Decimated Lions defense prepares for Vikings

Ndamukong Suh

Not having suspended Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh available Sunday is starting to look like the least of the Lions' concerns. Counting Suh, the team could be without as many as six key defensive contributors against the Vikings.

Not having suspended Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh available Sunday is starting to look like the least of the Lions' concerns. Counting Suh, the team could be without as many as six key defensive contributors against the Vikings.

Left cornerback Chris Houston and free safety Louis Delmas, both starters, are likely to miss their second straight game. Both are fighting similar knee injuries and haven't been able to practice. It is believed - though the team will not confirm this - that both have slight MCL tears.

If that is so, they could be out at least another week beyond this one.

On top of that, defensive end Lawrence Jackson (thigh) will miss his fourth straight game and could soon be ticketed for injured reserve.

Rookie defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who would start in Suh's spot, is still hobbled and unable to practice because of a left foot injury.

At practice Wednesday, starting outside linebacker Justin Durant injured a hamstring and was unable to practice Thursday or Friday. Listed as questionable, he is considered day-to-day.

"We're going to get them all back, it's just a matter of when," coach Jim Schwartz said. "We don't have anybody, other than Lawrence Jackson, that is more long term. We aren't putting any of them on IR and all those guys are expected back.

"All of them are making progress and all of them are doing well. Whether they are going to be available this week, it's really too early to say."

Fairley, who wore a protective boot on his surgically-repaired foot the last couple of days, didn't look or sound too optimistic. He was listed as questionable on Friday's injury report.

"It's just day to day," he said. "They told me this was going to happen, that I was going to have some good days and some bad days. I am just going to have to deal with it."

Schwartz said on Wednesday that the team's medical staff didn't believe Fairley would need additional surgery.

"What (the doctors) said was the only way for it to get back to 110 percent was to rest it and stay off it," Fairley said. "That's not an option right now. I will just have to put up with it the rest of the season."

As of the end of practice Thursday, the Lions hadn't brought in any other defensive players. As it stands, Sammie Hill would start at tackle in Suh's spot and Andre Fluellen would be the only reserve.

Starter Corey Williams continues to play through a nagging calf injury.

"We do have more injuries on the defensive side than the offensive side, but that's life in the NFL," Schwartz said. "It's Game 13 and you are going to have situations that come up. It doesn't take away what we have to do on the field. Everybody on the field is expected to play and play well."

SERIES HISTORY: 101st regular-season meeting. Vikings lead series, 66-32-2. Even though the Lions have won the last two, the Vikings have won 16 of the last 19. The Lions haven't swept a season series since 1997 and are 2-7 against them at Ford Field. In the 100 games played between these two teams, only two have gone beyond regulation and the Lions prevailed in both - 20-17 in 2007 and 26-23 in Week 3 this season.

Notebook:

  • Stafford reacts to Allen's comment - QB Matthew Stafford reacted to a slight verbal jab from Vikings DE Jared Allen. Allen said that Stafford can get rattled - as was demonstrated when the Vikings put pressure on him in the first half of the game in Week 3 and by what the Bears did to him (five interceptions). "That's kind of their weakness," Allen said. "If you can chink that armor a little bit, we've seen that they can get rattled." Stafford chuckled. "That's Jared being Jared," he said. "Everybody that plays against any offense says, 'Hey, we're just going to rush four guys and hit the quarterback every play and play Cover-2 behind it.' That's a coordinator's dream. It's pretty easy if you can do that and that's what they are best at. Last game I got hit a lot early and gave up a couple of sacks. But we still had a pretty good day." Point delivered: How rattled could Stafford have been if he was able to rally the Lions from a 20-0 deficit, completing 32 of 46 passes for 378 yards and two touchdowns?
  • WR Nate Burleson told radio station WXYT-1270 Wednesday that he was fined $7,500 for a facemask penalty Sunday. The NFL won't release fine information until Friday. It is likely that Young and Pettigrew will also be fined.
  • Schwartz, in a sense, defended troubled DT Ndamukong Suh this week, saying he felt there was too much of a "microscope" on him. Suh, who will serve the second game of his two-game suspension Sunday, was involved in a single-car automobile accident earlier this week in his hometown of Portland, Ore. There were no serious injuries and he was not ticketed. Police have closed the case. "We just worry about him on the field," Schwartz told a local radio station. "Ndamukong is a hard-working guy; he hasn't had any kind of issues with the law, including this one. Let's worry about him on the field and those things, get him back playing well."
  • Last week the Saints covered WR Calvin Johnson like he was a gunner on a punt coverage team. They pressed him with two defensive backs at the line of scrimmage. Schwartz said the Lions need to continue to make defenses pay for that kind of attention. "I think everybody from the beginning has keyed on Calvin Johnson; he is hard to hide," Schwartz said. "Particularly in the New Orleans game this week, they tried their very best to double him on every single play. He still made his plays, but we also had production out of a lot of other guys -- we got a lot of catches out of a lot of different guys. It opened up a lot of stuff underneath. I don't know if you noticed some of the screen passes, the check downs, there was a lot of room in there because of Calvin Johnson and the respect that they had for him. Again that is something we deal with every week and there is a fine line of getting him the ball and also making throws that don't make sense."
  • BY THE NUMBERS: 14.5 - Sacks by Vikings DE Jared Allen.
  • 13 - Sacks by Lions starting defensive ends.
  • QUOTE TO NOTE: "If a guy's national nickname is Megatron, unless you got Optimus Prime on your team let's double him up." -- Vikings DE Jared Allen on how he would defend Lions WR Calvin Johnson.

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