O'Hara: Lions' focus will be on their own performance vs. the Jets on Friday

Posted Aug 5, 2013

The Lions won't get caught up in anything that makes the game more than what it is ... the start of the preseason schedule

The Lions don't intend to have their first public full-dress rehearsal become an episode in any of the off-Broadway dramas that seem to follow the New York Jets no matter who they play or when.

Friday night's first preseason game of the season against the Jets at Ford Field should be just that – a preseason game.

The Lions' focus will be on their own performance. The game plan will be bare bones, based on what head coach Jim Schwartz wants to see from his players as opposed to attacking an opponent's weaknesses, as would be the case in the regular season.

At home or on the road, the Jets have been a traveling sideshow in Rex Ryan's previous four seasons as head coach, often sparked by his brash statements and bold predictions.

Rex Ryan, Mark SanchezJets Head Coach Rex Ryan and QB Mark Sanchez

"Dramatics have been tied to the New York jets," Lions receiver Nate Burleson said. "Just from a fan's perspective, a football perspective, it seems like they're always in the news. However you look at it, it's a good game.

"People are going to be watching the Jets because they want to see what's going on there."

A quarterback battle between incumbent starter Mark Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith has taken center stage in Jets training camp.

It became a national storyline the moment the Jets drafted Smith in the second round and 39th overall and has not abated.

Sanchez was booed for throwing an interception in Saturday night's scrimmage. Antonio Cromartie, who made the pick, called the fan reaction "bull crap." Sanchez also launched a 57-yard TD pass to Stephen Hill.

Stephen Tulloch, the middle linebacker and defensive captain for the Lions, won't get caught up in anything that makes the game more than what it is – the start of the preseason schedule.

"Nah, we don't pay attention to that stuff," Tulloch said. "They might, but I don't worry about that. You've got to realize, preseason is just a time to refine our tools. We don't game plan. We just play.

"Obviously, they have a quarterback addition with Geno, and Mark. This is their audition to win a job. Our goal is to go out there and execute our calls that are called and limit their offense as much as possible."

A spirited practice in pads Saturday, with a few mild skirmishes, set a good tone for the practice week to prepare to play the Jets.

"It's good," Tulloch said. "It's game week coming up. We're tired of playing against each other. We'd rather play against somebody else."

As a player who watches other teams from a far -- particularly in his role as a commentator for NFL Network -- Burleson has an appreciation for the energy Ryan brings to the Jets.

The past offseason is an example of how Ryan gets attention off the field for things that have nothing to do with football. He lost a reported 100 pounds from undergoing lap-band surgery, and -- no bull -- he ran with the bulls in Spain.

"If I played with him, I probably would love him because he's that type of coach," Burleson said. "Opposing teams, they're frustrated about the amount of stuff he talks about, how he talks. During the game he talks.

"But the guys who play for him, they go out there and give it their all. I can respect the Jets, and I can respect coaches like Rex because he speaks his heart. He's not afraid to set goals and expectations.

"Everybody's so caught up in being politically correct. He's not that type of coach, which is something I like."