Harrington Assuming Role of Leader

If you are attempting to gauge just how young the Detroit Lions are, simply ask starting quarterback Joey Harrington. The old man. After Saturday's inaugural training camp practice, Harrington fielded questions as though he was a 12-year NFL veteran, or at least an elder statesman. And, for the most part, he is.

If you are attempting to gauge just how young the Detroit Lions are, simply ask starting quarterback Joey Harrington. The old man.

After Saturday's inaugural training camp practice, Harrington fielded questions as though he was a 12-year NFL veteran, or at least an elder statesman. And, for the most part, he is.

"I am two years older," said Harrington, a former 3rd overall pick in 2002. "My knees hurt a little bit more. I feel more comfortable coming in. I feel like I can assert myself from day one. I don't feel like I have to sit back and let some of the older guys set the tempo."

And that might be due to the fact that Harrington's experience outweighs that of many of his fellow offensive starters. Depending on whether or not unsigned rookie Roy Williams starts the season, most of Detroit's impact positions on offense, including running back, tight end, and wide receiver, will field first and second year players.

Harrington, meanwhile, is relishing the role.

"As a quarterback I feel more comfortable in the huddle," said Harrington. "I'm not looking around at guys who are all older than me. When I stepped in the huddle with guys who were a lot older than me it was a little intimidating. Now, when I step into the huddle I see fresh faces, young faces that are eager to learn from me.

"They are looking at me like they think I have something to teach them."

And Lions' head coach Steve Mariucci has appointed Harrington with that task.

"It is time for Joey to develop some leadership skills because he is the veteran of that group on offense," said Mariucci. "He's got the most experience in this offense, so they are looking to him. We have a lot of new receivers, obviously, with some questions in the huddle and he answers them."

Harrington is being counted upon to open up a youthful Lions' offense that will feature a load of talent, but not much experience. Although the bar seems considerably higher for his third season, the former Oregon standout is adamant that his own expectations remain the same.

"I don't think the expectations have been raised at all," said Harrington. "They haven't changed since the day I got in here because I don't really care what anybody else says. My expectations have been the same since the second I walked in here and they are not going to change. I expect to be on the top of the division at the end of the regular season. I expect to make it to the playoffs every year."

He'll have his chance.


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