The Lions had so many injuries to their defensive backs last season that they had 13 different lineups in the secondary in their 16 games. But that hasn’t led their secondary coach to tell his players that they need to fight through their injuries and keep playing.
In fact, Lions defensive backs coach Marcus Robertson told Anwar S. Richardson of MLive.com that part of the problem is that his players tried too hard to keep going after they got hurt when they should have immediately alerted the medical staff. Robertson noted that 2012 fifth-round draft pick Chris Greenwood ended up missing his entire rookie season after trying to tough it out through an injury.
“One thing you deal with when you deal with players, and I’ll take Greenwood, for example,” Robertson said. “Greenwood had the sports hernia. Well, he had it for some time and didn’t want to tell anybody because he wanted to make the team. What’s most important, in my opinion, is your health. Ultimately, what ended up happening is you didn’t let anybody know, and I’m looking at you saying, ‘You’re not the same dude that I saw two weeks ago. What’s wrong with you?’ Then I have to make you spit it out. Now, guess what? We just lost two weeks, and that same two weeks cost you not seeing a game last season. It’s important for guys to understand their bodies and listen to their bodies, as well as take care of it.”
Robertson talked to 49ers defensive backs coach Ed Donatell at the Scouting Combine to find out how the 49ers have managed to stay so healthy in the secondary.
“One of the things I admired the last two seasons is I’ve been following the San Francisco 49ers,” Robertson said. “They played with five defensive backs for 32 games, plus the playoffs, the last two years. I went up and spoke to Ed Donatell and asked him, ‘How did you do that?’ He gave me some insight on how he did it, and I’m taking heed to that and trying to implement that into what we’re doing to try to get our guys as healthy as possible.”
If the 49ers have any secrets to their success, I’m not sure what incentive they have to share it with the Lions. But it is wise for Robertson to make keeping his players healthy his top priority. Injuries in the secondary were a big part of the reason the Lions were bounced out of the playoffs after the 2011 season, and a big part of the reason they went 4-12 last year. They need their defensive backs to get healthy and stay healthy.