ALLEN PARK - Wide receiver Charles Rogers will return to work with the Lions this week after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, but even coach Steve Mariucci isn't sure what to expect from him.
Rogers, the second player taken in the 2003 NFL draft, has done very little to prove himself worthy of that lofty status, and it says something that the Lions - depleted as they are at the wide receiver position - once again are not sure they can count on him for immediate help.
As a result, Mariucci cannot say for sure that Rogers will even be active for the Lions' game Sunday at Minnesota.
"He should be in great shape because he has been working for a month," Mariucci said, referring to Rogers' workout routine during his suspension. "He has been in the meetings for a month, he is not behind.
"He hasn't caught passes from our quarterbacks but he has caught 150 balls a day from either friends or the JUGS machine or somebody. He should be raring to go, to be honest with you; fresh legs, actually.
"Then we have to decide what his role will be for us. Is it a starting role? Is it an alternating role? Is he active?"
Rogers was off to a good start as a rookie with 22 receptions for 243 yards and three touchdowns in five games but suffered a broken collarbone in a bye-week practice and didn't play again in 2003.
The following year Rogers lasted only three plays of the season opener in Chicago. Again he suffered a broken collarbone (inches from the previous year's break) and again he was finished for the season.
This year he got off to a slow start. He was not getting off the line of scrimmage well, was not getting open or running his routes particularly well. In three games he had five catches for 77 yards and felt he was not being fully utilized.
The day after he voiced his complaints in the Detroit Free Press, it was learned that Rogers would be suspended for a drug violation.
In the meantime, the Lions have played three games without wide receiver Roy Williams (quadriceps injury) and have lost Kevin Johnson (ruptured Achilles'
tendon) for the season. There's a job open; the question is whether Rogers will
be able to fill it.
BRIEFLY: The Lions announced on Tuesday the signing journeyman linebacker Nate Wayne to the active roster. It is a one-year deal and terms were not disclosed. Wayne, 30, had previously played with four teams in his six professional seasons, including stints with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos. Wayne has a wealth of post-season experience, seeing action in eight playoff games. He also played in last year's Super Bowl against the New England Patriots.
To make room for Wayne on the active roster, the Lions demoted wide receiver Glenn Martinez to the practice squad.
- QB Jeff Garcia took quite a beating in the Lions' 19-13 loss to Chicago but X-rays revealed no new damage to the left fibula and ankle that were broken in the final preseason game and kept him out of action the first five weeks of the season. Garcia admitted he has considerable soreness, however, and there is a question if he will be able to take all the snaps with the first offense in practice this week.
- DT Shaun Rogers, who missed the Chicago game with a sprained right knee, will try to practice this week and play Sunday at Minnesota.
- MLB Earl Holmes was scheduled to have his sprained wrist examined by a specialist before the Lions return to practice Wednesday. It is still undetermined whether he will be able to play Sunday at Minnesota.
- CB Dre' Bly sat out the Lions' game Sunday against Chicago and is expected to miss two or three more games after undergoing wrist surgery. The Lions are hopeful their Pro Bowl CB will be ready to play with a cast on his hand in the Thanksgiving Day game against Atlanta.
- LB Teddy Lehman was scheduled to see a foot specialist after suffering a mid-foot sprain in the Lions' 19-13 loss Sunday to Chicago. It appeared likely that Lehman could miss practice time this week.
- FS Terrence Holt was feeling the effects of the concussion he suffered Sunday against Chicago and there was at least a possibility Holt will miss practice time this week.
- DE Jared DeVries, who was off to one of the best starts of his career as a member of the Lions' defensive line rotation, was to have his injured shoulder examined early this week to determine whether he will be able to practice or have any chance of playing Sunday at Minnesota.
- QB Joey Harrington, who sat out the last two games after being replaced by Jeff Garcia as the starter, might find himself with additional practice time this week due to the battering Garcia took in the 19-13 loss to the Bears. It appears Garcia will be ready to play Sunday at Minnesota, but he might miss some practice time to get over the soreness coming out of the Chicago game.
- RB Kevin Jones, seven games into the season, is still looking for his first 100-yard rushing game of 2005. Jones has 366 yards in seven games. He has scored four rushing touchdowns, including the only one against the Chicago Bears this season.
- FB Paul Smith, who filled in while Cory Schlesinger recovered from a broken fibula earlier this season, suffered a sprained ankle against Chicago on Sunday. Smith was to get the injury checked again before the Lions return to practice Wednesday to prepare for the game Sunday at Minnesota.
- WR Charles Rogers, who had just five receptions 77 yards in the Lions' first three games, is eligible to return to work for the Lions after sitting out a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse program. Coach Steve Mariucci said he would see how Rogers performs in practice before deciding whether to play him Sunday at Minnesota.
- WR Scottie Vines, who wasn't even on the Lions active roster when the season started, might have earned himself a permanent role in the Lions receiving corps with his strong play during the absence of Roy Williams, Charles Rogers and Kevin Johnson. Vines had five receptions for 34 yards Oct. 23 at Cleveland and had another five catches for 61 yards Sunday against Chicago.
- WR Roy Williams is expected to increase his practice participation this week, with the likelihood of playing Sunday in the Lions' game at Minnesota. Williams had 12 receptions for 187 yards and a touchdown in four games before suffering a quadriceps injury that has sidelined him the last three games.
- TE Marcus Pollard remains the Lions' second-leading receiver with 16 catches for 239 yards and a touchdown. Although he had several drops early in the season, he has been one of the few healthy receivers available to Lions QBs in recent weeks.
- PK Jason Hanson, who is 2-for-2 on field goal attempts of 50 yards or more
this season, missed from 46 yards against Chicago on Sunday. It was his third
failure from 46 or 47 yards in the first seven games of the season.