Detroit secondary looks to ground Eagles

In their first two games, the Lions rotated their cornerbacks in sets -- starters Fernando Bryant and Stanley Wilson, then backups Travis Fisher and Keith Smith. It is a tactic defensive coordinator Joe Barry brought from Tampa Bay, and one that he hopes will help keep a struggling Philadelphia passing game dormant.

In their first two games, the Detroit Lions rotated their cornerbacks in sets -- starters Fernando Bryant and Stanley Wilson, then backups Travis Fisher and Keith Smith.

It worked for them as part of a pass defense that has made a surprising six interceptions.

"We're keeping them fresh; we're keeping them healthy," defensive coordinator Joe Barry said. "But also, like I've told you, the only reason we're doing this is because those guys are all deserving of playing."

The concept isn't foreign to Barry, either. While working in Tampa Bay with head coach Rod Marinelli, the Buccaneers' secondary employed the same tactics.

"We played three or four guys in Tampa Bay as well," he said. "Ronde Barber was our nickel corner, when he went inside in nickel; we had to bring a third corner on the field. The third corner always played 30 or 35 snaps. I think it's a plus when you have three or four guys that can play, it's an added bonus.

"It's a long season and we ask those guys to do a lot out there; we ask them to reroute, we ask them to tackle, they need to run all over the field, so if we can get a nice little rotation (it's good). Like I said, as long as those guys are worthy of rotating in the game, I think it's a plus."

The Lions played Oakland and Minnesota, two of the poorer passing teams in the NFL, however. This Sunday they play Philadelphia, a team that has had great success with the passing game in recent years.

"Yeah, I mean they take their shots (downfield)," said Barry. "They've taken their shots in every single game, but this is the National Football League. You're going to have to defend the vertical passing game no matter who you're playing. Of course, with the Philadelphia Eagles they're no different."

Eagles' quarterback Donovan McNabb hasn't seemed the same since suffering a major knee injury last year, and he has been out of sync with his receivers. The Eagles have had only two offensive plays for 20 or more yards.

But the Eagles could solve their problems quickly.

"They're definitely a big-play team," Lions linebacker Boss Bailey said. "They might not have made none in the first couple weeks, but we don't want them to start in Week 3. They're still taking their shots. They just ain't hit some of them home yet. We've just got to try to eliminate the big play."

Individual Player Notes

  • RB Kevin Jones took another step toward playing Thursday. The equipment staff put Lions logos on his formerly plain, silver helmet.
  • RB T.J. Duckett (ankle) didn't practice. It seems unlikely he will play Sunday.
  • TE Dan Campbell (elbow) didn't practice. It is uncertain whether he will play Sunday. He left Sunday's game against Minnesota, but he has often played through elbow problems since he signed with the Lions last year.
  • DE Kalimba Edwards (ankle) didn't practice for the second straight day but is expected to play Sunday.
  • DT Shaun Rogers (knee) continues to go light in practice. The Lions continue babying him so he can be at his best on Sundays. He played 40 snaps in Week 2, after playing 34 in Week 1.

  • Lions Report Top Stories