Five things to watch as the Lions play at the Miami Dolphins; plus prediction

Dolphins are 3-0 at home

Much has been made about today’s weather forecast in Miami which is expected to reach 87 hot and humid degrees.

The visitors bench at Hard Rock Stadium gets the sun unlike the home team.

“We’re not going down there to play against the weather, we’re going to play the Dolphins we have to make sure we’re ready to go,’’ safety Glover Quin said.

The Lions (2-3) are winless on the road while the Dolphins (4-2) are 3-0 at Hard Rock Stadium.

If the Lions are going to get back on track this season and somehow improve on last season’s 9-7 record, today is the time to get started.

“We just have to play good football. I think that’s our mindset, is do everything we can, prepare as hard as we can to play good football on Sunday and that’s what it boils down to,’’ Matthew Stafford said. “The games that we’ve won we’ve played well, the games that we haven’t we did not play well. So, it’s on us to go out there, have that sense of urgency and play well.”

Here are five things to watch:

1. The defense must stop Frank Gore (in his 14th season) who averages 4.9 yards per carry as the Dolphins top running back. “Frank has done an unbelievable job of taking care of his body and just executing at a high level for a long time. I know him really well,’’ coach Matt Patricia said. “He’s a competitive guy, he’s a tough guy. He really loves the game of football. And he has an edge about him that has just been able to kind of carry him all the way through his career.’’ The Lions’ rushing defense tightened up a bit in the win against the Packers, but must continue that trend on Sunday.

2. Rattle quarterback Brock Osweiler who was announced as the starting quarterback on Wednesday with Ryan Tannehill injured. While many of the yards were after the catch, Osweiler passed for 380 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in the 31-28 win over the Bears last week. “He’s got a big arm, he can throw the ball, their offense they like to throw the ball deep, they’ve got fast guys he can definitely do that,’’ Quin said. The Lions will once again be playing without defensive end Ziggy Ansah who has been declared out with a shoulder injury.

3. The Lions third-down defense has excelled and needs to continue. “You’ve got to have a good scheme and you’ve got to be able to execute it. Like I said, for us it’s about understanding what teams are going to try to do against us, what different players like to do, figure a way to take that away on third downs,’’ Quin said. “… For us we have to be on the same page we have to be locked in and clued in to all the same things so we can execute at a high level.’’

4. Getting off to a fast start so important for both teams. In their win over the Packers on Oct. 7, the Lions took a 24-0 lead at the half. It didn’t guarantee a win but changed the way they played in the second half.

5. The Lions run game has to continue the upward trajectory. Theo Riddick (knee) is out. Kerryon Johnson and LeGarrette Blount do what they do but they also can catch the ball out of the backfield so they’ll likely get more snaps with Riddick’s absence.

PREDICTION: Dolphins 27, Lions 24.

Detroit Lions’ guard T.J. Lang seeks advice from concussion specialists

Lang back at practice, could play Sunday

ALLEN PARK — T.J. Lang spent part of his bye week examining his health, in particular the latest concussion that he suffered on Sept. 30.

The Detroit Lions starting right guard has practiced this week and could be back in the lineup for Sunday’s game at the Miami Dolphins. He missed the Oct. 7 win over the Green Bay Packers and Wednesday was the first day he practiced since the injury.

“I feel pretty good, back to the normal routine,’’ Lang said on Thursday after practice. He stopped short of guaranteeing he will be on the field at Miami but seemed confident that would happen.

It was not his first concussion and the 31-year-old Lang did not take it lightly.

“Dating back to last week and even two weeks ago I tried not to make too big of a deal about it. Obviously I’ve been down this road before,’’ Lang said. “The older you get the more you start to think. The guys here — the trainers, doctors, everybody that is involved in my personal life — did a good job setting me up with high-end experts, doctors, neurologists that I could talk to. I reached out to a lot of them and tried to gather as much information as I could. I would say most of those meetings are pretty positive.’’

He wouldn’t go into detail on the information he culled because as he said, “I’m just not that smart.”

His wife went on a few of the appointments with him.

“She seems to be pretty worked up about some of the head stuff with obviously everything that is going on in the public. At the end of the day you have to make a conscious educated decision to move forward. I think I gathered enough information to feel comfortable to continue to play when I’m feeling good,’’ Lang said.

He said he saw three or four specialists to gather information on former players and CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). He wanted to know if concussion are overblown in the media. Also is the information out there accurate.

“The biggest question I had was, ‘Do you think I”ll be safe to return once I’m fully back healthy?’ And I think most of them said, ‘Yes.’ That gave me a lot of comfort knowing that when this is all settled and done, basically set the reset button and continue to play,”’ Lang said.

A few of the specialists had different opinions.

“For the most part it was you’d be fine to play, I don’t think there’ll be ramifications down the line if you continue to play,’’ Lang said. “There were some tough conversations, you have to have those conversations no matter what injury you have. …

“For me the biggest thing was I feel like I have teammates in this locker room that are counting on me to be out there and to play at a high level , that’s something that’s always driven me and will continue to drive me,’’ Lang said. “So I don’t know if its the brightest way to look at it when you’re comparing your health. At the same time it’s all I really know and I want to be known as a dependable guy.’’

His wife, his mother and his children all factor into his decisions.

“My kids are old enough to watch the games now and notice when something is wrong,’’ Lang said. “All that goes through your mind, it’s human nature. At the end of the day I try to explain that I’ll be all right.’’

After 5 games, Lions have identity crisis

They face Dolphins at Miami on Sunday

ALLEN PARK >> Five games into the season, the Lions have an identity crisis.

“It’s not about who I think we are, it’s about how we play that week,’’ safety Glover Quin said on Wednesday. “Do we play like the team that beat the Patriots because obviously we can do that. Or do we play like the team that lost to the Jets, obviously we can do that too. It’s not about who do I think we are, it’s about how do we go out and play each and every week.’’

OK, then. That brings up this week. Coming off the bye the Lions are 2-3 and play at Miami (4-2).

The Dolphins are 3-0 at home while the Lions are 0-2 on the road. Add in the factor that temps are expected to reach 87 on Sunday.

Also, the Lions are coming off their bye week so need to rev up and get back into the groove. That win against the Packers on Oct. 7 could have started a roll, but the brakes were put on due to the early bye week.

“It’s not really a concern. It’s something we have to go out and get back to playing football. We should be fresher, bodies should feel pretty good, we’ve had a week off,’’ Quin said.

The Lions veteran safety said it’s a good to be playing on the road because it’s easier to communicate defensively because the home crowd is quiet while their offense is on the field.

“You can hear — talk and communicate and make sure everybody is on the same page and we should be good,’’ Quin said.

Consistency is the key moving forward.

“If we get smacked, we’re probably the team that showed up against the Jets, if we dominate we’re the team that showed up against the Patriots and the Packers,’’ Quin said. “It’s about being consistent and not having that up and down — this week we were good, next week we were bad. We have to lock in and say we’re going to be good.’’

After five games with new head coach Matt Patricia, Quin seems fairly confident.

“The longer you play together, get to know each other better, it’s a new scheme for us, so we learn new things within the scheme, new things we can do, you get more comfortable,’’ Quin said. “When you first come out I mean everything is new you’re going into battle with a new head coach, new position coaches for the most part, everything is kind of new, sometimes it takes a feeling-out period, sometimes it don’t.’’

If the Lions are going to turn around the season, time is getting short.

Quin knows it is not too late because he has been through this before when he was in Houston in 2011.

“I think we started out 2-3 or something like that, 3-3, and we ended up winning seven games in a row and clinched at 10-3, the division,’’ Quin said. “It’s all about going out and playing at a high level and winning games, once you win you stack them and stack them and go on a run.’’

Sunday’s game against the Dolphins is certainly not a must-win, but it will help define this Lions team. Good or bad.