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 Lions per USA Today 
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Post Lions per USA Today
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?Assuming they can maintain the pace, the Lions rookies will have a pretty good idea of what to expect in the NFL preseason by the time they finish the offseason workouts at Allen Park in early July.

"We'll expand on what we did in the first minicamp," coach Steve Mariucci said. "They've all taken a test already - the entire team - based on what we presented last minicamp. They will be presented new material here in our OTAs (organized team activities).

"Once we're done with the second week of June, probably 80 percent of what we're going to go into the first few games with has been presented. Training camp then becomes a review.

"We won't get into backed-up-coming-off-the-goalline and a couple of those situations. Some of those things we won't get into in these minicamps but the nuts and bolts of it, we'll get into."

All except three of the Lions' 25 rookies reported last week. The only three who have not yet completed classes for the summer ? and therefore are not eligible to participate ? are third-round cornerback Stanley Wilson of Stanford, sixth-round defensive end Bill Swancutt of Oregon State and undrafted safety Chip Cox of Ohio University.

The rest of the Lions rookies ? including first-round pick Mike Williams, a wide receiver from USC, and second-round pick Shaun Cody, a defensive tackle from USC ? are getting a crash course in the work ethic of an NFL team.

Although the rookies will get classroom time with their position coaches, Mariucci's primary focus will be to get them prepared physically for the start of training camp and the regular season.

"The benefit mainly is strength and conditioning," he said.


? Rookie linebacker Johnathan Goddard, a sixth-round draft pick from Marshall, is making a position switch ? from defensive end to linebacker ? and has been surprised at help he's getting from the players with whom he is competing for a job.

"The rest of the linebackers are helping me out to make sure I get everything going," Goddard said. "It's a big adjustment but I think I can get through it.

"Even if someone's there to get your job, you still want to win. If you want to win, you've got to at least teach this person what to do and help them out. You're all teammates or you're all going to be teammates.

"I was a little surprised but this team has got it going in the right direction. They know what they want and that's a championship. They seem to know what they have to do."

? One of the areas coach Steve Mariucci and offensive coordinator Ted Tollner will be focused on as the Lions begin preparations for the 2005 NFL season is the team's red zone production.

Only two teams ? Jacksonville and Chicago ? were less effective than the Lions in converting its red zone possessions into touchdowns during the 2004 season.

The Bears converted only 16 of 38 red zone opportunities (42.1 percent) and Jacksonville was only slightly better with 19 touchdowns in 45 opportunities (42.2 percent).

And, the Lions ? at No. 30 among the league's 32 teams in red zone conversions ? turned just 44.2 percent of their opportunities into touchdowns. They had 43 red zone possessions but managed to score only 19 touchdowns on their way to 186 red zone points (including 18 field goals).

The Lions figure to improve on last year's performance with a more experienced running game (Kevin Jones is in his second season) and fewer drops by their receivers than the 50 recorded by the Lions coaching staff in 2004.

The Lions obviously have a long way to go to join the teams at the top of red zone efficiency ? San Diego (69.8 percent conversion) and Kansas City (67.8 percent).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The other guys have been here six weeks. And there's not a rookie that's in the same physical condition as the rest of the team. I don't care what they've been doing, there's no chance of this kind of intensity, so they have some catching up to do." ? Lions coach Steve Mariucci on the conditioning work facing the Lions rookies.




UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: QB Rick Mirer; DT Kelvin Pritchett; CB Dainon Sidney; WR Tai Streets; FB Stephen Trejo.



PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: DT Marcus Bell; OT Sean Bubin; CB Chris Cash; CB Mike Echols; TE Casey FitzSimmons; S Vernon Fox; CB Andre Goodman; OG Tyrone Hopson; WR David Kircus; LS Jody Littleton; LS Don Muhlbach; LB Wali Rainer; C Dominic Raiola; OT Victor Rogers; WR Scottie Vines; S Bracy Walker.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED: TE Stephen Alexander; G Rick DeMulling; QB Jeff Garcia; WR Kevin Johnson; S Kenoy Kennedy; OT Kyle Kosier; TE Marcus Pollard; RB Jamel White.

PLAYERS LOST: TE Stephen Alexander; CB Rod Babers; WR Az-Zahir Hakim; OT Matt Joyce; S Brock Marion; RT Stockar McDougle; QB Mike McMahon; WR Reggie Swinton; S Brian Walker.

May 24th, 2005, 12:55 am
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