KEY QUESTIONS: How did Johnson's knee hold up and how is Joseph Fauria used going forward?

Posted Oct 14, 2013

Tim Twentyman covers key points from head coach Jim Schwartz's press conference, including how Calvin Johnson's knee held up in Cleveland and how the Lions will continue to use tight end Joseph Fauria moving forward

The Detroit Lions completely dominated the second half in Cleveland Sunday and came away with a hard-fought 31-17 road win.

Any win in the NFL is big, but a road win to a division-leading opponent is noteworthy.

Head coach Jim Schwartz will quickly turn his focus to this upcoming Sunday's game at Ford Field vs. Cincinnati, but before doing so, he spent Monday afternoon looking back at Cleveland one last time.

Here are some key questions answered from Monday's press conference.

How did Calvin Johnson's knee hold up after playing Sunday?

The All Pro receiver played 38 total snaps, his lowest output of the season, but he was still able to impact the game.

"It was sore after the game," Schwartz said of the right knee injury that kept Johnson out of the Green Bay game Oct. 6.

"He's been sore after practice and stuff like that. It's too soon to really know if it was any worse or any better than it's been.

"I said it was encouraging that he was able to get on the field for us. Even though he didn't make a lot of plays, he made a couple big first down catches for us. He affected the game. They interfered with him on the one play down in the red zone because he was in position to be able to make a potential touchdown catch. He also affected the coverage and opened up some other guys."

Johnson was on the field for all three of Joseph Fauria's touchdowns and Reggie Bush had 121 of his 135 total yards in the second half when Johnson played the bulk of his snaps.

Are there any other injury concerns coming out of Cleveland?

Running back Joique Bell injured his ribs and cornerback Rashean Mathis tweaked his groin. Neither player finished the game and neither injury is considered to be long term.

"We are still waiting on some stuff to come in," Schwartz said. "Even after it comes in, I wouldn't anticipate anything being more than short-term."

How does Sunday's three-touchdown performance from tight end Joseph Fauria change the way defenses plan for him moving forward?

Sunday's performance just reaffirmed to all 31 teams that Fauria is a tough cover one-on-one.

He's a player moving forward that teams will have to account for and in some situations -- especially in the red zone – double cover.

"If he starts to get more attention, somebody has to get less," Schwartz said. "Generally, that's Calvin for us. Not many defenses want to do that. A lot has been made of the dynamic between Reggie (Bush) and Calvin. I think there is, in the red zone particularly, another dynamic there that can force defenses to be spread thin a little bit."

Coverage being diverted in a way that helps Calvin Johnson, who would have thought?

"Well if you want to stop the run and you have to get eight guys in the box that leaves you one guy that you can double," Schwartz said. "If that goes to Calvin, then a guy like Joe or any of our other potential receivers on the play is singled up. If you want to double both of them, you're going to be light in the run game.

"I think we have proven that we can run the ball across the goal line just as well as throw it. Anytime you have more playmakers on the field and more size mismatches, and in that case it's a size mismatch, it makes it harder for the defense to defend everything."

What's the status of tight end Tony Scheffler?

Scheffler suffered a concussion at Green Bay and his long-term status has come under question. He didn't make the trip to Cleveland and there's some talk that he could not play again this year.

Schwartz was asked about the team working out some tight ends Monday at Allen Park.

"I don't know that one has direct influence to the other one," he said. "That decision will be made regardless of Tony's situation."

How was the defense able to contain tight end Jordan Cameron?

The Browns' leading receiver entering the game, Cameron had a modest five catches for 64 yards and most of those came late when the Lions were in prevent defense with a two-score lead.

"A big part of our defensive game plan was trying to stay over top of him and trying to limit his big plays," Schwartz said. "We didn't play especially well overall on defense. I think we did limit his catches and his plays down the field at the expense of (Josh) Gordon, he lit us up pretty good (seven catches for 126 yards).

"We were fortunate enough to make enough plays to win the game. I don't think we're happy about anything that we really did on defense."

The defense did record two more interceptions Sunday. Why have they been so effective?

Through the first six games of the season, the Lions already have 10 interceptions, which is tied for the NFL lead.

The team had just 11 in 16 games a season ago.

"I think a lot of it has to do with the guys up front," Schwartz said.

"I think it was (DeAndre) Levy's first interception, again Suh got the assist on that one. If you look at the play, Suh's bearing down on the quarterback and the quarterback's got to get rid of it and Levy's in good position, he goes up and makes the play. The other one C.J. (Mosley) was all over the quarterback. Even on the last series, they had a fumble that we potentially could have got, and that was with Devin Taylor corralling the quarterback.

"I think a lot of good things happen when you put pressure on the quarterback and some of those good things are turnovers. It was an area we lacked last year and we've seen some good signs in the first six games. We still have a long way to go, but you look at our four wins, when we win the turnover battle, it puts us in good position to win the game. When we don't get turnovers, we haven't won games. So it's a lifeblood of our defense."

How did Darius Slay perform for the injured Rashean Mathis?

Mathis left in the first half with a groin injury and did not return. The rookie Slay, who opened the season as a starter, but was replaced by Mathis, filled in the rest of the way.

"I thought he did a nice job," Schwartz said of Slay. "Rashean (Mathis) has really done a good job coming in and setting a good example for Slay. I think Slay's been improving over the last month. I think being able to sit back and watch a veteran player like Mathis has really been beneficial to him and I think you saw that when he went on the field.

"Physically he's done some good things, but I think mentally and just game-awareness he continues to improve. I thought he made a really good play on that one pass breakup that ended up being called pass interference, but I thought he did a really nice job on that play – got a hand in, it got called, but I thought he made a nice play on the ball there."