ALLEN PARK -- There is growing speculation — based on training camp coaching
decisions — that wide receiver Charles Rogers' days with the Lions are numbered.
Rogers, the second player taken in the 2003 NFL draft, came to camp getting rave reviews from his coaches and quarterback Jon Kitna but has since gotten little playing time while sinking to third-string on the depth chart.
Rogers caught one pass for seven yards in the opening preseason game and sat out the second game with a sore knee. When asked about his status, coach Rod Marinelli and offensive coordinator Mike Martz are non-committal, saying he is working but players must earn their reps on the practice field and in games.
With the cutdown days (Aug. 29 and Sept. 2) approaching, however, there is increased speculation among fans and media that the former Saginaw High School and Michigan State University star might be released.
The rumors have also been wide spread. According to a recent report out of
Miami, the Dolphins -- home to Detroit castoffs Joey Harrington, Andre' Goodman
and Dan Wilkinson -- have an eye on the situation and would consider bringing
Rogers in if he is cut. And the outright release of Rogers is the most likely
scenario, with a manageable salary cap hit.
Detroit News columnist Rob Parker wrote recently that Rogers had expected a fresh start under a new coaching regime.
"Instead, the speed-burning Rogers has been left on the back burner by the Lions," Parker wrote. "They don't seem to have any interest in seeing if he can use his talents and help this team win."
A few days later, however, Detroit Free Press columnist Drew Sharp wrote: "His days as a Lion are clearly numbered, and he has only himself to blame. By some accounts, Rogers has already surrendered."
The one thing that cannot be disputed is that Rogers has had no luck except the bad variety. He broke his right collarbone on consecutive years — after five games in his rookie season in the season opener the following season.
It can be said, however, that Rogers contributed to his own problems when he tested positive for illegal substances last season, resulting in a four-game suspension. And when he rejoined the team his approach was less than inspired.
"Nothing would surprise me," Rogers was quoted as saying in Parker's column. "I'm thinking worst-case scenario at times — whatever it might be. It won't surprise me — whatever happens."
Sports talk radio in Detroit buzzes with discussion — some callers sympathetic, others critical.
The two things that everyone agrees on are that it will be another black eye for the Lions organization if they decide to dump Rogers and that three years into his NFL career a significant talent has been wasted.