What happened to Shaun Rogers?
A few weeks ago, the defensive tackle returned an interception 66 yards for a touchdown, stiff-arming an opponent, looking like a much smaller man. He also had 2.5 sacks, four quarterback hurries, three tackles and a pass defensed on Nov. 4. The Lions beat the Denver Broncos 44-7 and improved to 6-2. He was named NFC defensive player of the week.
But since then, Rogers has been a non-factor. Not coincidentally, the Lions have lost five consecutive games.
When the Detroit defense faced a fourth-and goal situation at its 1-yard line Sunday, Rogers wasn't even on the field. This was only two plays into the quarter. There had just been a break. But coach Rod Marinelli said Sunday the Lions wanted fresh players out there.
Dallas running back Marion Barber ran through a gaping hole in the middle of the line and into the end zone standing up. The Cowboys cut the Lions' lead to 27-21.
Marinelli said Monday the Lions didn't necessarily know that play was going to be a run, and he was very comfortable with Langston Moore in the game instead of Rogers.
"There's a good chance they could throw it, too," Marinelli said. "We felt we were in a position to rush the passer. ... We felt we still had the right guys in the game."
Rogers has struggled with knee and conditioning problems, and Marinelli had a plan to get him into shape. Rogers didn't practice most of the preseason. The Lions started out playing him about 30 snaps a game and increased it to about 45. But now Rogers is declining.
"I just think as the season's worn on, he can't practice as much," Marinelli said. "We can't condition him as much with the knees, and so we've just got to limit some of the reps."
So it's not Rogers' fault then?
"Oh, I didn't say it's not his fault," Marinelli said. "His knees bother him, and he's not as quick right now."