Packers-Lions player notes

Rookie to back up Harrington at quarterback

Here are some player notes from the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. The two teams will meet this Sunday at Ford Field in Detroit in the regular season opener:

Detroit Lions
-- QB Jeff Garcia will miss at least two months of the regular season with a broken fibula and badly sprained left ankle in the final preseason game, but the Lions won't put him on injured reserve if there is any chance he will be available to backup starter Joey Harrington later in the season. That now appears to be the case.

-- QB Dan Orlovsky, a fifth-round draft pick from Connecticut, is likely to go into the season as the backup to starter Joey Harrington after the loss of Garcia. Orlovsky has enough in the preseason to convince the Lions he can handle the job as long as he is not thrown into a situation where he has to become the fulltime starter.

-- Harrington missed the Lions' final preseason game with a mild groin strain, but he is expected to practice all week and be ready for the season opener against the Packers. Harrington completed 69.7 percent of his preseason passes and was not intercepted in 33 attempts, but he did not score a touchdown in three appearances.

-- RB Kevin Jones sat out the final preseason game as a precautionary move, resting a mild groin injury so he will be ready for the season opener Sunday. Jones rushed for 1,133 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie, giving the Lions the big-play threat they had lacked at RB after the retirement of Barry Sanders in 1999.

-- RB Cory Schlesinger will miss at least the first two regular season games recovering from a broken fibula, but he is hoping to be ready to play in the third game (after the Sept. 25 bye) at Tampa Bay. Schlesinger gets few carries but catches occasional passes and is a strong lead blocker for Jones.

-- LB Teddy Lehman missed a week of practice and the Lions' final preseason game with a knee injury, but the team believes he will be ready to play in the season opener. Lehman is the backup to MLB Earl Holmes but is also expected to begin working at the WLB position, currently held by James Davis.

-- DT Shaun Rogers is expected to be fully rested and recovered from a badly bruised left shin. Rogers missed most of last week's practices and did not play in the final preseason game at Buffalo but the Lions believe he will be 100 percent or close to it for the season opener.

--DE James Hall, who led the Lions with 11 1/2 sacks last year, was hampered by a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the final preseason game at Buffalo, but he is expected to get a full week of practice and be ready to start Sunday in the season opener.

Green Bay Packers
-- DT Cletidus Hunt topped the list of final roster cuts by the team Saturday. Hunt, whose underachieving production and lack of commitment in the off-season the past two years irritated head coach Mike Sherman, was released in the third year of a six-year contract, which was valued at $25.35 million with a $6 million signing bonus when he signed it in 2003.

The Packers save $1.25 million on the salary cap this year, but they still will have to count $1.95 million for Hunt. Next year, the accelerated cap hit for Hunt's remaining signing-bonus money will be $3.6 million.

Hunt appeared in only the final preseason game after being sidelined most of training camp with tendinitis in both knees and a shoulder.

"It's just part of doing business in the NFL," general manager Ted Thompson said of cutting Hunt. "We try to base most if not all of our decisions on football and who can best fit the bill. We just felt some of these young tackles played well. We made the decision based on that."

-- Second-year pro Corey Williams, who mostly filled the void during Hunt's absence in camp, is in line to start the season opener Sunday at Detroit. Cullen Jenkins and Kenny Peterson also are candidates at the three-technique position.

-- The Packers cut one veteran linebacker, Ray Thompson, but added another with the acquisition of former first-round draft pick Robert Thomas in a trade with St. Louis on Saturday. Green Bay sent CB Chris Johnson to the Rams.

The versatile Thomas, who has played all three linebacker spots and made 30 starts his first three years with the Rams, is projected as a backup initially with the Packers.

However, Thomas could be pressed into starting duty if Na'il Diggs isn't ready for Sunday's game. Diggs has been out since Aug. 8 with a tear of the MCL in his left knee.

Thompson said Paris Lenon, who had a strong preseason, will start alongside Diggs and middle linebacker Nick Barnett. If Diggs can't play initially, either Thomas or undrafted rookie Roy Manning will be in the starting lineup.


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