Coach tempers expectations

Rookie quarterback Joey Harrington will get his first NFL start Sunday when the Lions play their first regular season game ever at their new Ford Field stadium against Green Bay. Two games -- and two lopsided losses -- into the new season, coach Marty Mornhinweg pulled the rug out from under second-year quarterback Mike McMahon, although he said the team's troubles should not be blamed on McMahon.

The move to Harrington, the third player taken in the draft last April, takes some heat off Mornhinweg and team president Matt Millen temporarily, but it remains to be seen if the rookie quarterback can salvage the season for the stumbling Lions.

``Now, we have to understand that we cannot expect miraculous play and heroics right off the bat from Joey,'' Mornhinweg said. ``It's a situation where we certainly have to play better defense, especially pass defense. Our special teams have to be solid. We do have to run the football.''

As a college quarterback at Oregon, Harrington was known for his ability to win games with big plays in the closing minutes but he said he would have to resist an urge to try to make every play a big play for the Lions.

``I want to bring some consistency,'' Harrington said. ``I'm not looking to go out and make a big play. I'm not looking to go out and steal the show, to throw a bunch of deep balls. That's not how I play.

``I like to get in a rhythm, I like to make everybody feel comfortable so our offense starts to click. I think that's what we really need right now.''


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