Ready to Roar: Players To Watch In 2005

Several Lions' players to keep an eye on as the season opener approaches; plus, individual player updates (injuries and otherwise) inside.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

  • DT Shaun Rogers: When he's playing hard, Rogers is an awesome defensive weapon capable of disrupting the running game and also flushing quarterbacks out of the pocket with a strong inside push.
  • RB Kevin Jones: He got off to a slow start last year as a rookie due to injuries and coach Steve Mariucci's reluctance to give him the ball 20 times a game. In the second half of the season he gained 906 yards on 172 attempts (5.3 yards per carry); the Lions need a full season of that.
  • WR Charles Rogers: He has suffered a broken collarbone in each of the first two seasons. If he can stay healthy at split end, the combination of Rogers and WR Roy Williams at flanker will give Harrington two big-play threats on every down.
  • SS Kenoy Kennedy: The Lions haven't had a physical presence in their defensive secondary since they lost Bennie Blades to free agency after the 1996 season. With smallish CBs Dre' Bly and Fernando Bryant, they need a hitter to strike fear into receivers going over the middle. It's Kennedy's job.

PLAYER NOTES (INJURIES AND OTHERWISE)

  • QB Jeff Garcia will miss at least two months of the regular season with a broken fibula and badly sprained left ankle in the final preseason game, but the Lions won't put him on injured reserve if there is any chance he will be available to backup starter Joey Harrington later in the season. That now appears to be the case.
  • QB Dan Orlovsky, a fifth-round draft pick from Connecticut, is likely to go into the season as the backup to starter Joey Harrington after the loss of Jeff Garcia with a broken fibula and sprained ankle. Orlovsky has enough in the preseason to convince the Lions he can handle the job as long as he is not thrown into a situation where he has to become the fulltime starter.
  • QB Joey Harrington missed the Lions' final preseason game with a mild groin strain, but he is expected to practice all week and be ready for the season opener against the Green Bay Packers. Harrington completed 69.7 percent of his preseason passes and was not intercepted in 33 attempts, but he did not score a touchdown in three appearances.
  • FB Cory Schlesinger will miss at least the first two regular season games recovering from a broken fibula, but he is hoping to be ready to play in the third game (after the Sept. 25 bye) at Tampa Bay. Schlesinger gets few carries but catches occasional passes and is a strong lead blocker for RB Kevin Jones.
  •  LB Teddy Lehman missed a week of practice and the Lions' final preseason game with a knee injury, but the team believes he will be ready to play in the season opener against Green Bay. Lehman is the backup to MLB Earl Holmes but is also expected to begin working at the WLB position, currently held by James Davis.
  • DT Shaun Rogers is expected to be fully rested and recovered from a badly bruised left shin when he returns to practice this week. Rogers missed most of last week's practices and did not play in the final preseason game at Buffalo but the Lions believe he will be 100 percent or close to it for the season opener against Green Bay.
  • DE James Hall, who led the Lions with 11 1/2 sacks last year, was hampered by a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the final preseason game at Buffalo, but he is expected to get a full week of practice and be ready to start Sunday in the season opener against Green Bay.

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