LIONS INSIDER

Twentyman's Daily Notebook: Who practiced, who didn't, following Saturday's injury-ridden game

Posted Aug 27, 2012

Matthew Stafford wasn’t the only Lions starter to leave Saturday’s game due to injury. Running back Kevin Smith (ankle) and cornerbacks Chris Houston (ankle) and Bill Bentley (shoulder) also left. All three of those players did not practice Monday.

Lions fans can rest easy. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was back on the practice field Monday and seemingly feeling no effects of a left-hand injury that forced him to leave Saturday’s preseason game in Oakland in the second quarter.

Stafford participated in the portion of practice open to the media Monday afternoon and did not have his non-throwing hand wrapped or taped.

“I was kind of scared because I didn’t know what it was,” Stafford said Monday after practice. “I had just never seen it swell like that before. I thought I had broken it or something, but then it started feeling better.”

Stafford wasn’t the only Lions starter to leave Saturday’s game due to injury. Running back Kevin Smith (ankle) and cornerbacks Chris Houston (ankle) and Bill Bentley (shoulder) also left. All three of those players did not practice Monday.

“We’ll see where they get to,” Schwartz said of Smith, Houston and Bentley. “It’s likely that none of them will play Thursday but we’ll just see what kind of progression we can get them on. There’s nothing really long term with any of them.”

Smith said in the locker room after practice that it was just a tweak and nothing serious.

“You never want to deal with that high ankle sprain,” he said.

Smith would know, he played through a high ankle sprain almost all of last year and was never 100-percent after suffering it against the Packers on Thanksgiving one week after a 140-yard performance against the Panthers.

“I got a break,” he said of Saturday's injury. “It takes so long to recover (from a high ankle sprain).”

Also missing the portion of practice open to media: receiver Calvin Johnson, linebacker Stephen Tulloch, linebacker Travis Lewis, defensive tackle Andre Fluellen, tight end Brandon Pettigrew and safety John Wendling.

Running back and kick returner Stefan Logan participated in practice for the first time since injuring his ankle the second week of the preseason in a victory over the Ravens.

“He’s still not 100-percent back,” Schwartz said of Logan. “Physically he’s moving very well right now. His ankle hasn’t been a problem at all and he’s an open-field playmaker for us and he’s going to be a very important part of our offense.”

PUNTING TO THE FINISH
Punters Ryan Donahue and Ben Graham have one more preseason game and less than a week to earn the Lions punting duties this season. The team's final roster cuts down to 53 players have to be made by 9 p.m. Friday.

It’s been one of the closest competitions in all of training camp with neither player stepping forward as a consistent performer to win the job.

“Need to see consistent punting and that’s something that we haven’t gotten from either guy in the first three games,” Schwartz said. “(Thursday against the Bills) is a very important game for both of those guys.”

Donahue has 10 punts this preseason with a 39.7 average and two balls pinning opponents inside the 20-yard line. His long is 54 yards.

“I need to be consistent,” Donahue said of what he needs to do Thursday against the Bills to win the job. “That’s all it comes down to. I feel like I’m more than talented enough to win this job. I just need to show that I can be consistent on the field and every punt is going to be a good ball. So far I’ve let myself down.”

Graham is averaging 41.6 yards in nine punts with four finishing inside the 20-yard line. His long is 49 yards.

“I’m sure as a coach there’s a whole number of things that go into the decision-making process,” Graham said. “Ultimately it’s up to us to put our best work out there and just let them make a decision.

“I have to punt well. Ideally, I’d love to have five punts from midfield and pin them in the 5-yard line every time because that’s my strength. That’s where I’ve been dominant. It’s a body of work. We’ll see how it turns out.”

If the job hasn’t been decided yet, Thursday is a big game for both players.

THE NEW NFL SAFETY
Schwartz told Detroitlions.com back June that the safety position is ever-evolving in the NFL.

The days of the in-the-box safety in the NFL are a thing of the past and the new breed of safety has speed and can cover. It's the reason Schwartz gave for why the Lions parted ways with safety Sean Jones on Monday as part of the team's roster cut to 75 players.

“Safety position for our team is pretty unique,” Schwartz said. “I don’t want to say unique because there’s a lot of teams trending toward that way all across the league and for us movement skills and things like that are more important than in-the-box play and stuff like that.

“It just didn’t fit Sean’s strengths. Sean’s strengths are a little bit different than what we were looking for.”