Lions' receiver Furrey finds niche. Again

It's probably safe to say that Mike Furrey has found his niche. Again. Furrey ranks just behind leading receiver Roy Williams in receptions with 37 for 431 yards, and has become Mr. Reliable for quarterback Jon Kitna. More news and notes inside.

ALLEN PARK -- It's probably safe to say that Mike Furrey has found his niche. Again.

He found it first three years ago as a special teams player and occasional receiver with the St. Louis Rams after a successful run in the XFL and AFL, where he tied a league record with 46 touchdown receptions in a single season.

He reinvented himself two years later, in 2005, as a defensive back and eventually moved into the starting free safety job, where he led the Rams in interceptions.

And when his former Rams coach -- Mike Martz -- took a job as the Detroit Lions offensive coordinator, Furrey couldn't resist the opportunity to tag along and he has found yet another niche as the perfect complement to Lions lead receiver Roy Williams.

Seven games into the season, the Lions are still struggling with a 1-6 record but their offense under Martz has taken off, in large part due to the skills of Williams, who leads the team with 38 catches for 581 yards and Furrey, who is right behind with 37 catches for 431 yards. Both Williams and Furrey have three receiving touchdowns.

That kind of play was expected, of course from Williams, a former first-round draft pick but it wasn't necessarily what anyone would have expected from Furrey, the former University of Northern Iowa player who was never drafted by an NFL team.

Lions coach Rod Marinelli has an explanation for Furrey's success.

"He's a ballplayer," Marinelli said after Furrey's nine-catch, 109-yard performance Sunday against the New York Jets. "That's the best I can say.

"The one thing with him, he brings the same level of intensity, the same production every single week. He's a guy who always shows up, always working, makes tough catches."

With the Jets focusing their defensive attention on Williams, Furrey became quarterback Jon Kitna's go-to guy and he played a major role in keeping the Lions in the game until the very end.

Furrey is taking his success with the Lions in stride. He says he is happy to playing offense, although he would probably be just as happy playing defense.

"I'm just having fun playing," Furrey said. "I had a lot of success playing defense for my first year last year with a couple interceptions and that kind of stuff. I don't care, as long as I'm playing and winning."

The winning hasn't started yet but if the Lions offense continues to improve and their defense eventually catches up, they should have a shot at that too.

PLAYER NOTES

  • The Lions signed WR Glenn Martinez to the practice squad on Wednesday. Martinez, who joined the Lions in 2005 before being allocated to NFL Europe, was released following the 2006 preseason.
  • QB Jon Kitna is among the NFL leaders in four major categories. Kitna, in his first year with the Lions and his first year under offensive coordinator Mike Martz, leads the league in pass attempts (264) and completions (167), is second in passing yards (1,853) and ninth in completion percentage (63.3) among passers averaging 20 attempts per game or more. The Lions rank 11th overall in total offense, fourth in passing offense (247.4 yards per game) and are eighth in yards per play (5.42).
  • RB Kevin Jones ranks fourth in the NFL in total yards from scrimmage with 740 yards (474 rushing, 266 receiving) and is third in the league with 37 first down plays (23 rushing, 14 receiving). Although Jones had a disappointing second NFL season in 2005, he has flourished under the Lions new offensive coordinator Mike Martz. Jones had a career-best 5.7 yards per carry average on 15 carries in the 31-24 loss to the Jets on Sunday and also had a career-best 57 yards receiving.
  • TE Dan Campbell, who was signed by the Lions last spring primarily to give them help as a blocking TE, has continued to deliver big plays as a receiver. Campbell's 22-yard gain on a screen pass Sunday against the NY Jets was his fifth reception of 20 yards or more, putting him fourth in the NFL in that category.
  • WR Roy Williams remains among the NFL leaders despite the defensive attention by the NY Jets that limited his production to two receptions for 29 yards and a touchdown Sunday. Williams led the NFL in receiving yards a week ago and is still second in that category with 581 yards. He is third among NFC receivers and seventh in the league with a total of 38 receptions in seven games.
  • WR Mike Furrey is tied for ninth among NFL receivers with 37 receptions after his career-best nine receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown in the Lions' 31-24 loss Sunday to the NY Jets. Seven of Furrey's nine receptions came in the fourth quarter when he teamed with QB Jon Kitna to lead a Lions comeback that eventually fell short.
  • DE James Hall leads the Detroit Lions in QB sacks with 5.5 in the first seven games. Hall is on course to approach his career-best of 11.5 sacks in the 2004 season.
  • FS Terrence Holt has two of only three Lions interceptions in the first seven games of the season. Holt, was thought to be in danger of losing his starting job at the start of training camp, already has matched his interception total for 2005 and is one away from matching his career best three interceptions as a rookie in 2003.
  • CB Dre' Bly is still without an interception after the Lions first seven games the season. It is the first time in his four seasons with the Lions that Bly, considered one of the Lions defensive big-play makers, has gone that long without an interception. He has had six, four and six interceptions in his first three years in Detroit.
  • PK Jason Hanson has been successful on seven of his last eight field goal attempts since missing a 40-yard attempt in the second game of the season. Among his seven field goals in that streak are a 53-yarder and two attempts of 40 yards or more. His only miss was on a 56-yarder that fell slightly short.
  • WR Mike Williams has been inactive for four of the Lions' seven games and seemingly now has lost any role he might have had in the team's offense to undrafted rookie WR Devale Ellis. Ellis had a 12-yard run on an end around and also caught a 19-yard pass in the 31-24 loss to the Jets.

     


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