Black & Blue Review: Week 7

The Lions appear to be headed on a losing streak, after a blowout loss to Green Bay at home they could be without their top three receivers in Week 7.

The Lions' anemic offense is not likely to be up to par for a third consecutive game when Detroit meets the New York Giants at Giants Stadium on Sunday.

No less than three starters - including wide receivers Roy Williams and Az-Zahir Hakim - have missed most of the practice work this week, as has fullback Cory Schlesinger.

That is obviously not good news for the team limping along with the worst total offense in the NFL after the first five games. The Lions are averaging 76.4 yards per game rushing and 150.8 yards per game passing.

The passing game has taken a step backward since Williams left the Atlanta game Oct. 10 with a sprained ankle and Hakim suffered a similar injury last Sunday in the loss to Green Bay.

The Lions had lost wide receiver Charles Rogers (collarbone) for the season in the season opener and rookie running back Kevin Jones (ankle) missed most of three games.

Williams says he feels it is a cumulative affect, however, and not just his absence that is hurting the Lions' offensive production.

"We're banged up," Williams said. "Kevin Jones is out, he might play this week. You've got Az Hakim and Tai Streets. It's kind of hard to be successful when you don't have all your weapons." Williams, a first-round pick, leads the Lions with 20 catches for 295 yards.

--RB Kevin Jones, who missed one game entirely and got only two carries last Sunday against Green Bay, says he hopes to get his full load of work against the New York Giants on Sunday. The Lions drafted Jones in the first round with high expectations but he has missed practice time and playing time with injuries, and has only 101 yards on 31 carries in five games.

--CB Andre Goodman, who has missed the last four games with a hamstring injury, has taken part in most of the Lions' practices this week and coach Steve Mariucci is hopeful Goodman will be able to play Sunday at the New York Giants. Goodman was the nickel back in the season opener, before the injury.

--FB Stephen Trejo, who was waived by the Lions on Sept. 1 in the final cut, is likely to get more work again Sunday in the Lions game at the New York Giants. Trejo is the backup for FB Cory Schlesinger, who has a hamstring injury he hasn't been able to get over, and Trejo is expected to get the blocking duty in Schlesinger's absence.

Another practice came and went Thursday without All-Pro WR Randy Moss, who is recovering from a strained right hamstring.

Yes, that's what fans are talking about in the Twin Cities. But the team is more worried about its defense, and for good reason.

If not for QB Daunte Culpepper's out-of-his mind start this season, the Vikings could very well be 2-3 instead of 4-1 and leading the NFC North by a game over Detroit. The defense has given up 795 yards and 59 points the past two weeks to Houston and New Orleans. Fortunately for coordinator Ted Cottrell's outfit, the Vikings' offense has put up a team-record 1,115 yards and 72 points over the past two weeks.

"We need to understand that we need to fix a lot of crap that's going on, on that field that is not good stuff," coach Mike Tice said.

Tice was speaking in general terms, but it's obvious which side of the ball isn't playing well.

The Vikings rank 30th on defense, 31st against the pass. They blew a 21-0 lead before winning in overtime at Houston two weeks ago. And last week, they couldn't shake New Orleans in a 38-31 victory despite racking up 605 yards of offense, the second highest total in team history.

There is good news on the injury front for the defense. Middle linebacker E.J. Henderson has returned to practice after missing the past two games because of a knee injury.

He is the leader of the front seven and is capable of making all of the calls and adjustments. His replacement the past two weeks, rookie Dontarrious Thomas, is a fast promising young player, but he couldn't make the calls and adjustments that needed to be made. Other players had to chip in and help on that part of the game.

Henderson's return has been overshadowed mightily by Moss' injury. Moss hasn't missed a game in his seven NFL seasons. The Vikings aren't expected to make a decision on Moss until a closed workout later today.

-- KR Ryan Hoag runs a 4.39 40-yard dash and sounds confident he will make a difference in the 26th-ranked kickoff return unit when he plays in his first NFL regular season game on Sunday. The Vikings average 19.1 yards per return and their longest return is 33 yards. Hoag, who uses visualization in his preparation, said he has pictured himself returning a kickoff for a touchdown on Sunday against Tennessee. "Why not me?" said the former Division III star from Minnesota's Gustavus Adolphus college. "Why not take one back for a touchdown?"

-- TE Jermaine Wiggins is able to play well with a small brace on his fractured left hand. He broke the hand in Week 2 and returned last week to catch five passes, including two touchdowns. "That's the first time I ever caught two touchdowns in a game," Wiggins said. "But it won't be the last." Wiggins is a useful weapon in the red zone.

-- RB Mewelde Moore, a rookie fourth-round draft pick, has the composure of a 10-year veteran. He breaks tackles, protects the ball and has the hands of a receiver. He will get his third consecutive start. In his first two starts, he set rookie records for catches in a game by a rookie (12) and all-purpose yards by a rookie in two consecutive games (432).

-- RB Michael Bennett practiced again Thursday and is on pace to play his first game of the regular season on Sunday. He's wearing a bulky brace on his right knee to guard against another re-injury in practice. The last time he tried to come back this season, he tore knee cartilage on Sept. 30 and had to have arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 4. Look for Bennett to get five to seven carries as Mewelde Moore's backup.

The Packers are worried about their running back situation.

Running backs coach Johnny Roland had a one-word answer at mid-week when asked how he was dealing with it.

"Praying," Roland said.

Ahman Green missed another day of practice Thursday with an Achilles' tendon problem that dates back to training camp. He remained probable but there is growing concern about the injury.

Green has missed practices each of the last two weeks and has had to endure a lot of pain after games.

"He's toughed it and battled his way through it," Roland said. "He's ready to go in the ball game but we have to rest him on Wednesday.

After six games a year ago Green had runs of 60 and 65 yards and had 20 rushes for 10 yards or more. He was averaging 5.3 at the time compared to 4.1 now.

Roland doesn't think the injury has affected Green's breakaway ability.

Meanwhile, prime backup Najeh Davenport isn't 100 percent with a hamstring that dates back to training camp as well. He is practicing but on a limited basis.

"I'm good for 20 yards, a 20-yard burst," Davenport said. "But once you go past 20, I'm not really sure what's going to happen, if I'm going to get caught or pull up."

--WR Robert Ferguson (calf-ankle) missed another day of practice Thursday and remained questionable for the Dallas game. If he can't go, Javon Walker would start and Antonio Chatman would be the No. 3 for the second straight week.

--NT Grady Jackson practiced both Wednesday and Thursday but coach Mike Sherman still thinks his return to the lineup is about a week away. "I felt pretty good in there," Jackson said.

--S James Whitley, who made some mistakes on special teams, was waived Tuesday. The Lions' Eddie Drummond averaged 30.3 on kickoff returns and 24.0 on punt returns. "It's as bad a breakdowns as I've had in my coaching career," special teams coach John Bonamego said. "I can't remember a day that bad."

Bear Report Top Stories