Twentyman: Lions fed up with Titus Young's 'me-first' attitude

Posted Nov 19, 2012

If the Lions are going to right the ship and try to salvage the rest of their season, they're going to have to have all hands on deck working toward the same goal. There's no room for the 'me-first' player.

The Lions made a move toward that Monday, choosing to designate erratic receiver Titus Young as inactive for Thursday's Thanksgiving Day game vs. Houston.

"When you play a game like football it's a team sport and players have obligations to the team and Titus hasn't done a very good job of fulfilling those obligations this week and recently," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said Monday.

Schwartz said it wasn't a suspension, but how it plays out moving forward will "depend on Titus and his behavior."

Young was selected in the second round of the 2011 draft with the hope he could be an explosive option opposite Calvin Johnson. Young showed that he could be just that – at times – but too many negative occurrences both on and off the field resulted in that being the exception and not the rule.

That includes an offseason fight with respected veteran safety Louis Delmas that resulted in Young leaving the team to take care of "personal matters" for a week.

There was also Young's continued lack of focus in his preparation leading into games as this season progressed. Young has been sloppy in his routes, has failed to get separation and has not lined up properly at times.

The final straw came late in the fourth quarter Sunday after the Packers had scored the go-ahead touchdown.

As quarterback Matthew Stafford was preparing to snap the ball, it appeared tight end Tony Scheffler was supposed to be in the left slot but was instead waived outside by Young.

The Lions never ran the play because of a false start by right tackle Gosder Cherilus, but afterward, Scheffler seemed to point to Young like he wasn't supposed to be there.

Schwartz confirmed Monday that Young hadn't been lined up right on the play.
"His behavior on Sunday was unacceptable," Schwartz said. "It hurt the team, particularly on offense. It was a distraction and we're going to eliminate that distraction."

Following that drive, receivers coach Shawn Jefferson was caught by FOX cameras in a heated conversation with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Schwartz implied Monday that the conversation between Jefferson and Linehan was about Young and that the two parties had been on the same side of the argument.

Young wasn't on the field for the final desperation series for the Lions.

Since his 100-yard receiving game following the season-ending injury to veteran receiver Nate Burleson, Young has just seven catches for 79 yards over three games.

Ultimately, Young wasn't just unprepared, he also wasn't producing.

"He needs to be a team player and he needs to put the team before himself," Schwartz said.

Receiver Calvin Johnson said after the game that the Lions season isn't over yet after their latest setback.

"We've got six games left," he told the media crowded around his locker. "I don't know what the (playoff) picture looks like but that's what we're fighting for. We're fighting for our lives."

If that's the case then the Lions will need all hands on deck. Not just most of them.