Lions' DT Rogers May Start Sunday

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Nate Caminata -

During April's NFL draft, Lions' vice president Matt Millen drew a cautious praise from critics after he traded up to grab Texas defensive tackle Shaun Rogers.

Originally considered an obvious top 10 pick, Rogers' stock dropped dramatically following a severe ankle injury during his senior campaign. To make matters worse, Rogers played on the injured ankle continuously, forcing NFL scouts and GM's to pass on the 6'3, 325 pound punishing run-stopper.

Millen spent a second round pick on Rogers, hoping the Texas defensive tackle would return to the field with the same domination he displayed his first three years in college.

Rogers has done just that. Only much quicker than expected.

Earlier this week, the Lions stated that Rogers would start if defensive tackle Luther Elliss (elbow) is unable to perform. However, if Elliss does play sparingly, Rogers will play backup.

Initially, it was thought Rogers could return a few weeks into the regular season. And starting would have been out of the question.

"He's played very well for us. He came along pretty quickly," said Lions' head coach Marty Mornhinweg.

Rogers only participated in the Lions' last two pre-season games, and only practiced sparingly prior to those engagements. But his prowess has been felt.

What Rogers is able to provide is a strong inside presence, an influence that Elliss dishes to opponents regularly. And it is the same presence Rogers demonstrated in college.

Most rookies, even those selected early in the draft, often struggle to adjust to the speed and tenacity of the National Football League. Rogers may have reached that level in a matter of weeks. And while it may be too early to proclaim Rogers a steal, he's certainly on the right path. And Matt Millen can take complete credit.

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