Mariucci stresses "playoff-tempo" practices

The Lions haven't played a playoff game in three years and they have won only one playoff game in the last 45 years, so it is probably understandable that they don't show up in camp with a playoff mentality. It's not that they're slacking off; it's just that there are so few of them with a reference point on what it takes to be a playoff caliber team. Lions' head coach Steve Mariucci is trying to remedy the situation as quickly and effectively as possible.

The Lions haven't played a playoff game in three years and they have won only one playoff game in the last 45 years, so it is probably understandable that they don't show up in training camp with a playoff mentality.

It's not that they're slacking off; it's just that there are so few of them with a reference point on what it takes to be a playoff caliber team.

Only one of the current Lions -- defensive tackle Kelvin Pritchett -- has experienced a playoff win with the team.
Pritchett, now a backup player, was a rookie on the 1991 team that knocked off the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round of the playoffs before being hammered by the Washington Redskins in the NFC title game.

To this day, that is the only playoff win by a Lions team since the 1957 team won the NFL championship.

There are other Lions players with playoff experience. Among them are wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim and cornerback Dre' Bly, who tasted Super Bowl success at St. Louis. Bill Schroeder played on winning teams at Green Bay in the playoffs.

For the most part, however, the Lions players draw a blank in that area and Steve Mariucci is trying to remedy the situation as quickly and effectively as possible.

Mariucci has absolutely no reluctance to interrupt a practice if it is not going the way he wants and what he wants is playoff-caliber practice.

He recently called the Lions together in the middle of the field during the morning session of two-a-days to deliver the message of what he wanted: "Playoff-caliber tempo."

Mariucci wants it every minute the Lions are on the practice field. He wants them on time for practice, he wants the drills to move crisply and he wants them to move crisply between drills.

"We need to learn how to practice with a certain tempo, with a certain concentration level and intensity level -- especially when you're in pads -- and I thought we just needed to tune it up a couple notches," he explained.

Although the Mariucci system might be more demanding, the Lions players -- most of them coming off two seasons in which the team won a total of five games -- are buying into it.

"It's just the thought process that goes into it," running back James Stewart said. "You can't get lax and just try to go through the drills. That's what he's trying to instill in us.

"If we're climbing that ladder every day, when we get down to what we need to be doing and it's getting down to the season, we'll be at a level he's going to feel happy about."

And there seems to be very little chance Mariucci is going to slack off in his demands. He's a hands-on type of coach and makes no apologies for his approach.

"I get paid to coach," he said. "I don't get paid to stand around. So I'm coaching them."


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