Martz remaining mum on return to St. Louis

Although he's remained mum publicly on the issue, Lions' offensive coordinator Mike Martz isn't revealing his feelings to his current players regarding his return to St. Louis on Sunday, where he will coach against the team that sent him packing at the end of the 2005 season. More news, notes and quotes inside.

ALLEN PARK -- Mike Martz isn't talking this week. At least, he's not talking to the media for publication.

He's talking to his players, putting together an offensive game plan for the Lions' game Sunday at St. Louis.

Even there, however, the Lions' offensive coordinator isn't revealing his feelings regarding his return to St. Louis to coach against the team that sent him packing at the end of the 2005 season.

"No, no," said wide receiver Roy Williams. "It's the same thing every week, he wants to win every week and we're 0-3."

But anyone even remotely familiar with Martz has little doubt that he has special feelings about playing the Rams and that he will have something special cooked up for the Lions when they get to the Edward Jones Dome.

After all, Martz was the offensive coordinator under Dick Vermeil on the 1999 St. Louis team that won Super Bowl XXXIV and he was the head coach of the 2001 team that lost to New England in Super Bowl XXXVI.

Martz was considered the architect of the "Greatest Show on Turf" offense that prospered with Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt for a good seven seasons. But he missed the final 11 games of the 2005 season with a heart problem and, by the time he was ready to return, the Rams had decided they no longer needed his services.

Instead of seeking another head coaching job immediately, Martz eventually was persuaded by Lions new head coach Rod Marinelli to take the offensive coordinator position in Detroit. That's where he is -- installing his own brand of offense with a team that has struggled the past five years and is now struggling to get back on track.

With the Rams game next on the schedule, the media was eager to talk to Martz but he sent word through the team's public relations staff that he would not be available to talk this week.

That doesn't mean that the media -- or the Lions players -- don't have a pretty good idea how badly he wants a win in St. Louis.

"Oh yeah, who wouldn't?" said Williams. "If I get traded and I come back here to Detroit, I want to put on a good show. It's just the nature of this game ... you especially want to beat your old team."

Cornerback Dre' Bly was a rookie on the Rams' Super Bowl championship team and played the next three seasons under Martz and said "it's going to be big" for Martz to go back to St. Louis.

"You know Mike's been looking forward to this game ever since he left. I still don't understand why he was fired; he took us to two Super Bowls and had a winning record as a head coach. Whatever happened, happened. I was glad that he came here and we're just moving forward but I know he's very excited to go back, have an opportunity to go do what he does best in the city that he did it best in. I'm looking forward to going back to St. Louis also."

SERIES HISTORY: 79th game in a series that has covered the Rams' moves from Cleveland to Los Angeles to St. Louis, with the Rams holding a 40-37-1 lead. The Lions are 2-1 against the Rams since they moved to St. Louis in 1995 but all three of those games have been played in Detroit. The game Sunday will be the Lions' first in the Edward Jones Dome.

ROAD WOES: 5 -- Total of Lions road wins over the past five seasons. They lost 24 in a row on the road during the 2001-03 seasons, won three on the road in 2004 and two on the road last year.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We see him as one of the best backs in the league. He proved it a little bit this past Sunday; we need a little bit more. I know the fantasy gurus need him a lot more and hopefully he'll show up Sunday." -- Wide receiver Roy Williams on the Lions need for running back Kevin Jones to have a productive day Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.

GAME PLAN VS RAMS: The Lions showed the first semblance of a running game in their loss to Green Bay last Sunday and it's likely they will try to expand on that area of their offense against the Rams, who are giving up nearly 130 yards per game rushing. Defensively, the Lions have played well against the run but have been shredded in the passing game. It's mandatory that they get pressure on QB Marc Bulger if they're hoping to control the St. Louis passing game. They have had no sacks in the past two games.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Lions FS Terrence Holt vs. Rams WR Torry Holt. It's brother against brother. Older brother Torry leads the Rams with 20 receptions for 230 yards and two TDs; younger brother Terrence is the Lions' last line of defense at FS.
--Lions DT Shaun Rogers vs. Rams Gs Todd Steussie and Adam Timmerman. Rogers had two QB sacks in the season opener and has played well against the run but he has to get to QB Marc Bulger or, at least, flush him out of the pocket.
--Lions RT Jonathan Scott vs. Rams LDE Leonard Little. Scott, a rookie filling in for injured veteran Ts Rex Tucker and Brandon Stokes, held up reasonably well in his first start but he'll have a greater challenge against Little, who leads the Rams with two QB sacks.

INJURY IMPACT: SS Kenoy Kennedy (foot) and SLB Alex Lewis (knee) have been listed as out for the second consecutive week. Rookie S Daniel Bullocks is expected to start in place of Kennedy and Paris Lenon was moved from MLB to SLB to play in Lewis' place. Offensive linemen G/T Brandon Stokes (hamstring), T Rex Tucker (knee) and G Ross Verba (hamstring) all have listed as questionable but apparently have made little progress from last week when Stokes and Tucker were inactive and Verba left the game in the first possession. Rick DeMulling is expected to play LG if Verba can't go and rookie Jonathan Scott will start at RT if Stokes and Tucker are down. CB Fernando Bryant, who missed the last game for personal reasons (a death in the family), is questionable with an ankle injury, leaving Jamar Fletcher as the likely starter.

PLAYERS ON T.O.
The report of Terrell Owens' alleged attempted suicide came as a surprise and a shock to the Lions' locker room on Wednesday.
The players were in morning meetings when the incident was revealed across the country so most of them were reluctant to talk about it.

"I just found out about it when you just said it," wide receiver Roy Williams told reporters.

"It's surprising when anybody tries to kill themselves especially the type of player T.O. is but it's not my deal. My prayers are out to him if he feels that way."

Other Lions players simply declined to comment on Owens.

Owens denied that he attempted suicide during a Cowboys' press conference later in the day.

LIGHT AT THE END?

According to the Rod Marinelli theory, the Lions should be doing their hardest work right now, when the outlook is the most bleak and their record is 0-3.

"It's kind of like being in that tunnel," Marinelli said. "You're digging, right? And when the light comes, what do you start doing? Digging faster? That's the wrong way to do it. See? That's wrong.

"You dig when you expect no light. That's what I'm about. I'm just going to keep digging, digging, digging until you make your own light." In other words, when things are the most difficult -- as they seem to be for the Lions as they attempt to pick up Marinelli's offensive and defensive systems -- is when the players should be working the hardest.

"Because the other way's easy: 'Hey, the light's coming, we'll all go play fast.' That's just not the way it is. That's not life. So we'll move forward."


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