Found August 14, 2013 on Fox Sports Detroit:
Detroit-lions-jim-schwartz
Jim Schwartz takes a 13-4 preseason record since becoming the Detroit Lions' coach into Thursday night's game at Cleveland. Coach of the Month for August? Here are five storylines to follow in the second of four exhibitions: 1. The first-team offense was on the field for two series totaling 11 plays in last week's 26-17 victory over the New York Jets. All three of Matthew Stafford's completions went to Calvin Johnson, none to running back Reggie Bush. Look for that to change against the Browns. "I definitely feel you're going to see some things this game," Bush said. "The chemistry between me and Matt in the passing game is getting better. We completed a ball (in practice), it was kind of funny. It was a route that for some reason I've dropped every time he's thrown to me. I told him, 'Hey, drinks on me tonight. We finally completed this ball.'" 2. Four kick-return possibilities against the Jets, four touchbacks. At least one of them appeared to be returnable. Micheal Spurlock looked like he wanted to run the ball out before teammate Joique Bell instructed Spurlock to stay in the end zone. So much for evaluating that part of the Lions' new-look special teams. Spurlock, who has returned three kicks for touchdowns in his six-year NFL career, lined up as the deep man with the top kick-return unit. The other two deep men used later in the game were rookies Theo Riddick and Steven Miller. It's time for someone to bring it out of the end zone, regardless of how deep the kick is, and give the return team a little live action. Cleveland put the ball into the end zone on all six kickoffs last week against St. Louis, but three were returned for an average of 26.3 yards, including a 36-yarder. Come on, don't take the touchback. Run it out and let's see what you've got. 3. Part of the reason the Lions are so good at this time of the year is because they've got one of the top No. 2 quarterbacks in the NFL. Shaun Hill was in midseason form in early August, completing 11-of-18 passes for 136 yards and one touchdown. His final two drives resulted in 10 points. Hill, 33, confirmed he's dropped about 10 pounds since this time a year ago. He credited a change in diet for the weight loss. "You get older, your body feels different," Hill said. "Whatever you've got to do to feel better." The more reps that Hill gets, the more likely the Lions keep winning in August. Most other teams just can't match what he does. 4. Mikel Leshoure led the team with six carries for 24 yards rushing in the opener. Nevertheless, his role is being greatly diminished from a year ago when he was the starting running back and rushed for 798 yards and nine touchdowns. Bush is clearly the featured back now, giving the offense another big-play threat. Joique Bell has established himself as a solid third-down option because of his combination of power (5-foot-11, 220 pounds) and pass-catching ability (52 receptions last year). Where exactly does Leshoure, a second-round draft pick in 2011, fit in? He's two years removed from surgery for a torn Achilles' tendon and needs to start showing a little more of a burst. 5. Recent draft picks often get the benefit of the doubt, but it's difficult to imagine how receiver Corey Fuller is going to make the 53-man roster unless he makes a huge impression these last three preseason games. Fuller, a sixth-round selection, seemed to be coming into a good situation, considering the Lions were looking for a No. 4 and 5 receiver. But he hasn't stood out at all in practice and then played only seven plays in the first exhibition. He ended up with no receptions and didn't even get a pass thrown to him. What's more, there appears to be no special-teams role for the 6-foot-2, 196-pounder from Virginia Tech. Fuller wasn't on the field for any of the 30 special-teams plays last week. The kid appears to be headed to the practice squad - at best - unless he really picks it up or there are some injuries to receivers ahead of him. Prediction: Lions 24, Browns 20.
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