ALLEN PARK -- No one is blaming the stepped up practice field intensity for the problem, but
if the Lions don't start getting their injured players back soon it could have
an impact on the way they open the NFL regular season.
There is no doubt the Lions players with five years or less experience with the team are going through their toughest training camp ever.
Neither of the previous two West Coast offense coaches — Marty Mornhinweg (2001-02) and Steve Mariucci (2003-05) — drove the players as hard as new coach Rod Marinelli and his coordinators — Mike Martz with the offense and Donnie Henderson with the defense — are driving them.
And because they were thoroughly prepared with a rigorous off-season program, they presumably were ready to handle the pace and intensity of the two-a-days.
Injuries have taken a toll on the team, however, and it is starting to show up on both sides of the ball with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Shaun Rogers and middle linebacker Boss Bailey missing both of the first two games, Rogers with a shoulder injury and Bailey with an ankle.
The offensive line has been without former Pro Bowler Damien Woody, the right guard, and veteran right tackle Rex Tucker, a factor which is believed to have contributed to the team's inability to run the ball consistently. Woody is recovering from wrist surgery and Tucker from knee and ankle injuries.
Although none of the injuries has been deemed serious, they have cost key players more practice time than Marinelli would like. He has shown patience in bringing them back slowly but if they aren't back soon, it could mean a slow start in September.
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: RB Artose Pinner vs. RBs Arlen Harris, Shawn Bryson and Brian Calhoun. It appears that Kevin Jones has the starting job locked up but the competition is intense for the backup jobs. Harris has the most experience in offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system, Bryson is a valued performer who can backup the FB position also and Calhoun has the speed and quickness that appeals to Martz. Pinner is the longshot to win a job but a strong performance (40 yards in six rushes) might have got him back in the race.
OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Rookie LB Ernie Sims and S Daniel Bullocks are making their presence known, although neither has pushed into a starting job yet. Sims had six tackles, including an eight-yard quarterback sack, against the Browns Friday night but is still listed No. 2 behind Alex Lewis at the WLB. Bullocks got some work with the first defense last week but did not start at Cleveland. He got extensive playing time, however, and had five tackles as well as three special teams tackles ... Shaun Rogers and Shaun Cody will be the starting DTs but three players behind them — Marcus Bell, Tyoka Jackson and Damien Gregory — are competing hard for playing time in the defensive line rotation.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: CB Dre' Bly continues to demonstrate his value as one of the Lions' few big-play playmakers. He got his first pre-season interception Friday night against Cleveland starter Charlie Frye. In three seasons with the Lions, Bly has 16 interceptions, six in 2003 and 2005, and four in 2004.
ROOKIE REPORT: LB Ernie Sims is making the adjustment to playing in an NFL defense. He had six tackles and a QB sack in the Lions' second pre-season game.
INJURY REPORT: Three players remain on PUP — LB Teddy Lehman (foot), TE Dan Campbell (elbow) and WR Scottie Vines (groin). DT Shaun Cody (knee), Pro Bowl DT Shaun Rogers (shoulder and tonsils), RT Rex Tucker (knee) and RG Damien Woody (wrist surgery) have missed both pre-season games but should be back in practice and games soon. MLB Boss Bailey has practiced but the Lions are limiting him in the hope that he'll be 100 percent recovered from an ankle injury by the start of the season. TE Casey FitzSimmons has a broken wrist. He won't require surgery but is expected to miss a minimum of 3-4 weeks.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "All three of these guys can start this year." — Offensive coordinator Mike Martz, talking about the Lions three quarterbacks — Jon Kitna, Dan Orlovsky and Josh McCown.