Notes on Boss, Hanson, Eddie & more

Eddie Drummond will face stiff competition as kick return specialist, Jason Hanson (and special teams crew) give Mooch a bit more comfort than he's been used to, and rookie Boss Bailey feels good about his knee. These stories and more inside from our friends at TSX.

No concerns
The Lions have hopes that their second-round draft pick -- outside linebacker Boss Bailey of Georgia -- will be one of the steals of the draft.

While most teams were in open admiration of Bailey's speed and all-around athletic ability, he was passed over through the entire first round of the draft apparently because of concern over two previous knee injuries and his somewhat unimpressive tackling skills. Bailey has no reservations about his knee injuries.

“I had two ACLs,” he said. “One was in '97 and one was in 2000. I played two full seasons, no games missed and I've been fine.”

The Lions will work with Bailey over the pre-training camp part of the summer to increase his strength in hopes he will become their full-time starting strongside linebacker and a three-down player.

“I feel like I'm a guy you definitely want in there on passing downs because I hve the ability to go cover guys, just be out there in coverage and use my speed,” he said. “Kind of cover the field. “First and second down, I think my intensity carries me a long way with making big hits on the running back.”

Drummond must stay healthy to protect return job
If there is an area of concern on the special teams for the Lions, it is on punt and kickoff returns but only because Eddie Drummond has just one NFL season under his belt and has shown occasional indications he might be susceptible to nagging injuries.

As an undrafted rookie last season, Drummond had the fifth-best kickoff return average in the NFL (26.0 yards on 40 attempts). And, although he didn't score a touchdown, he had returns of 91 and 88 yards after stepping in for veteran Desmond Howard.

He was less effective on punt returns with an average of 7.7 yards on 18 attempts, but had a 73-yard touchdown return against Arizona. It is essential that Drummond stays healthy and effective, however, if he is going to win the job again in 2003. He has not proven to be an effective receiver and is not likely to win a roster spot in that area.

To be kept purely as a return specialist, he will have to produce or the Lions might be tempted to try other players -- including rookie receivers Charles Rogers or David Kircus, or veteran cornerback Dre' Bly -- on returns.

Gives Mooch some comfort
During the past two seasons -- while piling up a horrendous 5-27 record -- there was one area in which the Lions remained solid: special teams.

Kicker Jason Hanson was drafted by former coach Wayne Fontes in 1992; coach Chuck Priefer came to the Lions with Bobby Ross in 1997; and punter John Jett was signed as an unrestricted free agent by Ross in 1997. And, although team president Matt Millen has purged the Lions of virtually every reminder of the Fontes/Ross eras since taking over two years ago, he has had the good sense to leave the backbone of the special teams in tact.

As a result, that is one area that Lions new coach Steve Mariucci doesn't have to worry about when the Lions go to training camp next month.

In fact, Mariucci, who went through a number of kickers with unsatisfactory results in final three seasons at San Francisco, feels good about the Lions special teams.

“As a group, our specialists group may be the best that I've every been around,” Mariucci said. “Jason Hanson is unbelievable. We've got a veteran kicker, a veteran punter and then John also holds. We have some guys who have returned, we have a veteran snapper (Bradford Banta). “It's good to have those specialists in place and returning from last year, very good.”

Harrington keeping busy in off-season
Quarterback Joey Harrington is spending a good part of his brief off-season involved in philanthropic endeavors at home in Oregon. He got national attention recently when he announced a project to raise money to finance scholarship money for his alma mater -- the University of Oregon -- by selling pieces of a 10-story banner/billboard that flew in New York City during his final college season.

Harrington said he hopes to raise a half million dollars through the project, with the money going to endow three scholarships at the Lundquist College of Business at Oregon -- one to a graduate student, one to a junior and one to an incoming freshman on an annual basis.

Previously he had announced a June 26 concert in Portland.

Harrington, who has been playing the piano since he was four years old, will play with Blues Traveler to raise money for his foundation bearing the Harrington family name, aimed at various projects for needy children and families.

Harrington has his own website to promote the Harrington Family Foundation. It is www.joeyharrington3.com.


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