ALLEN PARK -- After four years of waiting for a ball to drop in his hands, only to take his chances against 11 defenders running full speed toward him, Eddie Drummond is hoping he will finally get a chance to get on the field as a receiver -- in the new offensive system being installed by Lions coordinator Mike Martz.
There is nothing Drummond would like more than to play the role of a quick, smaller receiver in Martz's Detroit offense the way Az-Zahir Hakim played it in Martz's Greatest Show on Turf in St. Louis a few years ago. Drummond starred as receiver at Penn State University, but has only been used sparingly at the position.
He's looking forward to his opportunity.
"I watched a lot of film on the greatest offense on turf and I feel I can fit in tremendously, right away," Drummond said. "I just have to learn the system. It's a complicated system and we're a long way from getting everything down but we are making progress."
Martz has been working Drummond in the slot position that proved so productive for Hakim, but that was only in off-season workouts. The pace and the demands will be increased significantly when the Lions begin training camp workouts July 28.
But Drummond feels good about starting with a clean slate under Martz and head coach Rod Marinelli. He was signed to a multi-year extension in March.
As a free agent rookie in 2002, he showed some speed and athleticism but it was never developed, perhaps because former head coach Marty Mornhinweg's staff felt the youngster would have his hands full handling punt and kickoff return duties.
"My rookie year I thought I would get a chance because I did so well in preseason when Mornhiweg was here but right away they just labeled me as a return specialist," Drummond said. "We had plenty of receivers -- big-time money receivers -- so they let them play.
"From that first year it just carried over and they just kept me as a returner. This is what I've been waiting for -- somebody like Martz to come in and be comfortable with players like me on and off the field."
Previous Lions staffs might also have had concerns with Drummond's ability to hold up physically. Although he is powerfully built at 5-feet-9 and 190 pounds, he has had trouble staying healthy as a return specialist.
He has missed at least four games every season, including the last five games of his 2004 Pro Bowl season when he suffered a broken shoulder blade. He averaged 13.2 yards on punt returns and 26.6 yards on kickoff returns before the injury.