One of the most productive offseason pickups by the Lions has apparently gone unnoticed by fans outside the greater Detroit area. How else do you explain that Stefan Logan, who leads the NFL in kickoff returns (28.8 yards per return) and is fourth in punt returns (12.0) isn't even among the top five in the Pro Bowl balloting for NFC kick returners?
"Names, that's all it is," Logan said, by way of explanation.
"Those guys have big names," said Logan, who was claimed from the Steelers before the season. "If they look at the stats as far as kick returners go, I'm No. 1 and I am No. 4 in punt returns. If people look at that and that's how they grade it, then I will go. But if they go off names, then, you know, I give a lot of credit to all of those guys. They are all nice kick returners."
What matters most to Logan is that he knows his coaches and teammates respect him and are doing all they can to get him the recognition he deserves.
"These guys here are pulling for me," he said. "They know what they've got. When we play other teams, they know that I am coming to play every day. We all are. But these guys in here are blocking their tails off for me."
Coach Jim Schwartz no longer classifies Logan as a "returner."
"He's a football player," Schwartz said. "There is only a small percentage of players who return both punts and kicks, and there's even a smaller percentage of guys who return kicks and cover kicks."
Schwartz uses Logan on coverage units, where he often draws two blockers. He has used him as a receiver. And, beginning last week, he lined up in the backfield and gained 30 yards on five carries.
"That was a real good acquisition for us," Schwartz said. "He's having an outstanding year. I mean, he's worthy, when the times come, for Pro-Bowl consideration."
- Coach Jim Schwartz did not name a starting quarterback on Friday, and back-up Shaun Hill (broken finger) is listed as "questionable" for Sunday's contest. Logic dictates that it's likely the Lions will go with Hill, considering the team's offensive struggles under third-stringer Drew Stanton.
Hill has missed the last two weeks.
"I am going to do everything I can throughout the week to see where we are," Hill said. "I am certainly trying (to be ready Sunday)."
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan indicated that Hill would start if his health allows.
"If Shaun wakes up Sunday feeling like it's close to 100-percent... and it's getting there," he said.
Hill, with the finger still heavily taped, did not take any snaps Wednesday or Friday, and he threw mostly short passes while media members were allowed to watch. He did have some zip on the ball. Drew Stanton, who started the last two games, took most of the reps with the first team all week.
"Just like with any other player, (Hill) needs to be able to do his job on the field, and he needs to not be at risk to making a current injury worse," Schwartz said. "He has to pass both of those tests before we'd bring him back."
Hill suffered a similar injury when he played for San Francisco. He said he had to retrain himself to throw without putting any pressure on the finger. He's in the process of doing that again.
"I was attempting to do that (Wednesday)," he said. "Maybe you can use (the finger) on a limited basis, but there needs to be some consistency with it. I can't use it on some throws and not on others. That's when it starts looking pretty ugly. I am trying to train my body to do the same thing every time."
Hill said he's not going to have full use of the finger for the rest of the season.
Stanton, who started the last two games, said he doesn't expect to know if he's starting until the weekend.
"That doesn't change how we approach the game as quarterbacks," he said. "I am aware that I am still the third guy, and if Shaun or Matt (Stafford) can come back, they will play. But I am preparing like I'm going to be the guy until I am told otherwise."
- SERIES HISTORY: 53rd regular-season meeting. Lions lead series 27-25. The Bucs have won five of the last seven. The Lions' last win in Tampa Bay was in 2000. The teams met once in the playoffs, with the Bucs taking a 20-10 win in 1997. The series is memorable, though, for a couple of Barry Sanders highlights. In 1997, he became the first player in NFL history to break two runs of 80-plus yards in the same game. In 1994, he set a franchise record with 237 yards against the Bucs, gaining 200 in the second half.
- BY THE NUMBERS: 18 -- Losses by 10 or more points during the 26-game road losing streak.
- 800 -- Points given up during the 26-game road losing streak. The Lions' last road win came on Nov. 11, 2007.
- QUOTE TO NOTE: "There's a lot of things that go into being a good team. Winning games within your division is one. Being a good home team and being a team that can win on the road, being a team that can win in a lot of different environments and situations, indoor, outdoor, December, September -- all those different things come up. And winning on the road is something that we still need to learn how to do." -- Coach Jim Schwartz.