Boss is Back: Mariucci Excited About Return of LB

Team missed former second-round pick greatly last season; looking forward to his return. Comments from head coach Steve Mariucci on Lions' linebacker Boss Bailey inside.

A budding star, the Detroit Lions had high hopes for athletic linebacker Boss Bailey last year. The team spent a second round pick on the former Georgia standout, and a rookie season in 2003 revealed an impressive 88 tackle, one interception campaign.

Unfortunately, a knee injury thwarted any chance of Bailey impressing upon his fast start.

The brother of Broncos' cornerback Champ, Boss spent the entire 2004 season on IR healing from surgery. And the Lions played musical chairs at outside linebacker -- never settling on a group that was expected to be compromised of, among other things, a ton of speed. That included Bailey, veteran Earl Holmes, and then-rookie Teddy Lehman.

On Sunday, Lions' head coach Steve Mariucci's post-camp comments centered around the return of Bailey.

"We just want him back, because he brings so much athleticism to the position, and we missed him," said Mariucci, who watched his break-more-than-bend defense finish 22nd in the league a season ago. "Geez, we missed him last year, and he loves being back. And he would have preferred to play every practice, but we held him back in the afternoons. So we'll have another camp in June, but it'll only be one-a-day. He'll do everything, and then hopefully he'll be perfect for training camp."

Bailey was limited during this mini-camp, along with receiver Charles Rogers. Despite those limitations, he was able to get in moderate work during the three-day period.

"(He looked) Good," said Mariucci. "We just kept him at the same linebacker spot at which he started as a rookie, and then when we went to nickel he was one of the linebackers inside. He looked fast, he looked fresh, he didn't appear to be favoring the knee at all, and we need to keep it that way.

"We need to keep it fresh and healthy."

Mariucci said Bailey would play in the pre-season games, and likely a go for the season opener against Green Bay.

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