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Notebook: Special teams anything but for Lions Friday night

Posted Aug 18, 2012

The Lions special teams play Friday night against the Ravens can only be characterized one way – not so special.

For a second consecutive week, the Lions struggled to cover kicks, got little from their return game and even gave up a onside kick late in the game.

“We’ve got to find better players to be able to execute,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of his special teams after the Lions beat the Ravens 27-12 Friday night in front of a national television audience.

“Like I said, you can do all the drills you want, but if a guy can’t make the play, he can’t make the play. We’ve got to find guys that can on kickoff cover and punt cover. We were poor in those areas. We got lucky because of a couple penalties, but we were lucky.”

Schwartz was referencing a 55-yard kickoff return late in the second quarter that was called back for a holding penalty and a 85-yard punt return touchdown called back on another holding call.

The onside kick was particularly frustrating since the game was essentially over and the Lions were clinging to an eight-point lead with 2:10 left in the game.

Even when the Lions did something right on special teams, like a 41-yard kickoff return from Stefan Logan, an illegal block in the back penalty by reserve receiver Dominique Curry forced the offense to start back inside it’s own 10-yard line.

Officially, the Lions allowed 46 yards on three punt returns (15.3 average) and 113 yards on four kickoff returns (28.3), but it could have been a lot worse.

The one positive on the night for a special teams standpoint was a blocked punt by defensive end Willie Young early in the fourth quarter.

“It happened so fast I really can’t even what really happened right now,” Young said after the game about his punt block. “Obviously I just got through and made a play.”

ENCORE PERFORMANCE FOR YOUNG

After Young’s quality performance last week against the Browns that included a sack, forced fumble and fumble recover, Schwartz warned the media not to put Young in the Hall of Fame yet.

Young was back at it again on Friday with a blocked punt and nearly two more sacks. After the game, Schwartz said Young “still has a long way to go.”

Schwartz has to be excited about Young’s disruptive nature and propensity to make plays early on this preseason, but he’s wise not to shed too much praise on his third-year defensive end.

Young has put in a lot of work over the last three seasons to get to where he is now – a contributor for this team. He came in as an immature rookie who didn’t know how to work and looked like he was going to be a project. To his credit, he has worked his butt off and improved his craft.

But Schwartz doesn’t want Young to think he’s arrived yet.

“(I) just take it one day at a time and one week at a time,” Young said. “I just want to come out every week and get better. Make corrections from this game and particularly I have to work on wrapping up the quarterback.”

INJURY FRONT

The most significant injury to come out of Friday nights game was that to reserve running back and kick returner Stefan Logan. Logan was injured early in the second quarter when he and Stafford collided before a handoff. It almost looked like Logan injured himself before he got to Stafford and stumbled into him.

“The original x-rays came back negative,” Schwartz said of Logan after the game. “It’s an ankle. It didn’t look great on film according to our doctors, but Logan’s a pretty tough guy. We’ll just see how that comes out.

Reserve tight end Nate Overbay also injured an ankle and Travis Lewis left in the first quarter with a quadriceps injury.

“Everything else we have is like, soft tissue,” Schwartz said. “A couple guys with some quad pulls or bruises or something like that.”

If the Lions get bad news on Logan this week, they could be in the market for a running back. Stay tuned.

NEVER SATISFIED

The Lions played much better this week against the Ravens than they did a week ago in a loss to the Browns, but don’t bother trying to tell Schwartz that.

“Other than the fact that we got a win, not really,” Schwartz said when asked if Friday’s performance was more to his satisfaction. “We’ve still got a long way to go. We’ve still got players we need to get back on the field, there’s guys that need to step up. We need to be better in all three phases. We played poorly on special teams in the first two minutes.

“Coaches are always going to look at being critical. You’re never really happy about anything, particularly in the preseason. If it’s the regular season, you don’t want to ever discount a win, but in the preseason you want your team to play well, No. 1. You want to win, for sure, but you want to play well. We still haven’t played our best football – we still have work to do.”

HOMECOMING FOR HILL

Lions backup quarterback Shaun Hill played his college football at Maryland, so Friday was sort of a homecoming for him being back in Baltimore.

“This is the first time I’ve been back to Maryland to play a game since 2005 so yeah it was fun,” said Hill, who completed 7 of 13 passes for 61 yards against the Ravens. “They’re really good fans out here. It was nice of them I guess to remember the old college days. It’s been quite a while. So, just the fact that they remembered, that’s something else.”

MOORE IMPROVEMENT

Speaking of backup quarterbacks. Third-string quarterback Kellen Moore played much better against the Ravens than he dis last week against the Browns.

Last week, Moore had a 9.8 passer rating with four completions on 14 attempts.

Friday, Moore was 10-of-15 passing for 96 yards and an 84.3 passer rating. Moore was more decisive with his throws and more accurate. Amazing what a week can do for a rookie.


NO GO

Nine players did not make an appearance in Baltimore.

Running back Mikel Leshoure (hamstring), safety Louis Delmas (knee), cornerback Chris Greenwood (PUP), running back Jahvid Best (PUP), offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (knee) defensive tackle Sammie Hill (back) and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch (knee) were all injured.

Receivers Wallace Miles and Terrence Tolliver were available for the game but did not get in.