Analysis: Lack of Weapons Hurting Lions

MINNEAPOLIS - When your starting receiving core consists of two career practice squad players, and a hobbled rookie wide receiver, it's tough to feel optimistic as an NFL offense. Comments and more inside from Lions' quarterback Joey Harrington and head coach Steve Mariucci after Sunday's 27-14 loss.

MINNEAPOLIS - When your starting receiving core consists of two career practice squad players, and a hobbled rookie wide receiver, it's tough to feel optimistic as an NFL offense.

Of course, that was the situation that Lions' quarterback Joey Harrington faced Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. In the Lions 27-14 loss, Harrington -- who regained his position on Friday -- tossed for 263 yards and completed a season-high 28 passes. But after falling behind early, and even before that, Harrington was unable to find targets down the field.

And he didn't have much to do with it.

Often times, Harrington's receivers had no seperation. Save a nine-reception, 109 yard performance by Scottie Vines, the receivers either dropped passes or simply could not get open.

Rookie Mike Williams dropped three passes alone.

Entering the contest, it was believed that second-year receiver Roy Williams, who has missed the past several games with a quadriceps injury, would return to the line-up. Williams played sparingly, but told the coaches he could not run effectively.

Instead, Harrington was stuck with an ineffective Glenn Martinez.

Compounded by absence of fellow receiver Charles Rogers, who was oddly kept inactive despite fulfilling a four-game suspension, Harrington's options were limited.

"Of course I'd love to have them in there," said Harrington after the game. "But it's just something that you deal with as a quarterback and a football team.

"We've been in this situation before. I thought Scottie did a great job in there today. Would it have helped us? I'd like to think it would have.

Harrington added: "You dance with the girl that brought you."

The frustrating offensive display has not improved with a change at quarterback. And while conservative playcalling has hurt the team, the lack of talent is even more detrimental. Earlier in the season, Lions' opponents were overwhelmed, drawing a flury of penalties in the defensive backfield.

Without Rogers or Williams, teams have been content with blitzing Lions' quarterbacks and forcing them to find targets. At this point, both Garcia and Harrington have failed to do so.

Mariucci remained mum after the game when asked why Charles Rogers didn't make the trip. Rogers was suspended five weeks ago for violating the league's substance abuse policy. There was talk that Rogers' week of practice was less than sharp.

Regardless, the collective question by the media was: "Isn't a rusty Rogers more valuable than an inexperienced and vastly less talented Martinez?"

"Two things that went into that decision," said Mariucci. "I think he needed a better week of practice and hopefully this week will be much better.

"Glenn Martinez is a guy who's been playing (several positions). He has some position flexibility. We just felt that his value was more beneficial to us in a week like this. Chuck (Rogers) needs to practice this week and practice better and get into the swing of things."

Both Harrington and Lions' offensive guard Damien Woody failed to support, or even respond to Mariucci's decision to leave Rogers in Detroit. But, Harrington admitted, Rogers may have seemed less than motivated during his first week back after a long layoff.

"A little bit," said Harrington. "Charles has been through some tough stuff lately. And I know he's got some things to figure out."

The situation with Williams is equally as bizarre.

During the week, Williams planned on returning to the line-up. During pre-game warm-ups, he had to be coaxed into playing by the coaching staff in "spot" duty, telling the staff he didn't feel comfortable running in a game situation.

(Roy) felt that he might be have a certain role in this game," said Mariucci. "Not necessarily start the game, but when we had a chance to play him early ...he didn't appear to be full speed."

Harrington, who said he felt more comfortable playing Sunday than before he was benched two weeks ago, didn't pin the loss to Minnesota on the lack of Williams, but also admitted that it didn't make it any easier.

"We had prepared without him," Harrington said "(But) I was excited when Roy said he was going to play. I know there was a gametime dedcision going on, I don't know what was discussed.

He continued: "You can put it into general terms why our offense isn't doing what it's supposed to be doing right now.

"It's frustrating (not having top two receivers). "But you do the best with what you've got."

Without their top two receiving threats, the Lions best hasn't been good enough. And with leg injuries nagging the other Williams, who managed four catches, the situation could continue to worsen.

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