Injury-plagued Lions still adding wrinkles
Drew Stanton at quarterback and Stefan Logan at … running
With injuries mounting as the season draws to a close, the
Detroit Lions are needing to find some creative ways to move the
ball. Since taking over as a starter two games ago, Stanton has
been about as effective with his feet as with his arm.
Logan, meanwhile, carried five times for 30 yards last weekend –
not bad for a 5-foot-6, 180-pounder listed as a wide receiver who
contributes mostly as a return specialist.
”I don’t know that it’s anything that we’re inventing, but
there’s going to be times during the season where you’re going to
have to go to a little bit different way,” coach Jim Schwartz
said. ”That’s sort of where we are right now.”
The plan back in September was for Matthew Stafford to throw
sharp passes to Calvin Johnson, with rookie Jahvid Best providing
support from the backfield. Instead, Stafford hardly has played
because of a bad shoulder, and backup Shaun Hill also has been
hurt, putting Stanton in charge of the offense.
Stanton looked comfortable when he started Dec. 5 against
Chicago, throwing for 178 yards and running for a touchdown. Last
weekend, he threw two interceptions, but he remains a threat to
tuck the ball in on an occasional designed run. He ran four times
for 44 yards in Detroit’s 7-3 win over Green Bay on Sunday.
”I didn’t really know what to expect,” Stanton said. ”I think
you just focus in on the game plan throughout the course of the
week and break it down on each given play what your responsibility
is. If your number is called, then you try and do it, and if the
look’s there, take advantage of it.”
The Lions didn’t score much last weekend, but they were able to
overcome Stanton’s passing struggles by rushing for a season-high
190 yards. Best, who has been fighting a toe injury, contributed
only 38 of those yards. The other carries went to players like
Maurice Morris, Jerome Felton and Logan. Kevin Smith is on injured
Logan entered the game with only four NFL carries, although he
played tailback when he was in the Canadian Football League.
”These coaches, they’ve seen me,” Logan said. ”I’m sure
before they bring guys in, they check their bio and see what they
Logan’s flashy speed appeared to catch Green Bay off-guard, even
if he was used only sparingly at running back.
”Stefan has been an outstanding player for us this year,”
Schwartz said. ”Not only his kick coverage, not only his kick
returns and his punt returns, but his contributions on offense. We
went another step in his contributions just handing him the
football. He’s not tall, but he’s also not small. He’s short but
he’s strong and he’s played a lot of running back.”
The Lions certainly aren’t unique with their injuries. At this
time of year, any team has to be ready to adjust to account for
players who aren’t available.
Hill tried to throw a bit at practice Wednesday, but the index
finger on his throwing hand still appeared to be in a splint.
Schwartz hasn’t announced a starting quarterback for Sunday’s game
at Tampa Bay.
Aside from Stanton and Logan, the Lions are getting
contributions from other unheralded players. Defensive lineman Kyle
Vanden Bosch has been out with a neck problem, so Turk McBride has
stepped in and made three sacks over the last two games.
Johnson is having a fine season at wide receiver, but the real
discovery has been second-year tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who has
And when Detroit ran a tight end screen for its only touchdown
Sunday, Pettigrew wasn’t even on the receiving end. Instead, Will
Heller made his third catch of the season and followed his blockers
to the end zone.
”In this game, there’s going to have to be guys who step in,
maybe take a bigger role than they were expected to take, or even
take on a different role,” Hill said. ”Stefan, by and large, has
been a receiver for us in different situations. He has had to come
in and take some plays at running back, and to be able to do both
is very good for us.”