LIONS INSIDER

NOTEBOOK: Counting on Green and Greenwood; Suh vs. Yanda and Houston’s struggles

Posted Dec 14, 2013

With Chris Houston and Darius Slay unlikely to play Monday, the Lions will rely on a couple young corners in Jonte Green and Chris Greenwood

Jonte Green and Chris Greenwood spent about 20 minutes after practice Saturday working with defensive backs coaches Marcus Robertson and Steven Jackson.

The extra work could serve them well come Monday night.

Starting cornerback Chris Houston (toe) and key reserve Darius Slay (knee) are doubtful to play against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football, which means the Lions will probably rely on Green to start and Greenwood to play a reserve role.

"We are confident with all 53 guys," head coach Jim Schwartz said. "Jonte has not had to play too much of a defensive role this year, but he did last year. He’s a better player now than he was then. Again, whoever we put out there, we expect him to be able to get the job done."

Green started five games for the Lions as a rookie, but with Rashean Mathis, Houston and Slay ahead of him on the depth chart this season, he has played a special teams role in seven games and has been inactive for six.

It seems most logical that Green would get the start for Houston and the Lions would keep Bill Bentley in his nickel role. Greenwood and safety Don Carey would play reserve roles and Carey most likely in dime packages.

"The one thing about both of those guys, if you want to have a track meet, they’ll be there," defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said. "They both can run. They are big. They are long. They’ve practiced well this week.

"Jonte Green started games for us last year. Chris, I’ve always liked him. He’s got a lot of tools. He’s smart. He’s really improved this week."

The Lions secondary will be tested down the field by Baltimore. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is among the NFL leaders in passes attempted more than 21 yards in the air.

Greenwood, who grew up in Detroit, will be active for the first time in his NFL career on Monday night. He missed all of his rookie season due to injury and has spent time on Detroit’s practice squad, Dallas’ active roster (for three weeks) and now on the Lions active roster this year.

"It’s definitely exciting," Greenwood said. "It’s a big stage.

"I definitely fell like I’ve made some improvements from this time last year. Any athlete and any competitor is hungry to get on the field. I’ve just been waiting and this could be my opportunity so I just have to take advantage of it when I get it."

SUH VS. YANDA

Baltimore right guard Marshal Yanda has been a Pro Bowler the last two seasons for the Ravens. He's their most experienced interior offensive lineman.

Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is considered one of the best in the NFL at his position. A dominant rusher, whose blend of power and speed is rare for the position.

It's one matchup come Monday night that could have a big impact on the final score.

"He’s pretty good," Cunningham said of Yanda. "I’m looking forward to that one. Yanda is a good, good player. We feel like he’s one of the top four or five that we will play against. Maybe more than that."

HOUSTON’S ROLLER COASTER

Houston is likely to miss his second game in Detroit's last three because of a foot and now toe injury.

Injuries may have contributed to Houston’s up-and-down play of late, but the veteran cornerback has been inconsistent all season.

"He has (been inconsistent)," Cunningham said. "He knows it. I know it. We’ve talked about it. I can’t tell you on the injury part of it, I just try to coach. I’ve had a lot of talks with him. He just has to learn to handle things and come back and play."

Houston signed a five-year, $25 million contract this offseason.

"I can’t answer that," Cunningham said when asked why Houston was having a down season. "I really can’t. As a coach trying to figure out anything, he comes out and practices hard.

"The thing that’s an issue for him, he’s had ups and downs this year. He’s played really well at times and then something happens. I can’t answer that."