As one of just six NFC teams with a winning record, the Detroit Lions' solid start has put them in a position to have a successful season.
The Lions (3-2) haven't dropped two straight games and hope to keep it that way at Cleveland (3-2) after losing on the road to the Green Bay Packers.
"The best thing we can do is not let one loss turn into two," running back Reggie Bush said Wednesday. "We knew what was at stake last week, so now our sense of urgency has to go up."
The motivated Lions might have to play without All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson again. Johnson didn't practice Wednesday, three days after being inactive in a loss at Green Bay because of an injured right knee.
"Whether he gets back on the practice field or not, the determination may not even come until Sunday," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said.
Bush said it's hard to replace what Johnson does for Detroit's offense, but the team is getting ready for Plan B in case he can't play against the Browns.
"We have to prepare as if he's not going to play," Bush said.
The Lions know receiver Nate Burleson won't play in Week 6, but they did see him on the practice field catching tennis balls on Wednesday a day after the cast on his broken left arm was removed. Burleson is out indefinitely and is trying to provide an emotional lift for his teammates while he gets healthy enough to play.
"I'm not due to be back on the field yet, but I can run," he said. "I just want to be out there for the guys and lead and talk to them even if it's just a little bit of encouragement seeing me out there running around. Every little bit helps. We got to win this game."
Even though there are 10 games left to play, Lions players have been asked about whether they're looking at standings and figuring out how they stack up in the playoff picture. Detroit earned a spot in the postseason two years ago, for the first time since the 1999 season, and flopped to a 4-12 finish last season.
Matthew Stafford insisted it's too early in the 16-game regular season to give it much thought.
"Year in and year out you see teams that either start poorly or finish in the playoffs or start well and don't end up in the playoffs," he said.
If Detroit can beat the Browns, a 4-2 record and a share of first place with the Chicago Bears would be encouraging for a franchise desperately hoping to bounce back with a strong season.
"There's a lot of positives that would come from a win," said Schwartz, who began his NFL career in Cleveland as a scout in 1993. "We're 2-0 at home and we're 1-2 on the road right now. That would give us a chance to even our road record. That's another good reason to win. You got to come up with some wins on the road. That would go a long way to helping in a lot of ways."
NOTES: Lions C Dominic Raiola says his remarks to the University of Wisconsin band didn't include a homophobic slur, but declined to tell reporters what he said, adding there's no video or audio evidence. Raiola also wouldn't say how much money he would donate to support the band.
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