Bynes, not Tulloch, relays defensive plays in loss

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Lions outside linebacker Josh Bynes, not middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch, wore the team's speaker in his helmet last Sunday to relay calls from coaches to players.

For the first time since he's joining the Lions in 2011, Tulloch was a part-time player despite being healthy, playing 44 of 65 defensive snaps. Bynes, the weak-side linebacker, played every snap and was the one calling plays for the defense that he heard in his helmet.

Despite the change, players said there weren't any communication issues in the 26-16 loss to the Vikings in which the Lions gave up 199 rushing yards.

"I really didn't notice a difference," defensive end Phillip Hunt said. "Everything was cool. No matter who calls the plays it's up to us to get them communicated to each other and ran correctly. … We just have to play harder as a defense."

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Coach Jim Caldwell refused to say which linebacker wore the headset when asked Monday. Finally, he conceded that it doesn't matter who wears it because the Lions have signals and other ways of relaying calls. Sometimes Tulloch will relay plays, sometimes it will be Bynes and it might be someone else, Caldwell said.

"It doesn't matter who's giving the call," cornerback Rashean Mathis said. "We don't really pay attention to it on our end as long as we're getting it. Normally getting from safety or nickel, especially when team goes no huddle.

After Tulloch suffered a season-ending knee injury last year, the Lions gave the headset to either Tahir Whitehead or DeAndre Levy. Levy is currently dealing with a hip injury, but he could be the guy with the headset when he returns, especially if the Lions continue to rotate Tulloch and Whitehead in the middle.

"Whoever's out there, you trust the guy next to you and trust that he can do his job," Mathis said.