The Fast and the Furrey-ous; more notes

A year ago, Mike Furrey led the St. Louis Rams in interceptions;one game into the 2006 season, he is leading the Detroit Lions inreceptions. Unusual? Maybe to an outsider looking in but certainly not to Furrey. More Lions news and notes inside.

A year ago, Mike Furrey led the St. Louis Rams in interceptions; one game into the 2006 season, he is leading the Detroit Lions in receptions.

Unusual? Maybe to an outsider looking in but certainly not to Furrey, who came to the NFL three years ago from the Arena League as a receiver, switched to free safety a year ago and is now a slot receiver in the Mike Martz offense being run by the Lions.

"Whatever it takes," Furrey said. "Whatever. I'm on a journey right now and every time I go out there I just try to give it everything I have and leave it at that."

Furrey, 29, is obviously a gifted athlete, although he was ignored in the NFL draft after a record-setting college career at Northern Iowa. He spent parts of two summers in camp with Indianapolis and the New York Jets but got his only playing experience in the XFL and AFL before landing a roster spot with Martz and the St. Louis Rams in 2003.

After modest production as a receiver in 2003-04, Martz asked Furrey to move to defense. He did and started the final 11 games of the season at free safety, leading the team with four interceptions, including one he returned 67 yards for a touchdown.

The idea originally was for Furrey to play on the Rams special teams and be both the fifth safety and fifth receiver, thereby saving Martz a roster spot on game days.

"I went through OTAs and then some summer stuff, and they told me I had a chance to start if I wanted to go over there," he explained. "For me, I don't care what I'm doing as long as I'm playing, having fun and they said the word 'start.' I said, 'I'll be over there tomorrow.' "

When Martz was hired by Detroit, Furrey made the move also. He lost about 20 pounds -- from 210 to 190 -- to move back to wide receiver and caught five passes for 55 yards in the Lions' season- opening 9-6 loss to Seattle.

He says he uses the knowledge he gained as a defensive back to help him this year as a slot receiver.

"That has been my biggest advantage - understanding what defenses do, where they're coming from and what they're disguising," he said. PLAYER NOTES

  • QB Jon Kitna completed passes to eight receivers in a 21-for-37 performance in his first game as the Lions starter. He was unable to generate a touchdown but he had five passes of 15 yards or more, including three of 31 or more, which is a step up from the last year's anemic production in the West Coast passing offense.
  • RB Kevin Jones had 80 yards total offense in the Lions' season opener but only 35 of them (on 14 carries) came from the running game. Jones caught five passes for the other 45 yards, an indication that he has a grasp on the receiver role that offensive coordinator Mike Martz wants from his RBs.
  • TE Dan Campbell was signed by the Lions primarily to help them run the football as a blocking TE but his 30-yard reception was the team's longest play from scrimmage in the 9-6 season-opening loss to Seattle. The 30-yard catch was the longest of Campbell's seven-year NFL career.
  • WR Roy Williams was disgusted with himself after what he considered a subpar performance in the Lions' season-opening 9-6 loss to Seattle. He gave up on a deep post route thinking the ball was going to another receiver and he said his blocking was one of the reasons the Lions were unable to get their running game going. He finished with three catches for 36 yards.
  • WR Mike Furrey, who had four interceptions from the free safety position with St. Louis a year ago, seems to have made the adjustment back to WR in his first season with the Lions. Furrey, playing the slot, led the Lions' receivers with five catches for 55 yards in the season-opening 9-6 loss to Seattle.
  • DT Shaun Rogers got very little practice time and no preseason game action because of a shoulder injury but it didn't seem to bother him in the season opener against Seattle. Rogers sacked Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck twice and also blocked a Seattle field goal attempt. In his six NFL seasons, Rogers has eight FG blocks and one PAT block.
  • DE James Hall, whose QB sack total dropped to five in 2005 after a career-best 11.5 in the previous season, got off to a fast start on the 2006 season with two sacks against Matt Hasselbeck in the Lions' season opener. Hall also gave the Lions one of their two blocked field goals.
  • MLB Boss Bailey, who missed most of training camp and the preseason recovering from off-season ankle surgery, might soon be ready to take over the starting MLB job if his play off the bench in the season opener is an accurate indicator. Paris Lenon started at MLB but Bailey made four tackles and played impressively coming off the bench.
  • CB Fernando Bryant, who has missed 20 games because of injuries in his first two seasons with the Lions, turned in a solid performance in his first game back at the starting LCB position. He broke up two passes and made eight tackles as the Seahawks threw to his side of the field frequently in the season opener.
  • P Nick Harris, who led the NFL with 34 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line last season, landed his first punt of the 2006 season inside the Seattle 20, extending his streak to 19 consecutive games with a punt inside the 20.

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