Before the season started, Lions' defensive end Kalimba Edwards was concerned about his job in Detroit. After a $20 million contract extension two years ago was repaid with a non-existent 2006, Edwards entered 2007 intent on earning his pay.
Some dreams die hard.
Although he began the season as a starting defensive end, Edwards wasn't active during Sunday's contest against the Dallas Cowboys -- replaced by rookie Ikaika Alama-Francis, who isn't even considered 100-percent healthy (hamstring) by the team's coaching staff.
Like Edwards, Alama-Francis was a second-round pick, but the team is infatuated with the rookie's size (6-5, 280), athleticism and tenacity.
Lions head coach Rod Marinelli said Monday that Alama-Francis simply graded out higher and deserved the playing time. But given the team's losing streak, and Edwards' rather disappointing season (he has registered just one sack since opening week), it is more conceivable that the writing is simply on the wall.
"Well, I didn't think -- you know I went through all their grades and that's what I do; we have a quarterly grade of factors -- and as I looked at it, it was an opportunity for five-o (Alama-Francis) to go," explained Marinelli for his reason to deactivate Edwards.
Marinelli conceited that Edwards still has a shot to regain his starting role, but didn't seem overly enthused about the possibility, answering the question with, "Oh yeah."
Edwards has been an anomaly ever since arriving in Detroit in 2002. The South Carolina product was considered a reach by team president Matt Millen in the second round, but the team was intrigued by his size (6-6, 265), speed and raw ability.
Despite four years of inconsistent play, the Lions got into a bidding war -- possibly with themselves -- before rewarding Edwards with his massive extension in 2006, which included $8 million in guarantees.
With the arrival of defensive coordinator Joe Barry, who brought Tampa Bay defensive end (and Lions sack leader) Dewayne White with him, there were rumblings prior to the year that Edwards would be released if he didn't produce.
With just three games to play, the clock is ticking on Edwards' career in Detroit. In fact, it might even be too late.
"Well, I've just got to see how the whole thing works; how practice goes," said Marinelli on Edwards' playing time. "But I base a lot of it on production. Factor grades and winning the one-on-ones; one-on-ones you have to (win). In this system you've got to (win). They get to see those grades and exactly how many one-on-ones they have and all those things. So that's a big part of it.
"I thought Five-O was really having some good weeks, especially before he pulled his hamstring. Since he got healthy I wanted to take a good look at him."
That might have included the last look for Edwards.