By Ian Shalapata
(ALLEN PARK, MI) – The Detroit Lions have been busy over the holiday preparing for their NFC Divisional playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. The Lions met at their practice facility in Allen Park yesterday for a practice and team meetings throughout the day.
The wild card matchup will pit the No.6 Lions against the No.3 seed Cowboys (12-4) and will kick-off at 4:40 pm at AT&T Stadium, in Dallas. The two teams have met in the playoffs only twice before, in 1970 and 1991, each taking away a victory.
DE Darryl Tapp and G Larry Warford (knee) did not participate in practice. Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi says the team will miss Warford, but he’s got every confidence in the ability of replacement Travis Swanson.
“He’s (Warford) been playing good all year, but these last few weeks you just look at him and say, ‘Wow, look at that.’ He’s been dominant, so I think we’ll miss him,” Lomdardi said. “But you’re comfortable with Travis (Swanson). He’s been in there a number of games now, as most of our backup offensive linemen have done, so you’re confident in him. But Larry’s been playing great.”
WR Calvin Johnson is nursing a sore ankle, but Megatron participated in the full practice. Johnson is a large part of the Lions’ offense and the coaching staff always have him in the forefront of their thoughts. He and WR Golden Tate will be called upon to lead Detroit against the Cowboys.
The Cowboys’ QB Tony Romo also participated in his team’s practice, but is favouring a back ailment. Even so, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is expecting a strong showing from the Dallas offense.
“(Romo) is playing pretty well. They are, they’re really strong up front and we’d like to think that that’s probably the strength of our defense as well, our front seven,” Austin explained. “We think it’s two good fronts going at it, we think it’s going to be a heck of a battle. We’re going to have to fight our tail off to have a chance to win.”
A little controversy has crept into the game line-up for Sunday. Dallas’ S Barry Church has indicated that he wants some revenge for a a hit by Tate on Cowboys LB Sean Lee in 2012. Tate was fined $21,000 for the hit, but there was no penalty called on the play. But for his part, Tate isn’t concerned about Church’s remarks.
“The fact that he’s (Church) wasting energy worrying about revenge about something that’s two years ago, that has nothing to do with him, I think is a little silly,” Tate said. “I think that’s selfish that another man is trying to get revenge for another man’s problem, I guess. It’s kind of weird.”
Tate’s teammates asked, “Barry Church who?” While Lions’ head coach Jim Caldwell brushed off the affair.
“Our game is a tough game,” Caldwell said. “But also I do think, from what I understand, the young man said he’s playing within the rules, so that’s all that matters.”
The Lions will practice again today and Saturday before heading to Texas.