|Lions center Dominic Raiola says it's not quitting time -- not for these 2-4 Lions. (US Presswire)|
When it comes to dealing with hard times as a Lion, center Dominic Raiola is an expert. The 2001 second-round pick's career has seen Detroit go from playoff contenders to the only team to finish a regular season 0-16, and back.
So when he makes the claim that the Lions' locker room isn't ready to give up on the team's 2012 playoff prospects despite a 2-4 start, his opinion carries some weight.
“I don't think we need to worry about guys packing it up early, or giving up, or quitting on the team, because that's not here any more,” he said.
That wasn't always the case.
After Detroit made the playoffs last year, Raiola sat down with CBSSports.com to describe what the Lions' locker room was like during failed GM Matt Millen's time in charge of the team. He painted a picture that is in stark contrast to the way he says the 2012 Lions are handling their subpar record.
“Players quit,” he said. “Players gave up on seasons. When we were in December [and losing], some players took the NFL for granted. They couldn't wait to move on to the next team. How do you play with and trust guys like that?”
Raiola says that lack of trust has vanished following Millen's dismissal because GM Martin Mayhew removed the Lions' “problem children” from the roster, and coach Jim Schwartz has no place on the team for any player not completely committed to his way of doing business.
“Before Jim got here, those [players who quit] are out of here,” he said. “And if they're not, they'll be gone soon.”
Raiola says he's confident that although the team has underperformed this season, the Lions' new core of leaders won't allow any dissent or negativity to sidetrack the team before a pair of winnable games in Weeks 8 and 9 that could well decide the team's season.
“[A negative attitude] is contagious,” he said. “It spreads like a fire. You get one guy saying [negative things], then a veteran thinks it…but we don't have guys like that. We have good solid veterans that like to work.”
Still, Raiola admits that all the positive talk in the Lions' locker room isn't worth anything if the team can't back up its words with actions on the field.
“We've got to get back to .500,” he said. “That starts with a win this week.”
Florence could practice in Week 9: Almost seven weeks after breaking his forearm in Detroit's Week 2 loss to the 49ers, CB Drayton Florence told reporters Thursday that he could return to practice as early as next Wednesday. Florence was placed on injured reserve, but he can return to the active roster under a new rule that allows one player per team the opportunity to return from the injured list. Although he can practice with the team, Florence is not eligible to be removed from the injured list until the Lions' Nov. 18 game against the Packers.
While he said he's pleased with Florence's progress, Schwartz cautioned that he has a long way to go before he's ready for game action.
“There's a difference between being back on the field and then also being able to be activated with the IR that we put [Florence] on,” Schwartz said. “We had a good feeling that he'd be able to bounce back from [the broken arm] and a lot of guys have. Usually, what you're doing is you're sucking them up on the 53-man roster until they can [return from injury]. It was a little bit of an advantage that we were able to replace his roster spot. But he'll be a boost to get back on the practice field, and a bigger boost to get back on the field.”
Lacey, Spievey remain sidelined with concussions: Detroit's entire offensive unit was healthy enough to participate in at least part of Thursday's contact practice after several players sat out Wednesday's walk-through. DE Cliff Avril (back), LB DeAndre Levy (hamstring), S Amari Spievey (concussion) and CB Jacob Lacey (concussion] were the only players who didn't participate in any portion of practice.
Lacey's concussion is particularly concerning, because he has yet to clear contact tests almost two weeks after suffering the injury in Week 6. Seven players -- CB Bill Bentley (shoulder), S Louis Delmas (knee), WR Calvin Johnson (knee), TE Brandon Pettigrew (knee), LB Stephen Tulloch (knee), DT Corey Williams (knee) and WR Titus Young (knee) – were listed as limited participants in Thursday's practice.
Follow Lions reporter John Kreger on Twitter at @CBSLions and @JohnKreger