By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – When Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford spoke to reporters Monday, he said a players-only meeting had not occurred and did not need to. However, 15 of so of the leaders did indeed get together Monday morning to get the pulse of the team and make sure everyone was on the same page.
“When we don’t have a 53-man meeting we’ll have a leadership meeting,” wide receiver Nate Burleson said. “It’s about 15 guys and we’ll just kind of address what we feel like the temperament of the team is. If there’s something that needs to be fixed, we’ll fix it within our groups. If something needs to be said to the team, we’ll say it, but really it’s just getting on the same page, making sure that any issues that are at the helm of what’s going on get addressed.
“We just talked about what we need to do from here on out, just kind of moving forward,” Burleson said. “It’s just about the rest of the season, picking up each group, making sure every leader in each group is going out and showing what needs to be done and making sure these young guys have got vets they can look up to because you know they’re looking at us, regardless of if they say they’re not. They’re peeking at us and trying to figure out if we’re going to walk in with our chin up, walk in with a great attitude, if we’re going to take these losses lightly or are we going to get focused, refocused, tighten the focus up and really get after it.”
Stafford’s abrupt, somewhat dismissive response Monday to the idea of a players-only team meeting – an idea voiced by running back Reggie Bush after Sunday’s loss – stirred outside talk of a possible rift in the Lions locker room. Though Stafford’s short replies made it sound like he got his toes stepped on by Bush calling for a meeting, other players brushed it off as no big deal and not a serious difference of opinion.
“That was probably something right after the game, people’s emotions are high,” center Dominic Raiola said. “Everybody’s kind of handling their own room. There’s no need to panic.”
Head coach Jim Schwartz also downplayed Bush’s suggestion apparently being swatted down by Stafford, saying Bush’s comments simply came from his immediate reaction to Sunday’s loss, the team’s second straight.
“It was more just as a veteran player to understand the point that we are in the season,” Schwartz said. “We’re going to rely on veteran players like Reggie Bush to lead the way and step up and to get it done on the field. Again, I’d look at that and it wasn’t an alarmist thing. It was, ‘Hey look, this is where we are as a team. This is what we have in front of us.’ Everybody is aware of that. We don’t need to have team meetings to do that.”
Bush said Tuesday, though, that having a meeting was not just his idea and that he and Stafford are fine.
“It wasn’t suggested just by me,” Bush said. “It was a collective thing that was suggested. We were all in there and we all had the meeting, and we talked, and we worked on internally on working on correcting our mistakes and making sure that some of these mistakes don’t continue to happen for us.
“The meeting happened, and Stafford’s the leader of our team at the end of the day,” Bush added later. “We can only go as far as he takes us, and he’s a great player. We love his presence, everything he brings to the game. We’re all behind Stafford 100 percent.”