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Schwartz facing his mentor

The Sports Xchange
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--Lions head coach Jim Schwartz spent 10 seasons in Tennessee working under Rams coach Jeff Fisher. In that time he went from defensive assistant to linebacker coach to coordinator. "He jokes around that he was pouring coffee and making airport runs when he started," Fisher said. "I don't recall him making airport runs." What he recalls is Schwartz being innovative and energetic and immediately being able to communicate with the players. "Jim is very talented and I knew from Day One when he walked in the door that he was going to be successful," Fisher said. "I promoted him twice, both times it was met with resistance in the organization. But I knew Jim was ready and he was going to be successful." Both have downplayed the mentor-protege angle. "It's the Rams vs. the Lions; that's it," Schwartz said.

--Quarterback Matthew Stafford's commercial on ESPN promoting Monday Night Football has been a hit, but don't try to peg him as an actor. "Nah, I just fake it until I make it," he said. He did say he enjoyed the experience. "I must've done about 150 different lines for what I was going to say about the bib and the t-shirt," he said. "The cannon ball (dive) was the last shot of the day and we just winged that. I was playing Marco Polo in the pool by myself in another shot (that didn't make the cut). It was good stuff. I was happy to poke fun at myself."

--Quarterback Kellen Moore was standing on the Boise State sidelines at Michigan State's Spartan Stadium Friday night when he got the news. It came in the form of a text message from offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. "We're good to go," is all it said. Moore, the undrafted rookie from Boise State, had beaten the odds and won a spot on the 53-man roster. "This is my first time going through this NFL thing, so it'll be a fun experience for this week just to get the routine down and understand how everything works," Moore said. "Certainly, it's great just to have Matt (Stafford) and Shaun (Hill), learn from those guys, kind of get through a routine, and we'll see where it takes us." If last year is any indication, Moore might not be wearing his uniform much. Last year's No. 3 quarterback Drew Stanton didn't dress the entire season.

--The Lions are one of two teams that will return their starting line intact from 2011. Atlanta is the other. The Lions five starters on the offensive line have made a combined 489 consecutive starts, that's more than the rest of the NFC North combined. "Consistency is something you strive for but you don't often get it in this league, the way it is set up now," said offensive line coach George Yarno. "We've been fortunate."

--Safety John Wendling has carved out a six-year career largely on his ability to play special teams. Finally, though, Wendling has cracked the rotation in the secondary. With Louis Delmas injured (knee), Wendling is in line to start at safety. "I've been waiting for this opportunity for a long time," he said. "I am just really glad I was able to take advantage of it." Wendling spent the offseason working on his cover skills, something he hadn't had to worry about in previous years. "It was just being more of a DB," he said. "Nowadays, it's really evolving where you have to be able to cover guys; you have to know how to be like a corner out there. For me, it was just about learning how to be more fluid out there."

--Tight end Tony Scheffler is from Chelsea, Mich., and went to high school with the son of actor Jeff Daniels. More than a decade after watching Scheffler play in high school, Daniels has fond memories. "I remember seeing Tony play and he did what he wanted," Daniels told the Free Press. "It was quite something. He would literally tell the cornerback, 'I'm going to run a post and you're not going to be able to stop me.' And he would run a post and it'd be a 60-yard TD."

BY THE NUMBERS
489 -- Combined starts with Detroit by the offensive line - Jeff Backus (176), Rob Sims (32), Dominic Raiola (156), Stephen Peterman (70), Gosder Cherilus (55) - the most in the NFL.

QUOTE TO NOTE
"You have to remember how you got there. The hunters out there will understand this: Many a prey has been missed because of buck fever. The analogy is pertinent. Sometimes you can get close and you get anxious. You change the method you used to get where you are. You have to guard against that. The Lions have had a lot of experience putting bad years behind them. Now, being able to put success in its place, this is something new to the organization." -- Coach Jim Schwartz on the challenges this season.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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