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Notebook: Burleson inspires Lions' offense from his hospital bed

Posted 11 hours ago

The offense got a very special message in Saturday’s meeting.

Receiver Nate Burleson taped a message from his hospital bed and was played up on the video screen in the offensive meeting.

"It was just (him telling us) to play with spirit and passion," center Dominic Raiola said. "The everyday Nate Burleson you guys see."

Burleson is the emotional leader for not only the offense, but the team. He’s the one who breaks the team down before they go into the locker room pregame.

Burleson had surgery on his broken right leg Friday and delivered the message from his hospital bed.

Raiola said it was inspirational for everyone in the room.

The Lions offense played like it, putting up 28 points and racking up 415 total yards.

For a second-straight week, an opponent did a good job bottling up Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, who had three catches for 46 yards. Johnson is coming off a three-catch, 34-yard performance against the Bears last week.

Six catches and 80 yards the last two weeks for Johnson are season lows.

The biggest difference Sunday is that other players stepped up and picked up the slack, making Johnson’s quiet night less relevant.

Johnson has 41 catches for 638 yards on the season and is on pace for 93 receptions for 1,458 yards ... but only two touchdowns.

"Man, it was a grind, you know?" Johnson said.

"I was happy to see us respond the way we did. Defense responded, you know, it was a great team game."

If the Lions keep finishing on the right side of the score board, Johnson won't care what his final numbers look like.

Sunday's 28-24 victory marked the seventh consecutive game the Lions started a different four-man combination in their secondary. This week it was Louis Delmas, Ricardo Silva, Jonte Green and Chris Houston.

For a unit that hasn't had any consistency, the Lions have taken a lot of punches and countered with a few of their own.

Sunday was a perfect example.

Calling on Ricardo Silva to make his second-career start, the second-year safety came up with an interception and a fumble recovery. He also finished with four tackles (three solo).

Cornerback Chris Houston led the team in tackles (8) and made a number of key plays.

The Lions weren't great in the secondary by any stretch of the imagination.

Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson completed 25-of-35 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns, but the Lions did enough in their back end to win the game - even with starter Louis Delmas leaving the game with a knee injury.

Playing in just his third game this season since undergoing surgery on the same knee in August, Delmas left in the third quarter and did not return.

Delmas appeared to injure the knee after cutting down Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch for a 1-yard gain on a pass in the flat.

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz confirmed it was an injury to his left knee but said it was not necessarily a "re-injury."

The team was already without cornerbacks Bill Bentley (shoulder) and Jacob Lacey (concussion), and safety Amari Spievey (concussion).

Running back Kevin Smith hasn't carried the football or caught a pass since he started Week 2 at San Francisco (Mikel Leshoure was serving the final game of his two-game suspension to begin the season).

He didn't get into the game Week 4 vs. Vikings and was inactive the last two weeks in Philadelphia and Chicago, as Joique Bell had passed him on the depth chart.

But fortunes can turn in a matter of one week in the NFL. Smith was active Sunday and had a role as the team's third-down back for most of the game.

Smith finished with one carry and one catch, but it just shows how roles can change and a player's number can be called week-to-week.