Kevin Jones must be licking his chops. He just posted his first 100-yard rushing game since returning from a serious foot injury, and Sunday his Lions face the Broncos, who have the worst rushing defense in the NFL. Complete team notebook inside.
Kevin Jones must be licking his chops. He just posted his first 100-yard rushing game since returning from a serious foot injury, and Sunday his Lions face the Broncos, who have the worst rushing defense in the NFL.
"They're not the worst," Jones deadpanned. "They're 30."
No, they're No. 32. They're allowing 166 rushing yards per game.
"Somebody's mentioned it to me," Jones said. "But at the same time, when teams come to play you, they're not going to play like they're the worst. You're going to get everybody's best, because a lot of teams don't want to give us respect yet."
The Lions were the worst rushing team in the NFL last season. Trying to score a touchdown Dec. 10 against Minnesota, Jones suffered a Lisfranc injury -- a tearing of the tissues that connect the bones in the middle of the foot. He had surgery Dec. 13.
There were rumors and reports that Jones would miss the 2007 season. But Jones rehabbed hard -- and even sought an unconventional heat acupuncture treatment -- and he looks like his old self less than 11 months later.
Jones carried the load Sunday in a 16-7 victory at Chicago, with 23 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown, plus two catches for 10 yards. He also fumbled once. It was his first 100-yard rushing game in almost a year, since Nov. 5 against Atlanta.
"It feels good," Jones said. "It's not really too much to it. It's just being able to have confidence and having my supporting cast with me and going to bat for each other. They're out there blocking. I'm not doing it by myself.
"The line's doing a good job. The fullback's doing a good job. The receivers are taking a lot of guys out of the box when we spread them out. It's all working together. I'm happy about it. Don't get me wrong. But there's a lot of pieces to that puzzle."
Last year, Jones was trying to learn the offense, and there was conflict between offensive coordinator Mike Martz and offensive line coach Larry Beightol. Now Beightol has been replaced by Jim Colletto.
"I think it's helped a lot," Jones said. "Just thinking everybody's trying to be on the same page with the coaching staff and not having three different ideas of how one play should be ran. Our coaching staff has jelled, and that's helped us out, too, as an offense."
Jones feels more comfortable in his second year in the system.
"When I see certain blocks, I know what's going on," Jones said. "I know certain defenses to read. It helps you to be able to play fast and not think too much."
There are still physical issues during the week. Jones is sore on Monday and Tuesday, and come Wednesday, he has to listen to his body to make sure he doesn't do too much. But he doesn't even think about the foot anymore on Sundays.
And winning heals a lot of wounds.
"You just feel good coming to work," Jones said. "Winning. That's the main thing is winning, and right now that's what we're doing. It helps you to come to work with a good, healthy attitude. You want to get to work and practice with the guys that's in the locker room winning with you. You want to get to the next game and try to get another win each week."
SERIES HISTORY: 10th meeting. Broncos lead series, 6-3. These teams haven't met since 2003, when the Lions lost at Denver, 20-16. The Broncos have won five of the last six, dating to 1981.
Player Notes and Quotes
QB Jon Kitna raised some eyebrows when he showed up at a Halloween party dressed as a naked coach, with his wife, Jennifer, dressed as a Wendy's drive-thru worker. Defensive line coach Joe Cullen received national attention -- and ridicule -- last year after his arrest for allegedly visiting a Wendy's drive-thru naked. "I think people who understand an NFL locker room understand that when guys do things, we joke with each other a lot," Kitna said. "Now, would I have done it last year? No. I think it would've been too close to when the situation happened. But Joe is somebody I talk to, and I know how far he's come and the changes that he's made and the things that he's done in his life."
The party benefited the Mike Furrey Foundation. Furrey, a wide receiver, and his wife, Koren, organized the event themselves for charity. They will use at least some of the money to give a vacation to two families with terminally ill children at Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit. They will take the families to the Caribbean for a week and personally play with the kids so the parents can escape for a little while. "The kids are going to have fun anyway," Furrey said. "I'll take the kids to the pool. 'You guys, there's a resort over here. There's a spa. Go do whatever you want to do.' ... The parents can just take a break."
When the Broncos play Sunday at Ford Field, CB Dre Bly could be booed the same way QB Jeff Garcia, another former Lion, was Oct. 21 when the Buccaneers came to town. Detroit fans might remember Bly more for blaming QB Joey Harrington for coach Steve Mariucci's firing than for his two Pro Bowls in four years with the Lions. "I really don't care because it happened, it's over with and I've moved on," Bly said Wednesday in a conference call with Detroit reporters. "And he's not there no more. I'm not there no more. ... I've still got a relationship with a lot of the guys. I don't think any of them guys hate me because of what happened."
Some players did have a problem with what Bly did, even if they liked Bly personally. "He'll say his teammates backed him 100 percent," LT Jeff Backus said. "I disagree because I didn't approve of the way he handled it. He might feel justified for dealing with it the way he did. But I talked to him right after he did it. He knows the way I felt about it." Backus said as a teammate Bly had his "ups and downs," but as a person he was a lot of fun. Backus lived four doors down from Bly for a year and a half. Bly was scared to death of Backus' dog, so Backus would let the dog chase Bly around. Bly used to fly around the neighborhood on his moped at 50 mph. "I look at Dre like my little brother, you know?" Backus said. "He's a guy that might say something stupid, but at the end of the day, he's a good guy. Just because he went publicly with his feelings and said what he had to say doesn't mean he's not a good guy."
Bly still has supporters in Detroit, though. After he was torched for a long touchdown in overtime Monday night, giving Green Bay a 19-13 victory over Denver, he received a text message from Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace, a fellow North Carolina Tar Heel. Wallace told him to forget about it, that he was still a playmaker, to just keep moving forward.
Lawyers for the NFL and the players' union agreed to waive an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday in the Detroit area regarding the Lions' grievance against former WR Charles Rogers, Lions chief operating officer Tom Lewand said. The sides submitted briefs to the arbitrator, and there is no timetable for a decision, Lewand said. The Lions are trying to recoup $10,184,000 of Rogers' $14.4 million signing bonus. Rogers' contract included a clause that said if he were suspended for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, he would have to pay back his bonus prorated for the rest of the contract. Rogers served a four-game substance-abuse suspension in 2005. The NFL Players' Association contends the clause in Rogers' contract is unenforceable based on the collective bargaining agreement between the union and the league.
BY THE NUMBERS: 13 -- Interceptions by the Lions, who had only 12 last season -- and traded Pro Bowl CB Dre Bly.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Did you win?" -- Defensive line coach Joe Cullen to QB Jon Kitna, who wore a Halloween costume poking fun at Cullen's alleged nude visit to a Wendy's drive-thru. Alas, Kitna did not win the prize for best costume at the party.