Detroit needs better production from receivers

With rookie receiver Charles Rogers out at least four weeks and possibly the remainder of the season, it is imperative that the rest of Detroit's receivers step up and get the job done if the ball club hopes to be competitive over the rest of what Coach Mariucci calls "an 11 game season."

(ALLEN PARK) - While the Detroit Lions are making progress in absorbing Steve Mariucci's football system, one area they haven't made a lot of progress in is the win column.

Going into their sixth game of the season, the Lions stand in a familiar spot, 1-4.   One of the few bright spots had been the play of rookie wide receiver Charles Rogers, who was leading the team going into the bye week with a respectable 22 catches for 243 yards and 3 TDs good enough for 18th in the NFC in balls caught, 23rd in receiving yards and a tie for 4th in receiving TDs.

Rogers suffered a broken collarbone that will keep him out at least four weeks and possibly the remainder of the season, so it is imperative that the rest of Detroit's receivers step up and get the job done if Detroit hopes to be competitive over the rest of what Coach Mariucci calls "an 11 game season."

So far, that has not been the case. 

Mikhael Ricks and Bill Schroeder have just 12 catches each, while Az-Zahir Hakim has just eight.  Shawn Jefferson has caught a miniscule 3 balls and Scotty Anderson has just two.  Schroeder and Hakim combined have just one more catch than the man they replaced, former Lions Johnnie Morton, now with the Kansas City Chiefs.  Morton has experienced a rebirth in Kansas City with the 6-0 Chiefs who the Lions face later in the season.

Some published reports have even suggested that Mariucci may have been on the considering demoting Schroeder in favor of rookie David Kircus

Schroeder, though, took exception to being asked if he was disappointed at his production this season.  "I'm going to let you answer that with Coach Mariucci," said an irritated Schroeder. "I'm not going to talk about who's getting the ball and who's not getting the ball.  I do what I'm told to do on the field and that's all I can do." 

He would not elaborate further about his play or even if he felt he would be a bigger part of the offense with Rogers out.

On the other hand, Ricks was forthright about wanting to make a bigger contribution to the team's success.  "I just hope that when my number is called I'll be able to produce.  So if it's to the point where I get two balls thrown to me a game or four or five, I just want to take advantage of opportunities when they come."

"I think so," answered Ricks regarding if he was ready to 'step up' and assume more responsibility in the passing game, "and we some viable backups with Scotty Anderson and Shawn Jefferson ready to come in so look for them to get a lot of reps also."

Mariucci said he was unsure if teams would change up their defensive scheme against Detroit with Rogers out.

"I don't know the answer to that. All of the guys that are going to be playing have more experience than Charles has. You'll see Az-Hakim on the field more. He's been playing a long time and he's practicing well. Then you'll see Shawn Jefferson, he's back, he had a good day of practice today and then Scotty Anderson, again, will have something to show."

While Mariucci didn't mention Schroeder specifically. It appears he will stay in his customary "X" receiver split end position.

The problem for Detroit is that with their leading receiver and deep threat out for the foreseeable future, who do they count on?  Who is the go-to guy that bails Harrington out when he's in trouble?  These are the times when someone, anyone who steps up his production is going to be rewarded with more balls coming his way.

The question is, does Detroit have anyone on the roster that is capable and willing to assume that responsibility?


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