Lions Mid-Week Wrap

Practice notes and team news heading into week three of the 2003 NFL season.

-- Former Lion middle linebacker Chris Claiborne had some pointed remarks about his former employer when he talked to the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Monday but he toned it down considerably talking with the Detroit media two days later.
   In an interview with the Pioneer Press, Claiborne suggested the Minnesota Vikings were able to sign him at the reasonable rate of $5.5 million because the Lions didn't want to pay him top linebacker money and sabotaged him in free agency.
   Claiborne told the St. Paul newspaper he was "thankful" to the Lions for letting him go to Minnesota, where he is starting and playing well at the weakside linebacker position.
   "I don't have to go through all that other stuff they have to go through over there," Claiborne said. "If they didn't want to pay me, they could have just let me go. They didn't have to do all that talking. But that's how dirty it got over there."
   In toned down remarks with the Detroit media, Claiborne said: "I honestly don't have any hard feelings. I think they're going in the right directions. I think that being here is working out for me, so everything is good. I have no problems with it. Actually, I got a letter from Matt Millen the other day, so everything is good."
   Claiborne said Millen sent him a congratulatory letter after the Vikings' season-opening win at Green Bay.
   -- It appears likely that wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim will play this week for the first time since suffering a potentially career-ending hip dislocation in the 10th game of the 2002 season.
   In addition to rehabbing the hip injury, Hakim had to recover from a knee arthroscopy during training camp before getting back into the regular practice routine.
   He thought he could have played Sunday at Green Bay but coach Steve Mariucci shot the idea down.
   "I felt I was ready but I think Mariucci thought I would probably be better off getting another good week of preparation before they unleash me," Hakim said, grinning. "I think it was a smart decision."
   Asked Wednesday to give reporters a recap of the injury and his recovery, Hakim refused, saying he is focused only on completing the comeback.
   "We're playing this game that injuries are involved," he said. "My situation, I was able to come back almost a career-ending injury. I'm definitely excited about being back out there, I feel like a little kid again.
   "Like walking down that tunnel, I mean it all meant something when we kicked off the season this year but it's a different deal when you're in full uniform. I can't wait."
   Before suffering the hip injury in the Nov. 17 game against the New York Jets, Harkim had caught 37 passes for 541 yards and three touchdowns.
   Mariucci and quarterback Joey Harrington both say they're looking forward to getting Hakim back into the lineup. He is expected to be back in the slot, where he was effective in four seasons at St. Louis before being signed by the Lions as an unrestricted free agent.
   "He seems just as quick as ever," Harrington said. "I want to get him the ball in the slot there, get him the ball over the middle and see him shake a couple people like he used to. I'm excited to see him back on the field."
   Mariucci said: "He adds some quickness. He's a different style of receiver than the taller Schroeder, Charles Rogers and Scotty Anderson, that size and that body-type of receiver.
   "He's shorter and he's quicker. He's got a burst. He's very good in windows, he's good separating from man coverage, he's a smart player, he gives us a backup punt returner, he gives us a little experience."
   -- TE Mikhael Ricks probably won't lose his starting job as a result of the two drops and another pass that bounced off the back of his helmet in Green Bay but it might cost him playing time to rookie TE Casey Fitzsimmons, who caught two passes after Ricks was benched late in the Packers game.
   -- TE Casey Fitzsimmons isn't likely to displace veteran TE Mikhael Ricks in the starting lineup but he might get additional playing time after a solid performance in the first two games of the season and a subpar game by Ricks at Green Bay.
   -- DT Cory Redding, who suffered a sprained knee in the Lions' second preseason game, is practicing and is not even listed on Wednesday's injury report. It will be a coach's decision whether he is active in the defensive line rotation or is down for the Minnesota game.
   -- LB James Davis is going through a full practice routine for the first time since suffering a rib injury in the Lions preseason game Aug. 16 at Cincinnati. He is listed as questionable but coach Steve Mariucci probably won't decide whether to keep him active for the Minnesota game until later in the week.

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