Lions coach Matt Patricia talks about dealing with the heat this week in Houston By Matt Schoch, Special to The Detroit News
Allen Park — With temperatures expected to approach 100 degrees and the fans at home desiring some positive signs as the regular season nears, you could say the heat is on the Lions this week in Houston.
DeAndre Hopkins, J.J. Watt and some of Lions coach Matt Patricia’s former co-workers await Detroit for two days of joint practices, a light workout on Friday and the second preseason game on Saturday night.
And if all went well in its delivery, Patricia’s all-terrain vehicle will be there too.
“Hopefully it’s on a truck and not some guy driving it by himself,” Patricia said of the shipped ATV, which the coach has prowled around in at practices this training camp. With his ride hopefully en route, Patricia was in a golf cart on Tuesday, also with a walking boot instead of a cast.
Patricia said, as of Tuesday, the plan for Saturday night was the same as last week when he perched himself atop exercise pads to be high enough to see above his players on the sideline after his offseason surgery.
His own health is just one concern for the Lions, who have been without most of the starting defensive line this camp, and lost wide receiver Jermaine Kearse for the season with an injury in the preseason opener against New England.
That game followed a run of joint practices with the Patriots, with more intertwining branches of Bill Belichick’s coaching tree meeting in Texas this week.
The Texans are coached by Bill O’Brien, who spent five years with Patricia on New England’s staff. Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel overlapped one season with the Lions coach before Patricia later took that post under Belichick.
Patricia said he’ll lean on O’Brien and his staff’s experience with dealing with the relentless heat of Texas in August.
“I do think the heat is good for us to practice in,” Patricia said. “I think this is another good mental rep for us, as far as going down to an environment where maybe it’s hot — just like sometimes you’re going to go play some place where it’s cold, or going to rain, or there’s going to be snow.
"In the end you don’t play the weather, you play the other opponent and you have to try to block all of that out.”
The opponent, and themselves, was the biggest problem last week in a 31-3 loss.
To avoid another repeat of last season — when a listless 1-3 preseason spilled over into a disastrous Week 1 opener against the New York Jets — the Lions have to rally under the hot sun against some tough foes.
“We’ll get an entirely different set of players this week to compete against,” Patricia said. “J.J. Watt is obviously a phenomenal player and everybody that’s down there, so I think that it is a great opportunity to not only compete, but also to play with awareness.”
Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.