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

62 catches.

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.”