ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- During offseason practices thus far, most of the Detroit Lions' injured players were on the field watching -- with one key exception.
Cornerback Chris Houston, who underwent toe surgery in May, was not seen at the facility during three weeks of organized team activities or the first day of mandatory minicamp Tuesday.
"He had surgery, which you know, and he's been excused," coach Jim Caldwell said.
However, when asked how Houston was keeping up with the defensive playbook under new coordinator Teryl Austin, Caldwell became a bit frustrated.
"I would think that was sort of a trick question," he said. "He hasn't been here. How does he keep up when he hasn't been here? He hasn't been here; we understand everything. He's been excused, and when he gets back, whatever happens, we'll work it out at that time."
Caldwell also said he's not disappointed that the veteran who started 54 games for the Lions the past four seasons is not around team headquarters. Houston is entering the second season of a five-year, $25 million deal.
"He was not expected to be here," Caldwell said. "He is right where he's supposed to be at this point."
The only other player absent Tuesday was sixth-round receiver TJ Jones, and Caldwell said he was excused, too, though did not provide a reason. Injured players who were present but sitting were receiver Golden Tate (shoulder), running back Joique Bell (knee) and defensive end Ziggy Ansah (shoulder).
After the defense looked better than the offense in OTAs, the offense looked like the superior unit Tuesday. Quarterback Matthew Stafford completed a beautiful touchdown throw to receiver Calvin Johnson on a pass longer than 50 yards.