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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. Austin said it's simply a matter of health as to why defensive end Ziggy Ansah hasn't been as dominate the last two years as he was in 2014 when he led the NFC with 14.5 sacks. Austin said he's appreciated the way Ansah's played through injuries this season on his way to nine sacks and 12 tackles for loss. Austin thinks Ansah can still be dominant if he gets past some of the injuries that have zapped him the last two seasons.

2. Where has rookie receiver Kenny Golladay improved the most since returning from the hamstring injury that kept him out over a month earlier this season? Cooter said it was his route running that's come the furthest this season.

3. Austin hasn't talked to Haloti Ngata about playing next season. He said he'll do that in the offseason. He did say if Ngata wants to play, there's no doubt in his mind that he can still play at a high level. Austin said Ngata was playing at a high level this season before a bicep injury ended his season prematurely.

4. Why did the run game never come together this year? "My job is to do whatever I can to help us win games," Cooter said. "We'd love to be top 5 in every stat, but that's not how this league works."

5. Austin isn't interested in playing young guys more on defense this week just to get a look at them. He said his goal is to win game No. 9 on the year. He's going to play the best players that will help the team accomplish that goal.

6. Two young players Cooter seems pretty excited about are running back Tion Green and tight end Michael Roberts. Cooter said Green runs hard and physical, and has a knack for it. Cooter is excited about the trajectory Roberts is on heading into year two. 

7. Austin likened offseason head coaching interviews to cramming for a test in college. Austin joked that, like in college, some tests you do good on and some you don't. Austin's had head coaching interviews in each of the last three offseasons, and the expectation is that he'll get some more this offseason.

8. Cooter seemed to elude to the fact that all the different starting line combinations the Lions have had this year (10), and all the upheaval they've had due to injuries upfront this season, have limited the offense some.

9. When asked if the Lions needed more help in the pass-rushing department this offseason, Austin made the point that teams can never have too many pass rushers or too many cornerbacks. I'll take that as a subtle 'yes.'

10. Rookie cornerback Teez Tabor has made a steady progression this season from being inactive early on to being a major contributor. Austin's liked how they've been able to develop Tabor at a good pace, and is really excited to see the jump he makes from year one to year two, where he says most young players make the biggest leap in development anyway.

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