ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The spotlight is going to be on the Detroit Lions’ special teams for the near future.
Every mistake will be magnified because of the two punt returns and two kick returns allowed for touchdowns in a recent two-game stretch.
This week’s goat is return specialist Stefan Logan, who muffed a punt on a fair catch at the Detroit 27-yard line early in the second half of Monday’s 13-7 loss at Chicago.
Logan also muffed another punt earlier in the game, but he was fortunate the ball bounced off his foot and went out of bounds.
The Lions drafted two other return specialists over the last couple years — receivers Titus Young and Ryan Broyles — but coach Jim Schwartz indicated during his Tuesday news conference that there are no plans to make a change right now.
“We’re still confident in Stefan,” Schwartz said. “He’s also made a lot of plays for us. Just last week, he sparked us with a big return (48-yard punt return at Philadelphia).
“Those guys (Young and Broyles) are certainly capable, but we haven’t lost any faith in Stefan Logan.”
Logan ranks 11th in the NFL with a 9.3-yard average on punt returns. His 21.6-yard average on kick returns does not rank him in the top 25.
Schwartz said that Logan needs to make better decisions at times.
“I think that’s a big thing with Stefan,” Schwartz said. “Logan can make plays for us. He’s a very good returner. But there’s also a fine line there between being overaggressive and trying to make something out of a situation that might be better off with a fair catch or better off with a touchback.
“I think that’s just as important as ball security with him.” BURLESON INJURY
The Lions not only lost their top slot receiver, they lost one of their best leaders when 10-year NFL veteran Nate Burleson suffered a season-ending broken leg.
“We’ll be able to replace Nate as a player,” Schwartz said. “But Nate brings more than just his physical abilities to the field. Nate’s a very good leader, a very good guy in the locker room. He’ll still be around, but we need to also pick that up on the practice field and in the locker room.”
Broyles, a second-round draft pick last April, could benefit the most from Burleson’s absence.
He made the first three catches of his NFL career, including a last-minute touchdown, after Burleson went down in Monday’s game.
Broyles underwent major knee surgery last November, but he appears ready to take on the increased workload.
“I think after the bye week (two weeks ago), we never even considered him an injured guy anymore,” Schwartz said. “We haven’t limited his practice time. He very rarely even wears a sleeve out on his knee to practice. We just view him as one of the other guys.”
MARSHALL CALLS OUT SUH
Chicago coach Lovie Smith didn’t have a problem with the violent hit that Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh put on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. Neither did Cutler, who suffered bruised ribs.
But Cutler’s top receiver, Brandon Marshall, went on Twitter with a couple messages directed at Suh.
“What u did to Jay wasn’t cool,” Marshall tweeted. “Great players don’t have to do that.”
His other message read: “Something I’ve learned and now passing down to you. Succeed with character.”
On costly fumbles by running backs Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell: “You never want to tell a guy, ‘Don’t fight for yardage,’ but you have to be ball secure. There is a fine line there. You certainly don’t want to slow guys down from being aggressive. But particularly in the red zone, ball security is more important than that extra half yard.”
On whether quarterback Matthew Stafford has regressed this year: “I wouldn’t say he’s regressed. I think that as an offense, we’re working through some things right now. We’re not clicking on all cylinders, but we can. We have the firepower to do it. Matt’s certainly capable.”
Safety Amari Spievey is out indefinitely following another concussion. It is reportedly the fourth of his career. He also suffered one in the playoff game last January, which led to ongoing concussion symptoms throughout the off-season.