ALLEN PARK - Optimism and competition are funny things. While they can both co-exist, they would rather not acknowledge each other.
For three consecutive days, Lions' quarterbacks Josh McCown and Jon Kitna balanced the task of remaining upbeat, but also privately understanding that each is working for the same, individual prize: the starting position in Detroit.
On Thursday, the final day of head coach Rod Marinelli's three day "voluntary" (we use that word lightly) mini-camp, the two continued an optimistic approach that will ultimately develop into a heated rivarly as the summer nears.
Marinelli said at the beginning of the camp that the position was up for grabs, but McCown went as far as to say he prefers it that way. In fact, it was a reason he came to Detroit.
"That was by design," McCown told Roar Report.com. "That was something we were adamant about -- wherever we went."
When asked if there was reason to feel pressed to nab the starting job after signing a two-year contract compared to Kitna's four-year deal, McCown seemed content with the deal in place. It was assumed at the time that if everything went well, he could negotiate an extension.
"For me, I don't feel a sense of urgency," he said. "We did (the deal) in hopes of doing something longer.
"My goal is to come in and compete, play hard as I can, and hopefully open up an opportunity to play and take it and run with it, and to be a Lion for a long time."
McCown also looked favorably on Marinelli's hard-line approach, coaching style and past. But the ability to work with Martz, he indicated, was incredibly enticing.
"To add coach Mike Martz to the mix, who is running the offense that I had run three out of four years in Arizona, the familiarity was there," he said. "But he is the guy that runs this system the best. To come and get coached by him is an honor, and I felt it would help my career tremendously to just to be coached by him."
Kitna, meanwhile, would rather not dwell on Detroit's checkered past. Especially considering it doesn't involve him. So if the veteran quarterback seems incredibly optimistic about the future of the Detroit Lions franchise, it's difficult to blame him.
Kitna made mention that offensive coordinator Mike Martz's philosophy can not only work, but that it could enjoy similar success to what Martz had in St. Louis when the team went to two Super Bowls, winning one of them.
Likely, at least, if he's the starting quarterback.
"You have to take it, learn it both physically and mentally and put it into action," said Kitna. "If we do that, the guys' track record speaks for itself.
"I know people in Detroit hear that with a pretty skeptic ear, but look at his track record. Look when he was with the (St. Louis) Rams. Everybody thinks the Rams have been that good forever. They were 3-13 the year before he got there, I believe. It is what it is, and we have to go out and make it happen, but it's exciting."
The Lions coaching staff, including Martz, doused the quarterbacks with everything from basic fundamentals to intricacies of the playbook during the three day camp. In addition to the highly publicized "no non-sense" approach of Marinelli, which Kitna admitted was an attractive quality to the team when he was in the free-agent market.
"No question... because Coach Marinell is a no non-sense coach," said Kitna. "He is somebody that demands a lot out of himself so he demands a lot out of everybody else. And that's what you like."
Mike Fowler helped contribute to this report.