GAMEDAY: Lions (1-1) at Buccaneers (3-0)

The Lions have to figure out how to get their own running game going while also slowing down Bucs rookie RB Carnell Williams. The Lions want to get their promising passing game going, but first have to force Tampa Bay's top-ranked run defense respect the ground game ... much more inside.

Detroit Lions (1-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-0)


KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/02/05
TV: FOX, Curt Menefee, JC Pearson
SERIES: 50th meeting between the Lions and Bucs, dating to Detroit's 16-7 victory in 1977, when Tampa Bay became one of the five teams in the NFC Central Division. The Lions hold a slight 26-23 lead but the Bucs have a 13-12 edge on their home turf.
*2005 RANKINGS: Lions: offense 30th (29th rush, 26th pass); defense 6th (22nd rush, 3rd pass). Bucs: offense 20th (2nd rush, 28th pass); defense 1st (1st rush, 4th pass)

PREDICTION: Bucs 27-21

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Lions have to figure out how to get their own running game going while also slowing down Bucs rookie RB Carnell Williams. The Lions want to get their promising passing game going, but first have to force Tampa Bay's top-ranked run defense respect the ground game.

Like Chicago, the Bucs will come after Harrington
If not, the Bucs will be able to sit in their nickel package and come after QB Joey Harrington. Tampa Bay would like to get a lead and limit Williams' carries -- he's averaging 29 per game. But even if Williams shares a few carries, the Bucs will attack the Lions' run defense. They have two first-year starters on the offensive line who have been solid in run blocking, but Tampa Bay would prefer not to find out how they would fare in pass protections while coming from behind.

FAST FACTS: Lions: Are 7-9 following bye weeks. ... Harrington will become first Lions quarterback to start 35 consecutive games since Greg Landry (41, 1970-73). Bucs: Of Williams' 434 rushing yards, 190 (44 percent) have come in the fourth quarter. ... Williams is the first player in NFL history to rush for at least 100 yards in his first three career games.

   --PK Jason Hanson, who has not kicked since suffering a slight hamstring tear in the season opener Sept. 11, practiced this week - making field goal attempts of up to 44 yards on Thursday - and appears to have a chance to return to action Sunday at Tampa Bay. Hanson, a 14-year veteran, is considered one of the NFL's most consistent kickers.
   --PK Remy Hamilton, who had an extra point blocked in his only attempt while filling in for injured Jason Hanson, will be available if the Lions decide to give Hanson another week of rest on his injured right hamstring. Coach Steve Mariucci said he might not decide until Saturday morning whether to move Hamilton up from the practice squad for the game Sunday at Tampa Bay.
   --LB Teddy Lehman, who missed both of the Lions first two games with a knee injury, practiced all week and appears likely to play Sunday at Tampa Bay. Lehman is not a starter but can backup all three LB positions and is a regular in the nickel defense when he's healthy.
   --DE James Hall has not been ruled out of Sunday's game at Tampa Bay but has not practiced all week because of a groin injury suffered Sept. 18 in Chicago. Lions coach Steve Mariucci said Hall might be able to play despite missing the Wednesday and Thursday practice sessions, but he probably won't decide until Saturday or Sunday whether Hall will play against the Bucs.
   --LB Alex Lewis has had nearly three weeks to rest his injured ankle but he apparently will need more time. Lewis, a backup OLB and a key player on Lions special teams coverage units, did not practice this week and it appears unlikely he will be active for the game Sunday at Tampa Bay.

   --RB Cadillac Williams (left foot sprain) did not practice Thursday but is listed as probable for Sunday's game against the Lions.
   "I'm feeling pretty well. I'm getting better day to day," Williams said. "As the week goes on, I'll try to do more and more. So by (today), I definitely should be able to do a whole lot more."
   Coach Jon Gruden said Williams' condition and treatment is similar to his week of preparation for the Packers.
   "He's getting better," Gruden said. "It's very similar to last week. Light work on Wednesday, light work on Thursday and the workload comes (today). We'll see where he is, but we're confident he'll be ready to play."
   --G Matt Stinchcomb (lower back) did not practice Thursday and is questionable for Sunday's game against the Lions.
   --S Dexter Jackson (hamstring) did not practice Thursday and is questionable for Sunday's game against the Lions.
   --S Will Allen took all the reps at safety Thursday with the first-team defense and could start against the Lions.
   --PR Mark Jones is expected to get more reps at receiver in practice this week.


   They might not know with absolute certainty until they get to Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, but it appears the Lions will get kicker Jason Hanson back for the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
   Hanson, who suffered a slight tear in his right hamstring in the season opener against Green Bay and sat out the second game of the season, kicked both Wednesday and Thursday and was no worse for wear afterward.
   "He's making good progress," coach Steve Mariucci said Thursday. "We were encouraged. We're going to have to take it a day at a time."
   If Hanson cannot kick - or if he is unable to handle kickoffs - the Lions will probably activate rookie Remy Hamilton from the practice squad. Hamilton filled in for Hanson in the Lions' game Sept. 18 at Chicago and had an extra point attempt blocked but was adequate on kickoffs.
   Mariucci doesn't want to take a chance on re-injuring Hanson after investing three weeks (including the bye last week) in his recovery. The 14-year NFL veteran has been a model of consistency on kickoffs, extra points and field goals and the Lions would clearly miss him if he were to miss additional time.
   Hanson did virtually no kicking from the day he was injured until Wednesday, when the Lions medical team cleared him to begin practicing short field goals and extra points. His longest field goal attempts were no more than 35 yards. On Thursday, he moved back to 44 yards with no adverse effects.
   Mariucci said he probably would not make a decision on whether to activate Hamilton for kickoffs until Saturday, when the Lions leave for Tampa.

   The Bucs expect the Detroit Lions to attempt to spread them out and utilize their three skyscraping receivers - Roy Williams, Charles Rogers and rookie Mike Williams.
   "Being a defense, you expect anybody that is supposed to have the best receiving corps, or supposed to have the No. 1 receiver coming in, you want to see where you stand against the guy," cornerback Juran Bolden said. "Like I said, I love our chances against these guys, or anybody coming in. So, we're just going to get into these classrooms, get into the books and see what happens this weekend."
   Bolden might have to do the most studying. Last week at Green Bay, he was burned for a touchdown by Robert Ferguson. The Tampa native looks forward to covering Mike Williams, who also is returning to his hometown Sunday.
   "I see that he's a great down-the-field guy," Bolden said of Mike Williams. "He uses his body to shield defensive players. I still see the fact that he's a rookie, he's learning, but I see that he has the potential to be a great receiver."
   The Bucs enter the game with the NFL's No. 1 defense and ranked first against the run. But they are wary of the Lions' potential explosiveness on offense.
   "A lot of speed, a lot of skill positions," defensive tackle Anthony McFarland said. "It's going to be a big challenge for us to come out and stop the run. Then, when you get through with that, three number ones at wide receiver, it makes your work cut out for you, really."

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