Lions Notebook: Marinelli urges caution

The temptation for Lions fans is to look at a win as a rarity, a once- or twice-in-a-season occurrence to be treasured but not to be viewed as an indicator of good things to come. Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli isn't necessarily taking the same approach, but he also isn't ready to crown his team a playoff contender. More news, notes and quotes inside.

ALLEN PARK -- The temptation for Lions fans is to look at a win as a rarity, a once- or twice-in-a-season occurrence to be treasured but not to be viewed as an indicator of good things to come.

And, for the most part, that has been a sound approach to a team that has won only 23 of its last 88 games and only twice in 5 1/2 seasons has put together back-to-back wins. Along the way there have been numerous false alarms that inevitably led to disappointments -- for instance, the 4-2 start that preceded the firing of Steve Mariucci in what developed into a 5-11 record last year.

But with the 30-14 upset of Atlanta behind them, the Lions are approaching a portion of their schedule that gives them a chance to put together a few wins.

They have San Francisco coming up Sunday at Ford Field, followed by a Nov. 19 game at Arizona and the traditional Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field, this time against the Dolphins.

Even with a sweep of those three games, however, the Lions would be a game under .500, and the remaining five games on the schedule are a sobering thought -- on the road against New England, Green Bay and Dallas, home games against Minnesota and Chicago.

So perhaps that is why coach Rod Marinelli prefers the Lions to keep their focus on the job at hand and never mind what might -- or might not -- lie ahead.

"I think we're starting to sense the energy that we want," Marinelli said. "Right now, my biggest concern is that we come back with the consistency, that we come back this week and practice again this week really fast, really hard. Then take it into the next game, next Sunday and play with the consistency we want."

There will be plenty of time to talk about the Lions being "on a roll" later, perhaps after they put together another of those rare two-game winning streaks.

STRONG FINISH

Coach Rod Marinelli has been stressing the need to finish strong if the Lions are to win some of the close games that have gotten away from them earlier this season.

At times they have seemed to run out of energy. Other times they have not been able to protect a late lead, in part because they couldn't control the ball in the late going.

In fact, the Lions went into the Atlanta game averaging just 27 minutes, 48 seconds time of possession in their first seven games of the season.

In the 30-14 victory against the Falcons, however, they controlled the football for 32 minutes, 56 seconds -- roughly five minutes more than they had averaged in previous games -- and they were in no danger of letting it get away at the end.

PLAYER NOTES
 

  • FB Cory Schlesinger has missed two games with a hamstring injury even though he had the bye week sandwiched between them. Schlesinger said he probably could have played Sunday against Atlanta, but it might not have been the smart thing to do, considering he developed some tightness in the hamstring late last week. It is expected he will have a good chance of playing in the upcoming game against San Francisco.
     
  • TE Sean McHugh started in place of injured Cory Schlesinger at the fullback position in the Lions' 30-14 victory over Atlanta. McHugh was used primarily in blocking situations but had one catch for 7 yards.
     
  • LB Teddy Lehman played approximately 15 plays with the defense and another 15 on special teams against Atlanta in his first game back in the lineup after missing the first seven games on the physically unable to perform list while recovering from a foot injury. Coach Rod Marinelli said he expects to increase Lehman's playing time if the foot holds up.
     
  • SS Kenoy Kennedy returned to the lineup in the Lions' 30-14 win over Atlanta after sitting out the previous five games with a foot injury. Although he did not start, Kennedy was involved in four tackles, broke up one pass play and intercepted Falcons QB Michael Vick in the closing seconds of the game.
     
  • LB Alex Lewis was credited with three tackles in his first game back after sitting out five games with a knee injury. Lewis was not in the starting lineup, but coach Rod Marinelli estimated he was in about 15 plays on defense and another 15 on special teams. If Lewis suffers no adverse effects, Marinelli said he expects Lewis to get more plays next week against San Francisco.

     


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