Lions Daily Update. Thursday Practice Recap and the OC and DC Colletto and Barry Transcripts from Their Press Conferences

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  • The Lions had a full-squad practice today in helmets and shorts on the indoor field at the team's headquarters and practice facility in Allen Park.  
  • Following today's practice, the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association (DSBA) presented S Gerald Alexander with the 2007 Lions/DSBA Rookie of the Year Award and WR Roy Williams with the Lions Good Guy Award, a joint award by the DSBA and the Detroit chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association. Presenting the awards was: DSBA President Richard Kincaide, Vice President James Rein and Executive Director George Eichorn.
  • The following players have been listed on the Detroit Lion's Injury Report: TE Dan Campbell (hamstring) and QB Drew Stanton (right thumb) had limited participation in practice today.
  • The following players were listed on the Atlanta Falcons' Injury Report today: C Alex Stepanovich (back) and LB Coy Wire (ankle) did not participate in practice today. S Thomas DeCoud (ankle) had limited participation in practice today.
  • Lions Offensive Coordinator Jim Colletto and Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry were available for comments after today's practice. A full transcript is included below.
  • The Detroit Lions travel to the Georgia Dome to open up the regular season against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, September 7 at 1 p.m. The Lions hope to begin their season with a win after being the only NFL team to go 4-0 during the preseason. This week's matchup marks the 33rd regular season meeting between the two teams, and the first since the Lions won 30-14 at Ford Field in 2006. The game will be televised in Metro Detroit on WJBK-TV FOX Channel 2 with Matt Vasgersian handling play-by-play, J.C. Pearson adding color commentary and Nischelle Turner reporting from the sidelines. 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.
  • 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 OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JIM COLLETTO
On if the two new running backs, Rudi Johnson and Marcus Thomas, are ready to play: "They look real good. Both he and Marcus are good. They can play in the game. Oh yeah, they can play."

On if Johnson's hamstring appears to be healthy: "Rudi seems to be fine."

On if Johnson knows enough to fit in with the chemistry of the offensive scheme: "He's run for a lot of yards in this league. A lot of these teams in this league have a lot of the same plays; they just call them different names. And he's fit in real easily, so both of them can play."

On what he envisions Johnson's role to be as the season progresses: "I don't know. He's going to play. How much he'll play Sunday, I don't know, but he can play. I don't think we can ask Kevin (Smith) to carry the load the whole day."

On his plans for T Gosder Cherilus: "Well right now he's going to be the flap tackle on Sunday because he's the only guy who can do it."

On if Cherilus will remain a backup: "Right now he'll be the backup tackle for the time being, this first time out. I don't foresee that throughout the year, but we're going to start that way."

On if he will play at least for a couple of series: "I don't know. We'll see how the game goes. I don't know."

On how he balances giving Cherilus playing time with wanting to keep the first unit together for consistency: "Well, we've mixed and matched these guys so much, I don't worry about that as much. Some people get real hung up on that. I don't think that's that big (of) a deal. And he's played left and right. We've had all different kinds of combinations of players in there, and so I don't worry about that. I'd like to get him in the game, but you have to be careful. If he got injured, now we have nobody left to play."

On what stands out about the Falcons' defense: "I've known Mike Smith, their head coach, ever since we were all together at Baltimore starting in '99. He's learned from some really good guys. He was a good college coach, and they're a well-disciplined group of guys. They know where they're going, they know what to do, they don't get overly complicated, and they're a sound team."

On if it will be a tough matchup between the Lions' receivers and the Falcons' secondary: "I think anytime with Roy (Williams) and Calvin (Johnson) it's going to be tough on everybody. The key kicker is if we don't run the ball, they can put 18 guys out on them and they won't catch a ball. So there's some things that have to happen to make it a little bit easier for them to function, and one is make sure they don't double-cover them all day long. But yeah, everyone is going to have a matchup problem with those two guys."

On what he wants to see in the running game from day one: "Well, we'd like to get some 15-, 20-yard runs somewhere. But if again we can come out of the game and average over four yards a run - but sometimes you can make an 80-yard run and not make a yard anywhere else, and you get four yards. We want to be consistently trying to make four or four-and-a-half yards a run, and that's what you want to look at. The longer runs will come if you keep plugging away, but we're going to have to work. Our first group hasn't run the ball real good in the preseason. And that's a concern, and they're going to have to do it this time."

On what TE Dan Campbell's role will be in the first game: "He's going to play a little. I don't know if he's ready to take on a game all by himself. I don't think he's ready to do that, but he will play some. But it won't be a lot. I don't foresee him playing a lot until after the bye is over because he hasn't played in two years. But he's ready to play some but it's not going to be a real big number of plays."

LIONS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOE BARRY
On how the improved secondary can free up the defensive linemen and linebackers: "The main thing is everyone always thinks when you get corners, and some people do, when they get great corners, they change. They decide to blitz more, they decide to do other things. We're going to continue to do what we've been doing, hopefully we're just going to do it at another level with the DBs that we have back there. Of course, when you have superior coverage, that's going to buy a second, second and a half, two seconds of more time for your D-line or your blitz to get to the quarterback. So it works hand-in-hand. To have great pressure and to get great pressure on the quarterback, you've got to have great coverage on the back end."

On if he is going to focus on stopping the Falcons running game: "We go into every single game every single week - week one through week 16-plus - (thinking) we've got to stop the run. That's the mentality that we have. They went out and they signed Michael Turner for a reason. Jerious Norwood is a heck of a back; I've had to defend him for years being down in that division. Both those guys are big-time legitimate backs. So, yes, we're going to definitely have to stop the run. I would think with a rookie quarterback making his first start, they're going to want to run the ball. That's the game plan of every NFL offense for the most part every week, so this week is no different."

On how much time and effort he's spent preparing for Atlanta Offensive Coordinator Mike Mularkey's "gadget plays": "A lot. We spend time on it. We've been fortunate over the years - our history with Mularkey goes back to when we defended him in Pittsburgh when he was the coordinator there. We played him in '05 when he was the head coach and coordinator in Buffalo. Rod (Marinelli) and Detroit played against him in '06 when he was the coordinator in Miami. So we have some history and some background with him. We've gone back and looked at everything and shown everything to our players because he's got that in his background. So, who knows if he'll do it, but you at least have to alert your players and show the players the things that he's done over the years and the things that he has in his arsenal."

 

 

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