(ALLEN PARK) -- The Lions are getting a little healthier thanks to coach Steve Mariucci's plan to hold players out a little bit longer than some might think is necessary.
Detroit enjoyed the return of corners Dre' Bly and Fernando Bryant to practice yesterday, while running back Kevin Jones participated in individual drills, but did not join in the scrimmage for precautionary reasons.
In addition to the return of Bly and Bryant, Detroit also received good news on Chris Cash who will begin participating in full contact drills for the first time this season.
"We're going to step him up a little bit," Mariucci said regarding Cash. "I asked him last week if he was able to play. He said, 'Yes,' but I sense some reservation in his voice. Being that we had to limit him in practice seems to me that we needed to keep him out. If he practices every practice this week, and we don't have to limit his reps, he doesn't get tired and seems physically able to go, then we'll let him go."
On the negative side, reserve defensive back Dainon Sydney was lost for the
season with a torn achilles.
The coach was also pleased with the performance of strong side linebacker Donte' Curry, playing in relief of the injured Boss Bailey.
"He's our starting Sam linebacker. What we did (in Saturday night's game) is play him in the first quarter at Sam and the third quarter at Sam, and then we alternated with Wali Rainer. They also alternated them on the punt team and in the Nickel and Dime packages. So they were busy, and they needed to be busy. You don't normally play your starters in second half, but we don't have many alternatives. So they had to share it. He did okay. Keep in mind that he's been trained at all the spots at linebacker. Once he settles in at that Sam linebacker spot and gets all the reps there and focus mainly on that, he'll get better and better. He's a tough guy, an active guy, he's clearly wired. When you watch him practice, he's clearly vocal'a high energy guy. He's going to get better as he goes."
There is some speculation that Detroit may look to bring a veteran linebacker into camp, perhaps someone like Mo Lewis, who remains unsigned and could provide a healthy body for depth in the linebacking unit.
While much of the talk yesterday centered on what some thought was a poor performance by Mike McMahon in relief of Harrington, Mariucci focused on the performance of Harrington in his comments.
"I thought Joey had a chance to be seven-for-seven. I mentioned that to him when
I watched the film with the quarterbacks. We did have a nice drive. We went 80
yards in 13 plays. You never look down your nose at something like that because
that is what you want. I thought he could've been more accurate with one
throw and I thought he could've made a better decision, a different decision on
the opening play of the game. Otherwise, he was really solid. He graded high. He
was very efficient. I like his command. He was in charge. I've said it all
along. He is maturing as a quarterback."
The coach also was not concerned that rookie wide receiver Roy Williams did not catch a pass in very limited action. Mariucci said Williams is coming along well.
"He was available on a couple of throw and the ball went elsewhere. On one of Charles (Rogers) catches, (Williams) was the primary receiver he got double teamed and that's the one (Rogers) caught over the middle because he was doing the progressions. He played pretty well."
Mariucci also dismissed thoughts that the game was "too fast" for Williams.
"The game is not too fast for him. He's not only mature physically, he's a gifted athlete physically. He's 220 pounds, chiseled like you used to be. He's emotionally mature too, he can handle this."
Mariucci was not as pleased with the play of the defense, particularly against the run. Detroit was also unable to generate a pass rush from the starters. Mariucci said the scheme was pretty "vanilla" and not what they would run in a regular season game.
"We didn't get all that fancy with our defensive calls and our pressures and our looks that we presented. We were pretty basic for the most part compared to Pittsburgh. We just wanted to see these guys play the game. We overran it a couple of times. That's very correctable. We got some things accomplished. Their first two touchdowns came after the interception and after the fake punt. We got a lot of things accomplished and I think we are going to continue to make progress. Keep in mind we were without eight defensive players in that game."