Marinelli: The quarterback has to play better

Rod Marinelli said it himself earlier this week: "There will be no lineup changes and I'll leave it at that. But we do know that the quarterback has to play better. There is no question and he knows that." More news and notes inside.

Rod Marinelli said it himself earlier this week: "There will be no lineup changes and I'll leave it at that. But we do know that the quarterback has to play better. There is no question and he knows that."

The quarterback -- 11-year veteran Jon Kitna -- will most assuredly try to play better Sunday against the Chicago Bears than he played in the 17-9 loss at Green Bay when he was intercepted twice, lost one fumble and audibled into a quarterback sneak that failed.

Kitna will do the best he can playing behind a collection of second- and third-string offensive linemen. He will do the best he can handing the ball to fourth-string running back Arlen Harris.

In other words, he'll do what he can to get the ball to his receivers IF he has a split second to find them against the Bears pass rush and a defense that knows the current running back is averaging 2.9 yards per carry.

It's not an ideal situation by any measure but Kitna will give it a shot, hoping to break the Lions' six-game losing streak that has plunged them to the bottom of the NFL with a 2-12 record.

Marinelli, obviously, is aware of the situation, as he noted when asked whether Lions fans could pin their hopes to a 34-year-old quarterback who has been intercepted at least once in each of the last 12 games.

"Is it one guy?" said Marinelli. "Or is it the whole situation that he's around? Getting an opportunity to set his feet is really important as a quarterback, right? When you get to a drop you want your feet to be set so you can get your keys. So that's all part of it.

"So, like I was saying earlier, he's got to play better, no question. But so does everybody else around him. I mean, that's called a team game."

The Lions' biggest problem in the final weeks of the season is their offensive line. Only two projected starters -- left tackle Jeff Backus and center Dominic Raiola -- have stayed healthy enough to start every game this season.

Guard Damien Woody, guard Ross Verba and tackle Rex Tucker have started a total of 17 games among them. Woody and Tucker are on injured reserve, Verba remains on the active roster but is out with a groin injury and now even the players replacing the starters are going on injured reserve.

The latest is Barry Stokes, who had started 11 games at guard and tackle before going down with an ankle injury and landing on injured reserve Wednesday.

"It's a difficult situation but it is what it is," Kitna said. "What can you do about it? You just have to continue going about your business. The guys that are in here, you just have to go on and play. Offensively speaking, that's been the hardest thing all year -- guys having to be shuffled in and out of the lineup.

"The one thing you hope is that it builds depth for the future, young guys getting a chance to play. And you hope that builds some depth for the future."

Kitna obviously is not going to turn on the offensive linemen he'll have trying to protect him against Chicago -- Backus and Raiola, playing with undrafted rookie guard Frank Davis, fresh-off-the-practice squad guard Stephen Peterman and rookie tackle Jonathan Scott, a fifth-round draft pick.

"I don't make excuses," Kitna said. "I just know that coach (Mike) Martz looks at the whole picture. You look at the numbers and all that stuff, and it looks awful. But Coach looks at the whole picture and he lets me know when there's a problem.

"There's been a few games that it has been an issue for me, it has been a problem that I could correct. But some of it's not correctible for me. I just try to do what I can, do my job to the best of my ability, and I'm confident everything will work out."

Honolulu Blues
For the second time in six seasons, the Lions failed to land a player in the Pro Bowl.

That is probably not too surprising, considering the team has a 2-14 record and was in the midst of a six-game losing streak at the time the Pro Bowl voting came to an end.

Wide receiver Roy Williams, in his third NFL season, probably had the numbers to be worthy of consideration. He was leading the NFL in receiving yardage with 1,116 yards at the time the voting ended but he wasn't one of the four players selected for the NFC team. Williams was named an alternate.

Other Lions players who might have gotten consideration if the team had a better record included rookie linebacker Ernie Sims, who leads the teamwith126 tackles; defensive tackle Cory Redding, who has seven sacks since making the move from defensive end; and placekicker Jason Hanson, who is eighth in the NFL in scoring among kickers with 99 points and has made 25 of 29 field goal attempts, including three from 52 yards or longer.

The Lions had no players in the 2002 Pro Bowl game either. They finished 3-13 that season.

Favre A Fan Of Kitna's

Although the season has taken a turn for the worse for Lions quarterback Jon Kitna, he might take consolation from the comments by Green Bay future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre after the Packers' 17-9 win Sunday in Green Bay.

"I've always admired Jon," Favre said. "(And) most people think, 'Why?' He's a hell of a competitor. He's kind of bounced around from team to team, (but he) had a great game against us on a Monday night when he was with Seattle here years ago.

"He's always kind of been 'the other guy.' I think -- from a statistics standpoint, like today, nothing to write home about but I've watched a lot of those (Detroit) guys on film this year, offensively, and he gets up, he battles, he always says the right things, always carries himself in a professional way and I admire that. We need more guys in this league like that. He keeps battling."

Furry Thinking 1,000

With two games to go, wide receiver Mike Furrey needs another 123 yards to complete one of the most remarkable turnarounds in the Lions' recent history.

A year ago, as a backup receiver under then-head coach Mike Martz in St. Louis, Furrey agreed to move to the defensive secondary just to keep a spot on the roster. He ended up as the starting free safety and led the Rams in interceptions with four.

When Martz took the job as the Lions' offensive coordinator in February, he brought Furrey with him, with idea of moving him back to wide receiver.
Furrey has fit in nicely as the No. 2 behind Roy Williams and currently leads the team in receptions with 77, good for 877 yards and four touchdowns. And he obviously would like to hit the 1,000-yard mark before the season ends.

"Being a receiver, that kind of plateau is something you always dream about," Furrey said. "But it's not a thing I'm going to go out there and press for. If it happens, it happens. Great. It's something I can sit back in the off-season and say I finally hit a thousand yards.

"But, on the other hand, I'd love to go out in these last two games and win, kind of go out and just have fun, enjoy ourselves, play together as a team and just let it loose. That's what I'm looking forward to these last two games."


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