Houston misses first day of Lions’ mandatory mini-camp

Chris Houston underwent surgery for a toe injury a few weeks ago.

Kevin Hoffman

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Injured cornerback Chris Houston continues to be absent from the Detroit Lions’ off-season program.

Houston, coming off a poor performance last season, underwent surgery for a toe injury a few weeks ago.

Other players who are rehabbing injuries — Joique Bell, Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, etc. — have been attending recent practices, but Houston even missed Tuesday, the first day of the team’s mandatory mini-camp.

"He’s been excused," coach Jim Caldwell said.

When asked how Houston can keep up with the team’s implementation of the new coaching staff’s defensive scheme, Caldwell responded, "He hasn’t been here. How does he keep up?"

Caldwell added: "We understand. When he gets back, or whatever happens, we’ll work it out at that time. He was not expected to be here. He is right where he’s supposed to be at this point in time. It’s where we expected him to be."

After this three-day mini-camp, the Lions will be off until the regular training camp opens in late July.

OFFENSE STRIKES BACK

The defense, for the most part, has handled the offense during the practices that have been open to the media this off-season.

The players aren’t in full pads, but they do typically go through an 11-on-11 drill, and the offense has had its problems.

That changed Tuesday.

The offense had a much better day, including quarterback Matthew Stafford connecting with Calvin Johnson on a post route for a big gain.

"It’s a new offense," Johnson said. "It’s week nine or 10 for us. Guys are really getting things down. We’re having less and less mental errors out there."

Caldwell wouldn’t be surprised if the defense comes back strong and regains the edge on Wednesday.

"The other team goes in, they look at their mistakes, they have pride, they’re competitive," Caldwell said. "You see it flip-flop."

Either way, Caldwell won’t be satisfied.

"A head coach never has a good day," he said. "When the offense does well, I’m worried about the defense. When the defense does well, I’m worried about the offense.

"It’s kind of been back and forth, which I think has been healthy and competitive."