Detroit Lions Notebook: 8/28

Vernon Fox, Detroit's 2005 Special Teams MVP, was among 11 players released on Sunday. More inside, including the possibility that rookies Daniel Bullocks and Ernie Sims could start the season opener, player notes and more.

ALLEN PARK -- Linebacker Ernie Sims and safety Daniel Bullocks, the Lions' two top picks in this year's NFL draft, could both be in the starting lineup for the season opener Sept. 10 against the defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks.

Sims, the Lions' first-round pick, got his first start in the third preseason game Friday night at Oakland after drawing solid reviews from coach Rod Marinelli throughout training camp.

Bullocks, the second-round pick, is pushing veteran Terrence Holt for the starting free safety job while putting in time at both free safety and strong safety.

While Marinelli is reluctant to commit a starting job to either of his young defensive players, it is apparent they are proceeding at a pace the Lions had hoped for when they drafted them in April.

Sims, in particular, has made a strong case for himself at the weak-side linebacker position. He was solid in the preseason opener against Denver, got his first sack in the second game at Cleveland and had three solos among his four tackles at Oakland in the third game.

"I like his awareness, his instincts," Marinelli said. "He has great explosion in his hips and he's got great instincts in the running game."
Sims' sack against the Browns came on a blitz, but it was the result of hard work and perseverance more than an artistic success. He was initially blocked, but kept going until he finally got to Browns backup quarterback Ken Dorsey.

"He just kind of bounced around and stayed alive and kind of wiggles through them and got it," Marinelli said. "Nothing great but he just stayed alive."

Bullocks is perhaps a step behind Sims in the competition for an opening day starting assignment but he has shown he can play either safety position in a defense that uses the strong and free safeties almost interchangeably.

"He is really a load as a tackler," Marinelli said. "He can tackle. He's got good ball skills. He's got a lot of talent back there, so we've just got to let him compete, let these guys get after each other and let it all shake out."

FIRST CUTS

With the league mandated first roster cutdown just around the corner, the Detroit Lions made their first cuts over the weekend.

The team dumped P Adam Anderson, TE Kori Dickerson, WR Brett Fischer, S Vernon Fox, WR Paris Hamilton, QB Joel Klatt, FB Will Matthews, DT Marcus Parker, K Matt Prater, CB Harrison Smith and TE Jed Weaver, leaving the ball club with 76 players on the active roster. They must reach 75 by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, August 29.

Marinelli said that the release of the players, including Fox, Detroit's 2005 Special Teams MVP, was difficult. However, the moves were made well before the deadline to give each player an opportunity to latch on elsewhere in the league.

"I thought it was important (to release them early)," he said. "Some teams keep them a little bit longer; I don't believe in that. It gives these men a chance to go out and find work right now. I said everything about them the other day at the luncheon. That was important to me to express my feelings at that luncheon, and not so much in a team meeting, of how hard these men worked to earn a living. You've got to appreciate that. They're out there battling to find work and to earn a living and to follow a dream. They're working from March all the way till this point. I have the utmost respect for men that come out and do those types of things - it's impressive. They've all done a great job as Lions. I'd like to wish them all the very best, but that's the tough part of the job and we've got a few more still to go, but we'll clean up and get going."

More cuts are expected on Tuesday.

PLAYER NOTES

  • DT Shaun Cody, who had played at the nose tackle position in the first two preseason games, was moved to the under tackle and responded with two quarterback sacks in the Lions' 20-3 loss at Oakland. All-Pro DT Shaun Rogers, still out with a shoulder injury, usually starts at the UT.
  • MLB Boss Bailey, who got a slow start in training camp as he recovered from off-season ankle surgery, has been cleared for action and had four tackles in the Lions' third pre-season game, against Oakland.
  • WLB Ernie Sims, the Lions' first-round draft pick, has been moved to the first-team defense. He had four tackles, including three solos, in his first NFL start, the Lions' preseason game at Oakland.
  • S Daniel Bullocks, the Lions' second-round draft pick, is pushing Terrence Holt for the starting free safety job, but is working at both FS and SS. He has worked with SS Kenoy Kennedy, but at other times Holt and Bullocks are on the field together, without Kennedy.
  • WR/PR/KOR Eddie Drummond looks like he will have a full menu of assignments for the start of the NFL regular season. The Lions are using him in all three roles -- slot receiver, punt returner and kickoff returner. He has also played on some of the special teams coverage units in the past.
  • RB Kevin Jones, who had only 32 yards on 13 carries in the Lions' first two preseason games, rushed 11 times for 43 yards in their third game Friday night at Oakland. Jones also caught three passes for 27 yards and had a 15-yard run called back by a penalty
  • QB Dan Orlovsky was the Lions' No. 2 quarterback in two of their first three preseason games, playing ahead of the more experienced Josh McCown. After an impressive first game, Orlovsky has struggled at times, but is still in the competition for the backup job to Jon Kitna.
  • WR Charles Rogers, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft, has missed two of the Lions' first three preseason games with a knee injury. He will play in the final preseason tune-up if he is healthy but there is growing anticipation the Lions will trade him or release him.


     


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