Lions won’t mail it in

The Detroit Lions’ shot a postseason berth ended with a loss to

the New York Giants. Their players said not to expect them to go

through the motions when they end the regular season on Sunday.

The Lions (7-8) visit Minnesota, and even though both teams are

playing their final games, Detroit expects the Vikings to be ready

in the final NFL game at Mall of America Field.

”They’re going to be ready,” guard Rob Sims said. ”Even

though they’ve been out of it for a while. This is still a

professional league and you still do what you’re paid to do.”

Lions players remained upbeat days after Detroit missed a chance

to keep playoff hopes alive. The 23-20 overtime loss to New York

means Chicago and Green Bay will play a winner-take-all game Sunday

for the NFC North title.

Defensive end Israel Idonije, a 10-year veteran, said he and

others know changes are coming.

”Players come, players go,” he said. ”This game is full of

transition. You just hope that transition is limited.

”We still have a game to play.”

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he recently addressed his job

status with his players. Frazier’s job could be on the line after

Minnesota (4-10-1) followed last season’s playoff appearance with a

last-place finish in the division.

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, however, did not share any

concerns about his job security.

”He didn’t say anything,” receiver Nate Burleson said. ”It’s

business as usual.

”We still have a game to play and we need focus on that. That’s

what he said. We get paid to play football. It’s not our job to

worry about what will happen.”

It’s been widely speculated Schwartz will be fired next week.

The Lions started the season 6-3 but lost five of their next six

games to fall out of playoff contention. Schwartz guided the Lions

to a wild-card appearance after the 2011 season, his third, but

Detroit followed with a 4-12 performance that included a

season-ending eight-game losing streak in 2012.

Burleson said the Lions are eager to make a strong impression in

the season finale.

”It would look even worse to people that still are following

this team if we went to Minnesota and mailed it in,” he said.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org