Although the Lions are the only team in the NFL without a victory, Knights fans can tune in this Sunday to see them take on the Jacksonville Jaguars, who allowed a victory to the formerly winless Cincinnati Bengals just a week ago. UCF fans can follow some of their former players as the Lions have four former Knights on their roster, now that Daunte Culpepper has signed with the team. Although Culpepper has only been to a few Lions practices, he just may get the starting nod this weekend.
Lions head coach Rod Marinelli gave a glowing recommendation of Culpepper—
"The only thing I can comment on is what I've seen so far from him. He's picked up things pretty well and his arm strength is exceptional. We've got a big old target over there (in Calvin Johnson). He's used to throwing to the big tall guys. So we'll see how we go and we're just pushing straight ahead and seeing where we're at and working all the guys together and we'll make a decision by the end of the week and we'll feel good about it."
Culpepper has a great target in Calvin Johnson, who leads the Lions with 37 receptions for 682 yards and six touchdowns. Culpepper and Johnson will try to be a carbon copy of the dynamic tandem of Culpepper and Randy Moss at the beginning of this decade. One other UCF target that Daunte will be able to throw to is tight end Michael Gaines. Gaines has been a pleasant surprise for the Lions as he has 15 receptions for 153 yards.
A weapon that Culpepper will likely make the most use of is former UCF running back Kevin Smith, who leads all NFC rookies with a 4.4 yards per carry average. Smith has been splitting time with veteran back Rudi Johnson.
"I think their backs run really hard," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio explained. "I think their line does a good job getting to the second level, cutting people. They got Rudi Johnson formerly of Cincinnati and Kevin Smith from right down the road. They've got kind of two-headed monster there at running back."
Lions head coach Rod Marinelli certainly seems happy with the selection of Smith in the third round of April's draft.
"I really like him. He's explosive. He's quick, he has good vision. This is a really good class of young backs. I think there are five, six, seven young backs who came out of this last round that were all really good and I like him. He is very durable. He had a ton of carries at Central Florida. He loves football. I just like being around him because he really likes the game and he practices that way, he's upbeat. So I think we really have ourselves a legitimate back."
Although Smith is averaging 4.4 yards per carry, he has just 70 carries on the season. Marinelli attributes his lack of attempts to the lack of moving the chains by the Detroit offense, which converts on less than 28% of their third downs.
"He's got a swagger to him out there and we just have to keep getting him the ball and hopefully we can get a few more first downs to allow him to get a few more touches," said Marinelli.
Knights fans will also be able to see one of their own in Lions cornerback Travis Fisher, who has played in six games this year for Detroit and has registered 10 tackles and a pass defensed.
Knights Tied to Detroit
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