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DFP: Defensive coordinator Joe Barry: Defense shows effort, but mental lapses hurt


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http://www.freep.com/article/20081025/SPORTS01/810250336/1048/SPORTS

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Defensive coordinator Joe Barry: Defense shows effort, but mental lapses hurt

BY CARLOS MONARREZ • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • October 25, 2008

Lions defensive coordinator Joe Barry keeps preaches to his players that they're close. It's just a few missed plays that have burned the defense, especially early, Barry said.

"The effort is there, but the above-the-neck stuff is sometimes not there," Barry said. "We have a little lapse mentally, a missed tackle here or there. That's not due to a lack of effort or a bust. It's just simply not making a play.

"That happens all of the time. I mean, around the league you see those things happen. It just seems, for whatever reason, it's intensified with us. When we screw something up, instead of it being an 8- or 10-yard gain -- bam! -- it's a 60-yard gain."

The breakdowns have been costly. Against Houston, Steve Slaton broke a 37-yard run on the third play. Against Minnesota, Bernard Berrian scored on an 86-yard reception.

"That's what's been happening: it's here and there," defensive tackle Shaun Cody said. "We'll put together five, six good straight plays and then someone will have a mental breakdown here, lose a gap there.

"It's definitely not a question of effort. Guys aren't sitting around and not playing hard. It's just being in the right spot."

Barry noted that the Lions have put up similar defensive stats to the Texans' and Vikings' four most recent opponents. The key, Barry said, was to eliminate the handful of mistakes at crucial times.

"Usually, the teams that win make those five or eight plays, and the teams that lose screw them up," he said. "We've been screwing up those plays. As soon as we stop doing that and play consistent football, Play 1 through Play 65, we'll give ourselves a damn chance."

COOK TO START: Offensive lineman Damion Cook confirmed he will start Sunday against Washington at left guard for the second consecutive game.

Cook started over Edwin Mulitalo last week against Houston, which marked Cook's first NFL start since he started all six games he played with Cleveland in 2004. Cook, 29, played the past two seasons in the Canadian Football League. He has 21 games of NFL experience, including seven starts.

Coach Rod Marinelli said he liked what he saw from Cook against the Texans and in practice.

"He's really big. His feet are really good," Marinelli said. "He's a big man, he's a bright guy, and he's hungry, really hungry."

Cook, 6-feet-5, 330 pounds, has adapted well to change. He was a defensive lineman at Bethune-Cookman, then he was converted to an offensive tackle when he played for Baltimore in 2002-04 under offensive line coach Jim Colletto, now the Lions' offensive coordinator.

Playing in the CFL, with its 12 men, three downs and massive fields, also was a change for Cook. But he has weathered it all and said it all boils down to the same thing.

"Football's football," he said, "no matter where you go, whether it's Canada, Europe, Mars or the Earth. Football's football.

"Of course, this is the elite. The game's going to be tougher, it's going to be harder. But hey, that's what you signed up for."

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