Jim Caldwell Comments on Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and His Start with the Detroit Lions


Jim Caldwell spoke with the media today in London and commented on Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and His Start with the Detroit Lions. Here is what he had to say, as provided by the Detroit Lions.

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  • Opening Statement: “We had a really good day of practice yesterday. Our walk-through went well, the practice in itself was spirited and maybe one of the better days that we’ve had in the early part of practice with pads on. It was pretty crisp for this time of year. I thought the guys’ focus and attention was outstanding. It was the first time we had an opportunity to practice on the new field, ‘the pitch’ I should call it. But, it is a very, very nice facility. Our guys have certainly enjoyed it and we’ve got one more day and a half here and I’m sure there will be a number of guys that are a certainly a little sad to leave this particular area. I think it’s provided an opportunity to gain a little bit more camaraderie. Even last evening down in the lounge area, we had a large collection of players all down in that area together kind of competing against one another in various games. It has a real sort of training camp feel to it like I mentioned the other day. We’ve certainly been appreciative of the staff, it’s been outstanding, everything has been ideal for us. We’re certainly appreciative of that. A real challenge ahead of us this weekend against a very good team out of Atlanta. They do a tremendous job, our guys are working hard. Today is an important day for us in terms of getting through all the different situations that we have to cover in preparation for the game and so, I think our guys are up for it.”

    On how much WR Calvin Johnson was able to do at practice yesterday: “He was limited as it was stated (on the injury report). He did what the doctors allowed him to do. The big thing is, typically when they ramp up their activity that way, the most important thing is what they feel like the following day. And today he came back feeling good, so that’s encouraging. We knew he was coming along and to have him have an opportunity to take part in a little bit of practice yesterday was good.”

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  • On what limitations there were with Johnson’s ankle: “It’s still just kind of the protocol of the physicians. As they see it, they’ll ramp him up a little bit more today and see how he looks tomorrow. We’ll go from there.”

    On if there is any added pressure making a decision on Johnson with the international stage: “The coaching staff doesn’t make it. It’s out of their hands whether we’re home or away. The physicians look at it exactly the same way. They look at it like they would anyone else in that particular position, regardless of the game, regardless of the circumstances. That’s the most important thing, to make sure he’s healthy and ready to go. Physicians don’t face the media, so they don’t have to deal with that issue. They’re not asked about it continually and they just do their job the way that they know how.”

    On what made yesterday’s practice so good: “The thing I think about it was that typically, when you travel this far there’s a chance that your practices aren’t going to be as brisk as you would hope they’d be, not going to be as much crisp hitting and things of that nature because of the jet lag. Some of it I have to contribute to the fact that the people who have given us information in terms of how to prepare to come over here and play and practice, it certainly appeared that it worked well on day one in terms of practice. The hitting was crisp. I think the attention to detail was as good as it’s been and guys had a lot of energy and enthusiasm out on the field. Those things all kind of contribute to it.”

    On DE Ezekiel Ansah visiting his sister: “I wasn’t aware of them getting together and when it was going to happen in that regard. He hasn’t shared it with me at this point. I know he had an opportunity to talk to you all about it and I think the first-hand information is a lot better than mine, being second and third hand. I know he was excited about it.”

    On what has been the message to the players about going up against a team such as Atlanta: “We certainly look at them as a team that’s a very talented team, one that does a tremendous job. They still have a lot of fire power left and regardless of an injury here or there, these teams in this league are accustomed to adapting. You have to deal with injuries, there’s very few teams that go through a season without having someone go down. So, I think more so than anything else, it’s the way it is in this league. The sort of Gideon factor sets in and you have to make certain that you’re up for the task and that’s why they have guys that are in backup roles that are ready to step in and play. If he’s playing in this league, he’s a guy that can play. They’ll have people step in and play well. They’re a real challenge regardless of the circumstances.”

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    On what he has changed about the team that has resulted in a fast start: “I’m not certain that it’s anything beyond that they’re a bunch of talented guys, a number of them were here prior to us arriving, that are playing extremely well together. I still think a team’s a team. Often times you get labels about a team being an offensive team or a defensive team. It depends on what ball game you look at for us. Our defense has been consistent, but our offense also has kind of sputtered once in a while but also games where we’ve done a pretty nice job. What I’m most interested in, more so than anything else, more so than the stat, declarations that people tag and put on to who you are and that kind of thing, is wins. Obviously, I think all of us would like to play perfect games but this game is not played perfectly. It changes when that ball is snapped, when it’s first kicked off, there’s just so many factors involved and that’s what makes it interesting and a great challenge. There will be some games where you’ll see our offense and they just take off and score a bunch of points or you may see a game that’s a defensive battle right down to the end. But the great thing about it is the fact that when you can play great defense, you know you always have a chance. You always have a chance, you’re going to be in it, you’re going to have an opportunity and our team has been turning it over, they’ve been doing a lot of great things defensively. Our front’s been playing great so, at this stage of the game when you look at them from a statistical standpoint, obviously our defensive side of the ball has been pretty potent.”

    On S Glover Quin and James Ihedigbo: “I think Quin and Digs have been extremely important, particularly to our linebacking corps and the rest of the guys, and then the secondary because of the fact that they communicate so well. I think it’s like most things when you have guys that have seen a lot, they can sort of head off a lot of problems that you may have because of their knowledge and expertise. They can sort of forewarn the guys that are playing in front of them what to expect. They give great reminders and they’re great students of the game. As a matter of fact, those two guys in every way lead positively. The first day we were here, we were late and going the next day, I go into the weight room and it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 6:00 a.m. after I finish my walk, the two guys that are in there first lifting are Quin and Digs. It was on a day that wasn’t a mandatory lift, this was extra. So, that kind of gives you an idea that these guys are number one, dedicated, they have great discipline and they’re also experts at what they do. They’re very, very smart guys.”

    On the trade deadline next week and if he plans to make any moves: “In this league, injuries are going to make you make changes anyway. I think we have a great nucleus of guys with great chemistry. We’re forging ahead trying to get as many victories as we possibly can.”

    On if he has watched film against Stafford’s past comebacks: “He might have been mic’d for those games right (Dallas and Cleveland)? Invariably, both show up as you’re watching television or whatever it might be. Not only that, we’ve always done it and we continue to do so today, we look at every single situation that occurs in the last three minutes of the game because we’re always looking for different scenarios to cover to make certain that we’re ready for them if something comes up. We study those things. We’ve looked at those particular drives, we look at them from a two-minute standpoint and a four-minute standpoint. It takes that kind of analysis and maybe something is done in that game that’s a little bit different than what you’ve been practicing, so we make certain we incorporate that in our mock practices. But yes, I had an opportunity to see him in both. Obviously, he displays the kinds of things that enable you to do it, he loves the moment, he doesn’t shy away from it. He’ll make throws during that time that put him in position to make it go. He’s also smart enough to deal with the clock and issues that you have there as well. I think that’s why he’s been pretty good in that particular area and I think you’re going to see him continue to get better as well.”

    On his favorite Stafford comeback: “Probably the one where his shoulder was hurt (Cleveland). I think anytime you have a guy that has to deal with physical discomfort, he has to be able to take it another step beyond maybe what he’s ever done before in his life. Those kinds of things jump out at you, the courage, the toughness that he displayed during that time period is classic. In terms of leadership and those kinds of things, that’s one that I think a lot of folks remember, that particular stretch.”

    On how important it was to build team chemistry with the team when arriving in Detroit: “I think it’s very important. I don’t think you can win and win consistently unless you have it, unless you have camaraderie, unless you have great morale, unless you have great energy and the chemistry between offense, defense, special teams all working together. I think it’s key. It’s a very, very difficult thing, it’s tough to manufacture. Sometimes it happens magically, but for the most part I think it’s done with intent in terms of putting guys in position that you have to empower the team and individuals, allowed to take their course where they feel responsible for what happens out there on the field and feel accountable to one another. I think with that you find that there is a great rapport that’s built. There’s trust involved in that, there’s loyalty involved in that, there’s straight-forward, frank honesty involved in that and a lot of hard work and commitment involved in that as well. I think all of those things are in play with us. We’re still in the primary stages, we haven’t played a bunch of games, we’re just entering the midway point of our season, but I do believe we have things heading in the right direction. Every week there’s a challenge and every week it’s a little bit different. We’ll see how they hang together as time goes on.”