DETROIT LIONS DAILY UPDATE

Hondo S. Carpenter

TODAY'S NEWS

  • The Lions practiced on the indoor field in pads today at the team headquarters and training facility in Allen Park.
  • The following players have been listed on the Detroit Lions' injury report: G Frank Davis (neck), S Kenoy Kennedy (foot) and LB Alex Lewis (knee) are out. T Rex Tucker (knee) and G Ross Verba (hamstring) are questionable. S Terrence Holt (back) is probable. Davis, Holt, Kennedy, Lewis, Tucker and Verba missed some or all of the team portion of practice today.
  • The following players have been listed on the Minnesota Vikings' injury report: QB Tarvaris Jackson (knee), LB Ben Leber (knee), S Darren Sharper (quadriceps), TE Jermaine Wiggins (hamstring) and CB Antoine Winfield (thigh) are questionable. K Ryan Longwell (illness) is probable. Jackson, Sharper, Winfield and Longwell missed the team portion of practice today.
  • WR Roy Williams will be pursuing his third-straight 100-yard game for the first time in his career. Over the past two games, he has registered 138 yards vs. Green Bay (9/24) and 139 yards at St. Louis 9/10/1). The last Lions' receiver to record three-straight 100-yard games was WR Germane Crowell in 1999 when he recorded 163 yards vs. St. Louis (11/7/99), 142 at Arizona (11/14/99) and 112 at Green Bay (11/21/99).
  • K Jason Hanson is tied for fifth in the league with 5 touchbacks on kickoffs this season. His 5 touchbacks equal the number he had in 2005 during an injury-plagued season. All 5 touchbacks have occurred the past two games (2 vs. Green Bay 9/24 and 3 at St. Louis 10/1), and they were the most he has downed in the endzone over a two-game stretch since he garnered 6 to start the 1999 season with 4 at Seattle (9/12/99) and 2 vs. Green Bay (9/19/99). The following game that season, at Kansas City (9/26/99), Hanson added two touchbacks to that total which game him a three-game tally of eight, a mark he could equal with 3 touchbacks at Minnesota.
  • The Lions (0-4) will travel to Minneapolis this weekend to face the Vikings (2-2). Detroit will look to get their first win after a heartbreaking 34-41 loss to St. Louis and Minnesota will be trying to rebound from a close 12-17 loss at Buffalo.
  • This week's game is scheduled to be televised live in Metro Detroit on WJBK-TV FOX Channel 2 with Sam Rosen handling play-by-play and Tim Ryan adding color commentary. Due to the MLB Playoffs, the game may be moved to Monday, October 9 (8:30 p.m. ET), in which case it would be televised locally on an ESPN network.
  • The game will also be broadcast on the Lions Radio Network (WKRK 97.1 FM) with announcer Dan Miller handling play-by-play, Jim Brandstatter adding color commentary and Tony Ortiz reporting from the sideline.

LIONS HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI
On the injury update:
"On the injuries: again - Kenoy Kennedy he'll be out, (foot); Alex Lewis (knee) is still out; Frank Davis with the (neck) is out; (Rex) Tucker with the (knee) is questionable; (Ross) Verba is questionable with the (hamstring); Terrence Holt is probable - (his back) tightened up a little bit during the practice. Other than that, we're healthy."

On if G Barry Stokes practiced all day: "Oh, yeah. Stokes practiced the whole day, so that was good."

On if CB Fernando Bryant practiced: "Yeah, Fernando practiced. Other than that, all those guys were up - got some good work in."

On if Bryant is off the injury list and expected to be up for Sunday's game: "Well, yeah - right now, barring setbacks. But he was able to go out and work."

On if Bryant and Stokes will both start if they're available on Sunday: "We want to just kind of (see where they're at) - good chance. We want to see how the practices work out and make sure that they're right."

On if Bryant and Stokes are healthy will they start: "We'll see - I'm not sure. We'll wait and see how it goes and how they're practicing too. They haven't been in the trenches there for awhile."

On if G Frank Davis is still just a stinger: "Yeah, yeah. It's going to be a week - probably a big stinger, I should say. You know what I'm saying? He's just sore - he's really sore, really sore. At least a week, I would think, before he gets himself ready to go."

On if S Kenoy Kennedy is close at all: "No, he's getting closer. (He's) week-to-week at least. Hopefully, it would be nice to (get him back next week) - we'll see. Kind of just wait and see."

On what the linebacker's aren't getting done in the scheme of the defense in terms of pass coverage: "Well, there are so many things. I mean, it could be man coverage at times, it could be zone, it could be a detail in different things and it's really just not that one group - like I was saying. We got man coverage, blitz pressure coverage, jump coverage, we've got two - lots of different things. Just maybe a detail here, if it's man coverage maybe we lost a man with leverage. If it's cover-2 maybe we're not looking at what we're supposed to look at quick enough."

On if it's them just not having confidence in reading their keys and reacting as quickly as they should: "Yeah - and just playing the defense better - all of it."

On how long it took for the defense to pick it up when Marinelli was in Tampa: "We started the year off 1-8. I'm not saying I'm interested in that (laughing), but it took time. It's so detailed - the timing of it. They're close and we just have to keep pounding away at it."

On if the defense is having a problem reading their keys or if its reaction: "I think play-action is the biggest thing for us right now - run-pass keys. It's just reading the keys and getting back in you're coverage."

On if it's more mental than physical: "Yeah, it's all of them. It's the whole package about being mentally on top of your keys. You have to know what you're looking at and being where you're supposed to be. Also the rush, every part of it works together."

On what happened on the touchdown pass to the tight end against St. Louis: "Yeah, and there was one too where the rush got behind the quarterback. It ended up being a one-man rush and he started working into the pocket with windows. So it all works together and then those guys (secondary) were out in coverage too long - it's too much time. When it's a five-on-four or a six-on-four the guys all have to work together."

On defensive playmakers making plays: "No - we haven't had any and that's something we have to be able to do. The rushers have to rush and when we have our opportunities to pick one - we had our hands on one the other day - we have to be able to secure those and make plays."

On what Marinelli sees from Minnesota: "I have unbelievable respect for their quarterback (Brad Johnson); I really do. I think he's really good. I was with him for a few years in Tampa and the guy can buy time as well as any quarterback. He's a lot like (Jon) Kitna to me. He gets those deep drops and he knows how to work up into the pocket. So we have to be great on the internal pressure - pushing him back and the ends closing. If we end up behind this guy and allow him to buy time, that's when he starts picking you apart. He's so accurate - he has a low delivery but he has really good accuracy - good running game with it. It's a simple clean running game and their defense is lining up."

On if Minnesota is doing new schemes on defense: "Pretty much. Mike (Tomlin), we were on the same staff in Tampa together."

On if Marinelli sees some of the same problems the Lions are encountering happening to Minnesota: "I haven't probably studied them as much. I'm really kind of hammering on this offense. I think they are playing extremely hard. They're knocking the run out too - doing a nice job there. You are always working to develop your pass rushers, because in systems sometimes guys never realize you have to really rush now. You have to, you're getting paid to rush and you have to come home with those. So it's all of those details and we have to get it going. We have to do it faster - we have to get it done."

On if it's going to be difficult considering Minnesota's offensive line: "It's a good line. But you have to (get pressure), it part of the deal."

On how much DT Shaun Rogers will be playing over G Steve Hutchison: "Depending on the formation, that dictates our call. He'll be on him some."

On if it will be fun to watch those two on film: "Oh, I think so. You have two Pro Bowlers there - two really good football players there."

On if Hutchinson is one of the guys who might be able to handle Rogers one-on-one: "He's a good player - I like our guy. I have a lot of confidence in our guy and I believe in him and I'm looking forward to those match-ups." 

On if he would rather have his best against their best or his best against their worst: "When you have a tendency to put your best on their weakest they have a tendency to chip or side to you. So when you can get a best on best single you like to take those. If you can get a best on best, best on weak - you really like those."

Onmoving Rogers around and not being able to move Hutchinson: "You can move him around a little bit and that will force them to slide to him and to chip him; they'll have a plan for him."

On if the rest of the offense is keeping up with Kitna or are they learning together: "I agree with both sides. Jon Kitna is a study. When we first signed this guy I said I really admired this guy because he's really intelligent. It's not so much the intelligence as the ambition and his leadership. This guy craves football; he's really special. I think other players see that; the detail, how much he knows how hard he works at it and that's all of the leadership things I talk about. He has passion to play football. The first time we met him during the recruiting part of this thing, it was that fast - you could see it. That's what you want: a guy who loves it. So I think it's a combination of both and the other guys see a guy who's on top of the screws and if we're on top of ours this thing is really going to click and it's starting to."

On Kitna being frustrated about the last six minutes of the games: "We're that close. That's my little finger everyday I put up there - my little sign. It's that close away and that's what's keeping this team together and driving. They look at the tape and we see how close we are. Can we clean this up? Yeah. Can we clean this up? Yeah. I sound like a broken record but when you're changing habits you have to be a broken record and just keep going over and over again. So they can sit there and keep looking at it and say if we keep doing this and doing it better - eliminate some of the mistakes we have a chance of being a really good team this year."

On having the officials out here this week in practice: "I think just having them out here you're more in tune - they don't disrupt the flow of practice but they throw the flags when they see it and we see it on tape. They're calling this or that, but I don't want them to stop practice. We're able to look at it on tape and the players are aware of it."

On WR Roy Williams campaigning for WR Mike Williams and Mike having a good week in practice: "He has, he had a good week and he had a good day today. We're very encouraged with that."

On Mike Williams practicing with the first team last week and then not playing: "He's in and out; those guys rotate all the way through it. So he's really stepping up and I'm really encouraged right now."

On if Mike Williams is maturing through this process: "He's just going out and handling his business the right way and that's really encouraging."

On if Marinelli minds when Roy Williams speaks out on Mike Williams behalf: "He said it and it is what it is."

On if there are any other reasons why Mike Williams hasn't been playing: "I'm not going to comment. He's doing a good job right now and he's getting better and better. His practice speed is good and he's really been precise right now. It's exciting."

On if Marinelli is spending more time with the defense then ever before: "Yes."

On if that is his emphasis right now: "I have to get it going - the whole thing - we have to get it going."

On if Marinelli watched the offense today: "Not as much no. I always stay on top of it as much as I can but I've been pretty wired in on that front right now. They have a chance to make an impact."

On if it's the defensive ends Marinelli is really working with: "No it's the whole front"

On if there's anything Marinelli can share about what he's working on: "All of our stuff; our package, getting off the ball, our leverage, our hands and all of the things we talk about. I'm detailing it. I want to get better - faster - more explosion up the field.

On if Marinelli is going to keep seven defensive linemen active: "Yeah, I like seven. If you have enough guys up you get your choice of a special team's player."

CONFERENCE CALL WITH VIKINGS HEAD COACH BRAD CHILDRESS
On what QB Brad Johnson brings to him as a quarterback at this stage in his career: "Well you know what, he's been a good decision maker. I think he's seen probably most of the concepts that you can present to him offensively, and they all have been by different names in the 15 years he's played. He very readily recognizes them and he knows how they work. I think the other thing he brings is that he's seen what's happened on the other side of the football and he's seen quite an evolution here in 15 years of NFL defenses. So, he's see them from both standpoints - on the offensive side, and then he understands what's going on defensively."

On what the hardest thing is about implementing two new systems on offense and defense on a new team: "Well I think it's always the buy in factor. You want to have some success with it somewhere along the line - I think that's probably the biggest thing. Sometimes changes - and most of the time change is uncomfortable, but that doesn't mean it doesn't need to be changed. So, I think that's probably the biggest thing."

On when Johnson was in Tampa Bay, Jon Gruden had really looked at his ability to win games as a quarterback and that overrode (in Gruden's mind) everything else, and if he (Childress) shares that opinion: "Well I tried to say that in the first two games, and the last two we've lost. But, I'm certainly not laying it all on Brad Johnson. He has (been a winner) and his record shows that and I think more than anything else, he generally has regard for the football. He respects the football and usually takes care of it. As a quarterback you touch it 70 times and sometimes things are going to happen. But, he does a great job in respecting the football."

On if he's looking forward to the battle between G Steve Hutchinson and DT Shaun Rogers: "Well, it doesn't mean he's going to line-up there all the time. They're doing a good job of moving him (Rogers) around the defense. I know that typically he's a three technique, but he's got a chance to show up in some plays that he doesn't usually show up at."

On if he thinks they'll move him (Rogers) to get a more favorable match-up: "Well they have, and so it kind of depends on your formation and where they decide to put him. I'm not going to tell you it's a crap shoot - it's not that, but there are only certain times that he'll line-up over there on Steve."

On how with the way they move him (Rogers) around, how have teams been able to avoid taking sacks the past three games: "Well, I'll tell you what - I don't know about sacks, but I know that they've hit the quarterback. I don't know many quarterbacks that like to get hit; I think it ends up changing their tempo. Those guys have spent some time on the ground, so they're awful close. Sometimes those things come in waves and I think they're going to stick with what they're getting and they'll start to show up - hopefully not against us."

On what he noticed on the Lions' pass defense, as teams have had success: "Well, I think it's probably different at different times. St. Louis is set up somewhat to deal with the throw of the football. I think they did a great job, obviously, at the game plan at Seattle - who I think was the leading offense in the NFC last year. Quarterbacks have picked on different things at different times - against a variety of different coverage's. They're learning a new system, whether it's - who knows. It looks like plays are about to be made, I'll tell you that."

On T.O going back to Philadelphia, and if he has any thoughts on the issue: "No, I really don't. I got a full plate right here in Minneapolis, St. Paul. So, I just need to focus on what we're doing more than anything else."

On how the possibility of playing on Monday night changes his schedule and planning: "Well, it doesn't. I think you kind of steam full-speed ahead toward a noon kickoff on Sunday and then if they tell you to get off the accelerator, you do that. It doesn't do you any good to prepare for a Monday game and then all of a sudden it comes Sunday. You just go through your regular schedule, everything the same during the week and then baseball will do what baseball does."

On if the league has given him any date on when they'll decide one way or the other: "They have not. I've heard too many scenarios for my brain to be able to absorb. I'm working towards Sunday. I know this; I know they aren't going to play on Saturday night."

On what makes it hard to play at the Metrodome and if he's using that fact as motivation to get his team ready for the game: "Well, I don't' think they need it as motivation. In the NFL you try to take care of your home venue to the extent that you can. You get eight at home and eight on the road, and we've lost one here already. It is a hostile environment; it can get noisy like most domes can - just the same as your dome in Detroit. You've got to give them something to holler about, we hope it's a hard place to play - especially over the course of time."

CONFERENCE CALL WITH VIKINGS QB BRAD JOHNSON
On his thoughts about going against Marinelli:
"I have great respect for Rod; we were together for four years. We were with each other but I never got to play for him and he's one of the coaches I've always wanted to play for. You saw what he did with all the defenses and all of the defensive player there (Tampa). He's always had something extra special about him and I've always had total respect for the man. Obviously they've gotten off to a rough start in Detroit, but you can see there's a plan - you watch it on film and you can see improvement. When Tony Dungy went to Tampa Bay they lost their first five games and then things just started happening. That sets a good scenario for what can happen in Detroit."

On if he would like Marinelli to have the same start and Dungy did in Tampa Bay: "One more game (laugh)."

On if Johnson can see improvement on the Detroit defense: "I watched the last play of the game versus Green Bay. The game was out of hand, Green Bay was running the clock out and the last play of the game Detroit caused a fumble. Those guys were jumping up and down on the sidelines - the players were up and down and that's what it takes to go to the next level. So you do see improvement and they have put a stamp on the offense. They have come together and racked up a lot of points last week. Detroit's defense has played some pretty good offenses the first few weeks, so I only see them getting better."

On what he sees on film from the Detroit pass defense: "What I see is a lot of pressure from the front four. That means you have to leave guys in to chip or block or whatever it may be. Then they have an explosive defense - guys that can run to the ball. They've only had one or two plays that slipped up on them and they took a beating. But generally they keep the ball in front of them and it's only a matter of time before things start happening for them."

On Detroit not having a sack in the last three weeks and what teams are doing to protect their quarterbacks: "They have gotten the ball out of their hand pretty quick. Teams have been very efficient and they have gotten an early lead and played with the lead. You can really change the tone of the game when you have the lead."

On Johnson and Culpepper beating the Lions eleven out of the last twelve games, and what is the reason for success: "I was only here for two of the games last year and it's obviously different schemes we're playing against now. For whatever reason we're always able to pull out a win; think about the fumble on the extra point two years ago - stuff like that just seems to happen. But you see a different Detroit team right now. They have some great things going on offense right now. Jon's (Kitna) throwing the ball extremely well and defensively you see the stamp they're putting on it right now. It hasn't gone the way they wanted it to the first few weeks but you see the technique getting better and you see the improvement taking place. Again I go back to the last play against Green Bay, the turnover even when they were down."

On how he has been able to adapt to all of the different head coaches he's had: "I think I've been fortunate enough - I've been under five different systems and seven different head coaches at different times. I think I was fortunate early in my career that I was under one system for seven years, which is unheard of; either coaching staffs get fired or they move on. So I was fortunate to be in one system and learn concepts and I think the whole game comes down to concepts. That way I was able to learn other systems faster and all the systems have been very similar - from box counts to learning under or over's, or cover two or three reads; they have been very similar in a sense. The biggest difference is the terminology and the timing, but the concepts are very similar."

On whether quarterbacks are getting rid of the ball quickly against the Lions because guys are open: "I wouldn't say that. I would say, for some reason they have been able to make a play at a special time to keep drives alive and eventually somebody makes a big play at critical times. If you go back to the Seattle game, they shut them down. They didn't give up points at all - that was an impressive game to watch."

On why the Lions defense was impressive against Seattle but not since then: "I can't really answer."

On how important it is for the Vikings to keep up with the Bears: "We feel like we want to play better ball right now. We want to get a win but we want to play better - not turn the ball over, make the right read; the right steps. We just want to give ourselves a chance to win the ball games. We had two very close ball games. The first two, we had two game winning drives and the last two we had chance to score, to either put the game into overtime or win it and we weren't able to come up. We need to find a way to score point consistently through the entire ball game. So for us we've had way too may penalties and way too many negative plays - which puts ourselves in way too many third and long situations. So we're not worried about too many other teams, we're more worried about or focused on what we're tying to accomplish. "

On what the Metrodome presents as far as home team advantage compared to other places he has played: "Obviously the dome is very, very loud. It's won a bunch of games over the years. When I was in Tampa we came here to play in Minnesota; from making the calls in the huddle, from making the line calls. So there has been a lot of success here in the Metrodome."

On if he had a baseball background: "No, I played basketball for two years at Florida State and that was about as far as I took it."

COURTESY OF THE LIONS

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