Bunker Mentality Cloaks Lions In Secrecy

ALLEN PARK - The bunker mentality is in force this week with the Detroit Lions.

ALLEN PARK - The bunker mentality is in force this week with the Detroit Lions.

Coach Steve Mariucci battened down the hatches during practice this week, barring reporters any sessions and clamming up on lineup details and warning players to be guarded in what they reveal about preparations for the Thanksgiving Day game against Atlanta.

At the heart of Mariucci's focus on secrecy is the Lions' quarterback situation. He obviously doesn't want Falcons coach Jim Mora -- Mariucci's defensive coordinator during his last five seasons at San Francisco -- to know whether Jeff Garcia or Joey Harrington is getting the most work in practice. But it isn't the only issue.

"That's just one of the reasons," Mariucci said. "I don't want anybody to know what we're doing with Dre' Bly, if anything. And all the guys that were hurt. Who do we play at safety, at linebacker, at receiver, at quarterback, at corner? You name it."

Bly has missed the last four games with a wrist injury but it is believed he will play with his entire right hand and forearm in a cast.

Middle linebacker Earl Holmes and strong-side linebacker Boss Bailey missed the game in Dallas on Sunday with injuries but it is believed Bailey has a good chance of playing against Atlanta.

All six wide receivers on the roster are healthy but Mariucci hasn't said which of the five will be active and which one will be inactive. In Dallas, it was rookie Mike Williams who did not play.

If Bly plays, the defensive secondary probably will be complete. Andre Goodman, who took over after Fernando Bryant went on injured reserve, is expected to start at the other corner; Terrence Holt is likely to be back at free safety and Kenoy Kennedy will play at strong safety.

At least, that is the thinking, but Mariucci wants to keep Mora guessing as long as possible -- probably up until the final hour before the Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field.

The quarterback position clearly is the major issue. Harrington started the first five, gave up the job to Garcia for two games and has played the last three while Garcia is recovering from soreness in his previously-broken left leg.

The offense won't change much regardless of which quarterback plays, but the approaches of Garcia and Harrington differ significantly.

"If there is a different type of plan on defense for one quarterback or the other, there's only one day and a half to implement the plan," Mariucci said, referring to Atlanta's defensive preparations. "And if you're going to play for both, then there's really not much time, is there?"

SERIES HISTORY: 31st regular season meeting between the Lions and Atlanta. The Lions have dominated the series, 22-8, including last year's 17-10 win. The Falcons came into that game with a 4-1 record.


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