Killer B's: Blaise's emergence helps solidify line

After five years in the National Football League, Lions' offensive lineman Kerlin Blaise is finally getting an opportunity, and he plans to make the most of it. Blaise has stepped in admirably for injured tackle Stockar McDougle, and plans to continue to impress.

Whatever you do, don't call Lions' offensive lineman Kerlin Blaise a finesse player. 

"That's the Miami Hurricanes mentality," said Blaise.  "Out there it's just go out there and hit somebody and hit 'em hard."

That's what coaches love to hear.  In the interior line, they want brawlers.  Guys who go out there and battle their opponents physically.  Tough guys play inside and that description fits Kerlin Blaise perfectly.

But Blaise says, if it means getting some playing time, if it means getting on the field, then, well, maybe ... he's willing to consider ... just a little finesse.

"Now moving from guard to tackle it's going to be finesse now.  It's something I'm not accustomed to," Blaise continued. "I've got to be less aggressive and move my feet a lot quicker than at guard.  That will be a challenge for me.  I will take it."

So why hasn't a confirmed mauler like Blaise been able to make more of an impact in the Lions offensive line, especially when the play of the unit has been as poor as it has over the last few years?

"It's been the constant injuries that have hindered me for the last couple of years and now, knock on wood, I'm injury-free and now all I have to do is just perform."

In 1998, Blaise came to the Lions as an undrafted free agent out of Miami, FL.  He was among the final cuts by the Lions on Aug 25, but then was re-signed to the practice squad.  He moved to the active roster but suffered a knee injury in practice and was inactive for all five games he was on the roster.

In '99 Blaise got a chance to play when starter Tony Semple dislocated his elbow.  Blaise started the only four games of his career at Semple's guard spot until he returned and was relegated to the bench.  It appeared that '00 would be the break-out season for the Miami standout, but he suffered a strained medial collateral ligament that kept him hobbled most of the season.  Last season saw Blaise continue mostly in a reserve role that he's harbored his entire career.

But this year in training camp, something clicked.  Blaise made rapid progress from the first day of training camp.  So much so that Lions' head coach Marty Mornhinweg was reluctant to move Blaise out of his guard position because he was making a push for a starting job.

Blaise talked about the difference between playing guard and tackle: "When you play guard you have a lot of lateral movement, when you play off tackle you've got to step back and read your defensive end and make plays from there."

Regardless of where he plays, Blaise just wants to get on the field, he realizes if he doesn't make a move soon, he'll be a career journeyman.

"This year is very important for me," said Blaise.  "The last couple of years I've been injured.  Right now, I just want to get out there and play as well as I can play. 

"I just want to go out and perform to the best of my ability."

The emergence of Blaise and the signing of former San Francisco 49'ers All-Pro Ray Brown have changed the look and the athleticism of the Lions offensive front.  Now, with a possible starting unit of Jeff Backus, Ray Brown, Eric Beverly and Kerlin Blaise, you could call them the "Killer B's". 

That would be OK with Blaise, the "B" would stand for brawler.

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