|Jennings asks a fair question about the 2012 Lions. (Getty Images)|
On the surface, this may seem like your run-of-the-mill intra-divison smack talk, but a) Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings isn't known for flapping his gums and b) the man makes a good point. During an appearance Thursday on NFL Network's Total Access, Jennings wondered if the Lions, who made the playoffs last year for the first time since 1999 amid plenty of on- and off-field controversy, could keep it together long enough to make another postseason run in 2012.
"Can they maintain their composure, both on the field and off the field?" he asked via NFL.com. "They're a very talented team, but they have struggles on the field containing their composure, and definitely, the things we've heard of, them being in the media with off-the-field problems and off-the-field issues. Can they maintain their composure? Can they be a professional ball club for 16, 17, 18 solid weeks throughout the regular season?"
A quick recap for those just back from Mars and/or long-term memory sufferers:
* Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh was ejected from a Thanksgiving game against the Packers after he stomped on Green Bay offensive lineman Evan Blake Dietrich-Smith. The league ended up suspending him two games (several Packers called the suspension "absurd").
* In December, the Lions lost to the Saints. Not helping: then-rookie Titus Young's silly after-the-whistle personal-foul penalty (right in front of an official!) that stalled a scoring drive. In May, Young was kicked out of practice after punching teammate Louis Delmas.
* 2011 draft picks Nick Fairley (first round), Mikel Leshoure (2nd round) and Johnny Culbreath (seventh round) were all arrested this year on drug-related charges. (Fairley managed the feat twice in two months and Leshoure has already been suspended for the first two games of 2012.) Then, last month, defensive back Aaron Berry was arrested on suspicion of DUI.
So knowing all that, it's reasonable to wonder aloud if the Lions will implode from the pressures that come with last season's success.
This spring, Detroit vice chairman Bill Ford Jr. made it clear that off-field issues wouldn't be tolerated no matter how well the team played.
“Unfortunately it's just a couple guys who are just tainting our whole image,” Ford said back in late May. “There's no question, some of our young guys better get their act together because that's not the way you become a professional. The good news is we've got some great veteran leadership on our team that are great guys and can set the tone and I suspect it's going to be those veterans who are really going to get these guys back in line."
“The veteran leadership on this team is about as high-quality as it gets," he told the Detroit Free-Press, "with Jason Hanson and Matthew Stafford, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, these are great guys, not just on the field but in the community. That's the core of leadership we've built around -- and the expectation is that they will put their arms around these young guys and say, ‘This is what it takes to be a pro.' Nate Burleson, he's been hugely important."
Earlier this week in a conversation with CBSSports.com's Will Brinson on the Pick-6 Podcast, Suh spoke about what the Lions have to do in 2012:
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