PREVIEW: LIONS VS BROWNS
WHAT: 3rd annual Great Lakes Classic
LAST MEETING: Detroit defeated Cleveland 38-17
ALL TIME: Great Lakes Classic series tied 1-1
WHEN: Browns Stadium, downtown Cleveland TIME: Kickoff 4:30 pm EST,
TV: Channel UPN 50 RADIO: Detroit Lions radio network
(ALLEN PARK) As the two week training camp of the Detroit Lions closes today
with a travel day to Cleveland, the team wants to close the week on a positive
That would include winning their second preseason game, and their first road contest in Cleveland (Saturday 4:30pm kickoff) while getting out of the game injury free.
For Lions fans, they will get their first look at rookie sensation Kevin Jones. Jones, who has been lighting up training camp with his speed, agility and quickness, will get his first look at NFL competition and he can't wait.
"I feel pretty rested. I was resting for almost a week. My legs are fresh; I'm just ready to go out and play."
Jones said that while not being able to play vs. Pittsburgh and sitting out several practices was tough, he used it as a learning experience.
"It was tough for me because I wanted to be out there with the team in the first game, but at the same time I learned a lot just watching how fast defenses are moving and just being there down on the sidelines instead of being in the stands. It is a different view."
The confident rookie says he feels ready to carry the load as the Lions lead back and believes he can contribute some big plays to the West Coast offense from the backfield.
"I'm ready to be the lead back, but at the same time I still need to learn certain things. I don't know everything Artose (Pinner) knows or Shawn Bryson because they've been in the NFL and in this system for some time. I'm still capable of being great back."
"I can make big plays," Jones stated. I've been working on my hands and trying to work on blitz pickups and things like that. Once I get everything down, I can just let loose."
For his part, Lions quarterback Joey Harrington just wants to see what the Lions offense looks like with his main rushing threat in the backfield.
"I'd like to see Kevin (Jones) in there. I'd like to see him run the ball a little bit and see how he does. Other than that I don't think there's anything else we really want to work on except being as consistent as last game."
Coach Mariucci said this has been a good training camp for Detroit, including the moderate weather, which fluctuated at times from the mid 70's to the 90's.
"We are healthier (compared to a year ago), we are fresher, we are younger. When we came off the field on a couple occasions we had more meeting time to review practices, training tapes and that sort of things from the youngsters so it was a good camp."
"The weather was relatively cool. We only had a handful of days that were over 80 (degrees), which means I never had to cut practice back. We always stayed on the script. If it gets to be hot or you have too many guys on IVs you have to cut back and lose reps. We didn't have any issues like that."
Mariucci talked about what the team's routine for a get-away day. "[Today] will be a walk-through sort of drill and then we travel. Next week we'll get into an in-season routine so [yesterday was] the last day of double days with meetings late tonight. We're going to start reviewing for the Browns game plan."
KEYS: Detroit wants to find a pass rush. The shakeup of the defensive line could continue if Marcus Bell and Colin Cole continue their fine play. Veteran Kelvin Pritchett's future with Detroit could be in jeopardy. Kalimba Edwards needs to get to the quarterback against a shaky Cleveland offensive line which gave up three sacks against Tennessee.
Terrence Holt could take a major step forward with a solid performance against Cleveland. Holt looks like a gamer and plays like one. Coach Mariucci told me this week he is comfortable with Holt playing extended minutes if necessary. The second year safety has a nose for the football and it is not out of the question that he could be a starter.
Detroit offensive line played well last week against Pittsburgh but look for the Browns to put guard Dave Loverne to the test this week. Mariucci indicated Loverne hasn't won the job just yet and that Matt Joyce, who will get extended reps this week is in the mix to start as well. Mariucci also indicated developing depth in the unit is also a key.
"He played pretty well in our Pittsburgh game," said Mariucci of Loverne. "He's a little bit like Dominic Raiola in that he's athletic and tough. He hasn't had a lot of starts. He's been a spot player, a backup player, for his career. He's a good guy. He's a tough guy. Against Pittsburgh he got the 3-4 so he was uncovered. There was a nose guard over Dominic often times and he was uncovered. Now he's going to have somebody playing over him on his outside shade almost every snap. That'll be a good test for him."
Stephen Alexander and second year man Casey FitzSimmons continue their battle for the starting tight end position. While Alexander seems to be the guy, FitzSimmons, the fiesty former undrafted free agent, just seems to hang around.
Detroit rested Olandis Gary yesterday and he may not play in this game. "Olandis Gary was rested [yesterday]. His shoulder has been bothering him; he's had a sore shoulder in camp so we're just going to let it calm down."
WHAT TO WATCH:
Cleveland wants to show off flashy and talkative Kellen Winslow, Jr. "the Chosen One" who vowed to make the teams that passed on him pay. Rookie Teddy Lehman could draw duty on Winslow, Jr. which would be an interesting match up. Lehman has the speed and coverage ability to stick with Winslow making this at least interesting to watch.
Cleveland quarterback Jeff Garcia will try to pick apart Detroit's patchwork secondary which will likely see Andre' Goodman, Rod Babers, Terrence Holt and Bracy Walker in the starting lineup. All are key to Detroit's hopes this season despite mostly playing backup roles. A solid effort will bolster each players hopes of getting into the playing group on a regular basis.
While Kevin Jones will be the focus of the Lions offensive attack, watch for the unveiling of rookie wide receiver Roy Williams. Detroit intended to get Williams into the offense last week against Pittsburgh, but Harrington targeted second-year man Charles Rogers to good success. Williams will get the ball thrown his way this week.