MIKE O'HARA

O'Hara: Midweek periscope - a look at Suh's illegal hit, Stafford hitting different targets and more

Posted Sep 11, 2013

At the midpoint of the week, detroitlions.com columnist Mike O'Hara takes a look at events of the recent past and coming up in the near future

Midweek perisciope: looking back at Ndamukong Suh's illegal hit and the future, Matthew Stafford hitting different targets, and a historically rare win for the Lions.

The NFL and Suh made their feelings known on Tuesday about Suh's illegal block on Vikings center John Sullivan in the first quarter of  Sunday's victory over the Vikings.

Any further action from the Lions remains to be seen.

The NFL's message to Suh was that he has been fined $100,000 for the hit. It is believed to be the largest fine ever levied against a player for an on-field incident.

On the play, linebacker DeAndre Levy intercepted a deflected pass and ran it in for a touchdown. Suh, trailing the play by a little more than five yards, blocked Sullivan from the left, hitting him below the waist and sliding down into his knees.

It was an unnecessary block. It cost the Lions a touchdown and started another firestorm of controversy about Suh's rough style of play, and the perception among many opposing players, fans and media members that he is a dirty player.

The biggest issue going forward for the Lions and Suh is how to avoid further incidents. Anything similar to the one Sunday is likely to result in a suspension.

Suh was not available in the locker room Tuesday to speak on the incident, but it has been reported he will appeal.

Tuesday was the first day the players were back at practice since the game, and Suh apologized in a team meeting. He also apologized individually to Levy, linebacker Ashlee Palmer said.

"He knew he shouldn't have done it," Palmer said. "It was uncalled for. Levy was already in the end zone. He talked to the guys. He talked to the team and expressed himself to us. He knew he was in a situation where he shouldn't have done it."

The play does not diminish Suh as a leader, Palmer said.

"Not at all," Palmer said. "He's still going to be a leader of this team, of this group."

Coach Jim Schwartz also was unavailable Tuesday.

It is unlikely that the Lions will take any action beyond what the league has imposed, but there is precedent in Schwartz's tenure as coach for doing so.

Gosder Cherilus, a starting offensive right tackle, got a penalty late in an opening-game victory over the Bucs in 2011. Schwartz replaced him with Corey Hilliard as the starter for the next game against Kansas City. Cherilus played in the game.

It clearly was a disciplinary act. Cherilus was reinstated as a starter the next week and started every game for the rest of the season.

It's interesting to consider any similar action against Suh. The real impact would be mostly symbolic. Offensive linemen play every snap, unless they're replaced because of injury or poor performance. Defensive linemen rotate throughout the game.

The Lions had 55 defensive snaps against the Vikings, and Suh played 48 – most of any defensive lineman. If he missed the first play of Sunday's at Arizona, or even the first series, it wouldn't be a big deal in terms of impact on the game. Symbolically, that's another matter.

Sized up: Rookie tight end Joseph Fauria is a little over 6-7 with an arm length of 33.75 inches and hands that are 10.8 inches. He's a big target.

Wide receiver Patrick Edwards is 5-9, with an arm length of 29.6 inches and 8.4-inch hands. He's a small target.

Both played their first regular season games Sunday, and both had three catches.

In fractions of seconds, a quarterback has to process the catching zone and radius of two players who are at extreme opposites in terms of size.

"I just see it and throw it at them and hope for the best," Stafford said Tuesday.

There's more to it than that. It isn't a guessing game. Practice has given Stafford a level of familiarity with both players.

"I remember the first ball I threw to Fauria, I think, in training camp got picked," Stafford said. "I could have thrown it another two feet higher and he still would have caught it.

"When I first started throwing the ball to Calvin (Johnson), you've got to learn you can throw it a certain height and he can still get it. It takes some experience and some getting used to, to be able to switch up and down."

Muffled: The TD celebrations Fauria and Joique Bell performed Sunday have been put under wraps. Both got the word to cool it.

Division edge: The victory over Minnesota was only the second time in six years that the Lions won the first meeting against a division opponent. In 2011, they won at Minnesota in Game 3 as part of a season-opening five-game winning streak.

Sunday's win also ended a seven-game losing streak to NFC North teams.