QB Controversy Likely To Loom Until Training Camp

It didn't take long to get the Lions' anticipated quarterback controversy up and running. Comments by backup QB Jeff Garcia during mini-camp contributed to both sides of the argument.

It didn't take long to get the Lions' anticipated quarterback controversy up and running.

The post-draft minicamp was more than enough to get the speculation started on whether the team had a better chance to compete with three-year starter Joey Harrington on the job or six-year veteran Jeff Garcia, a former Pro Bowl quarterback at San Francisco.

Comments by Garcia contributed to both sides of the argument.

Harrington critics took heart from one particular comment by Garcia on the opening day of the minicamp: "My attitude is to not come in here and be a No. 2."
The Harrington backers took heart from another Garcia comment in the same interview: "Joey is the starter and he's been the starter the last three years. It's his job. I'm going to do everything that I can do to push him to better himself."

And so it went. Those who wanted to see a controversy felt Garcia had thrown a challenge to Harrington; those who believe Garcia's role is as a backup felt he came in to help Harrington become a better quarterback.

The issue is likely to simmer all summer and possibly into the fall. Coach Steve Mariucci, the driving force behind the Lions' decision to sign Garcia after he was released by the Cleveland Browns, has said Harrington is the Lions' No. 1 quarterback going into training camp.

The skeptics, however, speculate that Harrington will be on an extremely short leash when the season gets underway Sept. 11.

The speculation is that if Harrington doesn't get off to a good start and the Lions aren't winning early in the season, Mariucci will be ready, willing and eager to give the job to Garcia, who was his quarterback when he was coaching the 49ers.

First impressions aren't always lasting impressions but at least two undrafted rookies got off on the right foot with Lions coaches and teammates in the team's post-draft minicamp.
Will Matthews, a fullback from Texas, made a good impression, as did tight end Jason Randall of Michigan State. Both players play positions where the Lions might be interested in adding depth in the upcoming season. Matthews is listed as 6-feet-3 and 250 pounds, and has ability as a receiver and lead blocker; Randall, at 6-feet-5 and 269 pounds, has good athletic ability but didn't play up to potential in college.
It's likely the Lions have finished their free agent shopping until after the June 1 cuts, when they might look for a bargain before going to training camp.


--DT Marcus Bell: UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--OT Sean Bubin: ERFA; $305,000/1 yr.
--CB Chris Cash: RFA: $656,000/1 yr.
--CB Mike Echols: Potential RFA; terms unknown.
--TE Casey FitzSimmons: ERFA; $380,000/1 yr.
--S Vernon Fox: RFA; $656,000/1 yr.
--CB Andre Goodman: RFA; $656,000/1 yr.
--OG Tyrone Hopson: RFA: terms unknown.
--WR David Kircus: ERFA; $380,000/1 yr.
--LS Jody Littleton: ERFA; $380,000/1 yr.
--LS Don Muhlbach: ERFA; $305,000/1 yr.
--LB Wali Rainer: UFA; terms unknown.
--C Dominic Raiola: UFA; $17.5M/5 yrs, $4.6M SB.
--OT Victor Rogers: RFA; $656,000/1 yr.
--WR Scottie Vines: ERFA; $305,000/1 yr.
--S Bracy Walker: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--OG Rick DeMulling: UFA Colts; $4.45M/2 yrs, SB unknown.
--QB Jeff Garcia: FA Browns; $2M/1 yr.
--WR Kevin Johnson: FA Ravens; terms unknown.
--S Kenoy Kennedy: UFA Broncos; $14M/5 yrs, $4M SB.
--OT Kyle Kosier: RFA 49ers; terms unknown.
--TE Marcus Pollard: FA Colts; $6M/3 yrs, $2.3M SB.
--RB Jamel White (UFA Ravens; terms unknown.

--TE Stephen Alexander: UFA Broncos; $4.2M/3 yrs, $1M bonuses.
--CB Rod Babers: Not tendered as ERFA/Buccaneers; terms unknown.
--WR Az-Zahir Hakim (released).
--OG Matt Joyce (released/failed physical).
--S Brock Marion (released).
--OT Stockar McDougle: UFA Dolphins; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--QB Mike McMahon: UFA Eagles; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Reggie Swinton: UFA Texans; terms unknown.
--S Brian Walker (released/failed physical).

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