ALLEN PARK - Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz debunked reports that wide receiver Charles Rogers has been dogging it and is not in the Lions plans for their offense along with the widely publicized "Quarterback School" report prior to the departure of Joey Harrington.
In his first interview with the Detroit media since being introduced as the team's offensive coordinator, Martz spoke on a number of topics, including Charles Rogers, the break up with Joey Harrington and the emergence of Roy Williams and Kevin Jones.
Martz said that the players in general were "grossly out of shape" and that while the conditioning was improving; it was nowhere what he expects when training camp begins. He also said that no player, Rogers or any other could be fairly evaluated at this point.
"What happens is that some guys, it's their work ethic. If they're not used to the pace and the tempo that we use - some guys adapt to it right away, some guys, it takes awhile. But you would never eliminate anybody at this point. You don't do that until you start cutting things down. The light goes on for some of these guys at different times," stated Martz.
With regard to the three #1 draft picks, Mike Williams, Roy Williams and Charles Rogers, Martz said. "Usually, as soon as you get a tall receiver in stature, you say 'well he doesn't have good feet.' They do and they can run, all three of them can run."
With regard to Rogers in particular, Martz said "Charles has made a big, big jump here in the last four or five days. (I'm) very pleased with his effort. It's hard for him because this is different. He's going to make some mistakes mentally, he doesn't know how to deal with that, but he'll learn. I think Charles is going to do fine."
Roy Williams was singled out as a guy who could be an elite receiver.
"I do (think he can be an elite receiver), Roy's one of those guys that it doesn't take very long to be around. If you watched practice out here at all, it's not hard to figure that one out at all. I'm excited. We've made no effort really to isolate him at all. We'll just teach him the offense. When we do, I think he could be really effective. He's still trying to get in shape; he's not used to the tempo either. We'd like to get him in better shape."
Martz said running back Kevin Jones is doing "a great job. They put him on the JUGS machine for about, I guess, about the last two months, (running backs coach) Wilbert (Montgomery) has worked with him and he's very comfortable catching the ball. He's really a well rounded back."
Martz also praised return specialist and receiver Eddie Drummond, who has received considerable work in the slot as one of the few receivers who was in game shape right now.
"Eddie's got that unusual speed, and he's built a lot like As Hakim. Eddie's a great example. He's learned two positions, he's making some mental errors but, boy, he's working hard. That's a guy that is in shape right now. He can run forever, that's what you want."
Martz debunked some of the published reports about Joey Harrington and the so-called sabotaged quarterback school.
"I didn't know going into that, I really didn't know Joey, like this stuff, you go in with an open mind. Joey made that decision (not to participate in the Lions off-season activity) on his own and I respect that. There was such a drastic change from what he had been doing, he felt like it was just going to be too hard for him to do and I understand that."
When asked what it strictly a football decision for Harrington, Martz replied "Oh, I don't know, I just assume it was a football thing. Who knows? I'm new on the scene here and I don't know all the dynamics of that whole thing but I was real surprised by it. I think things will work out for the best. They'll work out for him."
What about the reports of Harrington sabotaging the quarterback school.
"First of all there wasn't any QB school and there was no class, it was just 'Here's what we do...' (The report) was just bizarre. It just not what it was, it's just 'Here's what we do guys,' and just teaching them and that was it."