Notebook: Rush defense tops Lions' concerns

Lions coach Jim Schwartz got a taste of what Adrian Peterson could do last year when the Vikings were in Tennessee. Peterson is off to a much better start this year, but Schwartz's new team is struggling to stop the run. Could it be another impressive showing for Peterson when he faces the Lions on Sunday?

Lions coach Jim Schwartz was concerned about his rushing defense after it surrendered 143 yards to Saints running back Mike Bell. Imagine how Schwartz is feeling this week while trying to prepare for Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

"I had my fill of him last year," said Schwartz, who was the defensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans last year when Peterson ran for 80 yards on 18 carries in the middle of a three-game streak without 100 yards. "I remember saying after getting done playing him, ‘Whew, now I don't have to see him for another three years.' Then, obviously, got this job and have to face him twice a year now. So that is something that is obviously going to get your attention."

Peterson's 180-yard performance last week in Cleveland caught Schwartz's attention. Peterson rushed for 103 yards in his previous two season openers and was held to 25 yards in the first half of the Cleveland game before going to the locker room and getting fluids intravenously.

"I thought Cleveland did a good job, particularly early in that game, of bottling him up. Adrian Peterson isn't a back that you can bottle up 9 out of 10 times. Because that 10th time he can go 75 yards for a touchdown or 67 or whatever it is. He is big, he is strong, he has great vision, and he has great speed. All those things combine together. There are not many backs in the league that are the total package like that, and he certainly is."

Vikings quarterback Brett Favre took it another step when talking to Detroit reporters on Wednesday.

"I mean no disrespect to any running back, whether I played with him or didn't. He's in the early stages of his career and barring any injuries or anything, this guy can be as good as any running back that's every played," Favre said. "I've seen it first hand, either playing against him, but more so playing with him here the last few weeks. It's just unbelievable what he can do."

That's why Schwartz's comments after being asked what concerned him most about his defense has to be concerning to Lions fans and invigorating to Vikings fans.

"The rushing yards," Schwartz answered. "Sixty or 70 of them came in the fourth quarter when they were protecting the lead. We didn't do a good job of responding that way. Early in the game we were at least hanging in against the run. Bottom line in this league has nothing to do with yards. I've never been a believer in ranking defenses or offenses based on yards. It's all about points. And it's all about points when points matter. If you're up 31-7 and you give up a couple of touchdowns late and they've used all the clock – the object is to win the game. This is a bottom line of points in this league. I wasn't disappointed in the yards rushing or the yards passing, I was disappointed in the number of points. We needed to be able to keep the points down."


Vikings fans aren't the only people surprised by the apparent transformation of Favre from gunslinger to game manager.

"That is a hard thing to say – Brett Favre and ‘managing the game.' His whole career he has been the gunslinger. He has been the guy that has won the game," Schwartz said. "He's never had a weapon like Adrian Peterson before. So it will be interesting to see the way that that goes. I know that John Elway, when he was winning Super Bowls at the end of his career, they were running the ball incredibly well with Terrell Davis. There were a lot of playoff games and even Super Bowls where Elway was throwing 20 passes in the game. So it is no disrespect to him or anything else. It's just using the weapons that are around you and the game plan that the head coach and the team want to follow."


Brett Favre will make his 271st consecutive start this Sunday, which will break Jim Marshall's record. Matthew Stafford will be making his second-ever NFL start. Still, that didn't stop the Detroit media from asking if Childress sees similarities between the quarterbacks.

"I do, just in terms of strength of the guy's arm. You can't coach that; that's something that grabs you. He can put the ball in some small windows and he's way above average athletically I believe too," Childress said.


LB Heath Farwell (hamstring) and G Anthony Herrera (back) were limited in practice Wednesday. LB Erin Henderson (calf) didn't participate. TE Jim Kleinsasser (hand) participated fully.

For the Lions, DE Cliff Avril (hamstring) and QB Drew Stanton (knee) were the only players who didn't participate in practice Wednesday. DTs Andre Fluellen (knee) and Grady Jackson (knee), and CBs William James (foot) and Eric King (shoulder) were limited.


  • The Lions claimed former Vikings CB Marcus McCauley when the Vikings waived him in their roster cutdown to 53 players. McCauley ended up playing some special teams in Detroit's opener.

    "We are just getting to know him a little bit. When I was with Tennessee we had some feel for him in the draft, and the college scouts here had some feel for him in the draft," Schwartz said. "We are in a unique position that we have a chance to look at guys that get waived and see how they fit with what we want to do. He didn't play on defense in the opener but played a lot of special teams and those kinds of things."

  • Schwartz has a lot of respect for former Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper, who is now the backup in Detroit.

    "I don't know if there is a player on this team or maybe in this league that I respect more than Daunte Culpepper," Schwartz said. "From what he has gone through in his career, being on top, and then having a major injury, and then sort of bouncing around, to being almost out of the league to coming back the way he did. Speaks what kind of a man he is, speaks how much pride he has. He was too heavy last year, he knows that. It gave a bad impression of him. He wanted to put that behind him. He lost over 30 pounds in the offseason. He showed tremendous commitment. He's been incredibly upbeat; he's healthy again. He can wake up at 3 in the morning and throw the football."

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