DeMulling Beginning To Fit In

Rick DeMulling is the 'new kid on the block' on the Lions' fledgling offensive line -- but he isn't coming in to try to put his stamp on the unit. The veteran lineman just wants to fit into what he feels is a talented group that is the equal to what his former team, the Indianapolis Colts, put on the football field.

ALLEN PARK - Rick DeMulling is the 'new kid on the block' in the Lions offensive line and he isn't coming in to try to put his stamp on the unit, he just wants to fit into what he feels is a talented group that is the equal to what his former team, the Indianapolis Colts put on the football field.

"I see a lot of athleticism, a lot of guys that can run and hit and are not on the ground all the time," said DeMulling of his new teammates. "This is a real smart team, Dom[inic Raiola] is a great center, just like I believed Jeff Saturday was a great center. They [both] play with their head a lot and they're physical."

DeMulling's opinion of Lions center Dominic Raiola is encouraging.

When the Lions drafted the former Nebraska standout in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft after acquiring former Michigan star Jeff Backus in round one, many felt Raiola would be the prototypical center. Raiola's improvement last season encouraged the Lions enough that they re-inked him to a new three-year deal.

Despite being a four-year NFL veteran (7th round pick of the Indianapolis Colts out of Idaho), DeMulling said his goal is to just fit in with his teammates and try to help the unit gel as quickly as possible.

"I try to fit in. I'm not going to try to pretend that I know all these guys like their my best friends or anything like that. I'm just going to come in and play my hardest and fit in where I can. Dom kind of runs the show and everything goes off him. There's a lot of leadership out there, [Jeff] Backus, [Damien] Woody and Raiola are the three big ones."

The one player that DeMulling left out other than himself, when speaking of veteran leadership is second-year right tackle Kelly Butler, a Grand Rapids, MI native who played his collegiate football at Purdue. Butler was drafted in the sixth-round by the Lions last year, but did not crack the playing group. DeMulling's eyes lit up when Butler's name was mentioned.

"He looks like a man, doesn't he?" joked DeMulling. "I mean he's 6-foot-7, 340 (pounds). He can run and hit, I think he's playing very well. He's a young guy and all he needs is experience. [Just] get him some reps out there and he's going to be very good."

DeMulling says he's a believer in the theory that offensive lines need time to gel and that it comes with repetition. "Yes, I do believe offensive lines need time to gel, but I don't think you can ever put a timeline on it. I think that all it is is repetitions.

"You get in there as much as you can togther and [it will] start coming together on its own.

Lions' head coach Steve Mariucci says he likes what DeMulling brings to the offensive line. "He's learning a new system. He's learning a new way of doing things in some regards. He's come a long way from Idaho and it's good to have him here. He's a pro."

After a little skirmish between the offensive and defensive lines in today's practice, DeMulling said the guys are ready to hit someone in another colored uniform "It's always nice to hit another team. Yeah, we're definitely looking forward it and we're going to have a good time with it."

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