Raiola fires back at unnamed GM’s criticism

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Criticism comes in many forms for NFL teams with playoff expectations who start 1-3.

For the Detroit Lions, the latest was delivered by an anonymous NFL general manager’s quotes in a story in Pro Football Weekly.

The GM reportedly had particularly negative words for coach Jim Schwartz, general manager Martin Mayhew, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and defensive end Cliff Avril.

Lions center Dominic Raiola took it all very personal.

“If they had any balls, they’d say who they were,” Raiola said of the anonymous GM.  “That’s kind of like a coward statement to me. Anonymous, that’s kind of whack.

“That fires me up. That’s taking a shot at the Lions organization. That ain’t right. I’m going to say F ‘em. I can’t say the word. But I’ll say F ‘em.

“If you don’t take that personal, you’re in the wrong place. They (Schwartz and Mayhew) work hard putting the right talent on the field. They bust their ass doing this.

“It’s on us to have their back. The best way to have their back is on the field.”

The Lions take a three-game losing streak into Sunday’s game at Philadelphia.

Schwartz was considerably more subdued than Raiola when he was told about the GM quotes.

“Anonymous? I can’t comment on anonymous things,” Schwartz said. “We’re 1-3. That’s the thing we are right now. We need to go win.

“We’re judged on winning in this league. We’re not judged on popularity contests or what somebody says in cloak of anonymity.

“We’re judged by the number of games we win over the course of 16 games. We’re a 1-3 team that’s looking for a win. That’s enough for us right now.”

As for the GM’s direct quotes, here are a few examples:

• “They are not as close (to being a Super Bowl contender) as people have tried to make it seem.”

• “They don’t have enough good players, and the players they think are good are not that good.”

• “Suh belongs on the All-Hype team.”

• “Avril is not that good — put on any game and you can watch him get blocked time and time again.”

• On Schwartz and Mayhew: “They’re both overrated.”

BEST RETURN?

Running back Jahvid Best, who hasn’t played in nearly a year following a concussion, is eligible to return to practice next week.

First, he’s expected to undergo a series of tests this week to determine whether he will be cleared for contact.

“He’s going through some return-to-play protocol,” Schwartz said. “Those aren’t done by the people here. Those are done by independent neurologists.”

Best hasn’t been allowed to practice, but he does work out regularly with trainers.

“He’s in better shape now than when he was a rookie,” Schwartz said. “He’s physically stronger. He’s smarter in our scheme. He’s done a really good job being in the meetings. He’s more flexible than he’s been.

“This isn’t a guy who’s been on vacation the last couple months. This guy’s worked extremely hard.”

Best, who is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, would be eligible to make his season debut Oct. 22 in a Monday Night game at Chicago if he’s cleared by doctors.

“We try not to get ahead of ourselves,” Schwartz said. “He’s doing what he can. When he gets clearance then he’ll be back.”
 
EXTRA POINTS

Avril, who injured his back against Minnesota on Sept. 30, returned to practice Tuesday.
“I’m feeling good,” he said. “I’m ready to get rolling.”

… Tight end Brandon Pettigrew didn’t practice because of an undisclosed injury. Schwartz called Pettigrew’s status “day-to-day.”