Jim Caldwell believes Dom Raiola

ByMichael Rothstein ESPN logo
Monday, December 22, 2014

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell said he believes his center, Dominic Raiola, when he said he inadvertently stepped on Chicago defensive lineman Ego Ferguson's ankle Sunday, but he can also see why the NFL is looking into the play.

Caldwell also said "it could be a possibility" the Lions will be without Raiola on Sunday when the Lions face Green Bay for the NFC North title and a potential first-round bye in the playoffs.

Raiola stepped on Ferguson's ankle in the third quarter of Detroit's 20-14 win over Chicago. The NFL told ESPN on Monday it was reviewing the play for possible discipline against Raiola.

"Obviously, I took a good look at it, both the coaches and also the television copy as well," Caldwell said. "I believe what Dom told me, that it was inadvertent, but I can also see why obviously it's being reviewed by the league and everybody's taking a real good look at it. You can also see the other side of that as well."

Caldwell said he spoke with Raiola on Monday morning but didn't want to get into details of the conversation between the two.

"It's like anything else, when it's a tough situation to deal with, you're not feeling real good," Caldwell said. "I think that's obvious."

Raiola said after the game he didn't intentionally step on Ferguson's ankle and apologized to him after the game. He also explained to Chicago offensive lineman Roberto Garza, a friend of Raiola's, what happened and wanted to reiterate he didn't mean to do that intentionally.

"I apologized at the end of the game, told him it was unintentional and we shook hands and that was it," Raiola said.

After Sunday's loss, Ferguson did not want to get into what Raiola said to him after the game.

"None of that matters," Ferguson said. "We all saw the play. You can't take back what happened with that play. That's the end of that."

Raiola was fined $10,000 earlier this season for unnecessary roughness when he clubbed New England defensive lineman Zach Moore in the back of the head.

Caldwell said the Lions will have multiple options if Detroit has to play without Raiola on Sunday but one of the likely scenarios would be playing rookie Travis Swanson at center against the Packers. Swanson was a third-round pick out of Arkansas in May and started three games for the Lions when right guard Larry Warford missed time with a knee injury.

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