Allen Park — Two days after getting demolished by the Carolina Panthers, the Detroit Lions are still licking their wounds. But the time to get back on the horse is here, with playoff hopes still afloat and the Chicago Bears coming to town this weekend.
And as he’s done all year, coach Dan Campbell is attempting to harness the disappointment his players are feeling and channel that into something positive.
“Look, I’m just going to say this again, it stings,” Campbell said. “It’s awful. But man, it’s the best thing that could happen to us because I think no matter who you are, in whatever you do, some of your best work is when you get your face kicked in.
“… I do know, man, when your back is against the wall and you get trodded on and everything is at its worst, either you stay down there, or you get up, and you come back motivated and upset with calculated energy and aggression, and man, you go,” Campbell continued. “And there is a purpose. So I think this is the best thing for us.”
Within Campbell’s response, he clearly channeled his introductory press conference. You remember the part, about the kneecaps. The heart of that colorful message was about getting up, every time you’re knocked down, until you’re the last one standing. That’s a physical metaphor for the mentality he’s tried to cultivate from his first day on the job.
Campbell said the game in Carolina wasn’t just a loss, it felt more like a setback. That’s a bitter pill to swallow after nearly two months of steady, positive progress to climb out of a 1-6 hole to start the season. Still, in recent weeks, he’s repeatedly stated this team is built off adversity, so it’s no surprise he’s embracing another opportunity to prove that.
“Everything that can be perceived as a negative, you have to be able to get something out of it,” Campbell said. “If you don’t, then you really aren’t growing and learning and making the most of the situation at hand. Look, it is what it is. That (loss) happened. It happened for a reason. We weren’t ready, which falls on me. I’m going to have them ready this week. And so, it’s all about how we respond, and that’s the beauty of it, everything, it’s in our hands how we want to handle this. We’ll be ready for this one.”
Jamo set for more work
Since activating Jameson Williams off the injured list at the start of December, the Lions have been extremely conservative with the rookie receiver’s workload. Through four games, he’s averaged 11 snaps and not played more than 13 on offense.
Not surprisingly, he’s not produced much with that limited playing time, catching a single pass on five targets, a 41-yard touchdown in Detroit’s victory over Minnesota in Week 14.
After being held off the stat sheet the past two weeks, Campbell noted on Monday the plan is to get Williams more reps the next two weeks, although it’s unclear how much of a workload increase should be expected.
Lions safety DeShon Elliott missed Saturday’s game against the Panthers with a shoulder injury, and his availability for the Bears game remains unclear at this early stage of the week.
“I don’t have a clear answer on that,” Campbell said. “(Head athletic trainer) Kevin (Bastin) and I haven’t talked extensively yet on all the injuries. I’ve got a general idea of guys, but I don’t know where he’s going to be at just yet.”
Even after missing the matchup in Carolina, Elliott remains second on the roster with 91 tackles. He’s also one of just three Lions players with an interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery this season.
Ifeatu Melifonwu made his first start of the season in Elliott’s place.
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