Pre-Season Preview: Steelers vs. Lions

Lions head coach Steve Mariucci isn't concerned as much about winning Saturday's contest vs the Pittsburgh Steelers as he is about getting as many players as possible into the game and coming out of it healthy.

Preseason Preview: Lions vs. Steelers
WHAT: Detroit Lions (5-11) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-10)
WHEN: 7:00pm Saturday
WHERE: Ford Field, Detroit MI
ALL TIME: Detroit leads 14-12-1
PRESEASON ALL TIME: Detroit leads 9-7
LAST MEETING (Regular season): Pittsburgh 47- Detroit 14
LAST MEETING: (Preseason) Detroit 26- Pittsburgh 13
INJURY REPORT: OUT- Dre' Bly (hip) Boss Bailey (knee)
Andrew Battle (knee) Fernando Bryant (leg)
(ALLEN PARK) - Lions head coach Steve Mariucci isn't concerned as much about winning Saturday's contest vs the Pittsburgh Steelers as he is about getting as many players as possible into the game and coming out of it healthy.

"We'd like to see a lot of these players play. That's number one. Will they all play? Probably not -- in fact I know they will not all play. The majority of these youngsters will get an opportunity to show what they can do. We would like to get off on the right foot with our starting groups, offense and defense. However, there are some pieces missing."

Despite the injury to Boss Bailey, Detroit has come out of the camp relatively unscathed with only minor setbacks to Dre' Bly, Andrew Battle, Fernando Bryant and Kevin Jones.  The coach would like to keep it that way.

"Last year at this time in our first game we had 18 players out. This year we might have seven. So while we didn't go through the training camp unscathed, we're certainly a lot better off than we were a year ago at this time."

The coach says he feels comfortable with veteran Donte' Curry filling Boss Bailey's starting strong side linebacker position.  

"Keep in mind he's a veteran," said Mariucci, "And he's got several starts under his belt. We all really like the way he's been practicing. I don't mind starting him at the Sam linebacker at all. I think he's a very good player. The only thing is we're going to miss him. We're going to have to take him off a few special teams so we don't overload him and that's not great news for our special teams because he's so valuable that way but now that we need him on defense we have confidence he'll play well."

Mariucci also indicated that there might be a few players who are already on the "bubble" in terms of staying on the roster.

"We evaluate everyday. We can make cuts as we go. It's conceivable to say we could make a change here or there but usually you wait to the 65 cut before you start making to many cuts. You need the lines and you need the legs. You want to get more evaluation in the next to or three games so there won't be a lot of movement. We have waived a couple of players already this week: Ben Johnson and Kenny Heatly and we're going to fill spots here soon. We might need to bring in another linebacker for some depth and a couple other positions we're looking at too."

Detroit will also try to get starting quarterback Joey Harrington some work with the first team unit and then have Mike McMahon play most of the rest of the game.  

"We're going to try to use the old balancing act with playing them in the preseason games, yet not go crazy with it. They're going to get most of their work in practice. If we play in the first-half together I don't know if that group is going to finish the first half; probably won't. So hopefully we can put a couple drives together so we're not three and out and we can have 15-20 snaps or whatever that is. And if we don't get it, you just alter your plan for the next week."

With Kevin Jones likely out of this game, Artose Pinner will get the majority of those snaps.  "If Kevin doesn't play, 'Tuse will play a lot in certain personnel groups, not all personnel groups because Shawn Bryson will take some single back snaps, so will Paul Smith. Avon Cobourne needs to play some too. (Pinner) will play the majority of the base snaps if Kevin is not there."

But beyond that, Mariucci says he and his coaching staff will get together to determine the starters and the rotation of players.  He also mentioned that getting the lines of communication worked out for the coaching staff - many of who are new - is also key.

"We have a lot of coaches that are new upstairs and downstairs. I'd like to have some communication from the press box to the field so it's practice for the coaches too, from the sideline to the field in the huddles."

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