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10 takeaways from Austin & Cooter

Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter spoke to the media Thursday as they do every week during the regular season.

Here are 10 takeaways from those media sessions:

1. Rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis had his role scaled back a bit on Thanksgiving vs. Minnesota on passing downs. Austin said veteran linebacker Tahir Whitehead has been better in coverage lately, and that was the reason. Davis is going to continue to develop in that area, but it can't be at the expense of a player who is doing it better right now. 

2. Cooter admitted it's hard to be a good offense in this league when a team can only do one thing well on that side of the ball. He likened it to a boxer punching with just one hand. Teams can win games being one dimensional, but they can't be a great offense. Cooter said fixing Detroit's 30th-ranked rushing offense "falls on his shoulders." He seems intent on fixing the issues down the stretch, knowing how much it's holding his offense back.

3. Austin's name was mentioned last week as a candidate for the Arizona State University coaching vacancy. He said the rumors meant nothing, and he had no contact with Arizona State.

4. Cooter's name was also mentioned last week as a candidate for the University of Tennessee coaching vacancy. That coaching search has been, well, an interesting one by most reports. Cooter said his focus was on Baltimore and not his alma mater, adding "Uh, sounds like an interesting time down there."

5. Dwight Freeney isn't the player of 10 years ago, but Austin said Freeney "still has juice," and plans to use him accordingly the rest of the way.

6. Don't be surprised if we see Theo Riddick get more opportunities to run the ball down the stretch. He's been the best Lions back since the bye, averaging 4.5 yards per carry.  

7. Rookie cornerback Teez Tabor has gotten more playing time of late. Austin said the rookie has been doing a good job with the opportunity. Tabor is extremely smart, according to Austin, and knows exactly what he's supposed to do when he gets in the game. Expect Tabor to continue to have an increased role.

8. Cooter scripts about 15 plays on offense to begin a game, but that's only for 1st and 2nd downs. 3rd down has a separate list of calls based on the situation. As for the slow starts of late, Cooter said the emphasis is on not turning the ball over, which he thinks has been the biggest culprit in the slow starts.

9. Austin coached the secondary in Baltimore from 2011-13, and won a Super Bowl there. He said the biggest thing he took from that experience was that Baltimore isn't afraid to try new things on defense and be aggressive. It's one of the things that traveled with him to Detroit.

10. Cooter will have to account for veteran Ravens Linebacker Terrell Suggs on Sunday. He said the hard part about playing Suggs is that he's very smart and knows offensive football. Suggs typically ends up where you don't want him to end up.

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