Despite recent losses, the Detroit Lions have been playing much better on defense lately, including last week against the high-scoring Los Angeles Rams.
"I think that there are some things in there defensively from a technique standpoint that I've seen, maybe over the last couple weeks or maybe the last four weeks, that have definitely improved, especially in some of our fundamentals up front, playing with our hands, playing with good pad level," head coach Matt Patricia said Monday.
"Doing certain things to get off blocks, things like that defensively that I think are showing up. Maybe just an overall better understanding of some of the things that we're doing from a scheme standpoint as we build through the course of the year… being able to adapt week-in and week-out to do whatever we need to do that week to win. So, those are some positives there."
Part of the reason for the turnaround has been the addition of defensive tackle Damon Harrison. Harrison is playing at an extremely high level, and also having a positive impact on his teammates around him.
"It's always good when you have a great vet coming in that has a lot of knowledge about the game and can add on to anything, your run stopping ability and just seeing things that a person with his experience can see to pass on to me has been a blessing," rookie defensive lineman Da'Shawn Hand said of Harrison.
The Lions will need the defense to continue to play well as they enter the final stretch of the season.
"It's all about confidence," Harrison said. "It's hard to gain confidence when you're losing. Just stay in it. Be able to go into the offseason on a good note."
STAFFORD THE LIONS WPMOY NOMINEE
The Lions announced Thursday that quarterback Matthew Stafford is the team's nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. The award recognizes players for outstanding work in the community as well as excellence on the field.
"Obviously humbling," Stafford said of the nomination. "He (Payton) was obviously a great player and great person in the community and obviously has a lot of respect throughout the league.
"This is an award that is given out to some pretty special guys. It's nice to be mentioned with those guys. I take a lot of pride in trying to help out this community as much as I can and I'm obviously honored to be honored for it."
CONTAINING THE CARDINALS
The Arizona Cardinals' offense ranks at or near the bottom of the league in every major statistical category, but the Lions are not taking them lightly, especially with the talent they still have on that side of the ball.
"Honestly, I didn't even know (they were ranked last in all those categories)," Lions safety Glover Quin said. "I don't really look at the stats like that. I just look at the film. On film, they throw the ball, they catch it and they have guys that can make plays. That's kind of how I look at it.
"They have David Johnson. They have Larry Fitzgerald. For me, that's kind of what I pay attention to because it's the NFL and any given day a team can go for 400 yards."
The Cardinals are coming off a big win on the road in Green Bay, and will no doubt be looking to build on that.
"Everybody's excited ... a Victory Monday coming up," Cardinals rookie quarterback Josh Rosen said before departing the visiting team's locker room at Lambeau. "It's a fun feeling."
For Mike O'Hara's full scouting report on the Cardinals, click here.
OTHER NOTEWORTHY ITEMS
- Click here for the full Lions-Cardinals injury report and game designations.
- The Lions announced Wednesday that they placed linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin on Reserve-Injured.
- Will wide receiver Kenny Golladay hold his own vs. Patrick Peterson this week? Tim Twentyman covers that and more in his latest 10 Questions column.
- Catch up on all the news from Jim Bob Cooter and Paul Pasqualoni's Tuesday media sessions.
- Watch Lions players take Detroit Lions Academy students holiday shopping at Meijer for the annual Shop with a Lion event.