Lions Bring In Refs to Help With New Rules

Camp Update: Lions being cautious with injured players, especially rookie running back Kevin Jones and linebacker Boss Bailey. Plus, Detroit brings in refs to assist in new rule changes that will be introduced this season. Comments from head coach Steve Mariucci and more notes inside.

(ALLEN PARK) Don't be alarmed by the number of Lions players who are not participating in practice sessions this week at training camp in Allen Park.

Lions head coach Steve Mariucci is absolutely doing the right thing resting banged up players to avoid serious injury later. Mariucci wants Detroit completely healthy when the team visits arch rival Chicago on Sept. 12 to start the season.

So when yesterday's training camp session saw Kevin Jones, Boss Bailey, Fernando Bryant, Damien Woody, Dre' Bly on the sideline, don't be alarmed. While it would be great to have them all healthy and participating in every session, it doesn't count just yet.

"Boss Bailey did not practice. We're going to look at his knee a little more thoroughly and see if we can help it along. Fernando (Bryant) was out here but not practicing. Dré Bly is still nursing the same hip-flexor from last week. We're just resting him to freshen him up. Mariucci told the media yesterday.

But Detroit is being even more cautious with prized running back Kevin Jones. While Detroit is preaching a running back committee approach, it is clear Jones has moved to the front of the class of the group. Jones will likely be the starter on opening day and Mariucci wants to make sure he's 100%. He has decided to hold Jones out of action completely today and possibly Wednesday to give his hamstring time to heal.

"Kevin Jones suited up yesterday, but he's been limited in practice each day. We give him a handful of snaps but he's still feeling his hamstring so we might as well shut him down, rest him and get it well. He needs to be back out there full speed."

Sunday's public session saw veteran flanker Az Hakim twist an ankle and come up lame. Mariucci also gave him the day off.

"Az turned his ankle a little bit at Ford Field so he stopped practicing there. He came out today to try it and I told him if it's not quite right to get off (the field) because we have a special-teams afternoon so he can rest. Hopefully he's feeling better tomorrow."

Detroit brought officials into yesterday's session to help them deal with new rules being put in to eliminate the manhandling of receivers that marred the conference championship games.

Defenders are no longer allowed to make contact with a receiver past a five-yard buffer area off the line of scrimmage. Mariucci believes yesterday's session helped the team with the new rules.

"We saw some flags on the ground today, so hopefully we learned something. Each year there are new areas of emphasis. This year one of the areas is going to be illegal contact down field, past the five-yard legal bump zone. So if a linebacker grabs a jersey it's a flag. If the defensive backs are playing bump-and-run and there is too much (contact) down field there's going to be a flag. Those are the things they'll call today and as long as they are here because those are the things that will be called on game day."

Detroit will begin putting in a limited game plan tomorrow in preparation for their first preseason game Saturday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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