to bed and turned their televisions off. So, I kept getting all these condolences, you know, texts saying, ‘Hey, sorry about the game last night.’ If you’ve been around a little bit, you’re going to go through a few games like that, but this one was a bit different. I think this one will serve our team well down the road. Although we didn’t play as well as we’re capable of, but I think just in terms of the sheer magnitude of what it took to get it done, and particularly with some of the things we’ve been battling the last couple weeks, this is going to be a memorable victory for us and hopefully just a stepping stone.”

On how close Johnson was to playing against the Saints: “I’ll kind of repeat what I said before. You know, it’s not going to be a thing of degrees. It’s when they say he’s cleared and he’s ready to go and he’s feeling great. When the doctors give us that OK, that’s when it’s going to happen. There’s not going to be a whole lot of in-between.”

On if the secondary has been underrated so far: “To be honest with you, I think it all works hand in hand. I think pressure up front helps your coverage. I think good coverage helps your guys up front get to the passer. I think those guys have been working well in conjunction with one another. Obviously, I think the front four are playing hard and playing well, but I think those guys on the back end do a great job also. Rashean Mathis on the corner, (Darius) Slay, although there were a couple plays that he had yesterday that he’d like to have back. But other than that he’s been playing well and improving every week. I think a number of those guys have been doing a great job for us back there on the perimeter. Our defense as a whole has been good and solid, but like anything else, every week you get a challenge and we’ve got another gunslinger coming up this week. (He is) a guy who can throw the ball, has all the talent in the world and a tough scheme to handle.”

On if he saw Broncos QB Peyton Manning break the NFL touchdown record: “I sent him a text. He’s all about business, so he’ll read it, he responded back and on to the next one.”

 

Courtesy of the Detroit Lions

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