By Ashley Dunkak

ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Detroit Lions cornerback Chris Houston, who this spring had surgery on a troublesome toe, has missed most of the team’s offseason work and was an excused absence from mandatory minicamp Tuesday.

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Other Detroit Lions recovering from injuries – defensive end Ziggy Ansah and running back Joique Bell among them – have still shown up at the team facility this offseason to attend meetings and learn the new schemes along with the rest of the team.

Caldwell got a little prickly when asked how far behind Houston is in terms of learning the new defense.

“I would think that was sort of a trick question,” Caldwell said. “He hasn’t been here. How does he keep up? He hasn’t been here. We understand he hasn’t been here. He’s been excused. When he gets back or whatever happens, we’ll work it out at that time.”

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Caldwell did not entertain the follow-up question  of whether the Lions would rather have Houston in the building like other injured players have been.

“We excused him,” Caldwell said. “He is not expected to be here. He is right where he’s supposed to be at this point in time. It’s where we expect him to be.”

The Lions re-signed Houston to a five-year deal in 2013. Dealing with the toe injury last year, Houston played in 12 games, tied for the fewest in a season in his career, and he recorded 44 tackles, a career low.

Fellow cornerback Rashean Mathis said Houston’s absence has not affected the rest of the group’s progress this offseason.

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“It’s the next man up,” Mathis said. “You miss the guys for a moment, but these guys are out here trying to feed their families. They’re trying to make the team too. We don’t leave a man behind, but the next soldier has to be ready to take his spot when that time is called. It’s just part of the business.”