Lions Notebook: Harrington Starter By Default

ALLEN PARK -- Joey Harrington says he won't give up the Lions quarterback job without a fight, but if he starts Sunday against the Browns in Cleveland it might be by default more than because of anything he has done to keep the job.

Unless veteran Jeff Garcia undergoes a sudden healing and revitalization of the left fibula that was fractured in the final preseason game, coach Steve Mariucci will have only two choices for the Cleveland game - the struggling Harrington or untested rookie Dan Orlovsky.

Garcia is expected to increase his participation in practice this week, but in his weekly radio show he said he is not "anywhere close to 100 percent" efficiency and it is questionable whether he could get there by Sunday.

"If I'm not healthy," Garcia said, "then I'm not as mobile as I have been in the past, and that's something that I feel in order for me to be effective and to feel confident in my own self. I need to have that with me."

Harrington, whose 55.6 passer rating is among the NFL's worst, has been under fire in recent weeks for the Lions' lethargic offense. In their 21-20 loss Sunday to Carolina, the defense scored two touchdowns on interception returns while the offense scored just two field goals and was unable to move the ball when the game was within reach in the fourth quarter.

But Harrington disputed suggestions that his teammates have given up on him and abandoned him.

"I've had many people come up to me and tell me that they're behind me, that I have their support," Harrington said. "That's meant a lot.

"I'm going to fight for my job. I'm going to fight for my job like nothing else and that's what I've always done. That's what I've done since the second I've been here."

PLAYER NOTES

  • QB Jeff Garcia, who has been out of action since suffering a broken left fibula and sprained left ankle in the final preseason game, is expected to get increased practice time this week but it remains uncertain if he will be recovered enough to be available for the game at Cleveland on Sunday.
  • LT Jeff Backus is wearing a boot on his sprained left ankle, leaving doubt whether he will be able to practice Wednesday and Thursday, and whether he will be able to play Sunday in the Lions game at Cleveland. Backus has a history of playing through injuries, however, and has not missed a start in his five NFL seasons.
  • WR Roy Williams has a strained quadriceps muscle that kept him out of the Lions 21-20 loss to Carolina but he says the injury has improved and he hopes to practice this week. Coach Steve Mariucci says he doesn't want Williams to play until he is able to practice hard and play at full speed.
  • PR/KR Eddie Drummond is recovering from a bruised left shin and hyperextended left knee. It is still questionable whether he will be able to practice this week and be ready to play Sunday at Cleveland.
  • DE James Hall has a strained groin muscle that is slowly improving. Hall has missed the Lions' last two games completely but coach Steve Mariucci is hopeful he will begin practicing on at least a limited basis this week.
  • OLB Alex Lewis has not played since the opening game of the season because of a badly sprained ankle. He has not practiced and it remains unlikely he will be ready to play Sunday at Cleveland.
  • LS Don Muhlbach has a sprained knee suffered in the Oct. 2 game at Tampa Bay. He has not practiced since then and it appears unlikely he will play Sunday at Cleveland.
  • QB Joey Harrington has been under fire for the Lions' lack of offensive production. Harrington has completed 53.1 percent of his passes but has a touchdown/interception ratio of 4/8 and a passer rating of 55.6. Coach Steve Mariucci has not ruled out the possibility of changing QBs if backup Jeff Garcia is recovered from a broken fibula.
  • RB Kevin Jones has a sore left shoulder, badly bruised in the Lions 21-20 loss Sunday to Carolina. He finished the game with the shoulder in a harness but he probably won't know until late in the week if he will be able to play next Sunday at Cleveland.
  • FB Cory Schlesinger is tentatively on schedule to play Sunday at Cleveland, his first appearance for the Lions since suffering a broken left fibula in the opening preseason game. He practiced last week on a limited basis but is expected to be cleared for full work this week.
  • RB Shawn Bryson, who struggled with a heel injury the previous two games, seems to have regained his speed and effectiveness. His 77-yard touchdown run on his only touch against Baltimore was the Lions' longest scoring play of the season.
  • WR Charles Rogers, who had just five receptions 77 yards in the Lions' first three games, has missed two games in his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse program. He will be eligible for the game Nov. 6 at Minnesota.
  • WR Kevin Johnson is the leading receiver in the Lions' modestly productive passing game. Johnson, who was signed as a free agent, has caught 17 passes for 133 yards, without a touchdown.
  • TE Marcus Pollard leads the Lions in receiving yardage with 199 yards on 12 receptions, including an 86-yard play in the Lions' 21-20 loss Sunday to Carolina.
  • PK Jason Hanson had his streak of 18 consecutive field goals broken when the Carolina Panthers blocked his 47-yard attempt in the Lions' 21-20 loss Sunday. Hanson kicked a 52-yarder in the same game, an indication he is fully recovered from a pulled hamstring in his kicking leg.
  • DE Kalimba Edwards, who has four of the Lions 11 QB sacks, suffered a thigh bruise in the 21-20 loss to Carolina but it is believed he will be able to practice this week and play Sunday at Cleveland.
  • CB Dre' Bly has had three interceptions in the past two games for the Lions.

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