DETROIT LIONS DAILY UPDATE FOR MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2008 and TRANSCRIPT OF ROD MARINELLI PRESS CONFERENCE
- The Lions held their first practice of the regular season today in fullÂ pads on the outdoor field at the team's headquarters and practice facility in Allen Park.
- The teamÂ announced their team captains for the 2008 season today. The five captains are QB Jon Kitna, LB Ernie Sims, K Jason Hanson, DT Cory Redding and C Dominic Raiola. Kitna, Sims, Hanson, Redding and Raiola were also the 2007 team captains.
- The Lions have signed the following players to their practice squad: LB Darnell Bing, Southern California; G Matt Butler, East Carolina; RB Allen Ervin, Lambuth; WR Eric Fowler, Grand Valley State; QB Drew Henson, Michigan; DB LaMarcus Hicks, Iowa State; WR Kenneth Moore, Wake Forest; and TE Jake Nordin, Northern Illinois.
- There are still tickets remaining to the Lions 2008 regular season home opener against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, September 14 at Ford Field. 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.
LIONS HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI
On the 2008 team captains: "Same as last year, so Cory Redding, Ernie Sims, Jason (Hanson), Kit (Jon Kitna) and Dom (Dominic Raiola)."
On whether it's good the team chose the same captains: "I went through it yesterday about how you choose and what you're looking for. They had a full day to think about it. I don't think you ever spring anything on anybody that day. They went in there, they gave it great thought, and that's who they decided on."
On the statement that makes about the team's leadership core: "I think it's been good because there's consistency in it. We have a lot of new players on our roster too obviously seeing the same thing, so that was good."
On if he has decided who's going to start on the right side of the offensive line: "No. We're just working right now."
On if he knows who will start and is just not saying: "I think it's getting pretty clear."
On if it looks like T George Foster will start: "I think, yeah, he's leading right now."
On whom the starting cornerbacks will be: "I think it's still pretty close back there, so we have some work to do this week, decisions to make."
On if he has named CB Leigh Bodden a starter yet: "We have not. No. As of right now we have not. It's just guys are rotating and working."
On how new RB Marcus Thomas and LB Ryan Nece will fit within the team: "We're just trying to get them in there right now and get practice in with us. For Ryan it's a lot of terminology. Just a couple changes here and there but just getting comfortable. (The) kicking game is different. There are some things that are a little bit different. And the young guy coming in we'll see him tomorrow."
On whether Nece will be on the strong side: "He's a SAM backer, but he's played all three. He's got really good position (flexibility). He's started at MIKE, he's started at WILL - or he's played at WILL - and special teams, so he gives you really good flexibility there."
On if LB Gilbert Gardner will be moved to weak side linebacker as a backup for Ernie Sims: "Yeah. He'll back up the WILL position."
On recently released Bengals RB Rudi Johnson: "I haven't had a chance to talk to him yet, but I just had a chance to watch him just work some of the drills out here. He's impressive. He's a big, thick guy. He seems to have really great feet and all those things from the workout, but I played against him over the years so I know he's a very physical back."
On if he thinks Johnson will be able to help the team: "He's a guy with a lot of talent, a lot of experience and he's a veteran."
On when the Lions will decide whether or not to sign Johnson: "That's more on the front office right now. They'll have to sit down and make decisions, talk to agents and do all the things they have to do."
On if he would like to keep Johnson: "I haven't met him yet."
On if he has any interest in newly released Tampa Bay DB Eugene Wilson: "I think we're comfortable right now where we're at."
On how keeping 11 defensive line players will help in games: "Well, one of the things that went into my mind was we have to remember our first game here. Our first game was Seattle, and we dominated that game. Within a month, there were four guys gone that started. Injured - gone. And last year we had some of the same issues. First they have to earn it. I'm not going to keep a guy just to have numbers. But if they earn it, now you can recover from some injuries. Our defense, our system is you have to have guys that can rotate in there and be physical and all those things. But I think the biggest thing we felt is at the end of the day, you're looking at the roster, these were some of the best players on the team. If we would have tried to get these guys back on our practice squad they wouldn't be here."
On if he knew there were other teams looking to acquire some of the players who would be let go: "I can just tell you what I know. It's the hardest position to find in football. When you get guys that are in shape, run, hustle, have good attitudes and they'll really work, they're hard to find in this league - very hard to find. When you find some guy late in the draft like that, great person, they're just hard to find."
On if he will continue to dress eight defensive linemen on game day: "Yes."
On if it could be a different eight players every week: "Yeah, and it makes practice very lively, very competitive all the way through the end of the week. (Laughter)."
On whether practice felt 'more lively' because it is game week: "I think so. They're ready to go. I mean you can feel it today in practice. Their hitting was very crisp today. And I think they're excited. This is the time of year that we've all waited for; now it's just go back to work each time."
On the struggle to build depth along the offensive line: "I think right now you have Gos (Gosder Cherilus) in there - good young player - and we kept Manny (Ramirez) as a nice, young player. So it's a couple of guys starting to work into that, but we just have to draft good and develop."
On keeping C/G Andy McCollum: "You'd like to be able to draft and find those guys, but I think the one sticking point a little bit is we've got the center. We have guards who've never played center. So I think that's what you next look at when you get a young guy. Get a center; you teach them to play guard. (It's) much easier to go that way, and it helps you that way. Where Andy (McCollum) is right now, he's a center and we've taught him to play guard. And you have to have a backup center. You have to."
On if he expects that unit to be better than last year: "Oh yeah. I think what we're doing, how we're trying to do it for them with the running game a little bit simplified and they can kind of tee off and get after it a little bit, it makes it easier in pass protection what we're doing, much easier.
On how getting the ball out quick will help protect the quarterback: "Getting it (the ball) out quick and manageable third downs. Now part of it is you can't have penalties. You can't be first-and-15 either; that's shooting your own self in the foot. But then if you can run the ball, work it in there, you're going to let your second down play-action passes - you're keeping the dogs off you."
On what he saw in CB Ramzee Robinson that earned him a spot on the team: "Good player. He's a good player. He just keeps showing up as a corner out there. It was a good battle out there between the safeties and corners, but he's a heck of a special teams guy and when you find those corners you don't want to lose them."
On Robinson showing up in the last two preseason games: "Yes, he did. He really tackled. I mean he really tackled well and played in the system well. He's got good ball skills. That's a good, young corner for us."
On if new rookie RB Marcus Thomas was on his radar leading up to the draft: "We had some feels there, but I think he really played well in this preseason. The film we put together was very good. Sam (Gash) had him in the Shrine game and he came back very impressed with him there. And the guy's a core cover guy. He can cover kicks and do all those things."
On if starting spots are still open in order to keep a competitive spirit in practice: "I think so. That, but you always, you have another week to maybe still get better, and then you could still have a chance to improve your roster. So that's what we're trying to do. It's our job to keep working."