(ALLEN PARK) - The Lions began their second minicamp today and coach Steve Mariucci made it clear from the outset that receiver Scotty Anderson's status on the team will not be affected by his involvement in an altercation at a Houston night club and subsequent injuries suffered as a result of it.
"This is separate from football," said Mariucci. "Hes not a rookie. Hes been through this (mini-camp) before. Hell catch up right away. Were going to have guys with injuries all of the time. It certainly wasnt his fault. Weve got some guys here that didnt practice today and wont for the rest of the mini-camps. Hell join us when hes physically able to that.
Mariucci said that the entire Lions organization's thoughts and prayers were with Anderson and that is main focus should be on comforting his family in their time of distress.
I asked him how he was doing, personally," Mariucci continued. "He said his shoulder was sore, I guess hes got an injury to his shoulder. Its got a bandage on it and that sort of thing. He told me not to worry about it, hell be okay eventually. Hes lucky lucky to be alive. Hell be back in here, he just needs to take care of his mom and dad and hope for the best for his brother.
Receiver Az-Zahir Hakim, making his first baby steps onto the field after suffering a season ending hip injury echoed Mariucci's sentiments.
My condolences go out to his family and his friends. Were just looking forward to him getting back. Hopefully everythings alright with him and his brother. Hes definitely missed. Everyone knows hes a great person. We miss him a lot.
Quarterback Joey Harrington expressed his sympathy for Anderson as well. Obviously, you never want that happen to your teammates, but were praying for a speedy recovery and we hope to see him back here soon.
Mariucci reiterated that Anderson can take as much time as he needs before returning to the team.
Meanwhile, the coach was encouraged by Hakim's presence on the practice field. He was out practicing today he did a little pat-and-go and took part in some individual (drills), which is more than he did in the last mini-camp. We kept him out of competitive drills but hes running routes a little bit closer to full speed than he has been. Hes trying to get the rust off and start feeling a little better. Hes not 100-percent at all but hes making progress.
Hakim, for his part bristled when asked if he was ready to run full speed. Why would I do that? We dont have to play right now, so Im not going to do that right now," snapped Hakim. "When its time to let it rip, you better believe Im going to let it rip.
He added that he was motivated to get back on to the field quickly because some thought it would be a full year before he would be able to take the field.
It really wasnt too hard, I had a lot of support from my friends and my teammates and my family so it really wasnt too hard. I just wanted to overcome everything I came (back) from.
It was tough, the injury was tough, and as reporters, I overheard you guys say I wouldnt be able to make it back, this is when I was coming off the injury, but that just drove me. Im a determined person and Im just looking forward to this coming season.
Hakim added that he was not disappointed not to be back in the "X" receiver position he started at last year, but would be happy to play wherever the coaching staff thought would be best. Mariucci had previously stated that rookie Charles Rogers would be "penciled" into the "X" role. That could change with a healthy Hakim back in the lineup. He continued that his main focus was being completely healthy by the start of the regular season.
For his part Lions quarterback Joey Harrington was focusing on improving from a disappointing rookie season by becoming more of a leader on and off the field.
Ill be a little bit more comfortable but I dont think I had a problem exerting myself as a leader last year. I just wasnt always exactly sure how to go about it. I always felt that was my role, but I feel a little more comfortable now.
I try to mix in a little of everything. Everyone responds to different types of motivation. Some guys like to see someone they can hang out with off the field, some guys like to see someone in their face, some guys like to have someone coach them along and encourage them, so there are different types of leadership and everyone responds in different ways.
Lions head coach Steve Mariucci commented on a number of players and what he expected from them this season.
On WR Charles Rogers: Hes making progress. He seems to be healthy. If you remember, in the last mini-camp, he couldnt do the beep test because he had turf toes his feet were bothering him. They seem to be better. Being out on the grass helps a little bit, he did everything today in practice. He just needs to stay on the practice field and practice and practice and practice and gain some practice experience. Were force-feeding him everything we can. We have even moved him around in different positions. When we go to three and four wide receivers, he moves away from that Z position a little bit which he needs to learn. Were throwing a lot at him right now and so far hes handling it pretty well.
On WR Shawn Jefferson: When we left the last mini-camp, we liked our group of receivers. That was an area, as you know, where we needed to fill some holes and add to the depth and that sort of thing. Even after we came off that practice field and had a meeting, we still felt that we were very young. We didnt have Az (Hakim) practicing. We had just Bill Schroeder really, whose a veteran kind of guy. If he turns an ankle, then all the sudden we have a bunch of kids playing receiver. We felt we could add another veteran to the mix. We like our young receivers, theyve got a long way to go obviously. We just felt that we needed to add another veteran.
On RB Luke Staley: Luke has to stay healthy and continue to practice hes got some skills. He has something to offer. I think there is good competition in the running back spot. Weve got a couple of guys who arent practicing, Artose (Pinner) and Shawn Bryson. We have to healthy up. As much as our coaches want these guys to practice in these three weeks of mini-camps, the main thing is that we healthy up for training camp. Weve got to be a healthier team than last year. Last years team, as you know, was banged up quite a bit. Weve got to find a way to be better with that area.