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Lions WR Calvin Johnson admitted this week that he sustained a concussion against the Vikings and kept playing.
Brandon Pettigrew and Corey Williams were the only Lions players who missed Tuesday's practice.
The Detroit Lions secondary is tied for last in the NFL when it comes to snatching interceptions, and the defense as a whole is No. 26 in total points allowed. It has been a rough start to the 2012 season.
The Detroit Lions are a disappointing 1-3 entering their Week 5 bye, and the play of Detroit's special teams unit has been a big part of the early season struggles.
Lions' safety Louis Delmas returned to practice for the first time since July.
The Detroit Lions continued to slip in the power rankings after dropping a game to the Minnesota Vikings.
The Detroit Lions are off to a 1-3 start, which has Pride Of Detroit's Sean Yuille calling for changes to be made between now and when the Lions return to action in Week 6 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
A 1-3 start is inexcusable, and the Lions are just an absolute mess. Certainly they've been the victim of some bad luck, but that is not why they are 1-3. They are 1-3 because they are not a good team ... Changes need to be made, both from a coaching and personnel standpoint, if the Lions are going to get this season turned around and prevent it from being a wasted year. I certainly hope they use their bye week wisely.
The Lions haven't lost a game by more than one score, so to say they're a "victim of some bad luck" is certainly valid.
On the Vikings' side of things, The Daily Norseman's Christopher Gates wants to sit back and enjoy the unexpected success of Minnesota's young football team:
The Minnesota Vikings are 3-1, and in sole possession of first place in the NFC North for the first time in 1,001 days. And we, as fans, should be enjoying the heck out of it. After last season, nobody deserves to be pleasantly surprised more than we do.
As Gates notes in the article, the Vikings beat a divisional foe for the first time in two years, and won their first road game within the division since Brett Favre beat the Green Bay Packers in 2009.
An MRI on Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril's back revealed no serious injury
Despite giving up two more special teams touchdowns on Sunday, Danny Crossman's job is safe.
Detroit's star defensive end left Sunday's game with a back injury, but will have two weeks to recover as the team enters its bye week.
The Minnesota Vikings couldn't move the ball much on offense, force many turnovers or shut down Matthew Stafford, but they rode a couple of monster special teams plays to a 20-13 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday afternoon.
With Percy Harvin and Marcus Sherels proving to be the heros of the day, the Vikings managed to pull off an impressive road victory in spite of the pass offense's struggles. Harvin's 105-yard kickoff return to open the game gave Minnesota a lead that it would never relinquish, partially thanks to Sherels' 77-yard punt return score in the third quarter.
One of the game's most dynamic playmakers, Harvin made his presence felt on the absolute first play:
The 24-year-old now has five career kick return touchdowns, including at least one in each of his four NFL seasons. Just a couple quarters later, Sherels would score his first career touchdown in dazzling fashion:
Those two scores nearly put the game away, but the Lions would rally in the fourth quarter and nearly force overtime. After failing to reach the end zone in the first three quarters, Stafford led Detroit on an 11-play, 75-yard drive late in the fourth quarter to put the Lions within a touchdown of tying.
Minnesota wasn't able to run out the clock as Detroit's defense continued its strong effort, but punter Chris Kluwe pinned the ball inside the 2-yard line without much time remaining.
The Lions did have a small chance of mounting a long, game-tying drive, even converting a 4th-and-10 with the game on the line, but ultimately the Vikings' defense held on, preventing Detroit from converting another hail mary one week doing so.
Fantasy Studs/Duds: Adrian Peterson got in his usual work on Sunday, rushing 21 times for 102 times in addition to catching four passes for 20 yards, although he never scored a touchdown. Stafford finishes with 319 yards passing, with 54 of those yards going to Calvin Johnson.
For more, check out SB Nation's fantasy page.
Odds: The Lions were favored by six points, so obviously those betting on them didn't win.
For more on odds and gambling, check out SB Nation's odds page.
Injury Info: Lions defensive end Cliff Avril left the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent back injury. He didn't return even though he was initially listed as questionable after the play. Vikings wide receiver Michael Jenkins also suffered a rib injury during the game.
This story originally appeared at SB Nation.
The Detroit Lions' defense has had a great afternoon so far, but the team still trails 20-6 to the Minnesota Vikings entering the fourth quarter on Sunday. Special teams is to blame for the scoring margin, as the Vikings have returned a pair of kicks, one kickoff and one punt, for touchdowns.
The Vikings have only executed three kick returns of any kind in this game, but two of them have resulted in touchdowns. Percy Harvin took the game's opening kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown to put the Vikings ahead 7-0, and Marcus Sherels extended Minnesota's lead to 20-6 in the third quarter with a 77-yard punt return score.
Minnesota has mustered just 174 total yards of offense so far, with the vast majority of it coming on the ground, but the Lions have been unable to capitalize. Matthew Stafford has 178 yards passing, but the rushing game hasn't produced, especially Mikel Leshoure, who has carried the ball 13 times for 26 yards and lost a fumble.
The Detroit Lions have more total yardage and zero turnovers so far on Sunday, but they still trail 13-6 to the Minnesota Vikings going into halftime. Percy Harvin can primarily be to blame for that after returning the game's opening kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown, as the teams have scored two field goals apiece since that play.
Matthew Stafford has been very solid so far, even though he hasn't led the Lions to a touchdown yet, completing 12-of-17 passes for 116 yards. Detroit's struggling running game -- ten carries for just 15 yards so far -- is a key part of the team's low scoring effort.
Calvin Johnson is Detroit's leading receiver with three catches for 32 yards, but Brandon Pettigrew has put up nearly identical numbers with three catches for 31 yards. Harvin leads Minnesota in receiving so far with three catches for 22 yards, plus he's rushed three times for 12 yards.
Adrian Peterson has powered the Vikings offense so far with 52 yards rushing on seven carries, plus he's caught three passes for 16 yards.
The Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings have played a fairly even game so far, but the Lions are trailing 13-3 early in the second quarter because of Percy Harvin's stunning 105-yard kickoff return touchdown on the game's opening play. Since then, the Vikings have scored two field goals to Detroit's one, expanding their lead to 10 points.
The Lions haven't gotten much done on the ground yet on Sunday, but Matthew Stafford has looked strong after being forced to miss time during this week's practices due to injury. He's already completed 7-of-9 passes for 61 yards, but Mikel Leshoure has ran for -4 yards so far on his first four carries of the game.
Adrian Peterson is once again dicing through the defense, rushing for 52 yards on seven carries in addition to catching two passes for 13 yards. Christian Ponder has also looked solid despite the absence of the big play, completing 8-of-11 passes for 44 yards.
The Minnesota Vikings have declared seven players inactive for Sunday's contest with the Detroit Lions: linebacker Erin Henderson, quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, wide receivers Stephen Burton and Jarius Wright, safeties Andrew Sendejo and Mistral Raymond and lineman Mark Asper.
For the Detroit Lions, defensive tackle Corey Williams, safeties Amari Spievey and Louis Delmas, linebacker Travis Lewis, tackle Jason Fox and quarterback Kellen Moore are inactive Sunday. Delmas has missed all of the 2012 thus far after undergoing knee surgery in August. Corey Williams underwent knee surgery this past Tuesday and is considered week-to-week.
Henderson, the Vikings linebacker, has been ruled out with concussion symptoms. He has not practiced or played since Sept. 19 when he first reported the injury. Henderson's absence is a huge blow to the Vikings defense, as he was the team's leading tackler through two games.
Rookie wide receiver Jarius Wright is still out with an ankle injury he suffered in the preseason. Wright was a fourth-round selection by the Minnesota Vikings out of Arkansas.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford's status was in question following a leg injury he sustained last week, but he will be active Sunday.
Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder is active despite a neck injury he has dealt with all week. Ponder has played exceptionally for the 2-1 Minnesota Vikings and looks to keep his team at the top of the NFC North standings with a win Sunday against Detroit.
This story originally appeared on SBNation.com.
With one team coming off a 3-13 season and another coming off 10-6, most would assume that the Lions would've been ahead of the Vikings by the time the two faced each other in Week 4. Instead it's the Vikings with a 2-1 record, while the Lions have floundered to a 1-2 start.
Despite 583 yards of total offense in Week 3, the Lions were unable to hold off Jake Locker and the Titans, losing 44-41 in overtime. The Vikings, on the other hand, managed to pull one of Week 3's biggest upsets by taking out the 49ers, a team that many believed to be the top team in the NFL prior to the loss.
Regardless of the records though, and despite the recent successes of the Vikings, the Lions will still enter the game as favorites when they host the NFC North opponent on Sunday.
However, it will be interesting to keep an eye on the playing status of the game's two starting quarterbacks, Matt Stafford and Christian Ponder. Both Stafford and Ponder, injured with hip and neck injuries respectively, are listed as questionable for the game.
Game Date/Time: Sunday, Sept. 30; 1 p.m. ET
Location: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
TV Distribution Map: The506.com
Vikings: KFAN (FM 100.3)
Lions: 97.1 FM
Famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery. Williams will not play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings and is listed as week-to-week. Lions coach Jim Schwartz has not given a timetable for Williams' return.
Sammie Hill and Nick Fairley are expected to fill in for Williams at defensive tackle. The 13th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Fairley had foot surgery prior to his rookie season and was never fully healthy in 2011, but he could start Sunday after having a strong offseason.
Williams is tied with Ndamukong Suh for the team lead with two sacks on the season, equaling his total from all of last year. He also forced a fumble in a Week 1 win over the St. Louis Rams. In 122 career games, Williams has recorded 273 tackles and 27.5 sacks.
With 369 yards receiving, Calvin Johnson leads the NFL, yet less than a third of that production has come during the first half. In the Lions' most-recent game, Johnson finished the first half with just one reception for 6 yards before exploding in the second half to finish the game with 10 receptions for 164 yards and a touchdown.
Two losses through three games can make any team re-evaluate what it is doing, and the Lions are no different. Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan told the Detroit Free Press that the teams wants to try to get Johnson the ball earlier in games, so as long as that doesn't mean forcing it unnecessarily.
"We've had probably more carries the first three games than we have, probably, in the first three games of any of the seasons I've been here -- for the same reason that Calvin's not having a lot of early production," Linehan said. "But we're going to work on improving that."
Just so long as improving that doesn't require forcing it into double or triple coverage. A two-time AP All-Pro, Johnson often demands plenty of attention, and Linehan said it trying to force things is "not a good philosophy."
"I think it's really more key that we continue to make the adjustments we're making so that his impact is still very effective as the game goes on, because you can't tell the quarterback to, ‘Hey, get the ball to him,' if they're taking two or three guys to cover him. These other guys got to come through for our offense, and we've got to continue to do that."
Johnson finished the 2011 season with 96 receptions for 1,681 yards with 16 touchdowns, each ranking him in the top four in the NFL.
The Detroit Lions' rather lengthy final injury report of the week has been released by the team. The list of names includes quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson, both of whom are probable for Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Stafford is dealing with a minor hip injury, while Johnson has been slightly hobbled with a bit of an ankle issue. However, both players look good to go on Sunday.
There are 11 other players on the list, including defensive tackle Corey Williams, who has been ruled out with a knee injury. Safety Louis Delmas and linebacker Travis Lewis, who along with Williams, did not participate in practice this week, are listed as doubtful.
LB Justin Durant, RB Mikel Leshoure, TE Tony Scheffler and S Amari Spievey are questionable for the game, while T Corey Hilliard, DE Lawrence Jackson, G Rob Sims, WR Titus Young, Stafford and Johnson are probable.
Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell isn't receiving a ton of snaps on offense, but lately, the timing of those snaps show how pleased Detroit's coaching staff is with the second-year player out of Wayne State. Bell's touches have increased over the first three weeks of the season, and in Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans, all five of his carries and all four of his catches came in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan sees Bell as a player who can enter the game fresh and make a late impact:
"We really feel like Joique is going to be a game closer, a guy that's going to be able to be fresh in the fourth quarter," Linehan said. "It doesn't eliminate the other guys, but it certainly highlights him playing a little more in those situations."
Bell has 12 carries for 38 yards and a touchdown this season. He's been more dangerous as a pass-catcher, making six receptions for 103 yards. Lions head coach Jim Schwartz is also impressed with Bell:
"He's made plays when he's been in the game. He's made guys miss, he's got tough yards, he's ball secure, he's been assignment sound. He's done a nice job."
Bell will have his next opportunity to help the Lions' offense on Sunday when Detroit hosts the Minnesota Vikings. Kickoff is scheduled for noon CT, and the matchup will be televised by FOX.
Detroit Lions running back Kevin Smith has suffered through plenty of disappointment during his NFL career, so the recent ascension of Mikel Leshoure to the top of the depth chart and the impending return of Jahvid Best isn't going to rattle him. The 25-year-old former third-round pick from the 2008 NFL Draft has not been healthy enough to play a full slate of 16 games since his rookie season, but at this point in his career he considers himself a veteran leader who is motivated by more than just playing time (via the Detroit Free Press):
"I play for my teammates and obviously this organization, so if they needed me to sing Lions marching down the field, seriously, I'm all for it," Smith said. "Whatever they ask. I have no problems, I'm not frustrated at all. Obviously I want to play. Obviously I want to play, but if I'm not playing I stay in my guys' ears, I still consider myself the leader of this group."
Smith has played in three games and started two so far in 2012, rushing for 115 yards and one touchdown on 29 carries.
Kyle Vanden Bosch and the Detroit Lions defense hit Tennessee's Jake Locker only once in their last game, and Vanden Bosch says that just isn't acceptable. The Lions defensive lineman spoke to the media on Wednesday, and he had the following to say on the lack of pressure (via Mlive.com):
"To have a game where the quarterback drops back 40-some times and he gets hit once, it's unacceptable for this defensive line, said Vanden Bosch. "And we understand the expectations, and we understand in order for this defense to work, in order for this team to be a good team and win a lot of games this year, we have to get back there and get more hits and get more sacks."
"But we do the right things in practice. We prepare the right way. We have the right tools to get back there, but for whatever reason, it didn't happen on Sunday. Now, we don't go into this week and panic, we don't go into this week and press, we don't look for a new way to reinvent pass rush. We go and do the same things we've been doing, go with what we believe in - some of the things that got us there last year, and it'll work. Hopefully, this week we'll get back on track and get a bunch of sacks and a bunch of hits on the quarterback and affect the game, make him float some balls and throw some interceptions. Get back to the type of defensive line play we're used to seeing around here."
The Lions are expecting the Vikings to be focused on getting the ball out on time, and Vanden Bosch understands that they'll need to take advantage any time the opposing offense does not. The Lions defense has registered seven sacks thus far in 2012, down slightly from the pace of their 41 sack season in 2011.
The Vikings offensive line has done a decent job in keeping Christian Ponder upright so far in 2012. The second year quarterback has been sacked a total of six times in Minnesota's first three games, the Vikings will need to continue that good protection if they hope to improve to 3-1 on the year.
The Lions will host the Vikings on Sunday from Ford Field in Detroit. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET, with FOX televising the game.
Hopeful to start this Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford made his triumphant return to practice on Thursday and was among seven Detroit players listed as limited participants on the team's latest injury report.
Stafford's status entering the week appeared uncertain after he left his team's Week 3 loss with a hip injury, but the fourth-year signal caller provided a huge motivational boost by suiting up for Thursday's practice. Even though Stafford was a limited participant, he still has a great chance to start against the Vikings if he can avoid any setbacks.
Also returning to practice on Thursday were a pair of Stafford's favorite targets in tight end Tony Scheffler and receiver Titus Young. Scheffler injured his calf against San Francisco in Week 2 and was forced to sit out against the Titans, while Young missed Wednesday's practice with a knee injury. Both were limited on Thursday along with Stafford, but also are expected to see the field this weekend.
"I don't know how to describe it. I don't know what the odds are of coming back to a team like that are, but I know they're not good. Coming in here yesterday, looking around and thinking about that, it's just awesome."
Harris was cut by the Lions right before the 2011 season for salary reasons, then spent the year with the Jacksonville Jaguars. After being cut by the Jaguars and Carolina Panthers this year, Harris was able to find his way back to Detroit, where he will replace Ben Graham, who was put on injured reserve on Tuesday.
Harris will also return to his holding duties with the Lions, and will work with longtime teammate Jason Hanson.
The Detroit Lions defense has lost DT Corey Williams for at least one week due to knee surgery.
Some key players for both the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings are working through injuries ahead of their Week 4 clash in Detroit. Matthew Stafford, Corey Williams, and Louis Delmas all missed practice on Wednesday, and of the three, only Stafford is expected to play against the Vikings. Delmas is still recovering from August knee surgery, and Williams just underwent surgery on his knee and won't be available against the Vikings.
Here is the full injury report from Wednesday, courtesy of detroitlions.com:
T Corey Hilliard (Elbow)
Did Not Participate
LB Erin Henderson (Concussion)
S Mistral Raymond (Ankle)
TE Kyle Rudolph (Quadriceps)
LB Marvin Mitchell (Ankle)
The Detroit Lions are riding two-straight losses, but they face a relatively easier opponent in Week 4 in the Minnesota Vikings. Then again, divisional matchups can never be taken for granted, and the Lions need only look to last week for a reason to not overlook the Vikings: their win over the San Francisco 49ers. Minnesota went out there and made the 49ers look bad with a strong offensive showing, while San Francisco handily beat the Lions in Week 2.
If Minnesota's offense can do the same things it did against San Francisco's, then the Lions could be in trouble. They haven't looked their best this season, while the Matthew Stafford-led offense can be inconsistent at times. That being said, the Lions are generally favored around the Internet when it comes to the picks and predictions.
ESPN had 11 of their 13 experts take Detroit over Minnesota, with Merril Hoge and Mike Ditka being the lone dissenters. The trend continues over at CBS Sports, where seven of their nine experts take Detroit, the home team, as well. Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports piles it on with his pick of Detroit and it becomes clear the national media is not entirely hot on Minnesota and their big win in Week 3.
The Detroit Lions are 0-3 against the spread so far this season, but odds makers have listed the Lions as early 6-point favorites against the Minnesota Vikings. With a sore hamstring bothering Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, the over/under has not yet been set, and most sites have not moved off the initial line.
The Vikings boast a top-10 rushing offense that averages 121.3 yards per game and features star running back Adrian Peterson in the backfield, while the Lions have limited opponents to just 94.7 yards per game. Detroit is coming off a disappointing 44-41 loss to the Tennessee Titans, while the Vikings are riding high after a victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
Matthew Stafford wasn't talking at Lions' practice about his injury on Wednesday.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford -- who is dealing with the effects of a leg injury that he aggravated last Sunday against the Tennessee Titans -- did not practice with the team on Wednesday. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Stafford did not limp or look injured as he left the team's practice facility, but his status for this week's game against the Minnesota Vikings is still up in the air.
Stafford left last Sunday's loss to the Titans late in the fourth quarter after he aggravated a leg injury that he suffered in practice last week. Stafford said on Monday that his leg was "sore" and that he feels like he could play on Sunday. Complicating matters a bit for Detroit is that the team has skidded to a 1-2 start to begin the season and will be playing a divisional opponent this week.
Stafford has dealt with injuries throughout his career, but he appeared in all 16 of Detroit's games in 2011. He has gotten off to a disappointing start in 2012, though, throwing three touchdowns to four interceptions and stumbling to a 83.5 quarterback rating.
This story originally appeared at SB Nation.
The NFC North enters Week 4 with no undefeated team and no winless team. The Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings sit atop the division at 2-1, and the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers are currently behind at 1-2. This Sunday may help separate the teams, or it may further enmesh them.
The Lions and Vikings will face each other in an important divisional game, with the Vikings aiming to assert themselves as serious contenders for the NFC North crown. The good news for Detroit is that they'll be at home, where they have one win this year and where they went 5-3 last season. The game will kick off at 1 p.m. ET on FOX.
The Packers, meanwhile, will host the New Orleans Saints, a team looking to salvage a season on the verge of going totally off the rails. That is a late game in Green Bay, kicking off at 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX. The Bears will head south to the Lone Star State to visit the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night, where their embattled offensive line will have to deal with DeMarcus Ware, among others. That game begins at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Lions starting punter Ben Graham was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday, paving the way for the return of former punter Nick Harris.
The status of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is still up in the air, but according to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, he's dealing with a hamstring issue. Florio cites a source and suggests that the expectation is that Stafford should be OK. It wasn't previously known what the nature of the injury was, only that Stafford appeared to hurt his leg and had to leave Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans in the final minutes.
Stafford gave way to Shaun Hill in the final minutes, and it almost resulted in a Lions victory as the backup journeyman threw two touchdowns in the final 18 seconds of regulation to force overtime. One of the touchdowns was a Hail Mary play to wide receiver Titus Young.
The Lions will take on the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4, and Stafford's status will likely remain unclear until official injury and practice participation reports start to come out on Wednesday, though it could be in doubt all the way up until game day. Still, whether or not Stafford practices in full at some point this week would be a good indication, given the nature of hamstring injuries.
The Detroit Lions are unsure if quarterback Matthew Stafford will be able to play in their Week 4 matchup with theMinnesota Vikings after suffering a pulled leg muscle in Sunday's loss to the Tennessee Titans, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.
Stafford injured his leg running after Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner as he returned a fumble 72 yards for a touchdown with 1:16 remaining in the fourth quarter. Stafford was 33-of-42 for 278 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions before leaving the game.
Stafford's latest injury is only one of many that have hampered his four-year NFL career. Stafford played in a total of 13 games through his first two NFL seasons, as he was limited by multiple shoulder injuries. 2011 was Stafford's first full season.
If Stafford is indeed unable to play Sunday, the Lions must turn to backup Shaun Hill, who led Detroit's remarkable comeback at the end of regulation against the Titans in Week 3. Hill threw for two touchdowns in under 90 seconds, including a completed Hail Mary at the end of regulation. Hill finished 10-of-13 for 172 yards and two touchdowns.
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