The Notebook

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NOTEBOOK: Coleman, defensive backs making plays for Lions

There is a scoreboard of sorts in the defensive back meeting room with a list of player names on it and a number after the name showing the ‘points’ they’ve accumulated through the first five games.

It’s a contest between Detroit’s defensive backs. They’ve developed a points system for interceptions, passes defended and other plays they make, and they’re keeping track.

“Guys in the secondary all are competing with each other to have the most interceptions or PBU (pass break ups) or whatever,” cornerback Justin Coleman said. “That’s just something to keep us going.”

Coleman leads the Lions with nine passes defended, which is tied for second in the NFL. He’s got two games with at least three passes defended, tied with New England’s Stephon Gilmore for the league lead. Coleman also has an interception, tied with cornerback Darius Slay and safety Tracy Walker for the team lead.

Coleman’s playing some good football right now, and his name is probably at the top of that list in the DB room, but he said he wasn’t going to hold anything over Slay or anyone else until the year is over and all the points are up on the board.

Slay, who’s been to the Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons and leads the league in passes defended since 2013, chimed in a couple lockers over while Coleman was talking to reporters on Wednesday, telling Coleman he knew who’d finish the year with more pass breakups, and that it wouldn’t be Coleman.

“Who has the best ball skills,” Slay asked.

To which Coleman just shot him a smile.

“Darius is going to be Darius,” Coleman said.

“We write it on the board. We see it every single day, who’s leading, the score, the points and whatever. Slay thinks he’s the best, so everyone in there is trying to prove he ain’t the best. We all feel like we’re the best.”

Detroit’s secondary as a collective group has arguably been Detroit’s strength on defense this year, and those players back there pushing each other to be better is translating to the field on gameday.

It’s a group that genuinely likes being around each other and knows how to have some fun at each other’s expense, too.

They still haven’t decided what the points leader will win at the end of the season, but the competition is stiff to see whose name ends up at the top of the list. It’s a competition that will only make everyone better in the end.

STILL HURDLING

Rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson suffered a concussion Week 4 vs. Kansas City when he tried to hurdle a Chiefs defender and got his legs clipped. He fell awkwardly on his head and shoulder. He left the game and didn’t return.

Hockenson was back on the field Monday night for the Lions, not having missed a game thanks to Detroit’s Week 5 bye. Hockenson was asked this week if his hurdling days are over.

“No, I’m going to go out there and play the game,” he said. “I’m not worried about anything else. I’m just going out there and play the game, whether that opportunity presents itself or not. I’m not going to change anything based on one thing.”

PASSING MILESTONE

Quarterback Matthew Stafford is set to become the fastest player in NFL history to reach 40,000 passing yards. He has 39,913 yards and needs only 87 yards Sunday vs. Minnesota to reach the milestone.

If he does it, he’ll have reached the mark in 147 games. It took Atlanta’s Matt Ryan 151 games to reach 40,000.

“I don’t know. I hope 40,000 isn’t the last number I hit,” Stafford said. “I’d like to keep playing and play well. The biggest thing for me is I just want to get the bad taste out of my mouth of losing two in a row. I just want to win a game. If I throw for 86 (yards) and we win, I’ll be happy as hell.”

“I don’t really think too much about it to be honest with you. I don’t go into any season looking at milestones you’re going to hit or any game. I just go out there and try and play and help us win.”

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