ALLEN PARK - Two down, and about three or four more to go in the Lions purge of players not buying into coach Rod Marinelli's "get tough" system.
As we've reported to you throughout this long running saga, the Detroit Lions were really up against it when it came to dealing with starting defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson, who the team released on Monday.
Lions president and general manager Matt Millen really didn't want to do it, because he knew what a force Wilkinson can be on the team's front line and his steadying influence in the locker room, but eventually Millen acquiesed because he knew it was the only way to show the players in the locker room that he and Rod Marinelli mean business.
Marinelli has been making the players uncomfortable throughout the Organized Team Activity (OTA) that has been ongoing for the last two weeks. Detroit begins a mandatory minicamp this week and Wilkinson has been a holdout the entire time.
Yes, he talked about retiriement with Millen and how he wasn't sure what he was going to do, but the bottom line is the 33-year old tackle didn't want to get dragged through the exhausting sessions going on in Allen Park.
How was it going to play with the rest of the team when Wilkinson showed up during the preseason without going through any of the things his teammates endured? It would have stunk; which is why Millen released the veteran who still has something left in his tank. The move saves the team about $2.05 million in cap room.
Marinelli had avoided talking about Wilkinson's situation except to say that Millen was handling the matter. Marinelli seemed to leave some wiggle room for a Wilkinson return when he said that he expected to have everyone in the OTA in a "perfect world," but quickly moved off the subject.
This won't end the ongoing purge of veterans currently in progress. I believe that eventually Marinelli will run off five or six name veterans before the team hits the field this summer. This is a necessity because he has to get rid of the losing attitude and habits that permeate the team's locker room.
Any dessenters may as well head to the front office and ask for their bus ticket, because Marinelli isn't going to tolerate exceptions. That's why the grieveance filing players quickly fell in line.
Harrington and Wilkinson make two, who's next?
TEXAS TWO STEP: Lions assistant general manager Martin Mayhew is among a group of five candidates to be interviewed for the vacant Houston Texans general manager position. Mayhew is well regarded around the league for his ability at consensus building and handling difficult issues without a lot of fanfare. Broncos assistant GM Rick Smith, a favorite of head coach Gary Kubiak remains the front runner with Jaguars personnel director Charles Bailey and Packers pro personnel director Reggie McKenzie the other candidates.