(ALLEN PARK) - The Detroit Lions placed
injured rookie No. 1 draft pick Charles Rogers on the
team's injured reserved list yesterday effectively ending his season. Rogers was
injured in a during a light workout when corner Dre' Bly
fell on his shoulder and broke his collarbone several weeks ago.
While Rogers was healing steadily, his conditioning had dropped to the point where Detroit felt it would be a risk of further injury to put him back on the field this season.
"We wanted him to play and he wanted to play at the end, but he did play a handful of games early which was more than getting his feet wet," said Lions head coach Steve Mariucci.
"He played, he started, he competed, he was productive. He'll be a second-year player next year. It's not like it was all lost. He did have a chance to see what pro football is all about so he'll stay with us mentally and prepare that way and stay with the flow of things, but he's got to have a great off-season and train and get his strength back and his flexibility back and his confidence back. We've got a long off-season to do that."
Rogers admitted his disappointment but said he's optimistic about next season. "I knew my situation was going to be tough coming back. One thing about it, with the situation taking longer than we thought to heal, is that I know it's getting better and I know I'm going to be alright. It's just taking longer than we expected."
Rogers said he needs to "bulk up" to avoid future injuries. "I feel like I can't really build that muscle mass and the strength isn't there for me to go out there and play the game of football right now. That's what we're working on right now, getting it strong and getting it ready. I'm going to bounce back because you can't keep a good man down. It was good to get out there this year. I played in five games, got my feet wet, have been productive and I'll get back as soon as I can."
The Lions quickly signed four-year veteran James Williams, formerly with the Seattle Seahawks, to replace Rogers on the roster.
Meanwhile, rookie sixth round draft pick David Kircus had better step up his production because he is clearly on the bubble. Kircus had a deep ball from Joey Harrington drop right into his hands but dropped the ball against the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgivign Day. While Kircus has gotten open several times, he has had three balls put in his hands. He's dropped two and had the other broken up by a defender.
Mariucci has spoken to the rookie about hanging on to the football.
"I think that goes without saying and then of course, you (the media) talk about
it too. He knows that and he's doing the best that he can. He's playing hard. He would
like to make those plays obviously. He makes those in practice and he's just growing up so
you're going to take your lumps. Hopefully he can have some success so he has a little
confidence building in games like he has had in practice."
When asked what exactly is Kircus' problem, Mariucci blamed it on the physical nature of the NFL.
"He has a long way to go. He's just beginning to play and learn what the NFL
corners are like; the physicalness of their bump-and-run coverage and the jam at the line
of scrimmage and the speed of the game and the precision that's required to make a play
and get open and run a route against various coverages. So he's learning that and he's
going through it like a rookie would. The little bit of a disadvantage that he had was he
didn't play against Big Ten competition, game-in and game-out, so a lot of this fierce
competition is new to him and he gets it in practice, but practice is not exactly like
game day so he's learning gradually, practicing better and better as we go and playing a
little bit here lately and so hopefully he can keep improving."
Kircus' drops have yet to hurt the team at a key point in the game, but it makes a quarterback more reluctant to throw the football his way. This gives reason to those who asked why Kircus wasn't brought up from the practice squad earlier. If Kircus loses the faith of the coaching staff, he could be released.
Meanwhile, fourth-round draft choice Artose Pinner, who has missed the bulk of the season after suffering an ankle injury during a Senior Bowl event, could see playing time against the Chargers at tailback on Sunday. Pinner will likely play behind both Shawn Bryson and Olandis Gary, but could be used on third-down situations as the Lions are eager to see how Pinner receives the ball out of the backfield -- an asset that made him a coveted player last April.