Notebook: Cunningham responds to 'anonymous' comments; Florence likely to play Sunday

Posted Nov 16, 2012

On Friday, Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham responded to comments made by an anonymous scout this week that Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh "takes plays off."

Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham was agitated Friday and it wasn't because he'd just watched the replay of Adrian Peterson running down the field against his defense.

Cunningham was responding to comments made by an anonymous scout this week that Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh "takes plays off."

The way Cunningham sees it, those comments don't just reflect on Suh, but him as well.

"It's obnoxious," Cunningham said. "Anybody that knows me, that's bad to say that I'm going to let a player get away with anything. I don't do that. If there's one thing that I really get upset about is somebody challenging me on doing that.

"I've been doing this for a long time. I've made guys play that don't want to play. But they've made a lot of money and had a lot of success, and I'm never about backing off of a player ever. Ever.

"It's against the rules as far as I'm concerned. And I'm not being anonymous by the way."

Suh has 15 tackles and 4.5 sacks through nine games.

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said cornerback Drayton Florence was "trending" toward playing Sunday vs. Green Bay.

The Lions have yet to make a move to put Florence on the active roster, but that move is likely to come sometime in the next 24 hours, meaning Florence will make his return to the field for the first time since Week 2.

In that game at San Francisco, Florence broke his forearm in the first half, but continued to play through the pain, earning a lot of respect from both coaches and teammates.

Florence was placed on short-term injured reserve following the 49ers game. He's been back at practice for a couple weeks now and is eligible to return to game action as soon as Sunday.

He brings 10 years of experience to the unit, experience the Lions can use facing one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Aaron Rodgers.

"Well he's a veteran player, he's been through it a long time," Schwartz said of Florence. "He's got a lot of experience in the league with different teams.

"This is now fifth team if you count Denver for training camp, so he's been in a lot of schemes; he has familiarity with a lot of different offenses and offensive players."

The Lions traded for receiver Mike Thomas two weeks ago to help bolster their receiving corps and add a multidimensional utility player to the offense.

Thomas played 14 offensive snaps in his first game with the Lions at Jacksonville, but that was reduced to six snaps last week at Minnesota.

Thomas said Friday that it's tough joining a new scheme midway through the season and the issue isn't as much him learning the system than coaches learning what he can do within it.

"They have to be able to trust you," Thomas said.

He said it takes a little bit more time for coaches to learn what he does well in the middle of the season while they're game planning and preparing for the next opponent.

Thomas says his role is moving along, though.

One of the big things missing from the Lions defense this year has been turnovers. The Lions have forced just 10 (five interceptions, five fumbles), which is the fourth fewest in the league.

People wonder where all the interceptions from last year have gone, but the Lions aren't getting the sack-fumbles they did a year ago, either. Defensive ends Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch forced 10 fumbles between the two of them last year. Through nine games this year, they've combined for none.

"We had an awful lot of those (last year)," Schwartz said of the sacks fumbles. "Honestly, most of the time a sack stripped is a more valuable play than an interception because most of the time interceptions are deeper down the field. Getting a sack strip, you're usually about 10 yards or so behind the line of scrimmage so you already have your return.

"Then the other thing is if you can pick it up, generally it's a bunch of offensive lineman back there and you can clear a path. That's certainly something that would help us and it something that we've done well when we've played well and will be a big boost for us if we're able to get that."