Seattle Seahawks (0-0) at Detroit Lions (0-0)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: FOX, Dick Stockton, Daryl Johnston
SERIES: 10th meeting. Seattle leads the series, 5-4, including a 35-14 victory in Seattle on Nov. 16, 2003. That victory snapped a three-game Lions winning streak in the series.
2005 RANKINGS: Seahawks: offense 2nd (3rd rush, 13th pass); defense 17th (5th rush, 25th pass). Lions: offense 27th (26th rush, 26th pass); defense 20th (24th rush, 13th pass)
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Seahawks play their second consecutive meaningful game in Ford Field, but hope the outcome is different than Super Bowl XL. The first-team offense didn't look in sync as much as one might expect during most of the preseason and is without injured TE Jerramy Stevens. But for the Lions to keep the game close, DT Shaun Rogers, who missed the entire preseason with a shoulder injury, has to control the line of scrimmage and help limit the damage by RB Shaun Alexander. The Lions' offense is now run by former Seahawks QB Jon Kitna, and offensive coordinator Mike Martz is very familiar with Seattle's defense from his days in St. Louis. Expect the Lions to target CB Kelly Herndon through the air, but they also need to be physical up front against a Seahawks line that averages just 276 pounds among its four starters but amassed 32.5 sacks in 2005.
Seahawks: With a win, Mike Holmgren would become the 16th coach all-time with 150 for his career. ... QB Matt Hasselbeck's 86.6 passer rating is the best in franchise history.
Lions: Only 11 of 22 projected starters were in the starting lineup for the team's 2005 finale. ... Have won their past three season openers. ... Rod Marinelli will make his head coaching debut.
--C Chris Spencer was excused from practice Thursday for personal reasons. He was expected to rejoin the team Friday and travel to Detroit for the Seahawks' opener. Spencer is a key reserve and the top back up at left guard and center.
--OLB Leroy Hill missed practice Thursday and the Seahawks added him to their injury report as questionable with a shoulder problem. Hill is a key member of the defense, but backup D.D. Lewis is a former starter who can get the job done. Lewis became the odd man out when the Seahawks signed Julian Peterson in free agency.
--WR Darrell Jackson has practiced all week and could start Sunday in the opener. The Seahawks are so confident about Jackson's readiness that they carried five receivers, down from an average of six heading into recent seasons. Jackson has not played since last season. He underwent two knee surgeries in the past year.
--TE Itula Mili appears close to full strength and has been practicing all week. Mili returned this week after suffering a sprained knee during the preseason. Seattle is thin at the position because starter Jerramy Stevens is out until October.
--DT Russell Davis has practiced all week after missing time with a foot injury. The team expects him to be ready Sunday.
--DT Shaun Cody has been listed as probable with a shoulder injury for the Lions' season opener Sunday against Seattle. Cody has been participating on a limited basis in workouts. He has taken over the NT position occupied last year by Dan Wilkinson.
--LB Ernie Sims will get the starting assignment at weak-side linebacker in his first regular season NFL game. Sims moved into the first defense two games into the Lions' preseason schedule and has impressed coach Rod Marinelli with his progress.
--FS Terrence Holt successfully stood off the challenge of second-round draft pick Daniel Bullocks to retain the starting job for the Lions' regular season opener Sunday against Seattle.
--S Daniel Bullocks will not be a starter in the Lions' season opener Sunday against Seattle, but he is expected to get playing time nevertheless. Bullocks got playing time with the first defense during the preseason but was unable to unseat veteran Terrence Holt for the starting job.
--OT Barry Stokes has been sharing time with Rex Tucker at right tackle in practice this week leading up to the Lions' season opener Sunday against Seattle. Tucker is listed as the starter but missed the preseason with a knee injury. Coach Rod Marinelli said he might not decide on a starter until game day.
--RT Rex Tucker has practiced this week but has shared the reps with backup Barry Stokes. Coach Rod Marinelli indicated he might not decide on a starter until Sunday when the Lions meet Seattle in the season opener. Tucker is considered the starter but missed the preseason with a knee injury.
--DL coach Joe Cullen has been arrested twice in the past two weeks, the first time for driving under the influence and the second time for indecent and obscene conduct, which was described in the police report as driving naked. The team released a statement in which Cullen apologized to the team, fans, his family and friends. The Lions said he has requested "treatment."
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
The Seahawks feel better about their situation at the skill positions after seeing wide receiver Darrell Jackson and tight end Itula Mili practice this week. Both players had been recovering from knee injuries.
"The continuity is starting to come back and you're saying, 'OK, that's what we are,'" offensive coordinator Gil Haskell said.
Coach Mike Holmgren hasn't said whether Jackson will start, but it's clear the veteran will see extensive playing time against Detroit. Seattle has some viable options at the position in Bobby Engram, Nate Burleson and D.J. Hackett.
Mili is definitely looking like the starter, first because he is running well and second because Seattle has few options at the position. Starter Jerramy Stevens is out until October. Veteran offensive lineman Tom Ashworth will serve as an extra blocking tight end if needed, but he is not much of a receiving threat.
Jackson's health has been a concern all off-season.
"We kind of brought him along in an intelligent way medically," coach Mike Holmgren said. "If he can come back and play, then we have no depth problems at all.
"If he can't, then someone else has to step up - Hackett has to step up, someone else has to step up. That's what we have to wait and see."
Holmgren said the Seahawks don't have to change their offense without Stevens, but they would if Mili were to become injured. "If Mili is in the game, nothing changes," Holmgren said. "Anything we expanded to do last year, we're ready to do and call again this year whether Jerramy's in there or not."
Eddie Drummond is still returning punts and kickoffs but, by his own admission, he has other things on his mind as the Lions open the regular season against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Like lining up in the slot and catching passes in the offense that coordinator Mike Martz brought to the Lions.
"I've been waiting for this for four years," said Drummond, the NFC Pro Bowl returner just two years ago, "but the other coaches never gave me a chance. As soon as Mike Martz came in he said he was going to give me an opportunity to play as long as I proved myself in practice and games, and I have."
In the Lions' four preseason games, Drummond led all receivers with 13 receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown, while returning five punts for a meager 2.4-yard average and two kickoffs for a 20.5-yard average.
Drummond had an NFL-best 13.2-yard punt return average and an NFL-second best mark of 26.6-yard average when he was selected for the Pro Bowl in 2004, but his average dropped to 6.0 on punt returns and 22.0 on kickoff returns last year.
And, while special teams coach Chuck Priefer has him back in his familiar roles, Drummond will have to improve his production if the Lions are to get the special teams help they need from him. But he admits, his focus has been in other areas. "Chuck Priefer is so mad at me right now, because special teams is secondary to me even though I went to the Pro Bowl for special teams," Drummond said, grinning. "I had to put it secondary so I could achieve my goal as a receiver."
It probably won't take Drummond long to get back in Priefer's good graces if he starts turning out yards at the Pro Bowl rate again but part of that will depend on the help he gets from his special teams teammates. Injuries were part of the problem for Drummond on returns in 2005, as was the makeup of special teams.
"That was due to me coming back too soon from an injury and basically half of the blockers I had from the Pro Bowl season before that were gone or switched up," Drummond said. "So it was a whole new set of guys. When you have that, it's hard to have a successful team. The Pro Bowl (blockers) I had, I was with them for three years. That's why we were so good."