One-on-One: Marinelli teaching Alama-Francis

ALLEN PARK -- Of the 68 players at the Lions' recent rookie camp, two commanded the most individual attention from the coaches -- second-round picks Drew Stanton and Ikaika Alama-Francis. Francis, though, received some one-on-one attention from the most important individual in the complex.

ALLEN PARK -- Of the 68 players at the Lions' recent rookie camp, two commanded the most individual attention from the coaches -- second-round picks Drew Stanton and Ikaika Alama-Francis.

Offensive coordinator Mike Martz is a quarterback guru. He strips down quarterbacks and builds them back up again. And he got started with Stanton by teaching him the most basic of the basics -- how to hold the football.

"He's had a fat hand on the ball, so he kind of pushes it," Martz said. "He's got a live wrist, so when he gets his hand placement right, the ball snaps out of there pretty good."

As Stanton worked on it, he didn't throw a lot of spirals. The ball was wobbling; his head was spinning.

"There are a lot of things -- from your feet, to your eyes, to the way I hold the ball, all those things that he's taught all the quarterbacks that have had success," Stanton said. "Now I just need to really hammer it home and get it through repetition."

Coach Rod Marinelli is a defensive line guru. He tutored the likes of Simeon Rice and Warren Sapp in Tampa Bay. And in Alama-Francis he has raw clay to mold. Alama-Francis didn't start playing football until 2003 and didn't become a starter at Hawaii until '05.

Marinelli often pulled aside Alama-Francis while the defensive linemen went through their drills. Sometimes it looked like martial arts training, as Marinelli worked on Alama-Francis' hands. Sometimes it looked like a mini-scrimmage, as Marinelli lined up aides as blockers and backs to instruct Alama-Francis on the intricacies of the Tampa Two run defense.

"I never would have imagined that," Alama-Francis said. "Coming into here, I heard so much about him, how he's such a great D-line coach. ... I just try to soak it all in. I'm so inexperienced. His knowledge is just unbelievable. I'm excited just to be under him."

INSIDE THE POSITION: Right now the Lions' depth chart at defensive end looks like this: Kalimba Edwards and Corey Smith on the right, Dwayne White and Jared DeVries on the left. Alama-Francis can play both ends and might move inside to tackle in nickel situations.


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