If the writing wasn't on the wall before Thursday's 20-13 loss against Buffalo, wide receiver Charles Rogers' pending release from the Detroit Lions was everything but confirmed both during and after the game.
Billed as his last chance to prove he could stay with Detroit, Rogers instead was left sidelined for the majority of the team's final preseason game. Rogers participated in just 10 plays, catching one pass for three yards. After the game, he handed his jersey to a fan, and was less than enthusiastic about his chances of ever putting another honolulu blue jersey on his back.
"It would be hard for me to believe I'll still be here after this situation," Rogers said after the game. "I think my days are numbered."
Rogers had missed the previous two preseason games with a deep knee bruise, but was cleared medically earlier in the week. After an impressive off-season program, he had struggled during camp, losing snaps to undrafted rookie free-agents Devale Ellis and Shaun Bodiford.
A No. 2 overall pick in 2003, the former Michigan State University standout will likely be looking for a new employer, and home, after the weekend
"We'll wait 'til Saturday, but it don't look too pretty," Rogers said, referring to the team's cutdown date. "I think everyone is seeing the same thing. I'm a little bitter. Their minds are already made up and after what happened today, it signifies it."
Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli defended his decision to play Rogers sparingly, but seemed uncomfortable with the media's Q&A of the situation and at one point even asked the press to address other areas of the team.
"(It's) just kind of how it worked out for us," said Marinelli. "That's just how it worked out in the game."
When pressed further, Marinelli said that he hadn't yet made a decision on Rogers' future, but that his playing time was not an indication of whether or not he would make the team.
"I can't say that for another couple of days. These men have had an opportunity since March," he said. "It's not just one (preseason game), everything counts. Every practice counts; everything we've done. We've been evaluating; he's missed a couple of days because of injury. He had a chance to come back in and get some work in today. There were more guys than just those two (Rogers and WR Mike Williams) that need to be evaluated. It's just not those two guys. So, we're looking at all of them."
"It's not all about him. It's about what guys are going to help us win. Where are we at right now? Let's look at our injury list; let's look at where everything is at right now and then come to some conclusions. I don't want to do it right now."
Earlier in the week, Marinelli had stated that both Rogers and second-year receiver Mike Williams would receive "a pretty good dose" of playing time. He was asked whether or not it was fair that Rogers didn't receive that opportunity, but instead refused to address the question directly.
"And he didn't play two games right? He's been injured for two games. I think we've been evaluating for a year," said Marinelli. "I've said that. I don't know what else to tell you. If he played two more series would that be fair? If he didn't catch any balls, is that fair? I don't know what fair is. These guys have had tons of reps all the way through camp - all the way through camp we've had reps. Practice is important, practice games are important - it's all important."
"I guess we've got to watch the tape and see it (how he performed). He had one catch right? The quick pass one - but it's so many other things you're looking for: the effort and the tempo and the precision - so many things that we want. I'm hoping (the media) is going to ask about the nose tackle position -- something else -- the good battles there."
To his credit, Marinelli has stated since he arrived that draft status and contract was a non-issue when he was picking his top 53 players. And those players, he said, might not be the most talented individuals -- but players that will help the squad achieve its goals.
"What is fair to this team is not always what is fair to the individual," said Marinelli. "What is fair and right for this football team? Pretty soon we've got to look at what's right for the Lions - what is right for the Detroit Lions? When does that count? That's the most important thing. I've said it from day one: it's Lions football. My thing is how do you make this team come together? Who is the right guy? It may not be the best 53, it may be the 53 that help you win - that's what you've got to understand. It might be the 53 that just help you win. That's our job, to find the right 53. It's not about any one guy.
"I know he (Rogers) is a second overall pick and all of those things. That's good, he's a heck a guy. We've got to go sit down and say what can we do to get this thing going? That's the No. 1 thing for me; that has got to be No. 1 for me."