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 Fanball's Lions training camp preview 
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RIP Killer
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Joined: August 6th, 2004, 9:21 am
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Post Fanball's Lions training camp preview
http://www.fanball.com/fb/article.cfm/ID.4061

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Training Camp Preview: Lions
By Jason Powell, Associate Editor

Notable Offseason Moves: The Super Bowl will be played at Ford Field in Detroit next February. And while it would be a major reach to predict that the Lions will be playing in the big game on their own home turf, the front office has done a nice job of building for a future run at the Lombardi Trophy.

The most notable addition to the Lions' roster is quarterback Jeff Garcia, who will be reuniting with head coach Steve Mariucci. The duo worked together throughout Mooch's coaching tenure with the 49ers, so Garcia should have no trouble learning the playbook, which will give him more free time with girlfriend Carmella, a former Playboy Playmate of the Year. Garcia will enter training camp as the No. 2 quarterback on the roster behind starter Joey Harrington. More on that issue later.

After years of mediocrity at the tight end position, the Lions finally went out and signed an impact player in Marcus Pollard. Oddly enough, the former Colt wasn't so much seduced by the words of Mariucci and general manager Matt Millen as he was by the idea of living in Detroit. Although the thought of living in Motown might not be very appealing to most outsiders, Pollard's new wife is a Detroit native.

The last key offensive addition came at the draft when the Lions surprised most observers by selecting wide receiver Mike Williams with the No. 10 overall pick. Most mock drafts predicted that Williams would be off the board before the Lions went on the clock, and even those who predicted that the former Trojan would be available didn't expect Detroit to select the talented wideout. After all, the Lions used their first-round picks in the two previous drafts on wide receivers Charles Rogers and Roy Williams.

Adding Garcia and Mike Williams led to some turnover at their respective positions. Quarterback Mike McMahon departed to Philadelphia via free agency after failing to receive an offer from the Lions. Meanwhile, wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim ended his disappointing three-year run with the Lions by signing with the Saints as a free agent last weekend. Oddly enough, Kevin Johnson turned down an offer to re-sign with the Ravens to join the Lions as a free agent prior to the draft. The former No. 1 receiver of the Browns was hoping to catch on as a No. 3 with the Lions, but we don't expect him to see much action behind the big three youngsters.

Defensively, the Lions were fairly quiet during the offseason. They did make one big splash by signing safety Kenoy Kennedy as a free agent. The former Bronco will be a starter in Detroit, and he should be an upgrade over Brock Marion, who was released after one lackluster season.

Position Battles: Mariucci has been insistent throughout the offseason that Harrington will retain his starting job. However, we can't help but to assume that Joey will be playing on a short leash this season given his struggles over the last three years. Garcia didn't show much during his stint with the Browns last year. That could be a sign that his skills are diminishing with age, but it might also be attributable to him playing in a new offense and not being surrounded by much talent.

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Joey Harrington will enter training camp as a starter again this year.

The Lions have three highly regarded young receivers, but there are only two starting jobs available. Rogers has only played in six games over the last two years because of a broken clavicle, so it will be interesting to see whether the coaching staff is willing to invest heavily in the former top-10 pick. Mike Williams will have to earn his playing time and will likely enter training camp listed as the No. 3 receiver on the depth chart. If he performs well during training camp, we wouldn't be surprised to see Mike pass Rogers on the depth chart, as the former Trojan's size makes him an ideal No. 2 receiver.

Keep an Eye On: Retired running back Barry Sanders must be chuckling somewhere right now at his former team's ongoing refusal to upgrade the offensive line. Sure, they did add guard Rick DeMulling and offensive tackle Kyle Kosier via free agency, but both were considered mid-level talents in the free agency pool. The lack of attention given to the line could lead to some problems for sophomore running back Kevin Jones, who showed a ton of potential last season. We're also concerned that the line will struggle to protect Harrington and Garcia. The line problem is especially troubling because the Motor City Kitties will play a pair of games each against premier pass-rushers Kevin Williams of the Vikings, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila of the Packers, and Adewale Ogunleye of the Bears.

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June 30th, 2005, 10:39 am
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I agree with this guy's assesment of our line. It is the one real weakness that stands out on our team.As much as I hate 1st round olineman, it would probably be a good idea to get one next year.

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June 30th, 2005, 11:01 am
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Joined: April 27th, 2005, 3:26 pm
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I agree. Our O-Line could use some upgrading. The article from Brian on Lionbacker about the 2006 draft highlights the fact that there are some very good lineman coming out next year. We could definitely use a Pace or Walter Jones type on our line.

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June 30th, 2005, 11:43 am
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I agree as well that our offensive line could use a more punishing presence. While I like Jeff Backus, I don't feel he is an ideal left tackle for us. I would prefer to see someone bigger, with much more of a mean streak at that spot. It wouldn't break my heart if he left in free agency next year. I don't agree that the Lions did a poor job in the off-season towards the offensivel line. They did the best they could. It would be one thing if the Lions didn't even try to schedule visits with some of the top available linemen. They did try. But Wahle and Rivera signed quickly with their new teams. Jones and Pace wanted whopper contracts the Lions just couldn't afford.

Last year the Chargers did pretty well with a suspect offensive line. If they can come together as a unit early, as opposed to the debacle we had last year, our line should be good enough to do the job.

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June 30th, 2005, 1:41 pm
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RIP Killer
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m2karateman wrote:
They did the best they could. It would be one thing if the Lions didn't even try to schedule visits with some of the top available linemen. They did try. But Wahle and Rivera signed quickly with their new teams. Jones and Pace wanted whopper contracts the Lions just couldn't afford.


My thoughts exactly. Evne guys who aren't that great (Jonas Jennings) got mind blowing contracts. I'm so happy the Lions didn't overpay and found quality players for the price they paid. They didn't want one outstanding OT that would have cost them 3 other quality starters (DeMulling, Pollard, and KK). They did the best they could without lubing up and taking it.


June 30th, 2005, 1:54 pm
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