Confidence brewing in Lions locker room

At 5-2 entering Sunday's game against Denver, the Lions feel they can play a lot better but are right where they need to be. They have been blown out twice, but they are 5-0 in games decided in the fourth quarter or overtime. More news and notes inside.

At 5-2 entering Sunday's game against Denver, the Lions feel they can play a lot better but are right where they need to be. They have been blown out twice, but they are 5-0 in games decided in the fourth quarter or overtime.

"That's the first step, in my opinion," quarterback Jon Kitna said. "I don't think you go from 3-13 to, 'OK, we're going to blow people out.' I just don't think that happens in this league. That's very rare.

"You kind of grind out some wins, and then you start to gain confidence, and then all of a sudden, you get those games that maybe you can get two or three times a year that go lopsided. And hopefully we'll start getting those."

The Lions went 3-13 last season. They started with five straight losses, and they suffered seven straight losses over another stretch. But Rod Marinelli, in his first season as coach, kept pounding the same message and stressing the same fundamentals day after day.

On one particular Monday after a loss, Kitna recalled with a smile, Marinelli came into the team meeting upbeat. He said he knew there were players in the room who were in the tank.

"(Bleep) your tank," he told them.

Marinelli and the players kept saying last year that they saw progress within games, even though they weren't getting results. Then, in the season finale at Dallas, the Lions fought to the final play and beat a playoff-bound team. They carried that feeling into the off-season.

Now they are seeing results on a regular basis.

"It's hard to be confident without results," Kitna said. "I think results produces confidence. You can be confident, but the doubt will creep in if the bad things keep happening. On the same token, if the good things keep happening, then you continue to have that confidence. 'You know what? We're going to be fine.'"

Lions coach Rod Marinelli said the last two weeks of practice had been outstanding, that the Lions had a "good look in our eye that I like." Those practices led to victories over Tampa Bay and Chicago.

"We've won two games," Kitna said. "I don't think we're going to call that a streak or on a roll or anything like that. But we're starting to gain more and more confidence each week -- confidence in what the coaches are teaching us, confidence in the scheme, confidence in each other and then confidence individually in how you're playing.

"Guys are seizing the opportunity right now of where we're at. You don't get a lot of opportunities in this league to do special things, and we have that chance, and that's what we've given ourselves by the way we've started the season.

"You're starting to see confidence come, you're starting to see a little bit of a swagger come out, and that's what you want in a football team."

Individual Player Notes

  • QB Jon Kitna continues to take a pounding. He has been sacked 32 times, more than any other quarterback in the NFL.
  • RB Kevin Jones rushed for 105 yards Sunday at Chicago five games into his return from a bad foot injury. It was his first 100-yard game in almost a year, since Nov. 5 against Atlanta.
  • TE Sean McHugh, who had missed a game with a fractured left hand, started Sunday while wearing a protective pad taped to the hand. He caught one pass for 11 yards.
  • WR Roy Williams led the Lions with eight catches for 77 yards Sunday at Chicago and should see a lot of CB Champ Bailey on Sunday against Denver.
  • WR Calvin Johnson aggravated the injury he suffered Sept. 23 at Philadelphia when he was tackled on an end around Sunday. Coach Rod Marinelli said Johnson was sore but the injury wasn't as bad as it was originally.
  • CB Fernando Bryant has two interceptions this season, after failing to make an interception in his first three seasons with the Lions.
  • DT Shaun Rogers, who has had knee and conditioning issues in the past, still has not missed a practice since the regular season began.
  • DE Kalimba Edwards missed Sunday's game at Chicago with a knee injury and his status is uncertain for Sunday's game against Denver.
  • WR Shaun McDonald already has tied his career high with three touchdown catches this season, and with 33 catches for 368 yards, he is on pace to shatter his career highs of 46 catches for 523 yards, set in 2005 with St. Louis.
  • WR Mike Furrey is well behind his pace from last year, when he caught 98 passes, best in the NFC, for 1,086 yards and six touchdowns. He has 26 catches for 328 yards and no touchdowns.

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