Notebook: Houston, Bentley and Leshoure return; Florence given new I/R designation

Posted Sep 19, 2012

Chris Houston says he’s had enough of watching games from the sidelines. The sixth-year Lions cornerback says it’s about time he starts contributing, and says that begins Sunday in Tennessee.

Chris Houston says he’s had enough of watching games from the sidelines. The sixth-year Lions cornerback says it’s about time he starts contributing, and says that begins Sunday in Tennessee.

“I definitely will be out there,” Houston said after being a full participant in Wednesday’s practice. “It was close on Sunday but we still had little hitches. I couldn’t stop all the way. Now I can stop, plant and run full speed, so I’m there.”

Houston was limited all three practices last week leading up to the 49ers game.

“It just felt good to get back out there,” he said of practicing Wednesday. “I’m running around healthier than I was the last couple of weeks. I’m about 95 percent and I’ll be ready to go this week.”

The team’s starting left cornerback hasn’t played the first two weeks of the season after suffering a high ankle sprain in the third preseason game against the Raiders.

The Lions’ most experienced corner, Houston led them with five interceptions last season. His two touchdown returns were tied for the most in the NFL. He’s a playmaker in the secondary and the Lions could use a little bit of that having yet to record an interception yet this season.

“I’m definitely anxious,” Houston said of getting into his first game action Sunday. “Just all the work I put in in the offseason and to have a little setback; we don’t always know why it happened but I think this setback was for an amazing comeback.”

Lions cornerback Drayton Florence had surgery to repair a broken forearm suffered in Sunday’s loss to the 49ers.

“To tell you how tough he is, it happened in the third quarter and he played the rest of the game,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said Wednesday.

“I have a lot of respect for that guy. He’s played a lot of football in the NFL; came in here and learned the system very quickly and got thrown into the fire very quickly. I thought he acquainted himself very well and the team needed him.

“We were so short of corners that he really couldn’t come out of the game. He went and soldiered through. We didn’t know it was broken until afterwards because mainly he just didn’t tell anybody. He didn’t let anybody get a feel for it.”

Later in the day, the Lions officially designated Florence as Reserve/Injured with the eligiblity to return.

The new rule allows a player to practice after six weeks and then come off the list two weeks later and still play during the season. Before is a player was placed on Reserve/Injured he was lost for the season.

Besides getting Houston back on the practice field Wednesday, cornerback Bill Bentley and running back Mikel Leshoure were also participants.

Bentley, who chose not to speak to the media until Thursday, was limited in his first practice since sustaining a concussion against the Rams in Week 1. Thursday will be an important day for Bentley to see if he remains symptom-free after returning to practice for the first time on Wednesday.

Leshoure, who was suspended the first two weeks of the season, split carries with Kevin Smith and the first-team offense in the portion of practice open to the media.

Not practicing for the Lions were: safety Louis Delmas (knee), cornerback Drayton Florence (forearm), receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle), linebacker Travis Lewis (quad), tight end Tony Scheffler (calf) and defensive tackle Corey Williams (knee).

The ankle injury is new for Johnson. He didn’t practice on Wednesday last week because of a foot injury.

Former Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz is the color analyst for Sunday’s Lions game in Tennessee. Martz was the Lions’ offensive coordinator in 2006 and 2007.

 “A different kind of offense,” Lions center Dominic Raiola said of his two years playing under Martz in Detroit. “He played at a different speed. We threw the ball a lot. He had a lot of good ideas about routes and play-calling, a lot of different ways to think about it.”

So how would Martz have reacted to the Lions running the ball 26 times vs. 49ers?

“Mike would run it, though,” Raiola said. “There’d be sometimes when Mike would run it. It just depended on how Mike felt when he woke up.”

Titans head coach Mike Munchak knew Matthew Stafford was going to be a good NFL quarterback all the way back to Stafford’s college days at Georgia. You see, Munchak had two daughters who went to Georgia the same time Stafford was there and told the Detroit media Wednesday that he got plenty of live scouting on him during that time.

“My daughters went to Georgia so I’ve always liked him,” he said. “I got to see him play a lot in college and I think he’s a special player.

“That was probably the only college games (I saw) as a guy that played at Penn State and then got in the NFL and coached ever since, I never got a chance to see many college games live. When we had the off week I was at Georgia and I was able to watch three or four games. I thought he was going to be a special guy. He’s proven out to be one.”

Cornerback Jerome Murphy began the process Wednesday of learning his third different defensive scheme this season. The Lions claimed Murphy off waivers on Tuesday and released cornerback Kevin Barnes to make room for him on the 53-man roster. Murphy practiced for the first time as a Lion Wednesday.

“A couple years ago he was coming out of South Florida; we liked him then,” Schwartz said of Murphy. “He was hurt last year. He got drafted in the third round. He got hurt and missed just about all of last year, but he’s a very good special teams player. A little bit multidimensional. He can play in the slot, play outside. We thought he could increase our production.”

Already this season, Murphy has been with the Rams (preseason), Saints (first two regular season games) and now the Lions.

“Coming in here is a little bit different (of a system) but I’m pretty sure I can catch on and get the ball rolling here,” he said after Wednesday’s practice.”