Lions Turn Focus To Chicago

After pulling away from Buffalo in the team's final pre-season game, Lions' head coach Steve Mariucci will prepare his team for Detroit's first official game of the regular season, September 12, in Chicago. Comments from Mooch, Tai Streets, rookie LB Teddy Lehman inside.

(DETROIT) - On a Thursday evening in the summer, Lions fans showed how much they love their team by showing up in droves to watch their beloved team play a meaningless preseason game against the Buffalo Bills. They were rewarded when the Lions paid them back with a 20-17 win despite the best effort of the Bills who pulled out all the stops including using a on-side kick late in the game.

Lions head coach Steve Mariucci was surprised, but not upset at all about the manuever since it was nullified by a penalty and even put a positive spin on Bills coach Mike Mularaky's tactics, since it should help Detroit special teams be ready for anything in the season opener next Sunday in Chicago.

"That was their plan, they had the "ones" (starters), they had the onside kick, they were trying to win at the end and all of that, that wasn't our plan. Our plan was to play our "ones" briefly and not all of them. I think our "twos" (backups) played OK for a series or two against their "ones" and so that's good experience for them."

Mariucci was happy to see the preseason end and get into playing the games that count.

"We got a lot done, we made some progress. We stayed relatively healthy. We've got a few concerns but not as many as last year. We've got some pieces of the puzzle that are seeming to fit in and [they're ]gonna be good players for us, so on we go.

It's so nice to get out of the preseason and start playing for real."

Mariucci knows the subject of Detroit's three year road futility will come up and he will be proactive by discussing the whole thing with his team; but just once.

"I'm not going to belabor the point. They know all about it. It's not the first time it's been talked about. Maybe the rookies are a little bit unaware and I don't know if they'd be disinterested but they're looking forward to one game, that's all they care about. They don't look back and we try not to look back. We're going to take it as it is. It's our first game of the season against a divisional opponent on the road at Soldier Field and we've got to go get it."

The coach also indicated that rookie linebacker Teddy Lehman would likely be the starting strong side linebacker in the absence of second-year man Boss Bailey who is recovering from knee surgery.

Lehman feels he can handle the transition from the middle, where he worked almost exclusively in the early portions of camp, to the outside.

"It takes a little bit of getting used to it but it's not too bad," said Lehman. Right now, they haven't asked me to get up on the tight end a whole lot yet, so it hasn't been too tough so far. There's some big physical guys in the NFL and you've got to be strong and you've got to be sound with your technique. I'm just looking forward to getting out there playing."

Lions wide receiver Tai Streets, who caught his first pass as a Lion - a touchdown pass - believes the offense will be able to carry the team because of its explosive nature.

"We've got a LOT of talent," exclaimed Streets. "These young guys are very talented, the receiving corps, the running backs, the quarterbacks, the "O" line, [there's] just talent galore. It's just a matter of putting it together. It looked good at times during the preseason but now it's "for real" time now. I think the expectations for this offense should be unbelievable because we have that much potential, I believe."

Lions fans will get their first real look at the entire Lions offensive when the team hits the field in Chicago next Sunday at 1:00pm EST.

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