LIONS INSIDER

NOTEBOOK: Pettigrew’s route running; Megatron’s maintenance issues and the X-factor for Steelers

Posted Nov 14, 2013

Brandon Pettigrew credits All Pro receiver Calvin Johnson for helping him become a better route runner

Brandon Pettigrew admits he’s not the best route runner.

He has, however, learned a few tricks over the years to getting open and credits All Pro receiver Calvin Johnson for some of the improvements.
"The best method for me to learn how is to watch people like Calvin, especially with his body type," Pettigrew said. "He’s a tall guy. How he gets in and out of routes. He plays inside his frame with leverage. That’s how I learned most of the stuff I do."

Pettigrew (6-5, 255) and Johnson (6-5, 235) have similar body types.

"It’s awesome because he runs great routes for a big dude," Pettigrew said.

"With route-running, as guys do as they get more experience in this league and they start studying how people are playing them, I think he’s created some little tricks of the trade in his route running that has created opportunities for him to get some separation and have Matt (Stafford) get him the ball," Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said.

Pettigrew made two explosive catches in Chicago of 23 and 22 yards, respectively, and finished with five catches and 70 yards.

"We talk all the time. He’s a great guy," Johnson said of Pettigrew. "Not just to talk to, but the effort that he gives on the field. He plays every position that a tight end can play on our offense and he does everything exceptionally well.

Brandon Pettigrew and Calvin JohnsonWR Calvin Johnson and TE Brandon Pettigrew (Photo:AP Images)

"Everybody has their little points or whatever where it might not be I guess in their grove. Pettigrew, man, he’s been a player for us for a long time. Like I said, I love to play with him. He brings it every Sunday. He knows what he has to do. Like I said, he’s there for us and makes plays when we need him."

Pettigrew is the team’s third-leading receiver behind Johnson and Reggie Bush with 31 catches for 295 yards and has caught all 12 targets thrown his way the last two weeks.

He's considered an all-around tight end, but his route running and pass catching look much improved this season.

MAINTENANCE ISSUES

It’s not typical for Johnson to miss both Wednesday and Thursday practices, if he can help it, but that's what happened this week.

"Body is feeling good. Just got some maintenance issues that we’re just taking care of," Johnson told the media after practice on Thursday.

"You know how that goes, you got to talk to coach (Jim Schwartz)."

Johnson was then asked if anticipated playing on Sunday in Pittsburgh. To which he replied, "Yeah."

Megatron has 567 yards and five touchdowns over the last three games and the Lions are facing a Steelers pass defense that ranks fourth in the NFL.

The last time the Lions played without him was in a 22-9 loss in Green Bay and the offense struggled.

He’s is, obviously, an important part of the puzzle.

SHOE PROBLEMS

LaAdrian Waddle has played exceptionally well the last two games he’s started at right tackle for the injured Corey Hilliard.

He has missed one snap, however, in each of the last two games because his shoe has come off.

Linehan has some advice for his rookie.

"Maybe just lace them up, do the double knot," he said laughing. "My dad taught me the double knot when I was in first grade, because I think he got tired of me walking around with my shoes untied."

Sound advice, Waddle. Sound advice.

THE X FACTOR

Troy PolamaluS Troy Polamalu (Photo:AP Images)

The Steelers might be struggling on defense, but that side of the football is still littered with names like Ike Taylor, Ryan Clark, Brett Keisel, LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons and Troy Polamalu. That’s a solid core of pretty good football players.

The Lions will especially be on the lookout for Polamalu come Sunday.

"He plays safety. He plays linebacker. He blitzes. He plays in coverage," Schwartz said of the 11-year veteran. "I say this all the time about Calvin (Johnson) we know what number he wears.

"(Polamalu) is a pretty easy to spot out there on the field. He’s a guy that can make a big play. He can change the course of the game. He’s always been that guy and we’re up to guard against him sacking the quarterback, stripping and intercepting the ball, tackles for losses and those kind of things."

Polamalu has 46 tackles, a sack, one interception and a forced fumble in nine games. He’s also defended five passes.

"The guy is exciting to watch," Johnson said. "He’s jumping the line of scrimmage on third-and-short plays and stuff like that. We just have to do what we have to do to not allow him to make any splash plays like that."