News writers Justin Rogers and Bob Wojnowski do their best to remember this is a preseason game, missing the starters, and that it only matters so much. Justin Rogers, The Detroit News
Detroit — Lions coach Matt Patricia views himself as a problem solver. That's grounded in his engineering background.
And while that skill set is usually reserved for constructing a game plan, or making in-game adjustments, he had an opportunity to put his engineering hat on for a different purpose leading up to the Lions' preseason opener — finding a way to coach on the field with an injured leg.
Patricia had offseason surgery on his lower right leg, which has confined him to a knee cart around the team's facility or an ATV out on the practice field. But those weren't practical options for Thursday night's game.
He could have coached the game from the booth, something he's done in past roles, but his preference for being in the middle of the action forced him to think outside the box.
"I've been up in the booth and I've been down and they're two totally different environments," Patricia said. "The booth is very calm. It's just a different view of the game. It's quieter.
"There's obviously a much different vibe down there, and I think it's important for me, as the head coach, to be in the middle of it. Especially with as many players as we have, and the substitutions and the rotations, we're all getting used to each other on game day."
The ultimate solution: A makeshift, tiered platform constructed of exercise boxes located behind Detroit's bench.
"It's probably the best I can do, with that deal," Patricia said after the game. "I can't be too close to the action because I certainly don't want to put anybody in danger. I can't really get out of the way myself right now."
The solution solved Patricia's two biggest obstacles he needed to overcome — staying out of the way while not entirely removing himself from the action, but also providing him an unobstructed view of the field from a central location.
"Definitely different, from that perspective, to be a little bit away from everything," he said. "My biggest goal was just to be able to see over everybody, kind of see the field. I could actually see a lot on the field, which was good. The communication standpoint, for me, the headset communication is great. I have all the lines and can communicate with everybody I need to."
Patricia was even able to challenge a play from his perch, as the official met him at the platform to confirm the details. The downside, Patricia wasn't able to get clarification from the crew after the challenge failed and the call on the field stood.
"I'm not sure if it's where I was," Patricia said. "I'm usually down in those guys' ears, asking them why."
Patricia said he'll evaluate whether he'll continue with the current setup or make changes moving forward during the preseason. It remains unclear whether his recovery could linger into the regular season.