Lions end up having a smaller team meeting

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Some of the Detroit Lions' leaders brought their lunches to a casual meeting Monday, a short, players-only discussion.

The topic: The Lions. And how to find the focus they had earlier in the season.

After two straight defeats to sub-.500 teams, two straight fourth-quarter leads dissolving into losses, the Detroit leaders just wanted to have a calm conversation about what was going on and how they could lead their younger players over the final five games.

“We just sat there and said, as leaders, what can we do to help these young guys,” receiver Nate Burleson said. “What can we do to make sure we have a fine focus on each and every game? What can we do during the week to make sure in the third and fourth quarters of these games, we capitalize instead of going backwards.”

Part of that, Burleson said, is paying attention to demeanor and being “more of an example” to the younger players in the locker room. If that means not walking around and joking as much during the week of a game, so be it.

The idea of the meeting was initially floated by running back Reggie Bush after the loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday. Burleson seconded it. Quarterback Matthew Stafford said Monday he didn’t feel a team meeting was necessary, but that things could be handled in smaller groups.

That, apparently, is what happened. Team leaders -- two to three players from each position group, according to center Dominic Raiola -- met briefly over lunch to discuss matters of the team. Not a huge deal, Raiola said, but those players could then disseminate the message to the rest of the meeting rooms.

“It was real casual, everybody had their lunch in there,” Raiola said. “It was cool. Last thing we need is people wondering what’s going to happen now or where do we need to go from here.

“That’s where guys that’s been there before, that hit rough stretches of the season, that’s been to the postseason, that understand what we’re playing for now, that we lean on them. So it was good.”

In his 13-year career with the Lions, Raiola has been to the playoffs once, in 2011. So he seeks advice from teammates who have made playoff runs before or have won division titles or a Super Bowl. Included in that group are Bush, Burleson and safety Glover Quin, formerly of the Houston Texans. Even though he is a veteran player, so much of playoff contention is new to Raiola.

At the meeting there was an emphasis on urgency and focus -- indeed, it was the point of the discussion -- and understanding what is at stake for Detroit’s present and future.

“It’s something that needs to be on our mind,” Bush said. “We have to understand that, hey, we just lost two games, but at the same time we’re still in a good position, we’re still in first place.

“We’ve done, we’ve given ourselves a cushion, but right now it’s time to turn up the urgency. The urgency has to go up and we have to make sure we’re fighting tooth and nail, not just on game day but every day, every day in the week of practice to make sure we’re doing the right things so that we can put ourselves in good position on Sundays to win games.”