Lions Notebook: Second Half Hope?

At the pace they have set through the first half of the 2005 NFL season, the Lions are on their way to another 6-10 record. But can they turn it around? News, notes and quotes from within Allen Park.

ALLEN PARK -- At the pace they have set through the first half of the 2005 NFL season, the Lions are on their way to another 6-10 record.

In the fifth season under team president Matt Millen and the third under coach Steve Mariucci, that is not what was expected of the Lions and it is not what they expected of themselves.

Yes, they have had injuries.

Yes, they have had some unfortunate incidents that were out of their control.

But that's life in the NFL and the Lions - 3-5 at the halfway point in the season - are showing little indication they can save themselves from a fifth consecutive sub-.500 season.

The team's attitude seemed to hit a new low in the latest loss - a 27-14 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings - but at least one veteran says it's still not too late for the Lions to get back to respectability.

Tight end Marcus Pollard says he went through the difficult times during his 10 NFL seasons at Indianapolis and the Lions have to do the same thing.

"The season's not lost," Pollard said. "I'm going to look at it as there's eight games left to play, half the season's over. I'm looking at it as a game; we've still got the second half to play and that's how we've got to approach it.

"What do we do in the second half? To me, if we come out and play better football than we played at the start of the season, we've still got a chance to make the playoffs. We can still make it. We've just got to continue to get better and keep improving, and hope for the best."

If the Lions have any grounds for higher expectations, it is the fact that they should be getting several key players back from injuries. Not necessarily for their game Sunday against Arizona, but within the next two or three weeks.

That list includes Pro Bowl cornerback Dre' Bly, their most effective defensive playmaker; Pro Bowl defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, their dominating front-line player; wide receivers Roy Williams, who has been out with a thigh injury, and Charles Rogers, who missed four games on a drug suspension and has been given the message that he will have to work harder on the practice field if he intends to get back on the playing field.

There might not be a clear-cut blueprint for the Lions to get back on track, but Pollard says he knows where it has to start, at least for the offensive players.

"I think everybody should examine themselves and take that approach first," he said. "And then go from there, because we haven't been as productive as we'd like to be on offense. That's no secret ... but we're working to get better."

INDIVIDUAL PLAYER NOTES

  • QB Jeff Garcia was too beat up to practice or play last week and the Lions are waiting to see if he is sufficiently recovered to reclaim the starting job for the game Sunday against Arizona. Garcia missed the first five games of the season recovering from a broken left fibula and sprained left ankle, and developed soreness in those areas playing back-to-back games against Cleveland and Chicago.
  • DT Shaun Rogers has missed the Lions' last two games with a sprained right knee. Coach Steve Mariucci believes Rogers will be able to do more in practice this week but is still uncertain if he will play Sunday against Arizona.
  • CB Dre' Bly has missed the Lions' last two games with a wrist injury and is not expected to play for at least one more week. Bly will have to play with his wrist in a cast even after he is able to get back on the field.
  • LB Teddy Lehman has a mid-foot sprain. He missed the Lions' game Sunday at Minnesota and it appears he might not be ready to play next week against Arizona either.
  • WR Mike Williams was scheduled to have his foot examined after suffering a sprain in the Lions' game Sunday at Minnesota. He finished the game and it appears there is a good chance he will play next Sunday against Arizona.
  • WR Roy Williams got just three plays in the Lions game Sunday at Minnesota. Williams said he felt he could have gone 20-30 plays and was uncertain why coach Steve Mariucci did not play him more. He has been hampered by a strained left quadriceps.
  • QB Joey Harrington struggled, along with the rest of the Lions offense, in his return to the starting quarterback job against Minnesota. Harrington had one touchdown pass but was intercepted twice by the Vikings and it is uncertain if he or Jeff Garcia will start next week against Arizona. Garcia is recovering from leg injuries.
  • RB Kevin Jones has only 381 yards through the Lions' first eight games, and is battling a strained triceps and a bruised nerve in his arm. Jones was unable to finish the Minnesota game last Sunday.
  • RB Shawn Bryson, the backup RB and the Lions' best back in pass protection, is recovering from a mild concussion and foot sprain suffered in the game Sunday at Minnesota.
  • WR Charles Rogers, who sat out four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, will try to convince the Lions' coaches he is ready to play Sunday against Arizona. The coaches and team president Matt Millen were not satisfied with his practice work last week and did not activate him for the game at Minnesota.
  • WR Scottie Vines, who wasn't even on the Lions' active roster when the season started, is tied for the team lead with 21 receptions in eight games, but suffered a slight hamstring injury in the 27-14 loss at Minnesota.
  • TE Marcus Pollard leads all Lions receivers with two touchdown receptions among his 20 receptions in the first eight games. No Lions wide receiver has more than one touchdown catch.
  • PK Jason Hanson has struggled since suffering a pulled hamstring and missing the second game of the season. He has missed one field goal attempt in each of the last four games but all of the misses have been from 46 yards or more.
  • MLB Earl Holmes is playing with a soft cast on his injured right hand. He had seven tackles against the Minnesota Vikings in his first game since he suffered the injury.


     

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