Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  By DAVE DYE  |  Last updated 8/19/13
ALLEN PARK, Mich. The Detroit Lions arent going to panic over a couple of uninspiring performances by the offense in the preseason. Its the preseason. Exhibition games. Meaningless. Still, coach Jim Schwartz would like to see a little more production out of the starters, led by quarterback Matthew Stafford, in Thursdays game against the New England Patriots at Ford Field. That would help you sleep a little bit better, for sure, Schwartz said Monday following practice. Receiver Nate Burleson went a little further, vowing that the struggling offense will answer those questions this week. This will be the third preseason game, which is when the first-teamers typically get their most snaps in sort of a dress rehearsal for the regular season. The Lions starting offense has failed to score a touchdown, settling for two field goals, in seven possessions in their first two games, a 26-17 victory over the New York Jets and a 24-6 loss to Cleveland. Stafford has completed 14-of-24 passes (58.3 percent) for 132 yards,leaving him witha mediocre quarterback rating of 73.6. The highlight came in the opener when he connected with Calvin Johnson for 28- and 22-yard gains on consecutive plays. Johnson didnt play in the second game because of a bruised knee. Running back Reggie Bush had five receptions for 44 yards against Cleveland, but he's averaging just 1.8 yards per rushing attempt (20 yards on 11 carries), largely because the revamped offensive line hasnt been opening holes for him. Burleson, the teams No. 2 receiver, has no receptions. The offense went three-and-out on its first three possessions against the Browns. Offense is about execution, Stafford said. We just havent done that as well as we needed to. Stafford insists hes still encouraged by how training camp has progressed. Im really pleased, he said. Weve had a great offseason as far as off the field. Weve had a great offseason on the field. Guys have put a lot of hard work in. Weve got new guys that have stepped up, came in and learned our system whether its on offense or on defense and are contributing. Im excited about it. Burleson, who turned 32 Monday and is coming back from a broken leg suffered last season, admitted hell put a little more credibility into Thursdays performance than he did the first two. Its the biggest indication of how your starters are going to play, Burleson said in reference to the third preseason game. We need to create some momentum. We need to get going. Like all teams, the Lions havent done much game-planning in the preseason. Theyve also held back key elementsin their offense package. We dumb it down a little bit, Burleson said. At the same time, we still have to execute even if were putting in a basic package. So far, they haven't done that. Burleson, who was the target of no passes in the first game and two in the second game, expects to be more involved this week. He hasnt caught a pass in a game since the play he was injured on in Chicago last October. Hes itching to catch one. Oh, man, yeah, I definitely am, Burleson said. I missed out on a couple last week. I got a feeling Ill get my hands on one or two (Thursday night). Its a funny thing about these preseason games. Everybody saysit doesn'tmatter if you win or lose until you lose and look bad. Then theres a tendency to overreact and start fretting over whether some of those struggles will carry into the regular season. Schwartz learned years ago not to put too much stock into these results. When I was in Tennessee, youd always watch Indianapolis, it seemed like they went 0-4 every preseason and they couldnt gain a yard on offense, Schwartz said. And then every year they were the No. 1 offense in the NFL. We have some known quantities on offense. We have some unknowns. I think the more important thing is seeing how some of the unknowns fit in. I think one of the things that was good last week was to see how Reggie fit in (with the passing game). While finally getting into the end zone might help public perception in terms of where the Lions offense is headed this year, Stafford said he wont look at it any differently either way. Ill feel just the same, he said. Any time you step out on the field, you want to put points up. Theres no question about it. But this is the time of the year where were still trying to gel, still trying to get better. EXTRA POINTS --- Safety Louis Delmas, who hasnt played in the first two exhibitions and has rarely practiced while continuing to rehab a knee injury, said his plan is to play Thursday. It remains to be seen whether the coaches and medical staff will agree with that idea. --- Receiver Mike Thomas, acquired in a trade last year from Jacksonville, was releasedfollowing Mondays practice. --- The Lions also released linebacker Cory Greenwood, who appeared to be on track for a key special-teams role before suffering a neck injury last week. --- David Akers, coming back from a hernia surgery that hampered him last season with San Francisco, appears to be close to full strength. He kicked a 63-yard field goal in practice. Its the same distance that he tied the NFL record for longest field goal in last years opening game at Green Bay.
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