Marinelli eagerly anticipates preseason

After one full week of training camp, even Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli is looking forward to watching his players hit a different colored uniform. Comments from Marinelli, including several more of Friday's camp notes inside.

After one full week of training camp, even Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli is looking forward to watching his players hit a different colored uniform.

Marinelli threw down the gauntlet since camp launched in late July, and the team has responded by turning in a constant workman-like ethic each and every day. And, surprisingly, without any (at least not public) incidents.

Whether they can carry their apparent new attitude into a game situation will be determined August 11, when they host the Denver Broncos at Ford Field.

It is a date that hasn't escaped Marinelli's camp-centric attention.

"I'm excited to see them," said Marinelli on Friday. "I've been really impressed with how tough these guys are; the physical toughness of these guys and the want, and those things. This has been a tough camp and they've responded everyday.

"They get up and they go. I expect them to be very physical and very tough."

It will also mark Marinelli's first game as an NFL head coach. Beginning on Saturday, when the team opens up its practice to the fans at Ford Field, the coaching staff will begin installing more packages, alignments and work more diligently on the details.

"You're just adding situations every day, such as red zones, two-minute (drills), goal lines, so we're getting all of the situations touched up," said Marinelli. "(Saturday), we'll look at more of the move the ball situations and clean up those situations and it will be more scripted/game-like."

Meanwhile, the coaching staff will do their own homework on Denver. A process that may or may not have already begun.

"Later in the week (we will) card up some of things they do," said Marinelli of the Broncos. "Really the issue is about us and putting our package in and those things."

Marinelli did say that both coordinators (Donnie Henderson and Mike Martz) will be on the field, as opposed to in the booth, during the game. That is expected to begin next week.

The Lions will name the starters for Friday's game by Wednesday or Thursday at the latest. At that time, Marinelli will also discuss how he will allocate playing time.

Camp Notes: Lions' receiver Charles Rogers returned to the first-team lineup on Friday. After he was routinely held out the past 48 hours, speculation grew whether or not Rogers had landed in Marinelli's doghouse. That was never the case. Rogers is still considered a "second-team" receiver, but is making a push for the first-team slot with Roy Williams. Currently, veteran Corey Bradford enjoys the designation.

Veteran offensive lineman Barry Stokes worked for another day at right tackle, where projected starter Rex Tucker (knee) will likely remain out for another two weeks. Stokes has stepped in front of second-year player Kelly Butler, who has spent time at each guard position and right tackle during camp.

Tight end Casey FitzSimmons worked with the first-team on Friday. Although he's unlikely to replace as the team's starter, FitzSimmons caught the eye of coordinator Mike Martz during the off-season training activities and hasn't let go. The Lions like FitzSimmons' receiving ability, football smarts and the improvement he has made blocking.

After releasing veteran offensive tackle Courtney Van Buren yesterday, the Lions signed free-agent defensive tackle Lynn McGruder early Friday. McGruder was an undrafted free-agent of Tampa Bay a year ago, but was waived during the team's 2005 training after working under Marinelli, who served as the Buccaneers' defensive line coach. McGruder's second attempt to land on Tampa Bay's roster again ended in vain in late July, when he was cut before the Bucs headed to training camp.

The 6'2, 307-pound McGruder started as a senior for Oklahoma, but enters Detroit in a period where the team needs depth at defensive tackle and another body on the line. He isn't likely to make the team.


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