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DETROIT - Look for the Detroit Lions to take the wraps off offensively - a least a little - in tonight's contest against the St. Louis Rams.
Fans that have been expecting fireworks from the Lions "triplets" (receivers Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams) have been disappointed to date, since the Lions have shown little more than their base offense, or as head coach Steve Mariucci put it, "spumoni" - a tad more than vanilla.
That is likely to change tonight. The Lions image is on the line. After suffering through four double-digit loss seasons, the Lions are big on potential. They are the darlings of some media outlets because of their unprescendented selection of three first round picks at the same position; receiver.
Charles Rogers (2003), Roy Williams (2004) and Mike Williams (2005) have brought the Monday Night Football crew to town to take a glipse, and likely to evaluate whether its worth coming back to town next season.
The Lions would like nothing better than to show a national television audience that the dark days are over and this is a new pride, but they can't do that by playing vanilla.
Mariucci had previously not game planned for the two previous opponents, but that changed for tonight's game. "We've planned; we had a game-like preparation week. It excludes some things that we're saving for the regular season, but it will be a bit more than we've done already."
Quarterback Joey Harrington will likely be a big focus of the MNF broadcast and he admits, he's a little more excited about this one. "I think it always matters a little bit. You only have one game to watch on Monday and it is only pre-season but people still love football and people still love Monday night football, so it definitely adds a little something to it."
He also admitted the team has put a little bit more emphasis on looking good, not just getting work done tonight. "Yeah, we have done some scouting this week. We have installed more of our offensive plan and it seemed like more of a game week so we have tried to simulate that as much as possible."
The team will likely give the crowd was it wants by playing Williams, Williams and Rogers at least a few plays together. At this point, receiver Kevin Johnson is still entrenched as the third receiver ahead of the USC rookie.
Mariucci also indicated he expected his team's intensity would pick up due the excitement of playing on Monday Night. "I think so; I hope so. It does. I know it does because it'll be a good crowd, it'll be a national TV audience, it's a game where we'll be playing our guys longer and so will they. It's closer than the real thing than we've shown so far."
The Lions, like every team have to get closer to the 53-man roster and several cuts will likely be made tomorrow after tonight's third preseason game.
"What we need to do, based on our roster as it exists, is make about 15 cuts," said Mariucci. "Because the world league guys you can keep - they don't count yet - so we can keep them. So it's going to be about 15 decisions we have to make, and say goodbye to some guys, probably on Tuesday morning."
He also indicated its going to be tougher to make those cuts than in previous years.
"The 65 (man limit) - it's not as clear-cut as it might sound, but the 53 is going to be more difficult, because I do believe there are decisions we have to make and possibly waive some guys who have played in this league - which means you have more depth now all of a sudden. So we're not there yet, we're still working through this game and Tuesday's cuts, but this is the last audition for some of these guys. It gets to that point and it's coming up - it's right around the corner."
Lions Will Take Wraps Off Tonight
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