ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions don’t play a cold-weather outdoor game for a month, but on a day in Michigan with temperatures in the mid-30s and snow falling throughout the day, the franchise decided to practice outside.
And it left at least one Lions player with questions as to why.
“I don’t know. I mean, I’m just out there trying to stay warm, really,” cornerback Darius Slay said. “Like you said, we got indoor games. Obviously, it doesn’t even matter.”
The 3-6 Lions play at home — in climate-controlled Ford Field — on Sunday against Carolina, then on Thanksgiving against Chicago and on Dec. 1 against the Los Angeles Rams. Then they travel to Arizona before heading to Buffalo on Dec. 16, a full month — or four games — away from where Detroit is now.
Slay said he was able to get his work done for the day, but practicing outside in the snow was “rough.” While he’s used to playing in cold games — Detroit has played in Green Bay and Chicago late in the year during his career — Thursday’s practice was different because of the snow.
If Slay was Detroit’s coach, though, he likely would have taken a different approach.
“I ain’t the coach, so, yeah,” Slay said. “If I was the coach, yeah, you know what we would be doing.”
Lions coach Matt Patricia was unavailable for comment on why the Lions practiced outside instead of indoors because he doesn’t talk to the media on Thursdays – so his explanation will have to wait for Friday morning.
Running back LeGarrette Blount hinted that they practiced outside to prepare for future cold-weather games.
“I mean, towards the end of the season, we’re going to be in Green Bay and then we’re going to be in Buffalo,” Blount said. “You know, so, you don’t want to try and get prepared for those the week of. It’s a preparation thing, so you want to be ready for those whenever the time comes. You don’t want to have to wait and practice outside for two days or three days and then have to go there and it’s way colder than what you expect it to be.
“So, like I said, we strap it up and we go out there and grind and whatever it is, it is, and we just got to go handle it.”
Last month, when the Lions practiced outside for two days in the cold while preparing to play in warm-weather Miami, Patricia explained kind of why he practices where he does when he does.
“There are advantages to going inside and outside regardless of where you play. It doesn’t really matter. We’ve practiced outside and played inside here at home,” Patricia said last month. “So, a lot of it has to do with the fields, the wear and tear on the bodies, what we think we need for space the particular day that we’re practicing.
“Sometimes the point of emphasis of early down versus third down versus red area, sometimes wind that may be affected here. Or just kind of a feel based on what we need to do that particular day.”
Quarterback Matthew Stafford offered one joking alternative theory when asked what they get from practicing outside.
“I figured coach wanted to do it to make you guys [the media] stand outside and watch us,” Stafford said. “But also at some point we’re going to have to play in that kind of weather and it’ll be important to have reps at it so it’s good to get out there and get some work in today.”
The Lions practice again Friday — it’s expected to be in low-30s with a 40 percent chance of snow in the morning.