Mariucci defends Williams decision to sit

ALLEN PARK - Lions head coach Steve Mariucci on Monday defended Roy Williams decision to sit and rest his injured quadricep muscle while other players, most notably quarterback Jeff Garcia (broken fibula) running back Kevin Jones (shoulder) and tackle Jeff Backus (ankle) all rushed back despite injuries.

Williams has missed the Lions last two contests after suffering his injury at Tampa Bay, leaving the offensive unit depleted at the wide receiver. Against Cleveland, Detroit was forced to field training camp cuts' Scottie Vines and Glenn Martinez, adversely affecting the team's ability to playcall.

Mariucci said he doesn't question Williams' toughness or desire to play and that, although it might seem like a player could go, only the athlete knows for sure if he can go.

``Sure, I'd like to have him back, absolutely I'd like to have him back. You know, he treats like crazy, stretches and tries to get his quad pull. The athlete is the only one that knows what kind of pain that they are going through. The coach and the doctor can't say for sure. So, he knows how tight it feels and he has to work through that."

Mariucci cited Williams' willingness to play in a similar situation a season ago, when Charles Rogers was out for the season with a broken clavicle and the team had to go with players like Reggie Swinton and David Kircus. The coach said Williams played despite having an injury that was more serious than anyone knew.

``Last year, as you know, he had to work through an ankle injury all year, limped around a lot and played hurt and that sort of thing and ended up with surgery after the year was over with. So I don't doubt his toughness, you just always want your guys to get back as fast as possible."

The coach also said that veteran players tend to know their bodies better than younger players and are more apt to push themselves than a rookie or younger player.

``Though my years of experience I have felt that a youngster is a little more reserved," said Mariucci ...[and] are a little bit more apprehensive to come back from an injury, not really knowing how they're going to perform and stack up. There's always some thought that `hey, I'm a youngster in the first place, if I'm limping a little bit, or if I can't get a good jam on my guy, how well can I play,' they're not quite sure. I think a veteran is more likely to know and try it and give it a go, like a Jeff Backus. A rookie, with an ankle [injury] that doesn't practice all week is probably going to say, `I'm not sure I can block that guy, coach,'" said Mariucci.

However with a second-year player like Jones giving it a go with a shoulder injury, is it time for Williams to take the next step in acting like a veteran and trying to go for his teammates?

``We'll see. The only thing that I can relate this to is last year's ankle injury that he had. He did 'suck it up' and lo and behold at the end of the season, we really looked at it and he needed surgery. You've got to believe he's got a quad pull, it's legitimate, we know that. Now we just want him back as soon as its possible."

The coach indicated he didn't want a situation like James Hall's situation earlier in the season.

``It's got to be smart. We certainly don't want him to pull it again. We had a situation when we played James Hall at Tampa where he wasn't quite ready to go and he had to come out of that game. I don't want that to be the case with Roy when he comes back. I want him to be able to play a whole game."

Mariucci said Williams has to pass his test before being activated to play. "He's got to practice. He has to practice prior to activating him."

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