DETROIT (AP) The Detroit Lions understand why they are in the middle of the strangest schedule they have ever seen.
That doesn”t stop them from shaking their head about it.
“I”ve never seen anything like this,” said safety Ron Rice. “We played Green Bay, and then we had a week off, and now we are playing Cleveland, and then we get another week off, and then we play a Monday night game.
“You want to get a flow going early in the season, and we aren”t going to be able to do that.”
By having a bye in week four, the Lions were already looking at an early interruption, and the postponement of last weekend”s schedule made things worse.
“This is driving me crazy,” said wide receiver Johnnie Morton. “It”s like we are still in training camp. I just want to start playing some games again. Let”s play Sunday Wednesday Sunday and get things going.”
Things got even stranger yesterday when the Lions announced they were going to take a bus to Cleveland instead of a plane.
“It isn”t a security issue, it”s strictly a matter of practicality,” said Lions coach Marty Mornhinweg. “It”s already an hour drive for us to get from the Silverdome to the airport, and then we have no idea what we will have to do to get in and out of the airports.
“Since it is only 3 1/2 hours to Cleveland by bus, we decided that was the most prudent way to go. I don”t think I”ve taken a bus to a game since I was coaching at Southeast Missouri State.”
Mornhinweg admitted that as a typically superstitious coach, a win in Cleveland could cause some hardship for his players down the road.
“If we win this game, we”ll bus to San Francisco, too,” he said with a smile. “We”ll just stop a couple times on the way and practice by the side of the road.”
Despite future travel woes, the Lions know very well how important Sunday”s game will be, especially since there might only be one wildcard team from their conference this season.
“It”s hard to call a game a must-win in the second week of the season, but if there was ever going to be one, this is it,” said new starting quarterback Ty Detmer. “We don”t want to go into the bye week 0-2.”
Detroit comes out of the bye with a Monday night game against the Rams, and follows that with games against the Vikings and Titans, so a loss to the Browns could cripple their season before it even really gets started.
“If we aren”t going to have the other two wildcard teams in each conference, every game becomes much more important,” said Lions running back James Stewart. “And divisional games are going to be humongous, because you pretty much have to win the division to make sure you are going to get in. It”s risky to count on that last spot.”
The Lions got mixed injury news on yesterday both Rice (toe) and cornerback Robert Bailey (ankle) practiced and are expecting to play on Sunday, but wide receiver Herman Moore missed the session with a pulled hamstring.