Conference call: Lions head coach Rod Marinelli


(On how the defensive line looks with the injury to Jared DeVries)

We're going to start Andre Fluellen at the left end position and we'll start Corey Smith at the right end position.

(On what it's like Thanksgiving day in Detroit)

Oh, it's really special. It's the history, the tradition of the game is really special. I know the players look forward to it and it's a great environment.

(On if they can tap into the tradition of Lions wins on Thanksgiving)

I think the biggest incentive we have is, something we need right now, to put the national spotlight on us and to see how we respond for coaches and players. I'm really looking forward to that and I've talked about that. I want to see us with everybody's eye on us how we do.

(On how close they feel they are to getting it turned around)

In this league, it's just about four to five plays a game. It just always seems like that. The talent level is so close and everything is so close. You need a playmaker here or there to make a play or it's getting up a play here or there, which decides a lot of these games. We're close but it's not close enough.

(On what he attributes his calm demeanor to)

Well, I have a great respect for our game and we owe that to this game. This game doesn't need to see a showman up there or pouters or guys who are weeping or depressed. I just don't believe in that. This game deserves better than that.

(On the challenge to keep players motivated week in and week out)

It's tough. There's no doubt about it. But it's a great challenge and if you embrace that challenge you become a better coach. There's no question about it. I think the fastest way to keep guys alive and going is individual improvement and so you're constantly working in practice in the individual skills, the individual techniques and that's where the coaching comes in. Motivation comes from teaching and if a player can see himself getting better than he looks forward to coming to work the next day to keep improving. I think if a coach is worth his soul, he loves to teach and see improvement.

(On if he anticipates the Titans getting back to their running game)

I think that's the first thing in this league that you prepare for every week, and they certainly can run the football, there's no doubt about that. We have struggled stopping it. They're a very big, physical front, they know what they're doing, they have two great backs. They're very impressive and their record shows.

(On how tough it's been to keep continuity at quarterback with all the injuries they've had)

That's a little bit tough but I think when you start talking about it too much it becomes an excuse. We know the situation we're in. We have a great, great veteran quarterback and he's just been here a few weeks but he's making progress, he's great for our team and I'm looking forward to continually working with him. We have another quarterback who'll come up this week, Drew Henson, who's been with us most of the year. Sometimes he was up on the active, sometimes on the practice squad so he's making progress. I look forward to that part of it and watching these men grow.

(On how impressive Daunte Culpepper has been with so little preparation time)

That's a great question. People scrutinize him a lot for what he's not doing but if you sit back like you just stated and ask what he's accomplished, it's breathtaking. Just trying to learn the verbiage, first of all, and then come back in and not be in game shape and doesn't know any of the players but takes a leadership role immediately with our team. I mean he's captured this team himself. He starts to grow a little bit each week. Sometimes maybe the coaches add a little too much for him and you just have to bring everything in steps but I look at the very positive part of it and it's been quite unique.

(On if facing an unfamiliar opponent on a short week is one of the tougher challenges for a coach)

Yeah, it is, no question with these short weeks. So that's what you do in the offseason is make sure your schedule is fitted exact so you can get all those situations, at least walkthrough during the day, all your nickel blitzes, all your red zones and goallines. So you have to plan out and make sure the players aren't on their feet too much, even in walkthroughs, you have to make sure they're getting some rest. It is a challenge but both teams have to do it and in coaching you enjoy things like this.

(On if he likes playing on Thanksgiving and if the players like it or would they rather be with their families)

I think this is special for us here. The one thing about the NFL that is so special is its traditions. There's so many great traditions in this league and when you're part of a tradition I think it's extremely exciting. There's years of history behind it and you're part of that history. These players are looking forward to it, they're excited and right now we just have to make sure we're playing a little bit better.

(On what he expects to see from the Titans after suffering their first loss)

Oh, I know some of those coaches and that's a great staff and a great team. One thing they've been all year is consistent so I expect them to be just as consistent as they've been all year, which is very good.

(On if people constantly asking about the winless streak weighs on players)

You know, I think it can if you allow it. For me, just the way I'm built at least, task at hand. The task at hand is, today's Tuesday right (laughter), I kind of messed up there. But the task at hand is having a great day today. And really, you start wishing your life away when you let other people's words affect how you live, and that's wrong. Or it's weak. And if you're weak-minded like that, you want to live your life by other people's words, I feel bad for you. Me, I'm excited about football, I love it, every phase of it. I cherish everyday I'm in this position.

(On how the fans have treated the team)

They've been good. We have absolutely great fans here, the fans are really special. It's our job, my job is to make it special for them and I haven't done that. Once I accept that responsibility that I haven't done it, then I know what I've got to be able to do. If they're upset that's on me.

(On if Calvin Johnson is making strides at a good point right now in the season)

One thing we get on a national game like this, I'm just excited about this for Calvin, for this nation to see what he's about. He is really special. I think you guys will really enjoy [him], hopefully we can get him the ball a couple times but just how he plays and the athlete [he is]. But not so much that is, the character is out of this world. Just a super person, super family, he's really a credit to this whole league and how he plays. I'm excited for the fans across the country and for Calvin to showcase what he is.

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