The injury to rookie wide receiver Charles Rogers, the Lions leading receiver after the first five games of the season, could be a crusher.
Rogers suffered a broken collarbone in a bye week practice session Tuesday when cornerback Dre' Bly fell on him in coverage in a one-on-one drill.
"It's one of those things that happens in practice on occasion," coach Steve Mariucci said. "Very unfortunate for him. It looks like it's going to be a matter of weeks before he's going to be able to return.
The Lions already are running the football by committee -- primarily Shawn Bryson and Olandis Gary -- and now they might have to use a little of the same system to pick up the slack for Rogers in the receiving corps.
"We're counting on the other guys obviously to become healthy and productive, and make up the slack -- Az Hakim, Scotty Anderson, Shawn Jefferson and Billy Schroeder," Mariucci said. "They've got to get it done."
Rogers, the No. 2 pick in the draft last April, has caught 22 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns in his first five NFL games. His reception total is only three fewer than the other receivers -- Schroeder, Hakim, Jefferson and Anderson -- have among them.
The Lions won't know for sure how long it will be before Rogers is ready to play again.
The conventional thinking is that he will probably be gone 4-6 weeks but Lions president Matt Millen isn't taking any chances on being disappointed.
"I'll look at it as worst-case," Millen said. "I'll put a long time-frame on it and hope they give me a better time-frame. I'll look at it in my own mind as eight weeks or so."
BLY ON ROGERS
Nobody felt worse about Rogers' broken collarbone than Bly, who was covering him in a one-on-one passing drill and fell on him when the two became entangled at the end of the play.
The incident occurred early in the workout, which was part of an easy work week designed by coach Steve Mariucci. The Lions weren't even in pads -- wearing only helmets and shorts -- in one of two days of work scheduled for their bye week.
Although it was supposed to be a routine workout, it became more intense after a couple of line of scrimmage clashes between safety Corey Harris and wide receiver Bill Schroeder. Harris jammed Schroeder hard at the line of scrimmage, and it picked up the intensity for all of the participants.
"One-on-one is always competitive," Bly said. "But on a day like today, most guys are used to having two days off so to kind of get that fire going, they jump right in one-on-one.
"I think Corey kind of sparked up the period when he went up against Schroeder and that kind of got me going, because -- honestly -- I wasn't really into it.
"My body was real fatigued and then once Corey went up against Bill and kind of got the drill motivated and pumped up, I kind of got going and got everybody else going. Got our juices going and we were looking forward to the rest of practice."
Bly said he felt the injury was serious when he fell on top of Rogers. And when he learned a few minutes later that Rogers had a broken collarbone, he made a quick side trip to the locker room as the Lions moved to the next drill.
"I ran in after the period was over and checked up on him," Bly said. "He was stretched out on the bench. When I saw him stretched out, it just hit me. I felt so bad because he's kind of been like my guy all year.
"We've kind of been competing all year, going at it, just trying to help him make that transition from college to the league. For him to suffer that injury, it was tough.
"I apologized to him. He told me, `Don't worry about it, man, we're out there competing.' It was just a freak thing. I told him keep his head up, `If you need me, you can give me a call.' "
QUOTE TO NOTE
"He's got to stay into it mentally. I know it's going to be hard for him to do but come to meetings, watch game tape, teams and stuff like that. Make sure he can continue his progress on recognizing coverages and everything like that. He's got to stay into it mentally so when he does come back from the injury, he'll be mentally sharp." -- Wide receiver Shawn Jefferson on what his protégé -- Charles Rogers -- has to do while recovering from a broken collarbone.