Jon Kitna has heard his Lions teammates talk about how the team's record doesn't reflect its ability. He's not buying it. "What kind of grade would I give this team coming out of the bye? That's easy," he said Thursday. "Our grade is 1-6." INSIDE: Detroit's fourth-quarter ineptitude, comments from offensive coordinator Mike Martz, player notes and more.
Jon Kitna has heard his Lions teammates talk about how the team's record doesn't reflect its ability.
He's not buying it.
"What kind of grade would I give this team coming out of the bye? That's easy," he said Thursday. "Our grade is 1-6. Are there positives? Of course there are, but the only thing that matters at the end of the day is whether you won the game or not. We've played seven games, and we've only won one."
Detroit has had a chance to win in the fourth quarter of five of the six losses but hasn't been able to make plays down the stretch. The Lions have been outscored 64-30 in the fourth quarter this season.
The Lions haven't exactly been gangbusters at the start of games, either, with a 54-30 margin against them in the first quarter. Despite their ugly record, they have outscored opponents 72-71 in the middle two quarters.
"Obviously, we have to find a way to make plays in the fourth quarter so that we can finish off games," Kitna said. "But we also have to start putting more pressure on teams at the beginning of games. There have been a couple games that we could have put away early, and we didn't. That's come back to hurt us."
Lions offensive guru Mike Martz thinks that the early and late struggles will get easier as time goes on.
"To win in this league, you have to start fast and you have to finish fast," Martz said. "I think that having continuity of personnel will help with that. We're getting better -- it just has to all work itself out."
DE James Hall missed Thursday's practice so that he could fly to Alabama to have his injured shoulder examined. Hall, Detroit's best pass rusher, is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against Atlanta. The Lions are already definitely without starting DTs Shaun Cody (toe) and Shaun Rogers (drug suspension) for the Falcons game.
DT Tyoka Jackson will switch to defensive end if James Hall misses Sunday's game. Lions coach Rod Marinelli said that he would rather have Cory Redding stay at tackle because of Atlanta's blocking scheme.
LB Teddy Lehman is still on track to play for the first time in over a year this weekend against the Falcons. Lehman, who has been out since last October with an ankle injury, took part in all three of the week's full-speed practices, and coach Rod Marinelli expects him to be part of the rotation at middle linebacker.
WR Roy Williams appeared to be in some discomfort during Thursday's practice, but both coach Rod Marinelli and offensive coordinator Mike Martz said that Detroit's star wideout is fine.
S Kenoy Kennedy is expected to start at strong safety Sunday after missing five games with a foot injury.
WR Kevin Kasper might see action less than a week after joining the Lions on Tuesday. Kasper, who hasn't caught a pass since 2003, would play special teams and could get on the field in four-receiver sets.