Lions Notebook: Receiver Quandary For Lions

ALLEN PARK - For months - ever since they landed wide receiver Mike Williams in the NFL draft last April - the Lions and their fans envisioned a set of receivers that would stand the league on its ear. These notes, plus many more updated, individual player notes inside.

ALLEN PARK - For months - ever since they landed wide receiver Mike Williams in the NFL draft last April - the Lions and their fans envisioned a set of receivers that would stand the league on its ear.

They would start with Roy Williams and Charles Rogers as the flanker and split end, respectively. When they went to their three-wide formations, they could bring in Mike Williams, the third first-rounder, and put all 6-foot-5, 234 pounds of him in the slot. And the No. 4 receiver would be Kevin Johnson, an experienced, dependable possession receiver.

Not since the Lions ran out the combination of Herman Moore, Brett Perriman and Johnnie Morton in the early 1990s had they enjoyed that kind of depth and quality at the wideout positions.

Needless to say, Scottie Vines and Glenn Martinez did not figure prominently in those grandiose daydreams of the Lions coaches and fans.

As the Lions prepare to meet the Chicago Bears on Sunday with the NFC North lead at stake, Vines and Martinez not only figure in the daydreams, they are a significant part of the offensive plans being put together by coach Steve Mariucci and receivers coach Fred Graves.

Rogers has one game remaining on his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy; Roy Williams has missed the last two games with a badly strained quadriceps muscle; and Johnson has a ruptured Achilles' tendon, which means he probably will be lost for the rest of the season.

Even kick returner Eddie Drummond, the reserve wide receiver, remains uncertain because of a hyperextended knee that has kept him out the past two games.

Although there is a chance Roy Williams and/or Drummond might be back, it is just as likely that Mariucci will be lining up with the rookie Mike Williams (12 receptions for 154 yards and a touchdown), Vines (seven catches for 57 yards) and Martinez (no NFL catches) as his receivers.

Neither Vines nor Martinez were drafted by an NFL team. Vines was originally signed by the Lions as a rookie free agent in 2003, released and signed to the Green Bay practice squad for the 2003 season, and spent most of the 2004 season on the Lions practice squad. Martinez went to camp in 2004 with Pittsburgh, played in NFL Europe after that and landed on the Lions practice squad this year.

PLAYER NOTES
--QB Jeff Garcia had some aches and pains coming off his first start of the season but, considering he missed the first five games with a broken leg, he survived well. Garcia is expected to get most of the reps with the Lions offense this week and will start Sunday against Chicago.
--DT Shaun Rogers will be listed as week-to-week after suffering a sprained right knee in the Lions' 13-10 win at Cleveland. He has not been ruled out for the game against Chicago next Sunday but it appears unlikely he will be able to practice until late in the week, if at all.
--CB Dre' Bly is waiting to learn if he will require surgery to correct damage to his wrist suffered in the Lions' 13-10 victory at Cleveland. Bly has four interceptions in the last three games. Surgery would not necessarily rule him out for the season but would mean he would have to wear a cast while he plays.
--WR Kevin Johnson, the Lions' leading receiver with 17 catches for 133 yards, has been lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon. He is expected to require surgery to repair the injury and wouldn't be ready to play until the 2006 season.
--LT Jeff Backus played reasonably well in the Lions' 13-10 victory Sunday at Cleveland despite playing with a sprained ankle suffered a week earlier. It is likely Backus will miss practice time early this week but he plans to play in the game against Chicago next Sunday.
--WR Roy Williams has missed two games with a strained left quadriceps and it remains uncertain if he will be able to practice yet this week in preparation for the game Sunday against Chicago. Lions coach Steve Mariucci doesn't want Williams to play until he is able to practice at full speed.
--PR/KR Eddie Drummond has missed two games with a hyperextended left knee. He was limited in what he could do in practice last week and the Lions are waiting to see how much improvement he has made before deciding whether he has any chance of playing Sunday against Chicago.
--LS Don Muhlbach has not played since suffering a knee injury Oct. 2 at Tampa Bay but he is able to run and make long snaps. Coach Steve Mariucci wants to make sure Muhlbach is able to break down and make plays as part of the special teams coverage units before he decides whether to play him Sunday against Chicago.
--QB Joey Harrington, who missed his first healthy start since being drafted No. 3 in the first round by the Lions four years ago, said he will accept the backup role to Jeff Garcia and will be prepared to play if the Lions need him. In the first five games of the season, Harrington completed 53.1 percent of his throws with four touchdowns and eight interceptions, and a passer rating of 55.6 before being benched for Garcia.
--RB Kevin Jones survived the Lions' 13-10 victory at Cleveland, playing with his injured left shoulder in a harness, and is expected to play next Sunday against Chicago, though it appears likely he might miss some practice time early in the week. In six games, Jones has just 300 yards rushing in a running game that has been inconsistent.
--FB Cory Schlesinger returned to duty Sunday at Cleveland, playing for the first time since suffering a broken left fibula in the preseason opener. Sharing FB time with Paul Smith, Schlesinger got no carries but caught two passes for 10 yards. It appears likely he will get more work next Sunday, blocking against Bears MLB Brian Urlacher.
--WR Charles Rogers, who had just five receptions 77 yards in the Lions' first three games, has one game remaining on his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse program. He will be eligible for the game Nov. 6 at Minnesota.
--WR Scottie Vines caught five passes for 34 yards against the Cleveland Browns and could get more work Sunday when the Lions meet the Chicago Bears. With the Lions receiving corps shredded by injuries and Charles Rogers' suspension, Vines has stepped in and played well.
--TE Marcus Pollard is the Lions second-leading receiver with 13 catches for 204 yards and a touchdown. He is one of the few receivers who have been able to remain relatively healthy in recent weeks.
--PK Jason Hanson, fully recovered from a pulled hamstring on his kicking leg, has been successful on his last six field goal attempts from 50 yards or more.
--DE Cory Redding is expected to get more playing time at DT while Pro Bowl DT Shaun Rogers recovers from a knee injury. Redding is expected to move inside, giving more time at DE to Jared DeVries.
--DE Jared DeVries, a regular in the Lions defensive line rotation, has three QB sacks in the Lions' first six games. he is likely to get more playing time as Cory Redding moves to DT to replace injured Shaun Rogers.


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