The Detroit Lions have plenty of motivation Sunday to beat the Green Bay Packers with a potential playoff spot on the line. Real or contrived, here’s another one.
Lions safety DeShon Elliott said Friday he and his teammates feel disrespected by the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“I feel like they don’t respect us,” Elliott said. “A-Rod doesn’t respect us, that team doesn’t respect us. We’re used to being the underdog. No matter what the record says, we’re going to go out there and we’re going to fight our ass off, play smashmouth football just ’cause the respect factor. We all got here some way, somehow. Yeah, he’s a Hall of Famer, but I just don’t like the way he’s been talking about my guys all year and the way that team views us, so we’re going to go out there and prove something.”
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Rodgers made dismissive comments about the Lions after a 15-9 loss at Ford Field in Week 9 in which he threw three interceptions, including two in the red zone.
Rodgers blamed himself for the loss, saying, “We can’t lose a game like that against that team.”
The Lions were 1-6 at the time and owners of the worst record in the NFL. They’ve won seven of nine games since and need a win Sunday at Lambeau Field and a Seattle Seahawks loss to the Los Angeles Rams to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
The Packers (8-8) have won five of seven games since losing to the Lions; they can earn their fourth straight playoff appearance with a win Sunday, regardless of the result in Seattle.
Asked if he was irked by Rodgers’ November comments, Elliott said, “Just period.”
“Like the way he carries himself. I don’t like none of that shit so we got to go out there and show what we can do and show who’s the big dog,” Elliott said. “Shoot, back all the talk up, so we’re going to go out there and do that.”
The Lions’ second-leading tackler, Elliott is expected to return to the lineup Sunday after a two-game absence due to a dislocated shoulder.
Elliott said his shoulder feels “great,” and Lions coach Dan Campbell said it would take a “major setback” to keep Elliott off the field.
Rodgers has played his best football of the season since bottoming out against the Lions. He has 11 touchdown passes and three interceptions in his past seven games.
“I just feel like as a competitor bro, you respect everybody in this league and for you to see something or hear somebody say some wild stuff about you or your teammates, your brothers, shoot, what you going to do?” Elliott said. “You going to lay down or you going to stand up? So we’re going to go out there and we’re going to stand up.”
Campbell is doing his best to make sure the Lions don’t let their chance to make the playoffs slip away — literally.
Campbell said Friday he told his players one of the keys to victory for Sunday’s game is wearing the proper footwear at Lambeau Field.
“That’s been a big deal,” Campbell said. “I started the week with that, put it up there, a bunch of clips of players slipping at Lambeau and that’s one of (the) keys to victory is wearing the proper shoes. And our guys know it, they’re on it.”
The Packers have won four straight games and are coming off a victory over the Minnesota Vikings in which Vikings players struggled with slippery field conditions. After the game, Vikings coaches admonished some players for not wearing the recommended seven-stud cleat.
Campbell said players typically do not like seven-stud cleats because “they hurt your feet.”
“It’s like putting rocks in your shoes and then going out there and running around, they just hurt,” he said. “But that’s a small price to pay to keep your feet and not let your teammate down. They just don’t feel as good as the other ones, that’s the bottom line.”
Most Lions players wore seven-stud cleats at practice this week. Elliott said he is packing four pairs of cleats for the game, including a pair of lacrosse cleats that he plans to wear for better footing.
“They’ve worn it on our field,” Campbell said. “So it’s been good and we’ve gotten pretty good work out there. The field’s been a little moist here, it’ll be moist again today from some of the drizzle we’ve gotten, so really we’re getting perfect conditions. The only thing is it’s not quite as cold as it’s going to be there, but it’s not like it’s not cold here. So, but yeah, shoes are big. Shoes are big. Slipping is not an excuse this week.”
Contact Dave Birkett at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.