ALLEN PARK -- Admittedly, Rod Marinelli didn't get much sleep last night. Welcome to life as the head coach of the Detroit Lions.
Following Friday's first day of training camp, which the first-year head coach described as "solid" but "nothing special (yet)," Marinelli said the night before was anxiety-ridden, and on the eve of his first official training camp, sleep wasn't necessarily in the equation.
Rod Marinelli talks with offensive
lineman Ross Verba during Friday's
opening day of training camp.
"Oh, I was excited," he said, "I kind of stayed up a little later than usual last night with Coach (John) Robinson and we talked a little bit about where we are, and what we're trying to accomplish. We probably stayed up a little too late; but I got up and I was excited to come out and go to work. It's a great day, a great day for football to get started."
Marinelli worked under Robinson at Southern Cal.
Detroit's first session of "Camp Marinelli" kicked off just before 9 a.m. (EST) on Friday, the first of their two-a-day practices. The team worked in pads throughout the day, taking part in routine drills (including a hitting portion) and working with fundamentals.
"What I did like (today) was that the effort and willingness is there," said Marinelli, "We have a long way to go but were just going to keep pounding the rock, and keep working on it. But in terms of that I was pleased.
"This is part of the game of football that I love. These drills represent what I want to accomplish here – our Lions coming off the ball together, low and hard; we're physical and tough. It develops an attitude. It starts a lot of things; you're individual period is a progression to where you want to go. All that run, and all that drill that we do brings us to the nine-on-seven; and my backbone has always been nine-on-seven which will establish who we are."
Marinelli's intention is to be a defensive-minded head coach, and has admitted his focus will be almost entirely on the defense as he works with coordinator Donnie Henderson. Former St. Louis Rams' head coach and offensive coordinator Mike Martz will manage Detroit's offense, including working with starting quarterback Jon Kitna.
Marinelli will work almost exclusively
with defensive coordinator Donnie
Henderson (pictured above) while
leaving Mike Martz in control of the
But Marinelli does have a watchful-eye over the entire team, and wasn't afraid to point out some early concerns.
"Penalties, mental errors, assignment busts, all those things (I noticed)," he said, "Sometimes after we had a bad play, it was a consistent play, again and again. I'm trying to get them so that if they have a bad play, they understand what they did, let it go through their minds and move on to the next snap. Correct it and move on, and keep playing the snap that you're in. Pound the rock and you'll be fine.
"Mentally it takes a strong man, especially when you're tired and fatigued and getting worn down in practice. If you have a penalty, let it go, don't do it again, wire in and play the snap. It's a life skill."
Marinelli, considered a taskmaster, will have his hands full with a Lions team that has made inopportune penalties and undisciplined play a fad the past few seasons.
Marinelli on injuries:
Although his practices will be grueling in nature, Marinelli did say that his training staff has taken the proper precations by teaching what he calls "practice etiquette."
Lions players have been reminded by their respective position coach that while the intensity level is expected to be high, they should avoid unnecessary risks.
"I think there's a bigger chance of injury when you're going fast like we were going in our (OTAs)," he said. "Here we can protect them; keep them up off the ground and understand how to practice. We can make it a safe and very physical practice."
The Lions first session was also held indoors due to improper conditions in the early morning hours. The afternoon session was held outdoors. Marinelli attributed the decision to keep it indoors early was to avoid groin pulls and similar injuries.
"Where I came from is really hot, so it's cool to me (out here)," Marinelli said, "It's not even an issue to me right now but they're not used to it. I'm smart with that, so are the trainers and everybody. I like the heat for them to work in. We have to water them down and be smart with them, but the heat is good, the heat is our friend. We learn to play in it, and the thing that I think is important is to be able to have mental toughness and consistency. It doesn't matter where you go. We should go to Alaska and play well; we should go to the desert and play well. The issue is about playing well and not worrying about the environment."
Added Marinelli, "(Injuries) are something in my mind, always. I really tried to attack it in the off-season, we really ran. I think we really tried to give them the message with the last week of our OTA days. Every meeting I would talk about it and how they have to run and be in great shape. It's up to them, they're grown men. We're trying to do everything we can, but it's always going to be an issue. It's really about guys coming in shape."
NOTES: Lions' first-round pick Ernie Sims and second-round pick Daniel Bullocks both remained out of practice on Friday. While Bullocks has agreed in principle on a four-year deal, there is still ongoing discussions with the details of that contract. A deal with Sims is not necessarily imminent, although the two sides continue to negotiate.
The Lions placed the following six players on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list: LB Boss Bailey, TE Dan Campbell, G Tyrone Hopson, LB Teddy Lehman, WR Scottie Vines, and CB Stanley Wilson. The team signed linebacker Scott Genord to the camp roster.