At the conclusion of the Detroit Lions Wednesday practice, the media covering the team gathered for the routine scrum with head coach Jim Schwartz before entering the team’s locker room.
As the contingent of media members entered the locker room they discovered a scarce group of players, most of whom were only passing through.
It is not unusual for a couple dozen players to be available at their lockers during the open portion of time available to media members but on Wednesday the number seemed significantly reduced.
The increased absences were not explained but may be a product of the current playoff push the team is involved in.
The Lions players are a hard working group, dedicating extra time to film study, weight training and other success-provoking activities regularly. With the added implications of a potential playoff-clinching game and opportunity of a playoff run on the immediate horizon, the concept of intensified game preparation seems feasible.
Superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson made a brief appearance at his locker and as a group of reporters approached him one requested a brief conversation.
“Sorry, I have to go lift,” said Johnson before escaping to the weight room.
The Lions know what is at stake over the season’s remaining two weeks.
They currently have the inside track on the playoffs but two losses would leave them vulnerable.
The notion of winning one game may not seem to be a daunting task but it seems more difficult when considering their opponents: the San Diego Chargers and Green Bay Packers.
“San Diego is playing great, everybody knows that,” said Lions kicker Jason Hanson. “Whatever happens in Green Bay, I haven’t won in Green Bay ever. This is for real and we have a lot to prove.”
The Chargers have a reputation for late-season winning streaks and appear to be heating up, having won their last two games by a combined score of 71-24.
If the Lions fail to beat the Chargers, their post season hopes may hinge on a trip to Lambeau Field to face the Green Bay Packers, where they haven’t won since 1991.
With the playoffs within their reach, no member of the Lions organization wants to see the opportunity slip through their fingers.
“That’s the goal, it’s right in front of us, we’ve put ourselves there,” said Hanson. “Everyone here would be distraught if we don’t come through, we think that we can, but you have to. Being on the cusp and actually doing it are two different things.”
The Lions are a decade removed from playing meaningful games this late in the season and the members of the team are relishing the opportunity.
“Here we are, two games left, and there is still a reason to be in the weight room and pushing hard and looking at film for the guys,” said Hanson.
The task of securing a playoff berth won’t be easy and will be achieved only through effort and execution.
The hard work is something every man within the locker room is embracing, as the alternative is not considered an acceptable result.
“We’d look back on the season with real disappointment if we don’t play as good as we can over the next two weeks,” said Hanson.
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