Lions Notebook: Millen watch begins

Despite the word being 'mum' around Allen Park, it isn't keeping the fans or media from speculating on what Lions' owner William Clay Ford will do or what he should do to right the Lions after a six-year span in which they have won 23 games and lost 72 with one game remaining in the 2006 season.

The Matt Millen watch is underway. Again.

And, again, anything said, written or speculated on the subject is just that - pure speculation - because neither Millen nor Lions owner William Clay Ford is talking on the record.

Off the record, Millen has said he has no intention of giving up the team presidency he has held since Ford hired him out of the Fox television booth in January, 2001.

Ford hasn't been available to the media for months. He visits the Lions practice facility in Allen Park on a regular basis, watches practice with Millen and then goes on his way.

But none of that is keeping the fans or media from speculating on what Ford will do or what he should do to right the Lions after a six-year span in which they have won 23 games and lost 72 with one game remaining in the 2006 season.

Sports talk radio is bubbling with indignation, calling for Ford to: A) Fire Millen, B) Sell the team or C) Do both.

A Christmas Eve walkout proposed by several Internet websites created a lot of conversation leading up to the Lions-Bears game Sunday but the response barely caused a ripple.

The websites had urged fans to leave the game with 8:57 to play in the first half. What they failed to take into consideration was the fact that Bears fans had gobbled up hundreds of tickets for the game and they had no intention of leaving with their team holding a 10-7 lead late in the half. And even Lions fans were enjoying a close, relatively well-played game.

So the appointed time came and went with only a handful - relatively speaking - of unhappy fans leaving Ford Field.

There is no telling what Ford will do at the end of the season or if he will do anything. But a year ago he gave Millen a five-year contract extension that runs through the 2010 season and he is totally unswayed by public opinion, so - unless he has a sudden change of heart - there is nothing to suggest Millen's run at the top is over.

PLAYER NOTES

  • QB Jon Kitna is likely to finish among the NFL's top five most productive QBs despite the problems he and the Lions have had getting the ball into the end zone. Kitna is among the NFL leaders in pass attempts (554), completions (344) and yards (3,902) but he has more interceptions (21) than touchdowns (17), has been sacked 58 times and has turned the ball over nine times on fumbles.
  • RB Aveion Cason got the start in the Lions' game against Chicago and played the first half, with Arlen Harris replacing him for the second half. They delivered 75 yards on 15 carries between them and Harris produced an additional 26 yards on five receptions. Coach Rod Marinelli gave no indication if he plans to split the playing time in the final game of the season Sunday at Dallas.
  • TE Casey FitzSimmons, the Lions' No. 3 TE and one of their top special teams players, is expected to be finished for the season after suffering a separated left shoulder in the 26-21 loss to Chicago. FitzSimmons battled injuries much of the season and finished with seven catches for 71 yards.
  • WR Mike Furrey is within easy reach of the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his four-year NFL career. Furrey, who was a starting safety a year ago at St. Louis, has caught a team-leading 87 passes for 984 yards, leaving him just 16 yards short of the landmark 1,000-yards. Only WR Roy Williams has more receiving yards among Lions receivers.
  • WR Roy Williams already has career high totals in receptions (76) and receiving yardage (1,206) going into the Lions' final game of the season Sunday at Dallas. Despite the impressive numbers, Williams didn't get his first red zone touchdown until the 15th game of the season and has just five touchdowns for the season, three less than he scored in each of his previous two NFL seasons.
  • DT Cory Redding will lead the Lions in QB sacks for the first time in his four-year career and he will do it the hard way - from the DT position. Redding started the season as the Lions' LDE but was moved inside because of injuries to the two starting DTs - Shaun Rogers and Shaun Cody - and has played so effectively, he will probably remain inside next year. He has seven QB sacks.
  • LB Ernie Sims is considered a strong contender for the NFL all-rookie team, despite an exceptional class of rookie LBs. Sims has started all15 games at WLB and leads the Lions defense with 133 tackles.
  • CB Stanley Wilson, a second-year player, turned in what was probably his best game since being drafted by the Lions in the third round last year. Wilson started against Chicago in place of Fernando Bryant, who is coming off a concussion. He had eight tackles and also broke up three passes.
  • WR Mike Williams' already-uncertain future with the Lions became even more clouded after he dropped several passes, including the potential game-winning TD throw in the closing seconds of the Lions' 26-21 loss to Chicago. Williams has spent much of the season in offensive coordinator Mike Martz's doghouse and has just six catches for 71 yards in the seven games in which he has been active.
  • WR Devale Ellis has probably secured a chance to compete for the Lions kick return job when the team goes to training camp next summer. Ellis has shown flashes of ability while filling in for Eddie Drummond on various occasions during the current season, averaging 15.3 yards on four punt returns and 23.2 on six kickoff returns.
     


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