Detroit ponders options after loss of Rogers

Rookie first round draft choice Charles Rogers suffered a broken collarbone in practice yesterday and will be lost to the team for 4-6 weeks. In the meantime, the Lions coaching staff is scrambling to find replacements for both Rogers and recently released cornerback Alex Molden.

Lions lose Rogers for six weeks to broken collarbone
With team’s best receiver gone, coaching staff scrambles to find replacements.
by Mike Fowler

(ALLEN PARK) - Rookie first round draft choice Charles Rogers suffered a broken collarbone in practice yesterday and will be lost to the team for 4-6 weeks. While the Lions officially say that “there is no timetable” for Rogers return, sources close to the team have said that this type of injury usually takes at least four weeks to heal.

The injury is the latest in a series of setbacks for the team that is in the midst of a four-game losing streak and has not won a road game in 19 straight tries.

Rogers was hurt when he tried to make a leaping catch over Detroit's best defensive player, Dre' Bly.

“As you saw, he went up for a pass and went down on his shoulder,” explained coach Steve Mariucci. “He got tangled up with Dré Bly. It was one of those things that happened in practice on occasion. It’s very unfortunate for him and so it looks like it’s going to be a matter of weeks before he’s going to be able to return.”

Lions quarterback Joey Harrington said the loss of Rogers will definitely hurt Detroit offensive production.

“It hurts but there is nothing you can do about it except practice with the guys you’ve got. I still feel very confident in the guys that we have. They’re guys that have been playing for us all year and have caught a lot of balls between them. They know the offense very well and I have no doubt that those guys are going to come and play big for us.”

Earlier, Detroit lost its starting running back, James Stewart, on the last game of the preseason to a separated shoulder. Stewart is out for the season. Detroit lost cornerbacks Chris Cash and Andre Goodman for the season when Cash suffered a knee injury and Goodman suffered a separated shoulder. Detroit also lost defensive tackle Luther Elliss for six weeks with a torn pectoral muscle. Elliss is expected to return after the bye week.

On a team so talent thin, Mariucci had made it a goal to stay as injury-free as possible and admitted the team has come up short in an area it can't control. “We didn’t do it. We have to do it. As you know we try to minimize injuries in practice constantly. It happens sometimes. I told Dré Bly it wasn’t his fault. It happens sometimes when guys compete. We do the best we can as players and coaches to minimize it, but it’s a contact sport, and sometimes guys get tangled up.”

Detroit recently worked out former first round draft pick Terry Fair and wide receiver Terrence Wilkins and appear to be ready to sign both. Detroit made a roster move, releasing corner Alex Molden who they signed as a street free agent two weeks ago. Molden had called Detroit's defensive scheme, “one of the most confusing” he'd ever seen.

In the absence of Rogers, Mariucci expects the remaining players to “step up.”

“You know the whole committee thing we did at running back? We’re going to have a committee of wide receivers. The guys I mentioned earlier (Bill Schroeder, Az-Zahir Hakim, Shawn Jefferson and Scotty Anderson), you know who they are, they all should be healthy for the next game. We need to decide if we need to add another receiver for practice, for legs, as a returner possibly. We’ll look through that the next couple of days.”

Mariucci also has the option of calling up wide receiver David Kircus, the team’s sixth round draft pick from Grand Valley State University. Detroit feels Kircus has enough talent and upside to play at the NFL level but needs to fully integrate himself into the team's system before they can put him on the field. “He’s here, he’s available,” said Mariucci. “We’ll have to decide if that is what we need to do. Or do we bring in somebody else who is a potential punt and kick returner.”

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