MIKE O'HARA

O'Hara's Final Thoughts: A rundown of top storylines heading into today's Lions at Cardinals game

Posted Sep 15, 2013

A look at notable quotes, buzz surrounding the matchup and more from columnist Mike O'Hara

Notable quote: "Watching him on film, he's always doing the unthinkable, each and every Sunday." Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, telling Arizona reporters why he thinks Calvin Johnson is the NFL's best receiver.

Notable Quote II: "It brings out the best in competitors when you get to go against the best, especially when we get one-on-one coverage. And like I say, I view it as an opportunity." Calvin Johnson, on playing against Peterson.

Pre-game buzz: The Lions were a major topic of discussion on the TV network pregame shows.

Ndamukong Suh's penalty and subsequent $100,000 fine in last week's game against the Vikings got the most discussion -- wall-to-wall coverage, it seemed like --  and ESPN speculated about a possible trade of running back Mikel Leshoure.

Suh has appealed the fine. Fines often are reduced when appealed.

Any decision on trading Leshoure likely would depend on when Montell Owens is expected to return from short-term injured reserve list. By rule, he has to sit out at least the first six games. Leshoure, a starter all of last year but behind Reggie Bush, Joique Bell and rookie Theo Riddick on the depth chart, provides depth for protection in case of an injury to one of the backs.

The closer: Rashean Mathis didn't start in the Lions' secondary last week, and he won't start against the Cardinals.

The premier matchup in today's game is Johnson vs. Peterson. It might be the NFL's best man-to-man duel of the week.

But that doesn't mean Mathis will be little more than an interested spectator. He has to be on high alert if Coach Jim Schwartz decides again to go to his "bullpen," as he characterized his decision to bring Mathis in late in last week's victory over the Vikings.

Mathis was the closer. When Schwartz felt that the Vikings might be rattling rookie cornerback Darius Slay late in the game, he went to Mathis to calm things down on the right corner. Slay had been beaten by Jerome Simpson for a long gain.

Slay will start again today, but Mathis will be back in his regular roles, which means playing wherever he is needed in the secondary and on special teams.

Being called the closer appeals to Mathis at this stage of his career as an 11-year veteran.

"That's a good way to think of it," he said. "I'm here to help any way I can. I'm healthy so I can play some good football. Wherever my role is to play and to plug in, that's what I'm in for."

Mathis signed with the Lions in August after 10 seasons in Jacksonville. The Jaguars decided in March that they were not going to bring him back. The Lions had a spot for a veteran who still has some skills left.

"We're really glad to have him," Schwartz said. "Whether it's as a starter or a bullpen or a jack-of-all-trades -- whatever it is he can contribute to this team, and he did in this last game."

Playing with the game on the line doesn't faze Mathis.

"Some people can handle the pressure and some people can't," Mathis said. "Pressure doesn't mean too much to me. I've withstood, and I'm still able to withstand."

Preseason prep: The Lions' four preseason games prepared them for the Cardinals' 3-4 defense. All four opponents played the 3-4. Some calls will be adjusted because of how Arizona runs its scheme, but there is a carryover from having played against the 3-4 so often.

"It's nothing new to us, nothing alarming," said center Dominic Raiola. "Like I said, we saw it four games in the preseason."

Choices: Take your pick of the following that are least likely to be repeated from Week 1:

Reggie Bush to get 191 yards from scrimmage. And if Bush doesn't get 191 yards, how many will he get?

Calvin Johnson to be held to four receptions and 37 receiving yards. How many yards and catches will he have?

The Lions to have four TDs called back – DeAndre Levy's interception return (penalty on Ndamukong Suh), two runs by Bush that were overturned on replay, and Johnson's TD catch that was nullified by the process rule.

The Lions' offensive line won't give up a sack for the second straight game.

Cardinals left tackle Levi Brown to give up three sacks, as he did in last week's loss to the Rams.

Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald to have two TD catches.