If Shaun Rogers had any doubt regarding the demands that would be made on him for the 2006 season, he probably won't have it much longer.
Rogers, the Lions' two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, was dominating in the team's season-opener against Seattle. He had two quarterback sacks, blocked a field goal attempt, clogged the middle and occupied Seahawks blockers so his linebacker teammates could get to Shaun Alexander.
By any measure you want to apply, Rogers was at the top of his game. Coach Rod Marinelli agreed. And then he asked for a little more.
"He could be better," Marinelli said. "He could still be better. He was dominating and he's really a heck of a player. I want to keep challenging him to be better and better."
Rogers, a second-round prize in the 2001 draft, has always been considered a quality player. The only question was whether he would dedicate himself to playing at the highest level on every play of every game, or whether he would be content to show his talent in bursts and spurts.
Marinelli, a long-time defensive line coach before being hired as the Lions' head coach last January, obviously likes what he has seen from Rogers but he apparently has no intention of letting him rest on his laurels.
"I was very impressed with his motor and his work ethic," Marinelli said. "I just like the guy. That position (the under tackle) is a motor of the whole defense. He's the guy that's got to create the havoc and chaos and he's got the ability to do that, and he's showed that right now.
"It's just the consistency, one -- every snap just being better and better and better. I couldn't be more excited about him right now but he's still got to get better."
What is noteworthy regarding Rogers' first-game performance is that he did it with minimal practice time. He suffered a shoulder injury in the early days of training camp, missed all four preseason games and only got back to the practice field a few days before the season opener.
At 6-feet-4, 340 pounds (or more), he still has some conditioning to do before he is in regular season shape, but Marinelli had no complaints regarding his effort.
"I thought the one thing when I watched him very closely on tape, that level of consistency was pretty good," Marinelli said. "I really liked what he was doing in terms of that consistency, especially on a guy that only had a couple of days of practice.
"His game wind is not there, he's not carried his pads that long. I was really pleased. That part I was very pleased with -- how hard he tried to go on every snap."
As far as Marinelli is concerned, it was a good start. The rest will be up to Rogers.
SERIES HISTORY: 153rd meeting in the second-longest rivalry in NFL history.
The series began in 1930 when the Lions were the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans.
They won the first game, 7-6, but the Bears hold an all-time edge of 85-62-5.
The Lions lost both of last year's games, 38-6 and 19-13 in overtime.