On the defensive: Playbook trim?

Detroit Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli says he might cut back on his defensive playbook with the goal of improving on the execution. "Sometimes you actually add to your playbook by subtracting ..." commented Marinelli. More news, notes, stats and quotes inside.

ALLEN PARK -- Coach Rod Marinelli says he might cut back on his defensive playbook with the goal of improving on the execution.

"Sometimes you actually add to your playbook by subtracting and that's something we've got to look at and how do we maybe cut back some things, make sure we're giving them the chance to get better at some of the fundamental things that we want to get done," Marinelli said.

"As a staff we've got to look at that and go back and re-teach. No panic. We just go back and see it and make corrections."

The defense has been a major disappointment in the Lions' 0-4 start. During the pre-season there were times it seemed the defense might have to carry the offense during the early portion of the season but it has been the other way around in the 0-4 start.

The offense has been progressing but the defense has been a major disappointment, giving up 106 points in the past three games. Only two teams -- San Francisco with 126 and Tennessee with 121 -- have given up more points than the 115 the Lions have allowed for the season.

Marinelli said he believes the Lions have enough talent to play his system effectively but he and his staff have to make sure they put their players in a position to succeed. They have been able to do that in run defense, where the Lions rank 10th in the NFL.

"Our only identity, I think on defense, is stopping the run," he said. "That's been our identity right now."

Since getting five sacks against Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in the season opener, however, the Lions have had only one sack in three games and they rank No. 30 in pass defense.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I got no problem with it. Just give me a play and I'll go out there and play it." -- Linebacker Ernie Sims on the suggestion by coach Rod Marinelli that the Lions might cut back on their defensive playbook to simplify the game plan for the struggling defense.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Lions are still operating -- and showing improvement -- without two of the players who were expected to be key performers in their offensive line -- LG Ross Verba and RT Rex Tucker.

Both have been hampered since training camp with injuries and have gotten only limited playing time, but the pass protection and running game have flourished in the past two weeks.

Rick DeMulling, who lost the starting left guard job a year ago after being signed as a free agent from Indianapolis, drew praise from coach Rod Marinelli for his work in the 41-34 loss to St. Louis last Sunday and rookie Jonathan Scott, although seemingly a step slow coming off the snap, has been encouraging at RT playing against veteran pass rushers.

PLAYER NOTES

  • CB Fernando Bryant, who has missed the last two games due to a combination of the loss of a family member and an ankle injury, returned to practice Wednesday and was not on the Lions' injury report. If the ankle holds up it appears likely he will return to the starting LCB, where Jamar Fletcher has struggled the past two weeks.
  • OL Brandon Stokes, who was inactive for two games and did not play last Sunday in St. Louis because of a hamstring injury, practiced Wednesday and was not listed on the Lions' initial injury report. Although coach Rod Marinelli did not make any commitments, it appears likely Stokes will either start or get considerable playing time at RT, where rookie Jonathan Scott has been playing.
  • WR Roy Williams, coming off back-to-back games with 138 and 139 yards receiving, leads the NFC in receiving yardage with 384 and is second in receptions with 25.
  • KOR Eddie Drummond, who averaged 35 yards on six kickoff returns against St. Louis on Sunday, is fourth in the NFC and 10th in the NFL in kickoff return average with an average of 25.4 yards per attempt. Drummond averaged 26.6 yards per return when he won his NFC Pro Bowl berth in 2004.
  • PK Jason Hanson, the Lions' 36-year old kicker in his 15th NFL season, is one of two kickers tied for fifth place among NFL kickers in touchbacks on kickoffs. Hanson has five, two fewer than the league leader, Phil Dawson of Cleveland. He has also connected on five of seven field goal attempts.

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