Entering training camp, a known concern plaguing the Lions was a suspect secondary.
It's still struggling to shed that tag.
In Saturday's 35-27 win against Cleveland, the first-team defense allowed Browns QB Jake Delhomme to complete 20 of his 25 attempts. The good news? Delhomme averaged 7.6 yards per completion -- three yards less than Matt Stafford's 10.8 yards per completion.
"If it's 20-of-25 and they're all 4-yard passes, not often are you going to be able to do a lot about that," said coach Jim Schwartz. "But we need to play better on defense. We didn't play our best football on defense – we need to play better. Like I said, there are some things I think they did a nice job with: the turnovers, rising up on the field goal on the opening drive – things like that."
The Lions held Cleveland to a field goal on the Browns' opening drive, employing was seemed to be a bend-but-don't-break scheme. They negated any of Cleveland's deep routes, allowing only small pass gains before the opposition had to settle for a three points.
One Browns drive appeared to stall on a 3rd and 8 early in the second quarter, but was revived on an Ndamukong Suh personal foul penalty. Two plays later, Cleveland found the end zone.
But during the Browns next offensive set, cornerback Chris Houston scooped up a Jerome Harrison fumble and returned it 14 yards for a touchdown.
"We've shown flashes of (improving)," said defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch after the game. "I think we practice well; we practice smart. We've had a lot of practices and we've gotten a lot better as a defense. Now we've just got to do it when Sunday's roll around. We've just got to keep working. That's one thing I like about this group – the defensive line – we come out there with an attitude.
"Guys are trying to get better. We know there are high expectations on us and we accept that. We have an opportunity to do something special."
The defense welcomed the return of starting safety Louis Delmas, who made his presence felt early by sniffing out and stuffing Cleveland pass on a third-down. Even after the game, Delmas said his nagging groin injury didn't appear to be a concern. "I think it was very important to finally get into a game situation with the three new guys that are back there being that they don't know my voice," he said.
In the second half, the Lions flirted with rookie Amari Spievey in the deep secondary. Typically a cornerback, Spievey had practiced last week as a safety, and saw action at the position against the Browns.
Detroit is thin at the safety position. Beyond that, Spievey hasn't exactly been what the Lions hoped for at corner when they spent a third-round pick on him.
Schwartz didn't mind Spievey's play, but noted a couple of mistakes by the Iowa product.
"He got halfway in between going for the hit or going for the pick and if he just goes for the hit, that guy never comes down in bounds," said Schwartz of a Browns' completion in the third quarter. "That's something that comes from experience. He's been a safety for just a few days on a short week, so I don't want to read too much into that. I thought he did a nice job tackling – it's alignments and also needing a lot of work.
"We knew that was going to be the case going in, but we also wanted to play him quite a bit to get him out there and get him exposed to that stuff. The only way he's going to learn is getting out there and playing."