ALLEN PARK - Lions head coach Steve Mariucci wants to get a jump start on 2005. With the Lions having already improved on last season's 5-11 mark, recording their sixth win on Sunday, the coach wants to use this Sunday's road game against the Tennessee Titans as a building block for next season.
"[Sunday's game] will be the first game of 2005. I think each guy here has a certain motivation, a certain reason. They might be different reasons from one guy to the next, in terms of why this game is important, why they should play well and why they should play hard."
The implication is that, with so many players having contracts expire, some may need to play hard to stick with Detroit. On the other hand, Mariucci said, just being a professional should mean you show up and practice and play hard every time you hit the football field.
"It's important for teams to finish strong whether you're finishing strong to gain momentum for the playoffs or finishing strong to feel good about the progress you're making and go into the off-season with a good taste in your mouth."
Mariucci indicated that a lot of his preseason program this year was done to keep the players fresh for December and he'd like to see that pay dividends in the final game of the year.
"A lot of the things we do are geared towards playing well in December. Whether it's your weight lifting program and you're cutting back practice a little bit to keep them fresh, all those sorts of things are geared towards being your best in December. We've won a couple of games here in December, lost a couple of close ones. It'd be nice to finish out with a win."
LIONS NOTES: Detroit has re-signed two players who's contracts were due to expire at the end of this season, reducing the number of those who could be free agents to 20. Punter Nick Harris and linebacker Donte' Curry were signed to three-year extensions. Harris, who has been inconsistent at best, still impressed the coaches with his ability to land punts inside the 20, having downed 30-of-87 (34%) second in the NFL.
Curry's special teams play makes him a highly coveted player for Detroit. "That's an important one.. because you know how important he is to this team as a linebacker, as a special teams captain-type guy, he's the energizer bunny," said Coach Mariucci. "His tempo is unbelievable everyday. He brings a lot of toughness and energy to this football team."
Mariucci: 7-9 would be building block for 2005
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