By Ashley Dunkak
After apparently having a lot to say to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Detroit Lions defensive end Willie Young was relatively reticent with the media during weekend practices.
His personal foul for taunting Brady kept the drive alive for the Patriots, and the Lions benched Young for the remainder of the game. Young addressed the incident briefly but said he was moving on.
“I just can’t do stuff to hurt the team,” Young said. “What I said is between the lines. What happens between the lines stays between the lines.”
Head coach Jim Schwartz was still plenty confident he made the right decision to sit Young.
“You’re not going to see us take a guy out of a game for a facemask or because of a holding play,” Schwartz said. “Generally penalties are the result of bad technique, miscommunication or even a mismatch, but when you get foolishness like that that’s well after the play, the only thing that accomplishes is hurting the team, and that’s not what we’re going to be about.”
So far, though, it would be hard to dispute that penalties – many stemming from an apparent lack of discipline – are not a big part of the Lions’ personality.
Through three preseason games, Detroit has racked up 26 penalties – worth 241 yards – in its first three preseason games. Granted, it is still preseason, and many players are playing now that will not be playing in the regular season. Thursday, though, many of those came from first- and second-string players on Detroit’s defensive line.
Against the Patriots, Detroit racked up 11 penalties. The Patriots, in dramatic contrast, lost 26 yards total on four penalties. Several of the Lions’ penalties came after plays ended, including two after Detroit recovered New England fumbles. The first was unsportsmanlike conduct on defensive tackle Nick Fairley – who was also called for illegal use of hands earlier that same drive – and the second was a personal foul on backup defensive tackle C.J. Mosley.
Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who has been touted throughout the off-season for having taken more of a leadership role on the team, said that the penalties were a topic of discussion but not necessarily a recurring one.
“It’s something that you mention, and you talk to them about it, but you don’t harp on it because we’re all grown men, we all understand the mistakes that we make, and we want to be able to grow from those,” Suh said. “You make them aware of it, and I think every last one of the defensive linemen understand that.
“We pride ourselves on playing tough, but there’s always a limit, and we respect that limit,” Suh continued, “and we’re always going to respect that limit, and so as individuals as well as a defensive line, we’ve got to really manage ourselves but at the same time be accountable as a unit.”