Backup quarterback Mike McMahon is expected to get playing time in one of the two remaining games, not because Mariucci is dissatisfied with starter Joey Harrington but because he wants to get another look at McMahon in game conditions.
"We'd like to see him play," Mariucci said. "He deserves to play. It's not because we're disappointed with Joey at all; it's because it would be good to see a backup quarterback get some snaps."
McMahon, a three-year veteran, will become a restricted free agent in March and the Lions must decide whether they want to keep him as a permanent backup or look for another young quarterback to develop.
Regardless of where his future is, McMahon wants to finish the season on a better note than the 5-for-20 performance he had in a relief role against the Dallas Cowboys in mid-October.
"This league is so crazy, you never know what's going to happen," McMahon said. "One minute everyone wants you, the next minute everyone's pushing you away, so you never know what's going to happen.
"I think every time you step on the field you're auditioning for the rest of the league -- preseason games, regular season games. One moment you're here, the next moment your cut or something happens. You're always auditioning."
Because of the presence of Harrington, the No. 3 pick in the 2002 draft, McMahon's career seems to be headed for a dead-end if he stays with the Lions. Harrington is the No. 1 quarterback and, although the Lions coaches like McMahon's athletic ability, his accuracy as a passer (42.5 percent on 282 attempts with 120 completions) works against him.
"It's very hard," McMahon said. "Joey's a very good quarterback and he's going to be a great quarterback, so there's going to come a time the Lions are going to have to almost choose.
"And it's already in Joey's favor, but so be it. Just keep working hard and who knows what's going to happen?"