This week, the Lions’ defense will line up against a team that is leading the league in sacks allowed.
The Green Bay Packers, who have struggled with injuries along their offensive line, have allowed 20 sacks over their first four games.
Does that create a stir amongst Detroit D-linemen?
Head Coach Jim Schwartz: “There’s two sides to that. We need to put that fire out also – we gave up seven. They gave up eight. We talked about that a little bit yesterday with both teams needing to get some protection things straightened out; receivers, quarterbacks, offensive line, everybody’s responsible for allowing sacks. They had a bye week. I’m sure they’ve addressed a lot of things.”
Green Bay lost Chad Clifton to an ankle injury and Daryn Colledge to a knee injury, but both may return this week against Detroit.
Another thing to consider is that the Packers went up against one of the best defensive fronts in the league – Minnesota – in their last game in which they surrendered eight sacks.
Schwartz: “It’ll be interesting to see if they have some of their personnel back. They’ve had some injuries, particularly at the left tackle position. I don’t think it’s any extra this week just because of what happened. I think that every week you’re going to try to put pressure on the quarterback, whether you do it with four man rush, whether you do it with blitz.”
For Detroit, DE Cliff Avril is getting back into the swing of things after suffering a Week 1 hamstring injury. Avril has tallied a sack-fumble (at Chicago) and a half sack (vs. Pittsburgh with Andre Fluellen), but is still working to get the scheme fully under his belt.
Avril: “I’m still learning week-in and week-out. It’s still a constant battle. I’m getting better, I’m just trying to find my niche and do what I need to do to stay on the field.”
Avril also struggled mentally after suffering the hamstring injury.
Avril: “When you get hurt sometimes you still have it in the back of your head. Practice is usually supposed to be harder than a game, but you don’t necessarily have to chase somebody 20 yards down the field. That was my biggest fear at first, but it’s getting better. I was chasing people down (against Pittsburgh) and it felt fine.”
Speaking of injuries, the Lions’ defensive line has had its fair share. Avril is back, but starting defensive ends Dewayne White and Jason Hunter are still out with hamstring and ankle injuries, respectively.
Avril: “It’s a constant rotation. It seems like when one guy’s getting healthy another guy gets hurt. Everybody’s got to be ready to play; I think that’s the biggest thing. If you’re not a starter, you don’t get a lot of playing time anyway. It’s just all about mentally preparing and going out there and being confident.”
Avril says it’s the little things the defense has been struggling with, such as not aligning properly and allowing a hole for the opponent to run through.
But defensive leaders, such as veteran LB Larry Foote, have helped bring the defense together and will continue to do so.
Avril: “Larry’s always vocal. It’s huge to have a guy like that who’s won a Super Bowl – especially for the younger players. A guy like him, he’s won a Super Bowl, he’s been to the top. He’s been where we want to go. It’s huge for a guy like that to come out and tell you how he feels and how we need to be playing and stuff like that. It’s a big thing.”
Avril’s hoping that will help this weekend at Lambeau Field … a place he is glad to be going to in the month of October.
“It’s great not having to play there in December, but it’s still kind of nippy right now,” he said, laughing. “I mean, it’ll probably be a few more degrees colder, but I didn’t expect it to get cold this quick. But it’s definitely better to be playing them now than in December or January.”
Tags: Cliff Avril, Jim Schwartz
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