ALLEN PARK -- The Detroit Lions are an organized bunch.
When attending a training camp practice, it is easy to forget that there are 90 players on the field, many fractioned into smaller groups, doing positional work.
One would imagine this would create the appearance of disorganization but that is not the case.
At the sound of a fog horn, each player knows exactly where to be, quickly moving. Even the employees responsible for moving equipment, film and Gatorade have an assigned task that they handle with fleet feet and without hesitation.
The attention to detail is evident.
Walking into the Lions locker room also re-enforces this notion. As a large white board in the middle of the room comprehensively details the day’s activities, with specific times associated with each one.
Every player on the team is expected to be aware of their responsibilities at all times.
“It starts with, you have to be here on time,” said defensive end Cliff Avril. “There is a consequence to everything that you do and you hold everybody accountable for the actions that go on, on and off the field. I think that just makes us a better team, in general, just having that discipline.”
The responsibilities extend from the simple action of being on time and range from knowing where to go on the practice field when the horn blows as well as knowing which assignment you are responsible for during live action.
The Lions must ensure there is a sharp attention to detail amongst the team as much of what they do relies on it.
“You have to know in your mind ... I have this responsibility," explained linebacker Justin Durant. "You have to pay attention to small details ... because just by formation, you could have a completely different assignment.”
The coverage specific assignment is just a small example of the need for unwavering focus for all players on the team.
There is also practice time dedicated to situational drills as well as meeting time dedicated to understanding what to do and when to do it.
“I think (head coach) Jim (Schwartz) does a great job of going over every situation,” said center Dominic Raiola. “We go over two-minute drill in-depth, end of the game four-minute drill, what happens at the end of the half, what happens with last play of the game. Both offensively and defensively, special teams situations, when to take a safety, just different things. He’s pretty thorough on covering every situation that can come up.”
The Lions coaching staff, led by Schwartz, are sticklers for details. There is a low tolerance for mental mistakes and they are very vocal when one occurs.
“Jim leaves no stone unturned and he covers everything,” added Raiola.
The Lions are preparing to enter 2012 with the tall task of competing for a playoff spot in a competitive conference and ultra competitive division.
It probably doesn't hurt that they appear well-prepared -- from the water cooler to the playbook.