"So that the Lions could pick up another ex Buc."
The long running joke amongst both the media and fans is Detroit's off-season acquisitions. With a handful of Tampa Bay castoffs joining the roster (and most competing for starting positions), some have called them the "Detroit Buccaneers." And while the bulk shopping spree in west Florida was at least interesting, don't try telling Marinelli that the impact isn't paying dividends.
Defensive tackle Chuck Darby, who played in Seattle the previous three years but served under Marinelli from 2001-2005, has been rotating with fellow DT Shaun Cody beside Cory Redding. But it isn't that the eight-year veteran Darby has replaced Shaun Rogers; it's his expertise within Detroit's "Tampa Two" defense (a scheme that the league's worst defensive team in 2007 has struggled to adjust to) that has the Lions' coaching staff excited.
Darby is as much a teacher as he is a fellow teammate.
"He's been great for the whole team," explained Marinelli. "Just who he is; he's a guy that nothing was given to him at all; he' (been) a free agent, European league, fought to make a team, and then just made a career. It's good to see guys like that."
Added Marinelli, "He comes every day to work and has a smile on his face. He really does; he likes football. Those types of guys really benefit your team."
The Lions also signed several other players from Tampa, including a few defensive backs. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry cautioned, however, that the Lions didn't pluck just anyone from Tampa's recycle bin -- even if it might have seemed that way at the time.
"You guys have a made a big deal about us signing former Tampa players; we signed good football players that also we had relationships with in Tampa," said Barry following Sunday's afternoon practice session. "There are a lot of other guys in Tampa that I'm buddies with that can't play a lick. I wouldn't sign them.
"I want to sign guys that are good football players first, and it's just an added benefit that we had relationships with them and they've been in the system."
Marinelli concurred: "That was a few of these guys who understand the system and grew in the system, and the system has helped their careers. It has been a nice mesh so far."