Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch didn't like the term "reclamation."
It was suggested that the Lions' mission this week, as much as any, was trying to reclaim its footing in the NFC wild-card race as well as reclaiming its image as a tough, clean, hard-playing team.
"I don't know about reclamation," he said. "We still have everything in front of us – all our goals that we set out for ourselves. Essentially, our playoffs start this week. We are neck and neck with a bunch of teams, so this is a must-win if we want to keep our playoff hopes alive."
It seems like it runs deeper than that. Going back to foolish post-whistle fouls against right tackle Gosder Cherilus and right guard Stephen Peterman in Week 1, to coach Jim Schwartz' on-field woofing with Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant to his post-game verbal shot at Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, to his handshake dust-up with 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, to a tunnel scuffle before the game against Atlanta, to the team's open mocking of Denver quarterback Tim Tebow, to Ndamukong Suh's stomp on Thanksgiving Day, to the three post-whistle fouls last Sunday in New Orleans – the Lions have earned themselves a nasty reputation.
They have gone from a 5-0 rising power in the NFC to a 7-5 team melting in its own immaturity and lack of discipline. Whether the officials are watching their actions with a more wary eye is debatable – though they were flagged 11 times Sunday and several calls were touchy – but it is clear that opponents are exploiting their hot-headedness.
"I certainly don't think that's the case with officials," Schwartz said. "Officials officiate what they see. But as far as other teams pushing the issue, that's a reality in the NFL and that's something the last two weeks we haven't done a good job responding to."
Schwartz vowed after the game Sunday that selfish acts – players who take post-whistle penalties – will lose playing time. But when pressed on the issue Wednesday, Schwartz didn't make any promises.
"I've never said anything about zero-tolerance," he said. "We're going to do everything we can to win the football game and stay on the right track as a team."
In the early part of Wednesday's practice, Rashied Davis appeared to be working ahead of wide receiver Titus Young, who along with kick returner Stefan Logan and tight end Brandon Pettigrew committed the personal fouls on Sunday.
"Look, we've moved on to the Minnesota Vikings," Schwartz said. "We're here to win football games and to do nothing else. We're going to do whatever we can to win games. Guys that hurt the team aren't going to be available to do things like that. We're going to do everything we can to win the game."
Schwartz has spoken privately to the team captains and the captains have carried his message to the players. Whether the message sinks in, that remains to be seen.
"I don't know that it's a reflection of the leadership or the coaching," Vanden Bosch said. "I think the mistakes are on the individual. Guys need to understand that you can't do things because you feel you've been wronged (on the field) and go after guys. You have to understand that has an effect on what we're doing as a team.
"We are an aggressive team and we have a history of not backing down. We need to understand that's what we are – a physical, aggressive team. But we need to handle that between the whistles."
Defensive tackle Nick Fairley was walking around the practice facility Wednesday with a protective boot on his injured left foot – not an encouraging sight. Coach Jim Schwartz said that wasn't an indication of any damage beyond what x-rays showed after the game Sunday – no new fractures. "He was available to finish that game but he wasn't able to," Schwartz said. "He was available, but he was too sore and not moving very well. We'll see how it goes through this week. Like we said, the x-rays looked good and he was playing very well in that first quarter."
Fairley's rookie season has been stunted by the broken foot he sustained early in training camp. It's been nearly four months since the surgery and it's still causing him pain. Schwartz was asked if he thought Fairley would require more surgery on the foot after the season. "I don't think that's on our radar," he said.
Lions look to erase undisciplined reputation
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