Daily Lions Update and Transcript of Press Conference of Marinelli, McCarthy and Rodgers

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  • The Lions practiced today in full pads on the outdoor field at the team's headquarters and practice facility in Allen Park.
  • There are approximately 3,100 tickets remaining for the Lions 2008 regular season home opener against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, September 14 at Ford Field. The Lions-Packers game must be sold out by the NFL-mandated deadline of 72 hours before kickoff (Thursday at 1 p.m. ET) in order to lift the local television (Metro Detroit, Lansing, Saginaw/Flint and Toledo markets) blackout. If a sellout is not reached by the deadline, the game will not air in the blackout areas, including WJBK-TV FOX 2 in Metro Detroit. Fans can purchase single-game tickets by a number of reasonable and flexible options, including single-game purchases, the $99 "Pepsi Pack", 2-game pack, 8-game pack and Group Tickets (20-or-more). Among the numerous options for fans is the new "Pepsi Pack". The Detroit Lions and Pepsi have partnered to offer the "Pepsi Pack" for the Lions 2008 home opener that will go for $99 and includes two upper-level tickets along with two soft drinks and two hot dogs. Fans can purchase tickets for Lions' regular season games in person at the Ford Field Ticket Office from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and at all TicketMaster outlets. Tickets can also be purchased over the phone at 248.645.6666 via TicketMaster or on the Internet at Detroitlions.com and ticketmaster.com.
  • The following players have been listed on the Detroit Lions' Injury Report: LB ParisLenon (knee), LB Ernie Sims (ankle) and QB DrewStanton (right thumb) had limited participation in practice today.
  • The following players were listed on the Green Bay Packers' Injury Report today: G Josh Sitton (knee) is out. C Scott Wells (back) and CB Charles Woodson (toe) did not practice. S AtariBigby (bicep), T Chad Clifton (knee), DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (knee), RB Ryan Grant (hamstring), RB Brandon Jackson (concussion) and WR Ruvell Martin (finger) had limited participation in practice. WR James Jones (knee) and S Charlie Peprah (hamstring) had full participation in practice today.
  • The Lions held their weekly conference call today with Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy and QB Aaron Rodgers. Full transcripts are included.
  • The Lions placed TE Dan Campbell on reserve/injured and signed WR Brandon Middleton. Middleton joined the Lions as a free agent in 2007 and worked his way up to the active roster after being signed to the practice squad. He finished the 2007 season as a backup receiver and kick returner.
  • The Detroit Lions return to Ford Field Sunday, September 14 for their regular season home opener against the Green Bay Packers. The game is scheduled to air (subject to blackout) in Metro Detroit on WJBK-TV FOX Channel 2 with Matt Vasgersian handling play-by-play, J.C. Pearson adding color commentary and Charissa Thompson reporting from the sideline. The game will also be broadcast on the Lions Radio Network with announcer Dan Miller handling play-by-play, Jim Brandstatter adding color commentary and Tony Ortiz reporting from the sideline.
  • Former Lions WR Herman Moore has been selected as the Alumni Honorary Captain for the Lions-Green Bay Packers' game. Moore was the Lions' first-round draft pick in 1991 from Virginia. He played in 145 games during 11 seasons (1991-2001). A four-time NFL Pro Bowl selection, the Lions' record book has Moore resting on top of Lions' career, season and single-game receiving marks. This year marks the eighth consecutive season that the Lions have honored former players at their home games. The Captains are guests at the game, are introduced to the Ford Field crowd and participate in the coin-toss ceremonies.
  • The Detroit Lions will kick off their 2008 home opener by hosting the "Detroit Lions Pre-Game Tailgate" on Brush Street from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. The "Detroit Lions Pre-Game Tailgate" includes activities and entertainment for all Lions' fans and is free to the public. The team will also host the "Detroit Lions Pre-Game Tailgate" for the next three home games, including: Chicago (10/5), Washington (10/26) and Jacksonville (11/9).

LIONS HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI
On injuries:
We had a couple of guys on limited, but everybody practiced, and you know Dan Campbell went on IR yesterday.

On whether they'll be any lineup changes this week: "As of right now, no. We're going to just work the week out day by day."

On if WR Brandon Middleton will be the kickoff returner: "Yeah, he's going to go back there working. We worked him today."

On if Middleton will return punts as well: "Right now I think with (Mike) Furrey we're probably a little bit safer there right now. We're going to work him there, though, every chance."

On why WR Mike Furrey is returning punts instead of WR Shaun McDonald: "In the game we just felt comfortable with Mike."

On if the team wants to get the ball to WR Calvin Johnson as much as possible: "We got it to him seven times last week. I think it's hard to say, depends on the balance we're in, what type of balance the game's going. And if you're behind those big guys have to get a little bit more, little bit faster. And plus we have another good receiver in Roy (Williams).

On how S Daniel Bullocks' performed in the first game: "Solid."

On if Bullocks might play more in this week's game: "Playing more on defense? Yeah."

On if he will rotate LB Jordon Dizon in more often: "Yeah, we're looking at playing him a little bit more this week."

On if T Gosder Cherilus will rotate in as well: "I think it's a little bit different right now. He's come along fine, but I think George (Foster) is playing well, too. Both of those tackles play pretty well. So we have three."

On if he would not want to play a rookie against Green Bay DE Aaron Kampman: "It's tough. I think what we have to do is if we continue to work out, run the football and that sets everything up for us. So we have to keep this thing close, play our offense, play our defense and we'll be fine. But we have to make sure that if we're running the ball it's going to set up a protection. And we're pass-blocking pretty well right now."

On what he thought of Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers: "I thought he was good."

On if he thought Rodgers was more poised than most QBs would be in their first NFL start: "He played in that Dallas game last year, and (it was) a big game for him. But no, he's a good player. There's no doubt about it. And they're doing a great job with him. He's smart with the ball and he's getting it out quick. And they're doing a good job, running the ball well."

On if he was pleased with the intensity and focus from his players in today's practice: "We came out - but that's what pros do, they come out and they work. That's what a professional does and gets prepared for the next week."

On if he likes the feistiness of QB Jon Kitna: "I've loved him since the day he's come here; I've said that. He's a leader and he's tough. You've seen that demonstrated in games, too. His first year, there was tussling with the DB in Atlanta. I mean, that's what his style has been. It's what makes him, I think, a really good quarterback, the fight in him."

On if he thinks this upcoming game will test that: "Oh, I think they look at all of us. But I think the No. 1 thing is every week that is so important in this league, and you can't make one bigger than the other. You just have to go in and play a hard game. And I think when you do that you get out of whack, so we just have to go in and prepare like we've done - business as usual and then go to work."

On the Green Bay offense's ability to create opportunities: "They did that all last year in the 13-3 season. They ran the ball, especially the second half of the year. They really ran the ball. They were in the same zone system like we are, and they're just in the groove with it right now. You can see them coming off, and they look comfortable in it. And I think they've had that group together now two and a half years or so, and they're playing together and the runner runs hard. He's seeing the same looks, the same holes."

On if he could sense that the team was angry at their performance against Atlanta: "Oh, there's no doubt. These guys are great competitors. That's why they've made it to this level because they're competitors and they compete. And we have expectations of what we want to be, and that wasn't what we wanted. So again, you come out and hey, you're going to roll your sleeves up and go to work."

On if Dizon getting more snaps means LB Paris Lenon will move to outside linebacker: "I'm just saying it's a way to rotate guys and keep guys fresh, just like we've done with every position."

On if Lenon will move to strong side because he's done it in previous seasons: "No. It's just we have two middle linebackers, a couple of SAMs and a couple of WILLs."

On if there's a "circle-the-wagons mentality" going into the home opener: "I think you can always look at outside influences, and you can react to them or ignore them. I'd prefer to ignore them."

On if it will feel weird to play a Packers' offense without QB Brett Favre: "Oh yeah. It is. I mean, (I've) seen him there forever. But this guy (Rodgers) he looks like him a little bit; he gets the ball out quick; He's got real good movement, he really does. He can run well and breaks contain and a guy that will get depth in the pocket and bowl out of there. He does some nice things."

On if there will be any difference mentally playing Rodgers compared to Favre: "Oh yeah, when you replace a guy at that status, no question. But you look at his performance, and he went in there against a very talented football team in Minnesota, and they did a nice job."

On if Bullocks' explosion is back: "It seems like it. He covered kicks pretty well."

On if Bullocks would hold up for an entire game: "Yeah, well he came off of this one no problem, so like I said: we try to up it every week. And so he seems to be fine. He practiced all the way today."

On if Bullocks' game progressed well from the start of his rookie year: "He really did. He's really a good safety. He's got instincts. He is really a presence in tackling. You could even feel that from our Buffalo preseason game. He's a presence. And he made unbelievable progress. I thought last year's year, before he got hurt you could really see him coming because his range and his speed are so good."

On if Bullocks was just starting to get comfortable before his injury: "I think it's like for any young guy, the speed of it, then all the checks and things you have to do. He seemed to be very comfortable, and hopefully he's getting back to that right now."

On why CB Brian Kelly sat out for awhile: "All three of those corners, we're rotating them. We wanted to rotate them, keep them fresh as much as we can. Just like with the down guys we're trying, some of the linebackers, we're trying to just do as good a job to get as many guys fresh."

On if CB Leigh Bodden has won the job of starter: "Yes, but those three guys are going to still rotate. Get Fish (Travis Fisher) and Brian and still rotate. Even though the guy is there, but we're going to rotate the three of them."

On if Fisher can play both sides: "Yes, he can play both and then Keith Smith is still a guy that we like. He can help us there also."

On how Bodden played in his first game with the Lions: "Solid. I didn't see anything special. Everybody was solid or solid-minus."

On if he expects Green Bay to go five-wide against the Lions like they did last year: "That's a great question. Early in the year they didn't run the ball as effectively as they did at the end of the year, and now they're running the ball. That was the way to get the ball out, and they had some really good match-ups on us, I thought. Especially the first game we played."

On the matchups being different now that the Lions have more veteran players: "I feel better with the matchup. But you have to prepare for it all. You have to prepare for 10, 11 personnel groups, so we have to be on top of all those personnel groups."

CONFERENCE CALL WITH GREEN BAY PACKERS HEAD COACH MIKE McCARTHY
On QB Aaron Rodgers' performance in his first NFL start: "I thought Aaron played well against the Minnesota Vikings. I thought he did a very good job of running the offense, advancing the game. We had some terrible down-and-distance situations that we were in, particularly early in the game. He didn't take any chances; he just stayed to the script. He made some plays with his feet and I thought he was very smart with the football outside the pocket. I thought he had a good performance."

On if Rodgers' play was validation for the decision to move him into the starting QB role: "I'm not going to speak for Ted (Thompson), but when everything went down, and now that we've won our first football game, I'm not trying to validate anything. I'm trying to coach a football team to win football games and improve each week. So, I really don't share that mindset. I understand the pressure and all the conversation around the game, but I really think our team in particular here did a really good job of just focusing on what's most important, and that's playing football. So, if you want to validate, you guys can go right ahead."

On Rodgers' touchdown pass to FB Korey Hall Monday night against the Vikings and the comparisons it drew to former QB Brett Favre: "There's no doubt about it, Brett Favre had an incredible career. He's thrown more touchdowns than anybody in the history of the game and has made a number of unbelievable plays like that, so I think it's only natural for them to compare a play like that when Aaron does accomplish that. I think that's something that will probably continue throughout his career."

On the atmosphere of the Packers locker room compared to the last few seasons with Favre: "I'm a big believer in every football team is different. I just had that experience in my career as an assistant coach where we had a very successful season and then we signed everybody back and said, hey we're going to do it again, we're just going to get a year better, and it was a totally different outcome. Every year is a new year, every team is different. I think it's obvious when you take a player like Brett Favre out of your locker room, it does change a little bit of the dynamics in the locker room. There's more leadership coming from different areas, so I think it's only natural that a team changes year to year and maybe even a little more when a player like that moves on."

On where Rodgers fits into the leadership role and if there are any other guys he's thinks will be leaders: "I think it's very important for Aaron Rodgers to, No. 1, play quarterback. Right away, every time that you get a new quarterback, everybody wants to say, 'Hey, he's the leader of the team and this is his team now.' The quarterback chair is obviously the best chair to lead from. But, quarterback productivity is a big part of being able to be a leader. I haven't been around too many quarterbacks that didn't perform well that were able to be good leaders. So, he's taking care of the priorities as far as his role is concerned. I do think he has natural leadership ability and that will continue to develop as we move forward. The other members of our football team you look to get leadership from are mainly from our veterans. I look at Aaron Kampman, Nick Barnett, Mark Tauscher, Donald Driver, Al Harris, Charles Woodson, so we have a very good nucleus of veteran players that understand the way things are done here at the Green Bay Packers and will continue that chemistry and that history on."

On the things that Rodgers did well despite not having a lot of game experience: "He managed the rough waters of the game. There were a number of situations, particularly all the penalties - it was a sloppy game early. It's a common spot to make a bad decision and maybe try to force the football. So, I thought his ability just to stay the course, stay calm and don't overreact to the situations that were presented to him, particularly in that game, I was impressed with that."

On if he thinks it's best to bring a quarterback into the NFL like Rodgers was: "The way Aaron came up was clearly the best that I've ever been around. You have an opportunity to train behind a Hall of Fame quarterback for three years, learn the offense, mature in every phase of your profession-in the weight room, in the classroom, on the practice field and have a clear understanding of the business and how things work, the practice structure, training camp. To have that education and to be able to sit and learn behind a player like Brett Favre I think is clearly the best way, because at least when he does have his opportunity, he's as prepared as you possibly can be. When you go the other way and you play the guy too early, where he's not really ready yet, you get the other factor. What kind of team is he playing on? So, it's a whole different process to go through. It's a lot tougher process, in my opinion, just from experience on both sides. I definitely think the opportunity to develop is the best way to go."

On what he expects from the Lions on Sunday: "What we expect when we come in there Sunday is, we expect an incredible environment. It's their home opener; it's a division football game. I've always felt that under Rod (Marinelli), they play with tremendous energy and emotion. So, we expect that to be at its highest level this week. When I look at the football team, it's a football team that I think emulates the head coach. The defensive personnel and the way they're playing is the way he believes in, and history will tell you so. Offensively, there's more commitment to the run. They're very evident from the preseason games the direction that they're going on offense. I think their special teams, I've been impressed with their special teams. Even in the Atlanta game, they continued to fly around and play to a high level even when the score did get out of hand there."

On why WR Greg Jennings has had success when a lot of other young receivers have not: "The first thing about Greg Jennings that impresses you is his maturity level. I go back to his rookie year, when Greg showed up here, we started going through the minicamps, right away he looked like he fit in. As we worked through training camp, he was out there making plays as a rookie and he was playing against some good corners on a daily basis. He's a very mature young man. Especially-I'm referring more to his rookie year. He really has his priorities in line, both professionally and personally. I think that's really helped him create a very good foundation to concentrate and excel at his profession of playing football. He's a hard worker; he's a very diligent individual. I think that's reflected in the way he runs routes. He's very precise and has a very good understanding of what is asked of him to do, particularly in the route running and how the defense is going to play him. He has a very good relationship with the quarterback, and that's obviously very important. He has the ability to make big plays and he has the ability to play in a controlled passing game. I think he's a young player that's definitely on the rise in the National Football League."

On Jennings and therest of the receivers and their role on the team: "I think Greg Jennings, I really think he's just like the rest of our receivers. I just love the way that group works and, really, the cohesiveness that they have with the quarterback group. That group spends a lot of time together. Mostly 95-percent of our meetings are all together. There's always constant communication, a lot of respect there. It's just a good class of individuals that are really a joy to coach and a joy to be around."

On the importance of RB Ryan Grant to the Packers running game: "Well, Ryan Grant's our starting halfback. He really fits our system as far as how we want to run the football. I think he has excellent vision. He has the ability to pick his knees up and run through long tackles. He's really into the one-cut philosophy as far as putting his foot down and accelerating the crease. What's exciting about him, if we could just get him healthy again, he has the ability to finish long runs. He has very good open-field speed. He's definitely shown what he's been able to do in the opportunity he's had, particularly after the bye, starting last year. He did a nice job Monday night in a limited role."

CONFERENCE CALL WITH GREEN BAY PACKERS QB AARON RODGERS
On his first NFL start: "Monday night was a blast. The crowd was electric. The atmosphere was amazing, to be able to run out there on Monday Night Football and have an opportunity to be one of the leaders of this football team. And to play the way, I felt I could play; and the preparation that we as a team put in during the week kind of showed a little. We didn't cash in on all of our opportunities, and we had a few too many penalties. I was very, the team was very happy, coaches and players with their performance on offense."

On how he would describe the feeling he had following Monday's victory: "Well, every week is tough. You're going to face a tough opponent every week, there are no gimme games. For us, to get a win against a good football team, in Minnesota, was definitely very satisfying. Especially after a long week of preparation and a good week of practice; it's nice when it all pays off. It's a good feeling in the locker room when you can bring it up and have a big win on national TV against a division opponent."

On the lowest part of the poor fan treatment he received weeks ago and his fan support Monday night: "Well the fans have been very supportive. The majority of them, there were just a small, not even one-percent or less, of the fans who could be derogatory at times. But, I really noticed against Cincinnati and against Tennessee, our two preseason home games. When I came out of the game, during the timeout, looked up into the stands, the support for myself and our team was very positive. And personally the signs that I saw, with my name on it, it really made me feel good, knowing I had the support of the fans. Like I said, 99.9% of them have been very supportive, very positive when I see them in the community and on the field. I can't tell you how much that means to me, to have that kind of support from the fans."

On the comparisons to Brett Favre: "Well, it's a big positive anytime you're mentioned in the same sentence with one of the greatest quarterbacks and NFL football players of all time. It's definitely - you feel honored. I know the comparisons are going to be there my entire career. Any time I'm positively linked with Brett, that's just great for myself and great our team."

On if this is Aaron Rodgers' team, or is that a shared responsibility: "It takes all 53 to get the job done. From really 61, the eight guys on the practice squad giving us a look every week. The 22 starters and the special team's guys, this is a very united group of guys. I like the mix of young guys, and veterans that we have on this ball club. And we're excited, we're 1-0, it's a long season. We have a lot of ups and downs in front of us, and hopefully the ups will outweigh the downs, and it will be a real positive experience for us."

On what he was most proud of during Monday's game: "Well the biggest thing, that Coach (Tom) Clements, my quarterback coach, really tries to instill in his quarterbacks, is make good decisions. No premeditated throws; no late down the middle throws; take care of the ball; have no turnovers. I thought I threw the ball pretty effectively, the receivers did a great job making catches - Greg (Jennings) had an incredible catch. Korey Hall on the touchdown catch, made a nice one. Tory Humphrey and Donald Lee both had really nice catches, so the guys did a great job. I think the guys up front, as well, protected really well, especially on Jared Allen and Ray Edwards, their two solid pass rush guys. (Mark) Tauscher and (Chad) Clifton, I thought had great games. (Jason) Spitz at center did a good job with his communications. As a quarterback, I like to get the ball out of my hands quickly, the line likes that. So we had zero sacks, which is a big thing for our offense, so we were pretty excited."

On what he expects in his first road test and how the Packers will handle the Lions on Sunday: "I expect Detroit to play a very solid game. They have a very good defense, in my opinion. They're improved from last year. Although Shaun's (Rodgers) not there, I think their strongpoint is their linebackers are as quick and as athletic as any we're going to face. I think they're secondary has improved, we've seen Brian Kelly, we played Tampa. He's a solid player. The addition of Leigh Bodden, I think is going to help out. Dwight Smith in the secondary is going to do a nice job for them. It's going to be a very good test for us and I know that Coach Marinelli is going to get those guys ready to play over there. Especially, I'm sure they're a little disappointed about the way they played in the first week. So we expect Detroit to play really well, and we're going to have to play a very solid game to be competitive."

On if he's looking forward to playing on the road: "I am, yeah, this is my fourth year, so I've been on road trips before. But, the Detroit and Minnesota, the close ones, are always good. Divisional game, the atmosphere, I know it will be very electric inside that dome, and we're excited about the opportunity to play a team, which we feel like is really going to rebound well, and give us a very solid game. So we're going to have to be on the ball, have a good week of preparation, and get ready for a big time fight with the Lions."

On if he's looking forward to seeing Green Bay fan's at Ford Field on Sunday: "I do, I love the way that our fans travel. I've seen, in Kansas City, it looked like Christmas, we had so much green there in that stadium. They always travel well to the Detroit and Minnesota games. We love our fan base, and it's exciting to play for a team that has fans that are so dedicated, going on the road for us."

On his touchdown pass, and if it were his fourth option: "Yeah, he's really my third. I did look to the flat first, and we had a different combination out there that covered it pretty well. Somebody grabbed my leg, I kind of came back to the flat, then Korey (Hall) flashed on me. And I just made a quick reaction throw, and Korey made a great catch for us. That's a play where, just really reactionary and you thank your receiver for making a great play for you."

On what life after Brett Favre is like: "It's different. It's definitely different. I think anybody in the locker room would say that. A lot of us still really miss Brett, and his personality. But, every team you play on, it doesn't matter what level, what age, what place, is going to be different every year. There's always changes, the roster in the NFL turns over at least 25% or so on every team. I think we got 15-20 new guys, so it's a different dynamic every year. But, I think we really get along well. Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson have brought in the kind of guys they want on this football team, hard working guys who are accountable and available to their teammates. I like the group of guys we have."

On the heavy pressure he faces and the recurring questions askedabout his situation: "Well, yeah, there's enough pressure on any quarterback in the NFL to be successful and to be consistent each week. And I know the dynamic of the situation, outside of the building there's a lot of external pressures. But, things that I focus on and spend my energy and time thinking about are the things I can control. And that s my preparation each week, the way I practice, my attitude I bring to the stadium every day. Those are the things I'm focused on; the pressure I put on myself to perform is really the only pressure I feel on Sunday's. It's what I thrive on."

On why WR Greg Jennings has been so productive is ways young receivers aren't: "From the first day Greg got here, you can ask anybody who saw him; he was a very polished receiver. When you have a guy who is polished, like he is, but has that work ethic like he has, you can't help but expect him to play well. Greg's a guy who really brings a lot of leadership to that group, along with Donald Driver, and pushes those guys to get better every day. And Greg is one of the hardest workers we have on this team, a guy with great hands, great route running ability, very smooth in his cuts, a guy you can really count on if you need a big time play."

 

 

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