KEY QUESTIONS: Will Reggie Bush play vs. Chicago?

Posted Sep 23, 2013

Tim Twentyman walks through key points from head coach Jim Schwartz's press conference including Bush's availability for Sunday, replacing Jason Jones and Mikel Leshoure's status

The Lions have a big division matchup with the Chicago Bears coming up on Sunday with first place in the NFC North up for grabs.

But before head coach Jim Schwartz and his coaching staff shift their focus to Chicago, Schwartz put Sunday's, 27-20, win over the Redskins to bed during his weekly press conference.

Here are the key questions from Monday's press conference:

Will Reggie Bush play Sunday?

Bush has already said he's good to go vs. Chicago after sitting out Sunday's game in Washington, but Schwartz isn't quite to that point yet.

"We'll see," he said. "He is no different than a lot of other players. We will try to do, just like we did with all our players, make the best decision for 46 guys that can execute the game plan and put us in the best position to win."

That being said, it would be a surprise if Bush wasn't ready by Sunday.

As for the decision to keep Bush out of this past game, Schwartz said it ultimately came down to what was best for the team.

"We're going to make the decision for the 46 that we think gives us the best chance to win that game," he said. "That was the decision that I made. That's all that needs to be said.

"Every player is game to play. I don't think I have ever had player that said, 'Hey coach. I can't go today.' Everybody wants to play.

"You have to use your discretion to figure out what's going to be best for the team. That's our guiding principle, what's best for the team. What's best for an individual isn't always the best for the team. What's best for the team isn't always best for an individual.

"Reggie worked extremely hard to get ready for that game. When you're a running back, you can't control hits and how people are attacking you and getting rolled up in the pile. He's an important part of our team for sure. I appreciate how hard he worked, but we needed to go a different direction in this game."

Schwartz reiterated to the media there was nothing confrontational about it at all and Bush understood the decision.

How do the Lions replace starting defensive end Jason Jones, who was lost for the season to a knee injury?

It's time for rookie defensive end Devin Taylor to step up, according to Schwartz.

"We have a lot of different ways," he said. "I think I even said yesterday, we are going to lean on defensive end Devin Taylor there.

"Devin has a lot of the same things that we liked about Jason. He played well at times in the preseason but he needs to grow up quickly. That's no different than anyone else, being a young player in the league, you have to perform."

The team also signed veteran Andre Fluellen on Monday, but expect Taylor to be active this week and part of the game plan.

Was there an unsung performance from Sunday's win?

"I thought probably one thing in this Redskins game that went a little under the radar was the job that Riley Reiff and Corey Hilliard did on their two outside pass rushers," Schwartz said.

"We took one sack in the game and that was on the first play and that was an inside blitz from the MIKE (middle) linebacker. I thought that Riley played an outstanding game and so did Corey. And they had to do it against two big-time players (Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan). Players that had given every team they've played trouble.

"That had a lot to do with our ability to find Nate Burleson down the field, to find Calvin Johnson, to find Kris Durham. A lot of those big plays were made because we were able to have just enough time to find those guys."

What was the most impressive aspect of Matthew Stafford's performance Sunday?

Stafford's ability to adjust on the fly and read defenses was put to the challenge in the first half. The printer to the overhead pictures malfunctioned and the Lions couldn't get a good look at how the Redskins defense was attacking them.

"Matt's a smart guy and Scott's (Linehan) smart," Schwartz said. "They were able to figure out, I mean we had a lot rushers just by design. Matt did a great job. They blitz an awful lot. They crowded the middle of the field. I thought Matt played an outstanding game.

"His completion percentage wasn't as high as it's going to be when it's a zone game, but under pressure, man, we were 8.8 yards per pass play. That's very high. We made a lot of (explosive plays).

"That's sort of what you have to do against that style defense. It's not going to be efficient plays on every single one and high percentage completions. It's going to be big plays."

The Lions had six pass plays in the game of 20-plus yards.

Is there a role on this team for former second-round pick Mikel Leshoure?

Leshoure was active for the first time this year but did not record a carry. It's evident by Sunday's participation chart, and the way Joique Bell played, that the only way Leshoure is going to see the field moving forward is in an injury situation.

"In this game, Joique was handling that load and Theo (Riddick) was handling some of the pass stuff that we ran," Schwartz said.

"It just never came up for him to have an opportunity to get on the field. If Joique had to come out for a portion of the time, he would have filled the same role that Joique had filled.

"I said this earlier this week, we have a lot confidence in Mikel. When he plays, he'll play well. We don't have any question about that. He's working extremely hard, but we only have one running back on the field at a particular time and that was just the way the game went."

What have been the immediate benefits thus far to the new weekly schedule?

The Lions have changed things up this year when it comes to their weekly schedule. Players have the day off on Monday and come back and get a head start on the week's preparation on Tuesday.

In years past, players came in on Monday to look at the film of the previous game and go through meetings and would then have Tuesday off. Wednesday was the first game prep they had for the next game.

"The one thing that comes out of it is we're able to get a little bit of a jump on the game plan," Schwartz said of how the schedule has been working out the first few weeks of the season.

"I think that in this case, when you do it the opposite way, when coaches start working on Monday and Tuesday morning on it, we're able to get them a little bit of a jump on the game plan Tuesday. And not only do we wrap up the previous game, but we also move on to the next game."

How did Nick Fairley come through the game?

Fairley, who sat out last week's game in Arizona with a sore right shoulder, was active and played 75 percent of the defensive snaps in Washington.

"I don't know that it affected him a whole lot in this game," Schwartz said. "Once he got in the game, I thought he was able to handle himself well. He showed a little bit of rust from missing so much practice time the last couple weeks, but as always, he also made his impact felt."

Ryan Broyles played in his first game since tearing an ACL last December. How did he look?

"Every time he's gone in the game for us, he's made plays," Schwartz said. "He did the same thing in this game."

It's never been an issue of performance with Broyles, but rather availability with those two knee injuries. He adds a nice element to this offense with what could be the surest pair of hands on the team.

"I think he played 17 or 18 plays in this game, which we had talked about, was sort of a good pitch count for him. It's hard to keep a guy on a pitch count when you're only with 46 (players). It's a lot easier in a preseason game when you can control the reps. Not only was he able to do that, but he was able to come back in the second half and also play for us.

"Every day he gets a little bit better and every day he gets a little more into the groove physically and mentally and things like that. It's a long road back. A lot was made of their (Redskins) quarterback and his recovery from an ACL (injury), but Ryan's no different and he's still working his way back."