O'Hara: Young is on the outside looking in for the second time

Posted Nov 19, 2012

Coach Jim Schwartz declared Young inactive for Thursday's game against the Houston Texans, and the tone and substance of Monday evening's announcement did not paint a hopeful picture for Young's return.

Titus Young is on the outside looking in for the second time in his brief career with the Lions, and whether he has any chances left is seriously in doubt.

Coach Jim Schwartz declared Young inactive for Thursday's game against the Houston Texans, and the tone and substance of Monday evening's announcement did not paint a hopeful picture for Young's return.

Being banished by your own team is one of the strongest sanctions a player can face. The fact that the Lions took that step sends a message that if they haven't run out of patience waiting for Young to conform with the team concept, they're close to the breaking point.

This is the second time this year that Young has been removed from the team. The first was in the offseason, for punching teammate Louis Delmas. Young was reinstated after seeking treatment for unspecified problems apparently related to behavioral issues.

Being banished a second time is the culmination of problems that have been brewing in recent weeks regarding Young's behavior in games and during the practice week.

The tipping point in this second case came Sunday, when Young clearly clashed with quarterback Matthew Stafford and other members of the offense and coaching staff.

"His behavior on Sunday was unacceptable," Schwartz told reporters after a walk-through practice in preparation for Thursday's game. "It hurt the team.

"There's no room for selfish behavior. When you're a player, it's your job to make the team happy."

Football is the ultimate team game. There is room for individuality, but not at the expense of the team, and Young was outside the bounds of the team concept.

I'm for second and third chances, but Young must make a dramatic change to return to the Lions. If he can't, they must make the best of the situation - trading him in the offseason for a player or draft pick if possible, or cutting ties with no return if it comes to that.
Schwartz said he met with Young Monday and informed him that he would not be active for Thursday and that he will not be allowed to practice Tuesday.

Schwartz did not say whether Young officially has been suspended, and other details related to making him inactive are unclear. It is not known if Young will be docked his weekly check of $27,352, which represents one-seventeenth of his annual base salary of $465,000.

Schwartz also did not say how long Young will be away from the team.

"Right now, it's a week-to-week thing," Schwartz said.

This is the second time since the start of the offseason workout program that the Lions have taken a hard line with a player.

Previously, they cut cornerback Aaron Berry in July after he was arrested twice within a month.

Young's situation is different from the offseason arrests of Berry, defensive tackle Nick Fairley and running back Mikel Leshoure. Those involved legal matters. Young's is strictly related to football, and the impact his behavior has had on the team.

Young has been a mercurial presence this season. Frankly, based on Young's recent behavior, Monday's action was not a surprise.

According to people with knowledge of the situation, Young had a shouting match with Stafford during the Jacksonville game three weeks ago and, during  Sunday's loss to Green Bay, was complaining in the huddle about the way he was being used - or not used.

Young had six passes thrown his way but caught only one. He was penalized twice - once for a false start, and once for offensive pass interference. And it was clear that Young was lined up in the wrong place on some plays and out of position on others.

One such play occurred on the Lions' next-to-last possession. They had 2nd-and-10 at their 25-yard line. Young was lined up in a position that belonged to tight end Tony Scheffler, who tried to get Young's attention that the formation was wrong.

Ultimately, right tackle Gosder Cherilus was called for a false start because the rhythm of the play was thrown off by Young being in the wrong place.

"He (Cherilus) was sitting in the blocks way too long," Schwartz said Monday.

Late in the game, the FOX network cameras caught receivers coach Shawn Jefferson yelling at offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. It turned out that there was no argument between Linehan and Jefferson. Instead, Jefferson was expressing his anger over Young's lack of professionalism.

"They were both on the same side of the argument," Schwartz said Monday.

Young has talent, as shown by his performance as a rookie last year. He had 48 receptions, a 12.6-yard average per catch and six touchdowns while playing mostly as the third receiver behind Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson.

Young failed to step up this year, however. His statistics through 10 games are decent - 33 catches and four touchdowns - but his behavior was troubling to the Lions.

Young got special treatment in consideration of the program he undertook after the punching incident with Delmas, but he clearly took advantage of the latitude given him.

"His behavior is going to have to change," Schwartz said. "How it goes from here depends on his reaction."

Young already has had two chances, and flunked twice.

It won't be a surprise if there is no third chance.