Next Up: Turning Slackers Into Producers

There are players on Detroit's roster who aren't really crazy about the game of football. They don't like practicing, they don't like working out, and they don't like spending beautiful summer days lifting weights. Those are the guys who are in coach Rod Marinelli's bulls-eye right now.

ALLEN PARK - Some players are self-motivated. They work tirelessly in the off-season hoping to get that little edge that will help them get a step on their opponent and allow them to make a play.

Often motivated by their own ego or their desire to get more money in their pay envelope, no one has to tell them to show up early for practice, stay after, work on certain aspects of their game or anything of the sort.

They are their own worst critic and these are the kinds of guys, whether undrafted overachievers or the stars of the game who are worth every penny they are paid.

On the other end of the spectrum are players who aren't really crazy about the game of football. They don't like practicing, they don't like working out, they don't like spending beautiful summer days lifting weights, running sprints, catching balls and sweating profusely. They'd much rather be on the beach sipping a Pina Colada, lounging on the deck of their 50' sloop, sport fishing in Acapulco or putting that new 120" LCD TV to work on a fiercely contested game of Madden 2006.

They love the competition on game day, but not so much the preparation for it.

Those are the guys who are in coach Rod Marinelli's bulls-eye right now.

Marinelli knows that in order for the Lions to be successful, he must work on the "un-talent" issues that he has harped about so often. That means work, work and more work.

Like the Mom who has to get after her 16-year old son to clean up his room, Marinelli has to find the way to motivate unmotivated players to succeed. After repeated reminders from Mom, she's going to tell Dad who's heading out back for a switch off the weeping willow tree.

The fact is that all of the Lions players have the talent or they wouldn't have found their way onto an NFL roster, but more than that is needed. How is it that the Lions drafted three first-round receivers and yet had to rely on undrafted Scotty Vines as their top guy at the end of last season?

It comes down to motivation, desire, passion.

Marinelli has to find a way to bring that out of these players, whether its a top-ten draft choice like Mike Williams, a player the coach has known since he was a kid or if its an undrafted free agent who shows a flash of brillance, they all must produce for the Lions to be successful.

Fans say all of the time, "if this guy doesn't want to work, get rid of him", but that really defeats the purpose. Getting rid of a drafted player means a wasted pick and a hole in your roster. It is a much better alternative if the coach can find the right buttons to push, the right thing to do or say that flips the switch 'on' and changes that player's attitude.

Some players respond to being embarassed, some respond to a pat on the back, some respond to recognition of their efforts, some respond to the opportunity to make some more cash.

Whatever it is, coach Marinelli is looking, probing and making notes. Those buttons will be pushed. This guy is a motivator and if you don't want to play for him, you're probably not going to be playing in the NFL for very long.

Marinelli is leaving the X's and O's to his coordinators right now. They're going to scheme, game plan and run the practices. But Marinelli is looking for ways to push the players to greater heights. He will use the bus ticket, but for right now, he's your Dad out back looking for a switch.


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