Pressure Mounting For Harrington, Mariucci

ALLEN PARK - The heat is on quarterback Joey Harrington -- again -- and the question coach Steve Mariucci is getting from every angle is whether Harrington will be his starter for the Lions' game Sunday at Cleveland.

As of Monday -- 24 hours after the 21-20 loss to Carolina in which the offense struggled unproductively -- Harrington was still the No. 1 quarterback, but it was clear that Mariucci was thinking about a change.

"I told the team we're going to look into every possibility of what we do, who does it, what else do we need to try, stay open-minded and stay creative," Mariucci said. "And find a way to get the ball in the end zone.

"I don't necessarily care how, I don't necessarily care who, but that's one of the things we need to figure out, make decisions and go forward."

There is no doubt that the Lions offense is muddled. They cannot run the ball effectively, cannot pass effectively and they currently have several key players -- including fullback Cory Schlesinger, wide receivers Roy Williams and Charles Rogers, and backup quarterback Jeff Garcia -- out of action.

There is also no doubt that the fault does not fall entirely on the quarterback. The offensive line has been a major disappointment and the play-calling has been less than brilliantly creative.

As usual, however, it is the quarterback who is taking the criticism, but Mariucci has very little flexibility in considering a change. Garcia is recovering from a broken left fibula and sprained ankle, and Dan Orlovsky is a rookie who has thrown only six passes in one NFL regular season appearance.

"Whether it's a quarterback, whether it's a guard, whether it's your tailback, whatever the position is, if you want to make a change or try somebody else, you've got to have good reason and then you've got to have an alternative," Mariucci said.

"If we were to choose to do that -- if, I say -- then we have to say, 'Well, who is it? Who would it be?' And, if so, when would it be? And we haven't made that decision yet.

"We have one guy that's been hurt, we have one guy that's a rookie and very under-practiced. The other alternative is to keep getting Joey better and better."

Garcia was injured in the Sept. 2 pre-season game at Buffalo. He began limited practice last week, but it won't be known until Wednesday whether he has been cleared to participate in all of the team work.

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