Lions' Patricia explains outdoor practice to 'head coach' reporters
Allen Park — To say Matt Patricia is annoyed is probably a colossal understatement.
The Detroit Lions coach came to the podium for his typical press conference with an agenda, a lengthy set of prepared remarks to preemptively address questions about his team's practice routines.
On Thursday, the Lions conducted an outdoor practice in the snow, despite having an indoor facility and the team's next four games set to be played indoors. The story merited all of four paragraphs in The Detroit News, but it was a popular topic in the locker room Thursday afternoon and drew harsher criticism, and in some cases, mockery from national outlets.
Here is Patricia's full statement:
"In regards to practice, all right, a couple comments I want to make on this topic, and provide some maybe insight on what's called closure to this continued conversation that we have here as far as our training.
"First, we'll always practice and train in a manner that looks out for our players' ability to prepare each week for our opponent, while also taking care of them, including all parameters to the overall health and safety of our team. Indoor walk-throughs, which we've had this week, which we've also had in the past, are always beneficial to our team. It's always beneficial to our players. It's a great teaching and learning environment. It's an opportunity for us to pull off them physically the demands of practice and the overhaul hustle and pursuit of what we have to do during the course of a practice, and our movements.
"It also gives a little bit of extra rest for most of the players out there on the turf, and also allows some of the players that might not be able to practice out there in a normal practice environment to go out there and get some reps and get communication and get prepared for the game. The downside of practicing indoors on the turf is the wear and effect that it has on the bigger-bodied players on our team. Standing on turf, or running on turf, for extended periods of time, affects joints. It affects swelling. And it really causes the body in different members of our team to have pain or joint swelling that will then cause them further delay in preparing for the game.
"Practicing outside has multiple benefits, provides different elements for us to prepare in and work through in the grand overall preparation of our team. Yesterday was a good opportunity for us to go outside, be able to practice and work on our fundamentals, from the standpoint of 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 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.
"Going outside yesterday allowed us to also have the opportunity to focus on our fundamentals, which we needed to do. And take care, to make sure we’re technically sound in some of our footwork. Practicing in some of those conditions, whether it’s mud, snow, loose grass, whatever the case may be, focuses most of the skill players to have to keep their feet underneath them, be able to break with a low center of gravity and play technically sound, which is always good from a fundamental standpoint. It was 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. Working through conditions that were not ideal, as a football team, is also another benefit for us, to take a live learning environment and turn it into actual teaching moments outside. Also allows us to focus on the details, again, like I said, of our technique, but also the awareness of our surroundings, which we’ll have to play through and fight through at some point, in particular through the course of the year. When the elements pop up, it’s a great learning lessor for us. We’re going to make sure to take the opportunity that we fight through it, and again, always remember that we’re playing the team, the opponent, not the elements. In many cases we change and alter practice and locations based on what we think is best for the team, in that particular moment. Some of those decisions are made at the very last minute, based on how the weather or how the team feels at that particular time.
"Last Friday, we practiced outside. We played outside. Miami week, we practiced outside in the cold. We played in a 112 field-temperature game. Again, it’s about the preparation, it’s about how we practice, it’s about our execution, and then it’s about how to perform on Sunday.
"That’s all that really matters. That’s all we’re trying to do. There’s no more discussion, no more conversation about it. I’d like to move on and show a little more respect to Carolina, the Panthers, coach Ron Rivera, his outstanding team he’s bringing up here to play against us, and the challenges we have, in fact, in trying to stop them and prepare for them.
"We’re going to be practicing inside today, just so everybody is clear. All right? Make sure everybody is good with all the head coaches in the room on that. Everybody good there? Again, there’s some wind out there, some dust, probably a good idea we practice inside and make sure we have some good time. It’s all based on what’s best for the team at that moment. We good? Great. Got any questions about Carolina?"