Cousin Sal's Week 16 Picks

December, 19, 2014
Dec 19
1:59
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Cousin Sal sits down with Neil Everett to makes his picks for Week 16 in the NFL.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Teryl Austin smiled wide when he was asked if his defensive tackle, C.J. Mosley, would be available Sunday when the Detroit Lions face the Chicago Bears.

Mosley
Mosley skipped out of part of Wednesday's practice with the Lions and missed Thursday's practice with good reason. He is now the father of a healthy baby girl.

"Yeah, it's good," Austin said. "I'm happy for C.J. We anticipate having him."

Defensive lineman Andre Fluellen said he went to visit Mosley and his new child at the hospital Wednesday night. Lions director of security Elton Moore told Mosley during practice and told him what was going on. He then picked up and left practice immediately to head to the hospital.

"Everything doing great," Fluellen said. "Had a little baby, I think last night. Everything went smooth."

Austin said he wasn't sure if Mosley would be at practice Friday.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- When Golden Tate heard the news about one of his closest friends, he immediately sent him a message.

In it, he told new Chicago Bears starting quarterback Jimmy Clausen to be safe.

Clausen
Tate
Tate
"I sent him a text saying I’m happy for you, but I’m also nervous for you," Tate said. "Our defense ain’t nothing to mess around with, so for that to be your first start with your new team, it can be nerve-racking.

"But I hope he does well. I hope he stays safe out there. I hope he puts some good stuff on film, but I hope we still beat him pretty bad."

Tate knows Clausen better than anyone else on the Lions. The two have been close friends since their time at Notre Dame together, when Clausen threw passes to Tate during Tate's Biletnikoff Award-winning season in 2009.

Tate said he has wanted to see Clausen get another chance after he was thrown into the Panthers’ lineup as a rookie. Clausen went 1-9 in his rookie year in 2010, completing 157 of 299 passes for 1,558 yards, three touchdowns and nine interceptions. He was sacked 33 times and posted a QBR of 11.0.

"I think it was unfair when he was in Carolina," Tate said. "He wasn’t on a great team, being a rookie. The next year they draft Cam Newton. He sits as a No. 3 [QB] because (Derek Anderson) was No. 2. They wouldn’t let him go, so he couldn’t even get an opportunity to go somewhere else to prove himself.

"Meanwhile, you’ve got tons of other, in my mind, terrible quarterbacks getting drafted in the first round. I’m sure you guys would agree with that, that have proven to be terrible, I’m not going to mention any names.

"That could have been his chance to shine, and then he tore his labrum last year and had to sit out the whole year and then he had to wait for someone to call. Wait for a chance. Gets to Chicago, gets a chance and beats out the No. 2 guy and is the backup quarterback. I believe in him and hope he makes the best of his opportunity for these last two games."

Well, he hopes he does well -- just not too well.

"In a perfect world he would play well and throw no touchdowns," Tate said. "And we would win."

Josh Thomas: Jets didn't engage

December, 18, 2014
Dec 18
4:18
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- When cornerback Josh Thomas was cut from the New York Jets days after his luggage, playbook and passport were stolen from an extended stay hotel in Parsippany, New Jersey, he said the team told him part of the reason he was being let go was that he didn't engage enough with his teammates.

On Thursday, his first with the Detroit Lions, Thomas said the Jets coaches didn't really engage with him while he was a player, either.

"I feel like I wasn't given the attention necessary as far as being engaged from the coach-to-player standpoint and knowing the things I need to work on," Thomas said. "It became where I was there as a player and wanting and desiring some feedback that wasn't given. So sometimes I may have been standing there with a [deer-in-the-headlight] look in my eyes trying to figure out what I needed to do.

"So at the same time, just from the past experiences, every organization operates differently -- so it could be the way that the Jets operate. I just want to be great. I want to get better every day. I look forward to enhancing something about my game every day, and [the Jets] were just more independent there."

Thomas said New York was much different than his experiences in Seattle, Carolina and even his first day with the Lions -- all teams that he said were more hands-on than the Jets' staff.

Thomas said it was the overall staff -- and not just head coach Rex Ryan or his position coach, Tim McDonald -- that didn't really engage much with him.


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Inside Edge: Lions-Bears

December, 18, 2014
Dec 18
4:04
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ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando delivers stats to help you make a pick for Detroit at Chicago.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Jim Caldwell was asked Thursday morning to compare benched Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler to the guy the Detroit Lions will face Sunday -- Jimmy Clausen.

Caldwell called Cutler incredible. He said Clausen was capable. Read into that what you will.

“You know, Cutler is a little different guy,” Caldwell said. “He’s a pretty incredible quarterback just in terms of athleticism, ability and those things. Clausen’s very capable, though.”

This could be a long, long Sunday for Clausen. Even if the Bears do what Caldwell anticipates, which is use Matt Forte way more than they did in his five-carry performance on Thanksgiving, it might not matter.

As long as Detroit’s run defense continues its consistency on early downs and forces Chicago into third-and-long situations, this could be a big day for the Lions defense and a rough day for Clausen.

Consider these things: There’s a reason why Clausen slipped to the second round of the NFL draft. And there’s a reason Carolina gave up on him after a season for Cam Newton. And there’s a reason he hasn’t started an NFL game since his rookie year.

In his only extended playing time, as a rookie with Carolina, he only completed 52.5 percent of his passes. He had six games where his QBR was in single digits. He was sacked an average of 2.5 times per game in his rookie year.

He’s not particularly good under pressure, either. In his rookie year, he was pressured 90 times, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He completed 18 of 57 passes for 215 yards. He was sacked 33 times, threw no touchdowns or interceptions and had a gaudy quarterback rating of 0.3 when pressured.

Then think about the Lions. They made the Chicago offensive line into a turnstile on Thanksgiving, pressuring Cutler, 16 times according to Pro Football Focus. Detroit’s defense sacks quarterbacks on 7.4 percent of their attempts -- 10th in the NFL. Meanwhile, Cutler was sacked 36 times this season, including seven times by New Orleans on Monday night.

Clausen had one good season -- his last one in college, where he completed 68 percent of his passes, threw 28 touchdowns and had only four interceptions. That was with an offense that had seven guys catch passes who would eventually play at least one NFL game (Golden Tate, Michael Floyd, Kyle Rudolph, Armando Allen, Robert Hughes, Theo Riddick and Jonas Gray).

And here’s what Caldwell thought about Clausen then.

“Capable, you know. You got what you’re looking for,” Caldwell said. “Accurate guy coming out of college. Good leader and can certainly do exactly what he’s doing now.”

Up until Wednesday, that was sitting behind Cutler on the bench.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions went outside for the second straight day Thursday and were without three potential starters during practice.

 The first, defensive tackle Nick Fairley, was expected as he hasn't practiced since injuring his knee in Week 8.

The second, defensive tackle C.J. Mosley, was added to the injury report late, as he was limited Wednesday for non-injury reasons. He was also not in attendance Thursday.

The third, left guard Rob Sims, was at practice Wednesday so his injury is currently unknown.

LaAdrian Waddle was also not at practice after being put on injured reserve late Wednesday. On Thursday, Detroit coach Jim Caldwell said Waddle is likely headed for surgery on his left knee, but he didn't know exactly when that would occur.

Cutler benching moves line

December, 18, 2014
Dec 18
12:45
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Sports books downgraded the Chicago Bears by less than a field goal after news broke Wednesday that quarterback Jay Cutler would be benched in favor of backup Jimmy Clausen for Sunday's home game against the Detroit Lions.

The Bears began the week as seven-point home underdogs to the Lions, with Cutler as the presumed starter. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Wednesday that Clausen would get the start, and sports books immediately began adjusting the point spread.

The adjustments varied, with oddsmakers attempting to gauge the difference value between Cutler and Clausen. Las Vegas sports book operator CG Technology had the Lions minus-9 (-105) Thursday morning, while the Westgate SuperBook and Station casinos were offering Detroit minus-8.5. It's not a large adjustment, but it does move the point spread off the key number of minus-7. A seven-point margin of victory is the second-most common outcome of an NFL game, behind three points.

The last time the Bears have been this big a home underdog was in a Dec. 28, 2009, game against the Minnesota Vikings. Chicago is 1-7 against the spread as a home underdog in the last four seasons. The Bears are 5-9 straight-up and against the spread overall this season.

In his NFL career, Cutler's teams in Denver and Chicago are a combined 45-72-2 against the spread in his starts. That's the worst record against the spread of any established current starter in the league.


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Ten(ish) Questions With... is a weekly series where we chat with a Detroit Lions player or coach about whatever. Sometimes it’ll be football related. Sometimes it’ll be about their dogs or something completely different. Want to hear from a particular subject, send an email to Michael.rothstein@espn.com.

Previous Ten(ish) Questions With...

Today's subject is defensive lineman Andre Fluellen.

Fluellen
What’s your best football memory?

Andre Fluellen: Probably, honestly, when I was getting recruited, (former Florida State coach) Bobby Bowden coming to my house. He came to the school and they were so excited. People were leaving class and all that. Everybody coming down to the fieldhouse to see him and then he came to the house and a legend sitting on my couch. Just the coolest, nicest guy.

You went to Florida State toward the tail end of his time there. What was that like?

Fluellen: Just being around him, you get the respect and understand why everyone respects him, the type of coach he is and the type of person he is more than anything. It’s just great to be in his presence.

What’s your favorite thing to do away from football?

Fluellen: I like to write. I love writing. When I’m done playing, I want to go into ministry so I’m always writing notes. I just write all the time.

What are you writing? Are you writing scripture?

Fluellen: I’ll write my interpretation. Like I’ll read something and write my interpretation, what it talks to me in terms of scripture. Sometimes, I’ll just write just little stories. I write stories all the time. Fiction.

About what?

Fluellen: Any and everything. I do a lot of, sometimes I’ll write about football or things going on right now. I got a whole notebook full of stuff that I write.

Are you gunning for my job?

Fluellen: (Laughs) I don’t know. If it’s available. (More laughter)

You never know. You say writing, though. Have you always done that?

Fluellen: Yeah, that’s always been me. I was an English major in college and I was a film minor. So that’s just, writing has always been how I express myself.

Did you want to go into screenwriting?

Fluellen: I really wanted to be a broadcaster, so I figured I’d try to go to the Broadcast Boot Camp. I’ve tried to get in the past two years and it’s competitive. I’m going to try again this year. I went to the Sports Journalism boot camp with the NFL, so I’m doing things like that.

You said ministry, but is this a post-career path for you?

Fluellen: Yeah. More than likely. Even if it’s not in front of the camera, just background writing. It doesn’t have to be in front of a camera. I’m not a camera guy like that.

What’s the best thing you’ve written?

Fluellen: Hmmm. I actually wrote a piece last year that I never let... I was going to get it published. It’s a really good piece about -- I know it’s really good -- just about football and the game and all that kind of stuff that’s been going on in the news. That was probably my favorite thing I’ve ever written.

Why not publish it?

Fluellen: When I’m playing football, I don’t want to do anything to distract from the focus of the team. Stuff can get twisted, so I’m just going to keep it to myself. But maybe when I’m done playing, I’ll put it out there.

How much football stuff vs. ministry vs. other stuff are you writing?

Fluellen: Fifteen to 20 percent football. Seventy percent ministry. Ten percent miscellaneous.

How often do you write? What’s your process?

Fluellen: Every day. An hour in the mornings usually. Probably about an hour at night. Especially with scripture, I’ll just go through and sometimes there’s a daily devotion I’ll look at and then I’ll read the whole chapter and sometimes I’ll open up a Bible and go through it like that. I don’t watch TV or anything like that. I’m strictly writing.

When you aren’t using scripture, how do you find something to write?

Fluellen: Honestly, however I feel that day. Whatever comes to me that day. If you listen to yourself, there’s always a lot of things on your mind. So if I’m thinking about stuff or I’m just thinking about the day, something pops in my head.

If someone found that notebook, what would they think?

Fluellen: They would probably think, what would they think? One of the D-linemen has looked at it and said it was "The Book of Eli." So it could be that. They’d probably think, does this person really take this much time writing? I’m talking full pages, both sides of the pages and all that stuff. I don’t know what they would think.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- On the football field at least, Theo Riddick has disappeared.

He's played one snap in two games -- this after a game-winning touchdown catch against Miami earlier this season and multiple other critical receptions at critical times for the Detroit Lions throughout this 2014 season.

He showed a burst in Detroit's short-passing game that had been lacking for the first half of the season. Yet now, he has seemingly been pushed out of the offense.

An easy explanation for it is the return of Reggie Bush and emergence of Joique Bell as a true featured back. Bush, who plays a similar role to Riddick, offers more versatility as a better runner and a potentially more explosive receiver. Bell can also catch passes and has proved to be Detroit's best running back.

In an offense kind of predicated on passing, this has left no room for the time being for Riddick. He said he has to be a "team player," but that he'll be ready if and when they ask him to actually do something on offense again.

"Hey man, I'm definitely happy we're winning," Riddick said. "All of us are ready and when our number's called, we're going to try to do our best we can."

And now, a look around the Interwebs in search of Lions news:
On the same day the Detroit Lions sent starting right tackle LaAdrian Waddle to injured reserve, the team went a different direction to fill his roster spot.

The Lions claimed cornerback Josh Thomas off waivers after he was released by the New York Jets, filling Waddle's roster spot.

The 25-year-old Thomas was a fifth-round pick in the 2011 draft by Dallas. He never played a game for the Cowboys and spent three seasons in Carolina before splitting this season between Seattle and the Jets.

The 5-foot-11 Thomas has played in 42 NFL games with 54 tackles and one interception. He also has 12 career special-teams tackles.
Question of the Week is a feature in which we take a cross-section of opinions from Detroit Lions players and coaches (and sometimes opponents) about a singular topic. Most of the time, they have nothing to do with football. Have a suggestion? Email: michael.rothstein@espn.com.

Previous Questions of the Week

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- It's the holiday season and there are a bunch of questions that could be asked.

At the suggestion of colleague Chantel Jennings, this question came up. What is your weirdest holiday tradition?

As always, here are the answers from Detroit Lions, some of whom went away from the December holiday season.

Fauria
Fauria
Tight end Joseph Fauria: I do watch A Christmas Story, the shoot your eye out. I watch that so much. Oh, and my grandmother makes gumbo. My whole family is from the south, we're Creole, so she makes this pot that's taller than [her]. She has to be on a stepping stool to cook it because it's so big. It's like this much room (holds hands a small width apart) between the vent and the pot. The pot's probably like two feet tall and there's so much seafood and sausage and all that stuff in there. It's your typical New Orleans-style Creole dish. It is so good. I told her to freeze it and send over here. She's going to do that. It takes like two days to make. Yeah. She's in Los Angeles, but my grandparents are from there, so that's what they do.

--

Offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas: I pray the night of New Year's. I think everybody does that, though. I've always done that since I was young. My mom always made me do that. I've never celebrated Halloween, either.

Reporter: Why not?

Lucas: I was always raised that Halloween was the holiday to celebrate the devil. So my mom was just bought us our own candy and got pizza and stuff and we'd be inside.

Reporter: So when you went to Kansas State, were you like, 'What's going on?'

Lucas: Nah, my friends and stuff did it. I can probably count on one hand how many times I've been trick-or-treating. Probably two or three times. Max.

Reporter: Was that when you were in college?

Lucas: Nah, when my mom shut it down, I kind of grew out of it. I'll probably do the same thing for my kids.

--

Quarterback Dan Orlovsky: Christmas movies. I love movies to begin with and I love Christmas. But what we'll probably start doing is once our kids come to the point of being cognizant of what it is and what we believe it to be representative of, we'll do something where we find a family that we can, our kids will choose. My wife thought of this idea. We'll get our kids gifts and they open them up and they each get to select one of the gifts that they got to give away. So we'll do that. We'll start that this year. They'll choose the gift that they say, ‘I'm going to give this to a child.' Other than that, no.

--

Wide receiver Corey Fuller: I watch A Christmas Story all day. Christmas. It's the only day it comes on. Literally every minute I get, I watch it all day. Two years ago, I was at Virginia Tech and we were in Orlando for our bowl game and they had different events. The event was to go to Disney World. I had never been to Disney World and it was on Christmas Day. I decided to stay in my hotel room and watch A Christmas Story. I watch it all day. Even when I was a kid, when my mom was cooking and she would yell to make us clean up, I would go and do what I had to do and sit and watch Christmas Story all day. It was something I had to do.

--

Offensive lineman Rob Sims: Oh gosh. We got into that elf thing, Elf on the Shelf, my wife started doing it with the kids, my daughter. I think it's so weird that the elf leaves at night and comes back in the morning. She's like, remind me to do something with it in the morning. She'll put it in different areas. One time I walked in my daughter's room and the elf was sitting on the sink with toothpaste, like 'Be Good.' I'm like, what is going on?
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The NFL Live crew make their picks for Detroit at Chicago.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- C.J. Mosley heard the chants from the crowd Sunday -- the ones from Detroit Lions fans in Ford Field asking Ndamukong Suh to stick around.

Then Mosley decided to have fun with it, too. He turned to Suh, who he was sitting next to him on the bench, extended his arms and joined in himself for a second. Mosley said the fans behind him were pretty loud, so it gave him a chance to jokingly join in.

Suh
“We kid around on everything,” Mosley said Wednesday. “That’s nothing. Although when I said it, he didn’t laugh or anything.”

Suh appeared to not even look at Mosley when Mosley said it to him. Suh said Wednesday that he told Mosley to "be quiet" because the Lions' 16-14 win over Minnesota had not ended yet. On video, Suh is seen just staring straight ahead when Mosley opened his arms to jokingly join in the chant.

Suh is in the final year of his rookie contract and if he doesn’t re-sign with Detroit, he will become a free agent in March. He has repeatedly avoided questions about his contract during the season by telling reporters to “Ask Jimmy,” referring to his agent, Jimmy Sexton. Suh said last week Sexton will probably be the man who decides where Suh plays next season.

The Lions and Suh cut off contract negotiation talks prior to the start of training camp, saying they wanted to focus on football during the season.

Suh said he hasn’t thought about what he has meant to the city of Detroit and the Lions fans who continually chant “Suuuuhhhhh” whenever he makes a big play.

“I haven’t thought about it and probably won’t think about it,” Suh said. “I’m going to get ready for Chicago.”
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The injury-plagued 2014 season for Detroit Lions right tackle LaAdrian Waddle is over after the team placed him on injured reserve Wednesday.

Waddle injured his left knee in the third quarter Sunday against Minnesota, when defensive end Everson Griffen rolled up on his left leg. Waddle immediately fell to the ground and, according to his teammate, Larry Warford, screamed in pain. Trainers as well as Detroit coach Jim Caldwell came on to the field to check on Waddle before he was carted off.

The second-year pro from Texas Tech had already had two concussions, an ankle injury and a calf injury this season.

In his place, the Lions will likely start undrafted free agent Cornelius Lucas, a rookie who made the first start of his career against the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving. Lucas will make the second start of his career against the Bears on Sunday.


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