Three weeks into the offseason conditioning program, Lions president Matt Millen and coach Steve Mariucci are overjoyed at what they're seeing in the weight room and on the artificial turf in the Allen Park training facility.
"Right now all of our good players are our hardest workers," said Millen.
"Shaun Rogers is working his rear end off, he looks great.
"Roy Williams is working his rear end off, Charles Rogers, Kevin Jones. All of our guys. Dre' (Bly). And those are the guys who need to work harder than everybody else because they need to set the example. So I've been very happy."
Millen also mentioned former Pro Bowl center Damien Woody, now the Lions' right guard, as one of the hardest-working players in the offseason program, leading to speculation he won't be receiving the weekly fines for being overweight as he did last year.
"We've had our little discussion," Millen said, "and he's doing really well right now."
Millen and Mariucci not only like the program set up by strength and conditioning coach Jason Arapoff, they feel the team is much healthier than it was when Millen arrived in 2001 and when Mariucci arrived two years later.
"I can go back to my first year here and look at us how we were physically," said Millen. "To what we are now, it's like night and day.
"We are a lot more developed, we are a stronger football team, we're a healthier football team, we're a better-conditioned football team. We're light years ahead of where we were."
When Mariucci replaced former Lions coach Marty Mornhinweg at the end of the 2002 season, he must have felt like he was moving in on a M*A*S*H unit.
"Two year ago, when I first got here, during the offseason program, there were 12 guys standing around," Mariucci said. "Some on crutches, some wrapped up, some watching from the balcony. Twelve guys that were doing nothing.'
"Last year there was maybe half that number. Now we have everybody working; this year we have everybody participating."
Receiver Notes: Wide receiver Roy Williams is making a rapid recovery from his arthroscopic ankle surgery at the end of the season. He is already working out and running, although he admits he still has to regain full confidence in his ability to make cuts off his left ankle. "I'm running and cutting," Williams said. "I've got to get confidence back in it. The confidence level is where it was last year, you're not sure if you're going to be able to cut, but that's slowly growing." Meanwhile, third-year receiver Charles Rogers is coming off his second broken collarbone in two years and also is taking part in the offseason conditioning program.