Lions Notebook: Cat with nine lives?

The notion might be humorous to some, but that hasn't deterred Lions' receiver Roy Williams and quarterback Jon Kitna from their plan to win the remaining nine games on the schedule. Complete team notebook, including more news and notes inside.

ALLEN PARK -- To paraphrase Lions coach Rod Marinelli, the record doesn't lie.

It's one of Marinelli's pet theories as he is evaluating NFL players, that videotape of games and practices don't lie. And as the Lions hit the bye week break, the same theory applies to their 1-6 record, as distasteful as it might be.

"Yeah, because that's what it is," Marinelli said. "That's all I can say. We've got to win those close ones. It's like that every week. You can look more into it (like) 'Man, we're close' but in this league you've got to win them.

"You have to win those games at the end. Maybe a couple more stops on defense here, one or two there and pull that thing together a little bit tighter and we would have given ourselves an opportunity to win."

Marinelli has refused to let the Lions take comfort from "almost" winning close games. Four of their six losses have been by seven points or less. It was 9-6 against Seattle, 31-24 against Green Bay and the New York Jets, and 41-34 against the St. Louis Rams. And they held a 14-point lead going into the fourth quarter at Minnesota before losing by nine, 26-18.

Close? All it means to Marinelli is that the Lions weren't quite good enough to finish the job and, until they are, they will have a problem winning games. And the theory has begun soaking in on his players as well.

Wide receiver Roy Williams says he looks at the Lions' talent and doesn't see a 1-6 team, and that's what he finds so bothersome.

"We're not a 1-6 ball club, in my opinion," Williams said. "Everybody else around the world might say we're a 1-6 ball club but to me and this team, we're not a 1-6 ball club even though our record is 1-6.

"To me, there's no such thing as 1-6. That's my expectation coming in; there's no such thing as a one-win team. Especially this team. We're not a 1-6 ball club. You kind of want to re-set.

"We've got a whole second half to play and we can still get in the playoffs. We've got to win nine in a row. Are we capable of doing it? Yes. We have to do everything right. We've got to be disciplined on defense and we've got to be disciplined on offense.

"I play offense and I can't talk about the defense. I play offense and we've got to get our stuff together."

Quarterback Jon Kitna says he doesn't let himself look at the Lions' 1-6 record as some sort of aberration.

"I don't ever look at it that way because if you look at it that way, you forget that you're the reason you're there," Kitna said. "You should have done better, we should have done our job better and our record wouldn't be 1-6.

"So, instead of saying, 'Well, we should have done this,' or 'we should have done that,' let's fix it and do that next time. Try to get better. We are what our record says."

The only question now is what the record will say the Lions are on Jan. 1 after they complete the remaining nine games on the schedule.

NOTES, QUOTES

  • The Lions won't have a game this weekend but not all of them plan on putting their jobs completely out of their mind for the three-day bye weekend.
        Center Dominic Raiola says he will try to watch the Atlanta-Cincinnati game on Sunday to get an idea of what to expect when the Lions return from the bye week to meet the Falcons on Nov. 5.
        "I'll try to catch that game to get a head start on next week," Raiola said. "I'll try to get away from it a little bit but it's tough to do."
        The best distraction for the Lions might be to get a look at another of Detroit's professional teams -- the American League champion Tigers baseball team.
        "I'll definitely catch up with the Tigers," Raiola said. "Just hope to see a World Series victory, that's pretty much what I'm looking forward to."
  • Punter Todd Sauerbrun was one of a number of free agent players brought in for a workout by the Lions during their bye week but coach Rod Marinelli insisted Sauerbrun's presence does not mean the team is unhappy with Nick Harris, the Lions punter since 2004.
        "We bring a lot of guys in to take a look, see what's out there just so you know where everybody's at," Marinelli said.
        Harris led the NFL last year when he dropped 34 of his 84 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line with only two touchbacks for the entire season. He has not been that accurate this season. He has eight touchbacks already this year, compared to six punts downed inside the 20, a factor that has hurt the Lions field position.
        Special teams coach Chuck Priefer has not soured on Harris, however. And place-kicker Jason Hanson trusts Harris totally as his holder on PATs and field goals.
        "We like our punting," Marinelli said.
  • Defensive tackle Shaun Rogers is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery and is working out in his home state of Texas while serving the remaining three games of his four-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance.
        The knee had bothered Rogers since training camp and, since he was going to be idle for five weeks (four games and the bye), the Lions decided it would be a good time for him to get the knee taken care of.
        "It went well," coach Rod Marinelli said. "He's doing his rehab down there."
        Marinelli indicated one of the Lions trainers would visit Rogers in Texas to check his progress in the rehab. He will be eligible to return from the suspension for the Thanksgiving Day game against Miami at Ford Field.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 2 -- The Lions' longest winning streak in six seasons. They won back-to-back games against Oakland and Chicago in 2003, and had back-to-back wins against Chicago and Houston to open the 2004 season. The rest of their 17 victories (including their lone win this year) have been preceded and followed by losses.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "It sucks being 1-6 but, hey, who says we can't win nine in a row?" -- Quarterback Jon Kitna on the Lions record going into the bye week.

    PLAYER NOTES

  • OG Ross Verba, who was projected as the Lions' starting LG when he went to training camp, has played in just one of the first seven games because of a hamstring injury suffered during the pre-season. Rick DeMulling has played LG during Verba's absence and coach Rod Marinelli said he will wait until Verba is ready to return before making a decision on who will start at LG between LT Jeff Backus and C Dominic Raiola.
  • OG Rick DeMulling has started six of the Lions' first seven games at LG, originally as the replacement for injured starter Ross Verba, who has been out of action with a hamstring injury. With Verba close to a return, coach Rod Marinelli said he will evaluate DeMulling, Verba and Blaine Saipaia before deciding on his starting guards for the Nov. 5 game against Atlanta. Saipaia was forced into starting duty by the foot injury to G Damien Woody, who is on IR.
  • LB Teddy Lehman, who is eligible to come off the PUP list, apparently is getting closer to a return to active duty with the Lions. Lehman was projected as a MLB or SLB but has been held back by foot injury and off-season surgery. Coach Rod Marinelli has not indicated exactly how Lehman will be used but says he likes the added depth Lehman will bring to the LB corps.
  • LB Alex Lewis, who got off to an impressive start in the 2006 season, has missed the last five games with a sprained knee. Although the team originally said the injury would be evaluated on a day-to-day basis, it was clearly much more serious and coach Rod Marinelli is hoping now that Lewis will be able to return after this week's bye

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