Tampa-infused Lions brace for Buccaneers

Rod Marinelli says it's just another game, that all he sees on the other sideline are gray helmets. But it's hard to believe next Sunday's Bucs-Lions matchup will be just another game for the former Tampa Bay defensive line coach -- and many others.

Rod Marinelli says it's just another game, that all he sees on the other sideline are gray helmets.

Well, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do wear pewter helmets. So he's got us there. But it's hard to believe next Sunday's Bucs-Lions matchup will be just another game for Marinelli -- and many others.

Marinelli was the Bucs' defensive line coach for 10 years before becoming the Lions' head coach. He got his first break in the NFL; bonded with people like Tony Dungy, Lovie Smith and Monte Kiffin; learned the Tampa Two defense he now loves so much; and coached the likes of Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice. Oh, and he won a Super Bowl.

Some of Marinelli's Tampa Bay proteges have followed him to Detroit. Joe Barry, Marinelli's son-in-law, spent six years on the Bucs' coaching staff before becoming the Lions' defensive coordinator this year. Defensive end Dewayne White, defensive tackle Langston Moore and defensive-tackle-turned-fullback Jon Bradley are among the Lions who played for Marinelli in Tampa Bay.

White credits Marinelli with not only molding him into a player in Tampa Bay, but with molding him into a man and a good father. It's why he signed with the Lions as a free agent this year.

"I want him to succeed here as much as anything," White said. "That's kind of one of the things that motivated me to come. He wanted me here. The fact that I can help them succeed with his goals ... that attracted me.

"He's everything that I would want to be. If he says something, he's going to follow through with it. You can't help but to believe what he says because it's proven. He's done it. So it's sort of like, you need to do what he says because you're not going to succeed any other way. That's what I've tried to do, and it's been working out for me."

On the flip side, Tampa Bay quarterback Jeff Garcia will return to Detroit. Garcia spent the 2005 season with the Lions, battling with Joey Harrington for the starting job.

PLAYER NOTES

  • WR Calvin Johnson hasn't played a full game since Week 2. He left the game in Week 3 with a bruised lower back, sat out Week 4 and was limited in Week 5. But he should be ready to go this week.
  • RB Kevin Jones, three games into his return from a bad foot injury, should be ready to carry more of the load now that he has had the bye week to heal further.
  • RG Damien Woody lost a lot of weight and restructured his contract to stick with the Lions, but he will have to work much harder and show more fire to regain his starting job from Stephen Peterman.
  • RT George Foster is on thin ice. He has been benched in two straight games and could lose his starting job to Jonathan Scott.
  • DT Shaun Rogers should have benefited from the bye week. He has still been struggling with knee and conditioning issues and hasn't been able to handle a full load of snaps in a game.

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