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Allen Park -- Defensive end Jason Jones played just two snaps Sunday before exiting, and a surprise player earned a significantly bigger role in his absence.

Linebacker Brandon Copeland played 16 snaps in the game, tying his season high. Although he's listed as a linebacker, Copeland frequently practices with the defensive ends, and he ended up being the fourth option Sunday behind Jones, Ziggy Ansah, Devin Taylor and Darryl Tapp.

Copeland, who's played mostly special teams in his first season with the Lions, finished the game with a career-high four tackles.

"He played tough," coach Jim Caldwell said Monday.

Copeland has been productive this year when he's had a substantial role. When he played 16 snaps against the Bears in Week 6, he had a tackle and a half sack, and in eight snaps against the Eagles on Thanksgiving, he had three tackles.

Caldwell on Manning

Caldwell spent a decade working with Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, coaching him closely as the quarterbacks coach then head coach with the Colts.

One of the years they were together was 2011, and Manning's activities that season were called into question Sunday as an Al Jazeera report claimed he used performance-enhancing drugs.

Manning has vehemently denied the accuracy of the report, and the man who accused Manning in the report has since recanted his claim.

Caldwell, though, discussed the report after Sunday's game.

"First of all, he's a man of integrity," he said of Manning. "But I certainly don't think it's worth talking about something where a guy has retracted what he said, he says he was lying and everybody still wants to ask the same questions. When does it stop, you know what I mean?

"Peyton is as quality a person as they come and he's exemplary in every single forum."

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/jkatzenstein

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