Mane Line: Lions prepare for Atlanta run game

Lions insider Mike Mady gets the scoop from the players (and coach) inside Detroit's locker room, including: Nate Burleson shares the secret to unhinging Detroit's offense; Jim Schwartz doesn't want excuses; and the team prepares for Falcons running back Michael Turner.

Stopping the run

The Lions have struggled against the run at times this year, including allowing a 100-yard rusher in each of the last two contests.  

During Wednesday morning’s practice session, the Lions focused on stopping the run during individual position drills – primarily in the back-seven.

Part of the drills may have been to correct previous mistakes but more importantly, the team is preparing for running back Michael Turner, who has a strong combination of speed and powerful downhill running.

“Michael Turner is one of the best in the league,” said Chris Houston, who played one season with Turner in Atlanta.   “Atlanta’s plan is to pound the ball and then go over the top for touchdowns and go deep.”

Getting in a rhythm

The Detroit Lions’ offense is coming off of their worst offensive performance of the season, scoring only 19 points against the San Francisco 49ers.  

The poor performance followed three contests where the offense got off to less-than-desirable starts.  

The slow starts were particularly evident in matchups against the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings, when the team scampered to double-digit, first-half deficits.  

Wide receiver Nate Burleson feels like there is a solution – establishing a rhythm.

“It’s about getting the rhythm in the passing game because it’s one of our strengths,” said Burleson.  “Getting Calvin started early and everyone else just complement him.”

He even offered an analogy to his point.

“I kind of relate our offense to a really good shooting guard,” said Burleson.  “We got to get the ball in the hoop early and the rhythm will carry you throughout four quarters.  So for us, we have to get the ball in the playmaker’s hands, move the chains and get that adrenaline going and continue that for four quarters.”

No Excuses

The NFL has admitted to incorrectly spotting the ball on Ted Ginn Jr.’s punt return directly proceeding the San Francisco 49ers game winning drive against the Lions, according to an article by NBC Sports.

The ball was spotted incorrectly by five yards, in the 49ers favor.  They eventually scored the game-winning touchdown – by inches – on a fourth-down play.

Head coach Jim Schwartz was asked if he had anyone that watches out for that kind of thing.

“Yeah, the officials,” he responded.

Still, no one on the team – including Schwartz – was making excuses for the loss.

“Yeah, it’s an unfortunate thing,” said Schwartz.  “They do their very best, but obviously sometimes things happen… I don’t think it affected the outcome of the game; we were still fourth-and-5 with a chance to stop them and we grind out most of the rest of the clock, and have a chance to finish that game, and we didn’t get that done.”

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