Ready To Work: Energetic Lions Have Good Practice

ALLEN PARK -- The bye week was good to the Lions this year.

While taking their four-day bye week break, they gained sole possession of first place in the NFC North -- which pretty much makes them the San Diego Padres of the NFL.

The Lions returned to work Monday facing the same uneasy situation they faced when coach Steve Mariucci last saw them last week -- a 1-1 team coming off an embarrassing 38-6 loss to the Chicago Bears and looking ahead to a road game at Tampa Bay.

"It was nice to take a breather and kind of clear your head for a minute," quarterback Joey Harrington said, "but all weekend I wished we were righting wrongs. I'm anxious to get back on the field this weekend."

Harrington apparently wasn't the only Lions player who felt that way.

Their first practice after the bye week was crisp. Mariucci had them in pads and there was some lively hitting, especially in the first half of the workout.

"There's an old cliche: A day off is followed by an off day," Mariucci said. "Sometimes, when you lay around on the couch like we all did this weekend watching a lot of ball, you come back and you've got to get cranked up again.

"Boy, they came back to practice today. Hoo, they came out to practice. We put the pads on, so we had a padded practice last week on Wednesday, we had this one, we're going to do it again this Wednesday. So there's a lot of real quality work.

"I thought today's practice was really good, really good energy. I kind of kidded them, I said, 'Maybe we should have four days off more often.' "

The alternative -- had the Lions not reported enthusiastic and ready to work -- might have been Mariucci showing them a replay of the Chicago game, and that was obviously something no one wanted to suffer through again.

The next three weeks are likely to go a long way in determining which way the Lions will go this season -- up or down from their 1-1 start.

After the road game against the 3-0 Bucs, they will be at home against two of the better defensive teams in the league -- Baltimore on Oct. 9, and Carolina on Oct. 16.

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