DETROIT LIONS DAILY UPDATE

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DETROIT LIONS DAILY UPDATE FOR WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 23, 2006TODAY'S NEWS

  • The Lions had a full-squad practice today in helmets and shorts on the outdoor fields at the team's headquarters and practice facility in Allen Park. The team will hold a walkthrough Thursday morning before heading over to the 10th Annual Kickoff Luncheon and then will leave for Oakland Friday morning.
  • LB Teddy Lehman and WR Scottie Vines remain on the PUP list and did not practice today.
  • TE Casey FitzSimmons, DE Cory Redding, WR Charles Rogers, DT Shaun Rogers, RT Rex Tucker and RG DamienWoody also missed practice today.
  • Detroit Lions tight end Charlie Sanders has been selected by the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Seniors Committee as one of two finalists for election into the Hall of Fame with the Class of 2007. Sanders, a 6'4", 230-pound tight end, was Detroit's third round pick out of Minnesota in 1968. He quickly established himself in the NFL when he recorded 40 catches for 533 yards as a rookie. More success followed for Sanders in 1969 when he caught 42 passes for a career-high 656 yards and scored three touchdowns. He was named All-NFL that season, the first of three straight seasons that he earned all-league accolades. In addition, Sanders was elected to seven Pro Bowls during his 10-year, 128-game career. Sanders caught 30 or more passes in a year seven times. In his career that ended after the 1977 season, he had 336 catches for 4,817 yards and scored 31 touchdowns. He retired as the Lions all-time leader in receptions. Sanders was also named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1970s. The other finalist was Cleveland guard Gene Hickerson.
  • The 10th annual Detroit Lions Kickoff Luncheon presented by Tribute Restaurant and the Wisne Family and hosted by the Detroit Economic Club is sold out. A capacity crowd of 1,500 is expected to attend the annual event, tomorrow (August 24), at Burton Manor in Livonia. Lunch will begin at noon followed by the program that will feature new Lions' Head Coach Rod Marinelli and the introduction of the 2006 Detroit Lions team. The masters of ceremonies will be the 97.1 Free FM Lions' radio play-by-play team of Dan Miller and Jim Brandstatter. Speakers will include Marinelli, Lions' President and CEO Matt Millen, and Executive Vice President and COO Tom Lewand. The entire Lions' team annually attends the luncheon and awards from the 2005 season will be presented. Players receiving awards will include Most Valuable Players Roy Williams (offense), Shaun Rogers (defense) and Vernon Fox (special teams). Other awards will go to Shaun Cody, Marcus Pollard, Scottie Vines and Damien Woody. Proceeds from the luncheon go to Detroit Lions Charities, the Lions' non-profit foundation that has donated more than $3.8 million to charities in Michigan.   
  • The Detroit Lions will face the Raiders in Oakland Friday for their third preseason game which kicks off at 7 p.m. (PT) at McAfee Coliseum. This week's game marks the fifth time the two teams have faced each other in the preseason, with the Raiders holding a 3-1 series edge. Detroit enters the game trying to rebound from a 20-16 preseason loss at Cleveland while Oakland will try to win their fourth straight preseason game after winning their home debut against San Francisco, 23-7.
  • Friday's game will be televised live in Metro Detroit on WKBD-TV UPN Channel 50 with Frank Beckmann handling play-by-play, former Lions DT Kelvin Pritchett adding color commentary and local sportscaster Steve Courtney reporting from the sideline. The games can also be viewed throughout the state of Michigan and portions of northwest Ohio on: WFQX-TV FOX Ch. 33 (Cadillac/Traverse City); WJMN-TV CBS Ch. 3 (Escanaba); WXMI-TV FOX Ch. 17 (Grand Rapids); WSYM-TV FOX Ch. 47 (Lansing); WNEM-TV CBS Ch. 5 (Saginaw/Flint/Bay City) and WNWO NBC Ch. 24 (Toledo, Ohio).
  • The Lions preseason game at Oakland is scheduled to be re-aired Sunday, August 27 at noon on WKBD-TV UPN 50. Viewers, especially those outside the Metro Detroit area, will also have the opportunity to see Friday's game beginning a 11 PM ET (one hour tape delay) on the NFL Network.

FORMER LIONS TE CHARLIE SANDERS, PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME NOMINEE
On how he feels about this stage of the process: "I really didn't know the procedure until the day (they) explained it to me. I know Jerry (Green) who has been very supportive in my efforts to get there. They explained it to me. This is the closest I've gotten; I missed it last year by a vote or two. I'm elated - I'm kind of numb right now.

"I had the opportunity to go down this past year for the induction and got a taste, or feel, for what it was all about. I got the chance to see some of the guys that I played against, and every guy that you saw there has a story to go with them. Guys like (Dick Butkus) with the biting and the scratching and Can Houston with some of the illegal hits (laughing) - it was fun to look at some of the guys that made it to this degree of success as far as the Hall of Fame, and to think you held your own against these guys. You just want to be a part of it; it's a special feeling of closeness with these guys. Just being down there and being amongst them made even more of a desire to get there."

On what it feels like to possibly be in the same class as Barry (Sanders) and Lem (Barney): "Well I was hoping I could get there before (Barry) but I understand (laughing). Of course with Lem, you knew that from the day he retired that the first opportunity that he got he was going to get there - he is a tremendous athlete. When you look at what they accomplished on the field and you think that you're a part of that, it's hard to grasp. I guess some of the things people said about me were true. I'm still in a state of shock."

On if it's more nerve racking for him now that he knows he's in the running to become a part of the 2007 NFL Hall of Fame draft class: "I'll probably focus more on it (the possibility of induction into the Hall of Fame) now. Before, it was hearsay - stuff that people would bring to me - so the disappointment was there. It's kind of like having your hand in that cookie jar, hoping to get that cookie and not just the crumbs (laughing)."

On leaving Canton and wondering if he'd ever be back: "I'm usually not a very optimistic type person; but, to be very honest with you as I sat there and watched the ceremony and became involved in (John Madden's) party - I understand that he beat me out by one vote last year, so I came to eat all of his food -but, as I left there with Matt (Millen) I started putting a speech together. It was one of those: I'm going to remain positive and if I do (get in) then this is what I would say. I started to work on it from that stand point. I was excited and had my fingers crossed and Matt (Millen) kept saying hang in there because there's a good chance."

On what distinguished him as a football player: "I don't know - I just had fun. I would like to think that the things that I did, I did not so much for me but for the fans. I was the kind of guy that didn't want to let the fans down; I didn't want people not to like me. So as a result you find yourself doing some things that you wouldn't normally do, or going out of your way to put that extra effort in it. I just wanted to please the fans and in the process I had a lot of fun."

On if he thinks the tight end position is one of those positions that had a hard time being placed in the Hall of Fame and that maybe they didn't get enough respect: "Well, that was the only part of the whole Hall of Fame that I didn't really like; the fact that I felt that it was a position that didn't get the respect I felt it should. After playing the game, I thought that it was the toughest position to play because you're not looking at a "specialty" type situation where you're a pass catcher or strictly a blocker - in the era of the (John) Mackey(s), the (Mike) Ditka's and myself - you never came out of the game, you were in there every play. I didn't think that the value of the tight end was looked upon as a contributor to winning teams.

"When (John) Mackey got in I was a little more relieved because I sort of patterned myself after him, so I was happy from that stand point. Since that, there have been quite a few that have turned it into the hall."

On how it felt to be a young player and being referred to by other players as 'Little Mackey': "All that I knew about (John Mackey) was that he looked like he weighed more than 225 and he wore number 88 - inherited it just by accident because Ron Kramer had been let go and I just inherited the number. It made me feel good; it meant that I was accepted by the veterans. I think it was (Lem Barney) that first referred to me that way and he was a good model to follow."

On how he found out this morning about being a nominee: "Bill (Keenist) came up and stood in my door way - he usually doesn't do that (laughing). I knew something was up, either good news or bad news and he started smiling so I got the information that way. Then a few minutes later I had some members from the voting committee call me, so I had to act surprised."

On if he's talked to Jerry Green yet: "No, I heard him in the background of the conference call. He has been tremendous in pushing for me and I'm glad that he was on my side because he put forth a lot of effort to try and get me into the hall."

On if he ever thought at one point in time that it (being a nominee) wasn't going to happen: "I didn't spend that much time dwelling on it, I just felt that in my mind the guys that were in there - they knew. It was gratifying to think and to know that you had success against a lot of the guys that were in there, and that's what mattered to me - the fact that I had their respect. I never really dwelled on it from the stand point that if I don't get in that this is going to be a bad thing for the voting committee or the Hall of Fame - I had my fun - any way you cut it, my hall of fame was the respect that I got from the players that have played the game."

On the block he put on Willy (Lanier) in an era when there weren't a lot of highlights: "Well the type of blocking that I did I developed in high school and actually it was a result of my coach offering a quarter for every block that a guy would make down field. I kind of carried that from high school to college and from college to pro. To the stand point that a lot of time I didn't end up injuring myself trying to injure somebody else, or trying to block something else - we referred to it as a 'crack back' - the key to it was you catch them when they're not looking. I had a lot success with it - too much success.

"That was only because the majority of the energy that went into that (block) was a result of Thanksgiving, and to me that was my day. Thanksgiving was the only chance for my family down south to get a chance to watch me, so I tried to play my heart out. Those kind of blocks that I put on Willy and Chambers and those guys - they've forgotten - just like I've put the biting from (Dick Butkus) behind me (laughing), it was all a game."

LIONS HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI
Opening statement:
"We're getting healthy - Barry (Stokes), we took him out half way through just to be cautious. Kevin Jones came back today, no big deal - we're just getting ready to roll. (It was a) good day of practice."

On if RT Barry Stokes will start: "Right now that's what we're looking at."

On if RB Kevin Jones will play vs. Oakland: "Yeah."

On what he's trying to accomplish at Oakland: "Each one is a little more pressure packed; we're going to play a little bit longer with the starters. We're trying to get that snap - that winning snap - every down is important for us. I still want to have that base of fundamentals and that base of consistency - this team has got to be consistent - where we go, whatever we do, that's the thing I'm trying to teach as much as I can - that's the mental toughness."

On if he's game planned more for this game: "Yes. This is our first full week of game planning. The first two weeks we had maybe a day or two because we kept working against ourselves to get our fundamental work. This is the first week; it's full preparation from a game standpoint. They get the use of the scouting reports and what an in-season week looks like; so it's right to a 'T'."

On whether this preseason game will be more like a regular season game than any other: "I guess you could say that. The emphasis - we've had more preparation for this opponent - but the emphasis is still us and what we want to accomplish. I don't want to get away from that. Our starters are going to play longer."

On the quarterback rotation and who will play after Jon Kitna: "We're still going to look at that. We'll have a chance to visit as a staff and come up with what we need to do."

On his impressions of FB Cory Schlesinger after being with him for six or seven months: "I like him. Playing against him all of the years we had a tremendous respect for him - you knew where he was, believe me. To see how this guy blocks right now still is impressive. This guy is a ball player and you can see he's got legendary status here. He's something else; he comes out to work everyday; he's on special teams; he just knows what he's doing all the time. He's a pro, he's what a pro looks like."

On if the fact that Schlesinger didn't know where he stood with this offense makes him endure harder: "Yes - and he blocks. Every offense likes a blocker, and the guy can block and do a lot of things and play teams and he's tough and he's durable and he's dependable. Those are all really nice things to have."

On the comfort of having K Jason Hanson on this team: "Big time - and in the punter, solid guy in our snapper - all three of those areas we're very, very solid. So yeah, it's awesome to have those. Now we have to make sure all the cover units are right; the protections units are right and all of those things; but, to have the specialists it's tremendous - and Eddie Drummond."

On how long he'll play around with the cover units and the special teams: "We'll really max out a little more on this one and then you want to be smart the last week. Some guys are just going to have to play it by numbers but we have to be smart. There's a chance for some of the guys on the bubble right there to make an impact. It's going to be like three dogs and one bone (laughing); but I'm saying that's what competition is - guys will be out there fighting."

On if he's starting to see some of the problems he's going to have with cutting down the roster: "Oh yeah. You know me right now, I do one thing at a time and it's this first cut - we have to get that one done and done right and exact - then we'll meet the next problem. There's going to be some tight battles, the draft class we have is making an impact, as are some of the free agents we had and some of the players here, so it's going to be tough. That's what you want right now. Every snap is important and guys feel a little bit uncomfortable."

On if there's any new status on WR Charles Rogers: "He's just week-to-week right now with that bone bruise. I think after this game we'll see a little bit more then next week we'll see where he's at - it was a deep bone bruise on him."

Courtesy of the Detroit Lions