Pro Bowl Player
Joined: April 19th, 2005, 2:10 pm
Lions at Passing Mini Camp
More Than?A Passing Fancy
Lions?Stressing?System Installations, Situationals At 'Passing'?Mini-Camp
By Jay Clemons
May 31, 2005?
Roy Williams emerged as a devastating receiving option last year, registering 54 catches for 817 yards and 8 TDs in his rookie campaign.
ALLEN PARK, Mich.?--?The personal goals surrounding the Detroit Lions' eight mini-camp practices (today through June 9) may vary from player to coach.
But the overall objective for the sessions is clear: It's another key step in the club's development toward an NFC North title run in 2005.
Lions head coach Steve Mariucci?said Tuesday?each daily practice will have a "passing-game emphasis." But the club will also spotlight the installation of the offensive and?defensive systems, along with kicking-game hypotheticals.
"Football is a game of situations...we'll touch on all things," says Mariucci. He also?estimates that approximately 80 percent of the Lions'?offensive system will be instituted?by the mini-camp's?conclusion. "So, it's a good head start."?
With training camp slated for July 29, Detroit has 60 days to prepare for the 2005 campaign. And by practicing outside Tuesday?-- which is the preliminary plan for the next two weeks -- the team can get somewhat acclimated to the inherent differences between indoor and outdoor play. (Detroit has two road games early in the schedule -- at Chicago on Sept. 18 and Tampa Bay?on Oct. 2?-- where the conditions will likely be warm and humid.)
As for the actual practice, receiver Roy Williams said the offense used the session to hone their timing.?"We've got to get better -- that's what you practice for." He also derived some pleasure in seeing Detroit's full complement of offensive playmakers -- including receiver Charles Rogers (who missed essentially the entire 2004 season to injury).
"It feels good right now," says Williams, who registered 54 catches for 817 yards and 8 TDs in his rookie campaign last year. "But it's not about how you start, it's how you finish. So, hopefully, we'll be healthy throughout the season and win (more) ballgames."
Rogers, one of three players donning red jerseys (signifying no contact) at practice, has already adapted the mindset of being completely healthy. In fact, he?says he?has not been constricted by what he can do on the field.
"I'm just going with the flow," says Rogers, the Lions' No. 1 pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. "I feel good."
After?increasing his body mass with 18 pounds of muscle during a rigorous off-season?workout regiment, Rogers?occasionally sees?himself in the superhero mold.
"I'm not going to say Superman -- that's?(NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal)...but I am more like He-Man," says?Rogers, half-joking.
With Rogers and linebacker Boss Bailey back on the field, this year's team boasts talent and depth on both sides of the ball. On offense, the Lions have?drafted?and?developed talents?like?quarterback Joey Harrington, running back Kevin Jones, receivers Roy Williams, rookie Mike Williams and Rogers and linemen Jeff Backus and?Dominic Raiola?-- while adding Marcus Pollard, Kevin Johnson and Damien Woody through free agency.
The defense?has been constructed?around Shaun Rogers, James Hall Cory Redding, Teddy Lehman, James Davis, Alex Lewis, Bailey, Keith Smith, Terrence Holt?and rookie draftee Shaun Cody?-- while obtaining free-agent reinforcements Dan Wilkinson, Earl Holmes, Dre' Bly, Fernando Bryant and?Marcus Bell.
All together, this team has seemingly positioned themselves for a sustained run of success in the NFL.
"The last few draft classes have gotten a lot of playing time," says Mariucci. "And that bodes well for where we're headed."
**With starting left tackle Jeff Backus still recovering from a minor ankle procedure, Mariucci said Victor Rogers and Kyle Kosier will likely play that slot in the interim. (Mariucci also stated that Backus?could return next week.)?Second-year tackle Kelly Butler has seen?plenty of repetitions at the right-end position.
"You know, Kelly redshirted last year -- he didn't play at all," says Mariucci. "So, he needs all the snaps he can get; and he'll get a lot in the next couple of weeks."
**Mariucci said it's possible the franchise may acquire a June 1 salary-cap "casualty" from another team -- provided it's a feasible move. "But right now, we have nothing planned. We're happy with the guys that we have."