By: Will Burchfield
Defensive end Cornelius Washington was a surprise scratch for the Lions’ Week 6 game versus the Saints, and he said on Monday the coaching staff never really explained to him why.
“I don’t know what the issue was. I don’t know what problem to fix, if there was a problem to fix,” Washington said.
Jim Caldwell said on Wednesday the Lions emphasize player-coach communication, especially when it comes to decisions on playing time.
“Trust me when I tell you we would not have a shortcoming in that area. We’re pretty clear in what we do and how we go about it. I think that’s an important part of a team’s makeup. The communication is very key,” Caldwell said.
According to Washington, he found out he was inactive less than two hours before kickoff. As of Monday — more than a week after the fact — he still wasn’t sure why.
“I feel like it probably had something to do with our O-Line situation, but I don’t make those decisions. I just work here,” Washington said.
He added, “Do you know something I don’t?”
Caldwell deflected a question as to whether he was surprised by Washington’s comments.
“I can’t answer for him in that regard. I can just tell you what we attempt to do. We can always be better, but I don’t think that was an issue,” he said.
Caldwell suggested Washington, who the Lions signed to a two-year, $5.8 million contract in the offseason, may have been hiding an injury in discussing the situation with reporters.
“It might have been something he didn’t want to share with you or whatever it might be. That’s their prerogative,” he said.
In any case, Washington’s absence was felt. He’s one of Detroit’s best run-stoppers, especially in terms of setting the edge, and the Saints gashed the Lions for 193 rushing yards and two touchdowns en route to a 52-38 win.
Washington played in each of the Lions’ first five games. He expected to play in the sixth. As to why he didn’t, he claims he doesn’t know.
But Caldwell suggested it’s fair to assume strident defensive line coach Chris Kocurek offered Washington an explanation.
“If you know Chris at all, I think you’ve seen his style. His style is not one to run and hide, and I think you understand that pretty clearly,” Caldwell said.