GameWeek: Game Plan

Finally, after all the offseason talk of 10 wins, the Lions are going to play a real football game. They are going to open the season Sunday at Oakland. Much more inside, including player comments, game plan and more.

Finally, after all the offseason talk of 10 wins, the Lions are going to play a real football game. They are going to open the season Sunday at Oakland.

Is quarterback Jon Kitna -- the man who first brought up the 10-win thing -- a little bit anxious? Does he want to see what the Lions have really got?

"I don't think I'm anxious, to be honest," Kitna said. "I know what we've got. I know who we are, what we are as a football team, and this one game is not going to define that. I'm anxious to get out and play, but not to find out who we are. I know what we are."

And what is that?

"I'm just speaking offensively, and that's the way I always will speak," Kitna said. "We're going to be a much better football team than we were last year. We understand this system a lot more than we ever did last year at any point, even when things were going really well. We're a lot deeper football team. And I think we're a lot more explosive football team."

So much was new at this point last season. Kitna had just arrived in Detroit, along with coach Rod Marinelli, offensive coordinator Mike Martz and many others.

"I didn't know last year who we were, and I didn't really know a lot about the system, to be honest with you," Kitna said. "I mean, did anybody know that Mike Furrey was going to catch 98 passes last year?"

Kitna laughed.

"I don't even think Mike was starting for us to start the year last year, and so things have changed, and we've grown together, and we've gone through a lot together, and we feel pretty good about where we're at."

The Lions have made a lot of changes on offense. They have added offensive linemen Edwin Mulitalo and George Foster. They have added running backs Tatum Bell and T.J. Duckett. Most notably, they have added wide receivers Calvin Johnson and Shaun McDonald, giving them a full arsenal.

"Last year I played on half a field," Kitna said. "I mean, my reads were basically, 'Where's Roy and Mike?' "

Kitna laughed again.

"Now I feel like I've got the whole field to deal with, and that's exciting for me," Kitna said. "I think it's going to be interesting to see how they deal with those three or four receivers when we put them on the field, and that's every week. And that's going to be the one thing we're going to have to find out week-to-week is, what is a team going to do? How is their adjustment going to be?

"But I'm interested to see that, and I'm interested to see how our offensive line handles a box that's not going to be so crowded in there in the run game. I think there's going to be some explosive runs that come out of us this year."

SERIES HISTORY: 10th meeting. Raiders lead series, 6-3. Lions won last meeting, in 2003, but Raiders won four before that.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "If I did play in this game and I threw three touchdown passes, I don't care if his name was Mike Williams or anybody else, I'd be happy. I think Mike probably has more ... I don't want to use the word vendetta ... I think Mike has more motivation against Detroit than I do, if any." -- Oakland QB Josh McCown, on facing Detroit along with former Lions teammate Mike Williams.

  • GAME PLAN: The Lions face a tough task against a defense that plays bump-and-run. QB Jon Kitna won't have large windows in which to throw. But they need to establish the passing game to open up the run. They need to put pressure on a strong Oakland defense. No matter who plays quarterback for Oakland -- Daunte Culpepper or the expected Josh McCown -- defensive tackle Shaun Rogers has to be a force.
  • MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Lions C Dominic Raiola vs. Raiders DT Warren Sapp. Sapp had 10 sacks last season and didn't go to the Pro Bowl, and it seems like he's not happy about it. He lost some weight in the offseason and it shows on film. Will he overpower Raiola?
    Lions DL vs. Raiders OL. Neither unit was good last season. The Lions have to get off to a strong start. If they don't get pressure on the quarterback, their suspect secondary could be exposed.

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