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Lions coach Matt Patricia defends decision to practice outdoors

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- A day after Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia held his team's practice outside in the cold and snow despite playing four straight games indoors or in Arizona, the first-year coach spent about four minutes and 900 words explaining his decision to do so.

He did this in hopes of ending what had been a few conversations about practicing inside vs. outside, contradicting the elements the team was going to play in. For instance, when the Lions played at Miami earlier this year, Detroit practiced outside in colder weather for two of three days.

Part of the reason Patricia chose to practice outside Thursday, he said, was because it was going to be a padded practice, and he believes the ground is better and more forgiving outside than inside the team's practice facility.

"The downside of practicing indoors on the turf is the wear and effect that it has on the bigger-bodied players on our team," Patricia said as part of a statement that he appeared to be partially reading from notes. "Standing on turf or running on turf oftentimes, for extended periods of time, affects joints. It affects swelling and really causes the body in the different members of our team to have pain or joint swelling that then will cause them further delay in preparing for playing in the game.

"Practicing outside has multiple benefits. Provides different elements for us to prepare in, work through in the grand overall preparation of our team. Yesterday was a good opportunity for us to go outside. We were able to practice and work on our fundamentals from a standpoint that we wanted to practice in pads. Practicing in pads on turf is a little bit of an extra risk in my mind, in some of those situations where feet or footwork might be stuck in the turf in different situations whereas the grass or the natural ground has a little bit more give. In those situations, it was safer for us to go outside in pads and practice in an opportunity where we could work on our fundamentals in what I thought would be a safer manner, which is true."

At least one Lions player, cornerback Darius Slay, seemed confused by why Detroit was practicing outside Thursday and intimated that if it were up to him, he would not have practiced outside.

Patricia also said he wanted the team to practice outdoors because he believes it allowed them to work more on the fundamentals they needed to focus on Sunday heading into the game against Carolina and in the future. It also gave them better working conditions to create "teaching moments."

He also said these decisions also come up sometimes at the last minute, and he puts the health and safety of the team and their ability to prepare effectively each week first when it comes to practice decisions.

"Going outside yesterday allowed us to also have the opportunity to focus on our fundamentals, which we needed to do, and take care and make sure we are technically sound in some of our footwork," Patricia said. "Practicing in some of those conditions, whether it's mud, snow, loose grass, whatever the case may be, focuses most of the skill players have to keep their feet underneath them, to be able to break the low center of gravity and play technically sound, which is always good from a fundamental standpoint. So a good opportunity to get that done. The temperature yesterday was not a factor. It was not cold outside, and there was not a heavy wind. So it was an easy day for us to go outside and get some good work done."