NOTEBOOK: Defense bends, doesn't break vs. Browns

Posted Aug 9, 2014

Tim Twentyman covers all of the news from the Lions vs. Browns preseason opener including defensive performance, injury updates and more.

The Detroit Lions have a lot of changes in store for their defense in 2014, but they didn’t open the playbook and show everything in Saturday’s 13-12 victory over Cleveland.

The first-team defense played two series and held Cleveland to just a field goal.

“I thought our No. 1 defense played well, tough,” Caldwell said. “There was kind of a bend-but-don’t-break sort of a first half for us. We kept them out of the end zone, but it might not have looked pretty all of the time.”

There were a few missed assignments that led to big plays for Cleveland, and the Lions didn’t record a sack in the game, but they did force two turnovers – a big emphasis for them this offseason – and held Cleveland out of the end zone.

Rookie linebacker Kyle Van Noy got his feet wet and nearly came up with a forced fumble. He broke up a pass play in the flat that was close to being a fumble, but the officials ruled the receiver never had complete control of the football.

“I just tried to make a play on the ball,” Van Noy said of the play. “I read the back coming out and tried to make a play. Coach (Teryl Austin) called a great call right there for me. I read the play well and just tried to make a play.”


George WinnRB George Winn (Photo: Gavin Smith)
-- Running back George Winn has been earning a bit of a reputation in training camp for being a hard-nosed runner.

That translated to the game as Winn finished with 39 yards on six carries (6.5 average) and 23 more receiving yards.

The only negative for Winn was a fourth-quarter fumble in Cleveland territory.

“Any time you have a turnover, it is something of concern,” Caldwell said of Winn. “But I think he played hard and played well. We just have to – that is what these games are for. He has to build up on it and turn that negative into a positive and keep moving forward. He did a lot of good things.”

-- Rookie undrafted safety Jerome Couplin made his presence felt a couple times, especially during the last drive when he absolutely laid a hit on Cleveland’s Marqueis Gray over the middle of the field during the Browns’ last-ditch effort to get back into the game in the end.

--Rookie defensive tackle Caraun Reid blew up two plays in the Cleveland backfield and finished with two tackles for loss. He’s quick off the football and showed that vs. Cleveland.

-- Rookie Andrew Peacock made a few nice grabs and finished as the team’s leading receiver with four catches for 43 yards.

-- Safety Isa Abdul-Quddus is fighting for a spot on the roster and was all over the field. He finished with five tackles, one tackle for loss and sealed the win with an interception in the last minute of the game.


Theo Riddick has made a lot of headlines with his play this offseason, but his preseason debut was a short one.

Riddick took a huge shot from Browns safety Donte Whitner after catching a 9-yard pass on 3rd and 6 on the teams’ second possession of the game.

He walked gingerly to the sideline after the hit and didn’t return to the game. The team announced he has an abdominal injury.

Linebacker Tahir Whitehead also left the game with an undisclosed injury and did not return.

“There are a few guys that have a couple things here and there,” Caldwell said. “He will be looked at and everybody will be evaluated and we’ll see what happens.”