Lions Notebook: Smith Closing In On 1,000

The big number for Sunday's game at Green Bay is 16. But another big number is 116. If rookie running back Kevin Smith rushes for 116 yards, he will set a career high and reach 1,000 yards.

The big number for Sunday's game at Green Bay is 16. If the Lions lose, they will become the first NFL team to go 0-16.

But another big number is 116. If rookie running back Kevin Smith rushes for 116 yards, he will set a career high and reach 1,000 yards for the season -- and the Lions will have a good chance to avoid 0-16.

"I think I am going to be key this game," Smith said. "I never say that, but I think I'm going to be key. At least if I'm not, I'll act like I am, act like I'm the big factor in the game. Hopefully that will have me playing good."

Smith has been playing relatively well lately. In his first eight games, he never reached 63 yards rushing. In his last seven games, he has failed to surpass 63 yards rushing only once. He has surpassed 100 yards twice, rushing for 112 on Nov. 2 at Carolina and 111 on Sunday against New Orleans.

"That's been going well for us," coach Rod Marinelli said. "The only time it hasn't is when we get behind fast and we're not able to run it 35 times or something that you'd hope to. So hopefully we can play a little better defense and give our offense a chance to run the ball some."

The Lions need time of possession and points against the Packers to keep their defense off the field and keep pace on the scoreboard. The Packers have a strong pass defense but rank only 26th against the run, so Smith is expected to get the ball often.

The more Smith gets the ball, the better he seems to run.

"This guy, it never looks like he's tired," Marinelli said. "It never looks like he's beat-up.

"His endurance seems extremely good. I think the one thing he's got going for him, he really loves to play football. You can see game day. He just loves it. He'll keep fighting, and he's got energy. He brings a lot of energy to the team."

Smith is well aware that he needs 116 yards for 1,000 -- and that wide receiver Calvin Johnson already has surpassed 1,000 receiving yards.

"I think it's a slight positive in a not-so-good season for the whole offense," Smith said. "Like, Calvin had 1,000 yards this season. Hopefully, the fullback and the line, we can push to get 1,000. Hopefully by that point we'll have won one game. I think that's OK on a team that's not so successful. But we'll see what happens."

As for 0-16 ...

"It can happen," Smith said. "I don't want to go 0-16. I'm not going to play like I want to go 0-16. That's all I can do."

Player Notes:

  • QB Daunte Culpepper (shoulder) did not practice Tuesday and Wednesday. He will not play Sunday at Green Bay.
  • DT Chuck Darby (calf) did not practice Tuesday and Wednesday. He is expected to play Sunday, though.
  • CB Travis Fisher (concussion) did not practice Tuesday and Wednesday. But he passes his first test Wednesday, and the Lions will see how he feels Friday.
  • DE Corey Smith (hamstring) did not practice Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • DE Dewayne White (calf) did not practice Tuesday and Wednesday. But he is expected to play.
  • WR Calvin Johnson (knee) was limited Tuesday and Wednesday. He will play.
  • LB Ernie Sims (knee) was limited Tuesday and Wednesday. He will play.
  • RB Kevin Smith (ankle) was limited Tuesday and Wednesday. He will play.

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