Lions receive break at Packers’ expense

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – The Detroit Lions haven’t been making enough breaks for themselves this season.

This week, they’re getting a big one at the expense of the opponent.

Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy announced Wednesday that standout linebacker Clay Matthews won’t be available for Sunday’s game against the Lions because of a hamstring injury he suffered in Green Bay’s Week 9 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

It’s another in a long series of injuries that have hampered the Packers throughout the season.

Matthews is one of the top candidates for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year honors. He has 40 tackles, including a team-high nine sacks, in nine games.

“I don’t think you could ever measure what Clay Matthews means to your football team,” McCarthy said. “He’s clearly one of the best defensive players in the game in my opinion. He’s a dynamic player.”

The Packers also are without other key players such as cornerback Charles Woodson, receiver Greg Jennings and offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga.

Nevertheless, Green Bay (6-3) brings a four-game winning streak into Ford Field.

“You don’t gain anything spending a whole lot of time talking about it,” McCarthy said of the injury woes. “Our team understands that. We do have experience in these situations.
“We just try to play to our strengths. You get to a point in the season where you identify who you are. We’re a 6-3 football team that’s had some adversity whether it’s medically or some games that we feel probably got away from us. You’ve got to learn from those situations and apply it.

“We’re just about winning and growing each week. It doesn’t get much fancier than that.”


The Lions’ constantly changing secondary is adding some much-needed size at cornerback.

Drayton Florence (6-foot, 193 pounds) is expected to return from the injured list for Sunday’s game.

Pat Lee (6-foot, 200 pounds) was acquired earlier this week after being put on waivers by Oakland.

The Lions’ other cornerbacks weigh in the range of 175 to 185 pounds.

Florence has missed the last seven games following surgery for a broken forearm.

“He’s worked very hard to come back,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “He’s been a good player for a long time. We’ve missed him these last eight weeks.”

The Lions will have to make a roster move before Sunday for Florence to play.

Meanwhile, Lee’s availability was a little surprising. He had started seven games for the Raiders.

But to make room for another player to come off injured reserve, Oakland decided to get rid of him.

“It was very crazy,” Lee said. “I really don’t want to get into that.”

Lee politely called it a “numbers situation.”

“I had an opportunity there and I got a lot of good film,” he said. “I appreciate that.”

Asked if he was surprised by the move, Lee said, “Kinda, sorta. It’s a business. Can’t really say much.”

It remains to be seen whether Lee will be able to catch up on the Lions’ system fast enough to be in uniform for the Green Bay game.

He replaces Alphonso Smith, who was released Monday.

“It’s very rare that those guys become available (in November),” Schwartz said, pointing out that Lee is a veteran who has size and can contribute on special teams. “That was a good get for us, especially at this point in the year.”

Lee, 28, was a second-round draft pick by Green Bay in 2008. He appeared in 32 games for the Packers from 2008-11, missing all of ’09 because of a knee injury.

Asked whether he might be able to help his new teammates with a scouting report on the Packers, Lee said with a laugh, “I’ll be talking to these guys.”


Defensive end Cliff Avril, who suffered a concussion last Sunday, apparently will be ready to play.

“If I still had a concussion, I wouldn’t be talking to y’all,” Avril said. “I feel fine. I feel great.”

Safety Erick Coleman missed Wednesday’s practice.
“He got poked in the eye,” Schwartz said. “He had a headache. He looks like he went through a championship fight.”

Three days after the game, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was officially credited with a sack in the Lions’ loss at Minnesota. The play was originally ruled as a rushing attempt by Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder.