Lions Notebook: Can Garcia Improve?

With starting quarterback Joey Harrington nursing a groin pull, it is likely that backup Jeff Garcia will start Friday night's contest against the Buffalo Bills. Much more inside, including comments from head coach Steve Mariucci.

With starting quarterback Joey Harrington nursing a groin pull, it is likely that backup Jeff Garcia will start Friday night's contest against the Buffalo Bills.

And, given the team's interest in Garcia working with the first-team offense, his play could be extensive.

"I just want to see him play," said Lions' head coach Steve Mariucci, saying that Harrington would be a game-time decision. "I want to see him move the sticks and get us in the end zone and play and have a little precision and rhythm and play the game with those guys.

"He played some with the ones in the one pre-season game. He has played periodically during practice. But if that is the scenario, then this would be a good test because Buffalo has a very good defense."

Garcia has been anything but solid this preseason. The former Pro Bowl quarterback has completed just 18 of 35 passes (51 percent) for 185 yards and three interceptions. He has also thrown one touchdown. He is among the league's lowest rated quarterbacks in the preseason at a paltry 40.8. Harrington, meanwhile, has a rating of 92.0.

The struggles are an oddity for Garcia, who has seemingly descended after an impressive start to training camp. In late July and early August, Garcia was clearly the most impressive of the crop of Lions quarterbacks.

Mariucci has attributed some of Garcia's struggles to his inability to play with the first-team offense. With starter Joey Harrington harboring the bulk of the snaps, Garcia has been placed on the field with second and third team players. Although that seems a bit fatuous, Mariucci is convinced that Garcia's time spent with the starting unit is invaluable.

"Every team has a situation where they have to have somebody else ready just in case to move the sticks," Mariucci said. "Not just hand the ball off, but win. That is what he is trying to do; get himself ready to rhythm up with our starting group: the protectors so they can hear his cadence and be with him in the huddle; the receivers, rhythm things up in the passing game.

"It is important for any backup in the league to get some of that time."

Mariucci also hopes to get a better glimpse of fifth-round draft choice Dan Orlovsky. Orlovsky has been especially impressive during the preseason, demonstrating a strong grasp of Detroit's west coast offense, impressive accuracy and huddle leadership.

Orlovsky has completed 23 of his 40 attempts for a team-high 258 yards and one touchdown. The rookie has also tossed two interceptions.

"I hope this is the last time he steps on the field in a real game unless it is at the end of a mop of sort of thing," laughed Mariucci. "We like what we see in Dan. He shows some savvy. He has enough arm to play in this league. Some of the things that would go unnoticed from you guys from afar is: his demeanor, his presence in the huddle, his understanding of what we are doing, his audibles, the things that often take a young quarterback a year or two to get and he seems to be a quick study. We like that."

NOTES: Green Bay or Buffalo? Mariucci has kept much of the preparation exclusive to Buffalo in practice. Despite Detroit's opening season tilt with Green Bay fast approaching, the focus has been on the Bills.

"It has been for the Buffalo Bills, one. It has been for the basic fundamentals that we are going to continue to carry throughout the season, two," explained Mariucci. "And then if some of that carries over into the Green Bay game plan, terrific. We have not shown the team any Green Bay film. Coaches have been doing scouting for us. We have not had meetings on the Packers just yet, per se. But some of the things we are doing have to stay in mind."

The Lions will also likely keep wide reciever Charles Rogers (ankle), running back Kevin Jones (ankle), safety Kenoy Kennedy (hamstring) and linebacker Teddy Lehman (knee) sidelined. None of the injuries are believed to be serious.

Lions Report Top Stories