Healthy Harrington preparing for 2003 season

Joey Harrington is back in Detroit. After returning almost two weeks ago, the young Lions' quarterback commented on several things during a Wednesday press briefing. Included are his comments on what he's doing to prepare himself, new head coach Steve Mariucci, NFL draft prospect Charles Rogers, Michigan's bitter cold winter, and more

Joey Harrington is certainly a welcomed sight.

The young Lions' quarterback, who spent most of the off-season with his family back in Oregon (and avoiding the media), made his first briefing Wednesday afternoon since January.

At that time, Harrington was recovering from an operation to correct a form of heart arrhythmia that forced him to miss the Lions' two final regular season games.

"I’m completely fine. There’s no medication -- there’s nothing," said Harrington, who has been working out consistently in Allen Park with quarterbacks and a handful of receivers. "It’s something that’s in the past. I’m completely healthy and I haven’t thought about it since I started working out again about a week after that surgery.

"It’s something that’s behind me and I’m moving on and getting ready for this season."

Harrington's preparation for the 2003 season will include familiarizing himself with new head coach Steve Mariucci, and the dismissal of the replaced Marty Mornhinweg, whom Harrington had good relationship with.

"(Marty Mornhinweg) was a terrific coach for me personally. I enjoyed coming into the league with him," said Harrington. "I wish him nothing but the best in Philly. He was always very fair and he was always very loyal to his players and I respect him for that. On the same note, we have a coach coming in, Coach Mariucci, who is a proven winner. He brings a vision, he brings an excitement, he brings a passion to this organization which I think has been missing for a while."

Harrington acknowledged he has had one-on-one talks with Mariucci since returning to Detroit, and that Mariucci had "poked his head in on our quarterback school."

"I think he’ll be very hands-on," said Harrington. "What I really like about him is that he’s very detail-oriented.

"These are the steps that he wants to take and he lays them out for you. There is no stone unturned -- he makes sure that you know what you’re talking about."

A coaching change for any young quarterback is difficult, especially for one entering his second season in the league. However, Mariucci runs the same West Coast offense that Mornhinweg installed, and most of the coaching staff has been kept intact, lessening the learning curve that lies ahead for Harrington.

"There’s a level of comfort and consistency that stays when you keep your offensive staff together," said Harrington. "One of the biggest things is, Coach Mariucci brings the same offense in. It’s the same terminology, the same checks and the same reads. Some guys have two years of experience (in the West Cost offense) and I have one year from last year which we can build on."

Harrington looks to improve upon an up-and-down rookie campaign in which he tossed for 2,294 yards and a Lions' rookie record 12 touchdowns last season, in addition to 16 interceptions.

"Of course I expect to make great strides," said Harrington. "The experiences that I had last year, the ups and downs, both will contribute to what I do in this off-season, what I learn and how I go about next year. Last year, I went through some highs, like the New Orleans game and winning three of the first six games. I also went through some lows, I got booed -- that doesn’t sit well.

"It doesn’t sit well because I know that I can play better and I know that I should be playing better and I’ve taken that as a motivating tool into this off-season."

Harrington admitted that he needed to make quicker decisions in the pocket, and missed certain coverages last season. According to Harrington, those are all things that will come with experience, and getting a better grasp of the offense.

On Charles Rogers:

"I would love to have him in here.

"I definitely watched some of his games last year. You tend to get a lot of Big Ten games out in this area. I remember the (endzone) catch against Notre Dame --   growing up Irish Catholic, I was a little upset about that one."

On speaking with Marty Mornhinweg:

"Yes, I have (spoken with Marty Mornhinweg). It was kind of a 'wrapping up' conversation. He was very good about the whole situation. He was obviously disappointed because he wanted to see this thing through. He was also very understanding of the situation. I wish him nothing but luck in Philly."

On Dre' Bly:
"I know that he's very athletic and very talented, I’m excited to have him in here. With the facilities and the coach, the organization is really making a push to get those kind of guys in here and it's an exciting time around the office."

On his return to Michigan:
"It's cold," said Harrington regarding the cold Michigan winter. "It's very, very cold.

"I came back about 10 days ago. Just in time for the 6-8 new inches that fell in my backyard."

During a question regarding his vacation in Oregon, Harrington ended his answer with "Is it always this cold here?"


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