Game Plan: Lions Cannot Fall Behind (Again)

The Lions cannot do what they did Sunday at New Orleans. They cannot fall behind. They cannot fail to run the ball and control the clock. They must support rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford and keep the Vikings' offense off the field. More inside as Detroit game plans for Minnesota ...

The Lions cannot do what they did Sunday at New Orleans. They cannot fall behind. They cannot fail to run the ball and control the clock. They must support rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford and keep the Vikings' offense off the field.

The more Stafford throws, the greater chances he will make mistakes. The more Adrian Peterson is on the field, the greater chances he will put up huge rushing numbers against a suspect defense.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Lions run defense, which allowed 143 yards to Saints backup running back Mike Bell on Sunday, vs. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 180 yards and three touchdowns at Cleveland. The Lions had trouble with linebacker misaligning at New Orleans. They must get their fits correct, and they must find a way to get to Peterson before he gets started. If they can hit him at the line of scrimmage or before, if they can at least make him turn his shoulders and not charge north and south, they might have a chance to limit the damage.

Lions QB Matthew Stafford, who threw three interceptions in his NFL debut Sunday, vs. Vikings CB Antoine Winfield, who likely will be matched up against WR Calvin Johnson. Stafford threw 13 passes for Johnson and completed only three. He's going to keep targeting him. Winfield will have a chance to make plays, especially if Jared Allen and Co. can put heat on Stafford and make him get rid of the ball too quickly.

Personnel Moves:

The Lions released defensive tackle Orien Harris, apparently to make room for defensive end Turk McBride, whom they reportedly claimed off waivers from Kansas City.

Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham worked for the Chiefs when they drafted McBride in the second round in 2007. The Chiefs switched to a 3-4 defense this year, and McBride didn't fit as an outside linebacker. But the Lions desperately need to upgrade their defensive line.

INJURY IMPACT: The severity of defensive end Cliff Avril's hamstring injury is unknown.

Individual Notes:

  • DE Cliff Avril did not practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury. The severity is unknown.
  • DE Andre Fluellen was limited Wednesday because of a knee problem.
  • DT Grady Jackson was limited Wednesday because of a knee problem, but he has been dealing with it since having surgery in the off-season. He is expected to play Sunday against Minnesota.
  • CB Will James was limited Wednesday because of a foot problem.
  • CB Eric King was limited Wednesday because of a shoulder problem.
  • CB Phillip Buchanon was not listed on the injury report, and is expected to play this week. He did not play Sunday at New Orleans after being limited in practice by a neck problem last week.
  • Kicker Jason Hanson said he is close to 100 percent after being at less than full power at New Orleans. His first kickoff was only average and was returned 42 yards. The Saints took advantage of the short field and took a 7-0 lead.

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