Next Up: Lions Have Explosive Potential

The Lions are on a losing streak of their own, but despite that — and the fact that they also have a number of injured players — some of their weapons are on the rise while their starting quarterback is on the decline. Get the dish on the Vikings' next opponent.

Backup quarterback Mike McMahon might get more work with the Lions offense this week, but it does not appear that Joey Harrington will lose the starting job after two subpar performances.

The quarterback position was the issue Monday as the Lions gathered themselves after the 23-17 overtime loss a day earlier at Jacksonville.

Harrington, by his own admission, has played poorly in the last two games.

He completed 26 of 52 for 269 yards and a touchdown but threw one interception and was unable to get the offense moving consistently in the dreary 17-10 loss to Washington. He struggled even more in the Jacksonville game, completing only 11 of 33 passes for 121 yards with an interception and a passer rating of just 32.5.

Coach Steve Mariucci, asked about Harrington's status, gave no indication that he plans a change at the quarterback position.

"The change is to be better, that's what we have to do," Mariucci said. "We've got to be better all the way around and figure out what we can do, from a scheme standpoint. What are the routes that we're good at throwing and running? And do those things."

Harrington said he was told by quarterbacks coach Greg Olson on Monday that McMahon might get more snaps with the first offense this week.

"Hey, maybe it'll light a fire under me," Harrington said. "Maybe it'll kick me out of this slump. That's fine. I'm not guaranteed anything here. Nobody's guaranteed a job. You've got to go out and earn it. I plan on going out and earning it."

DRUMMOND SHOWS EXPLOSIVENESS

The Lions knew Eddie Drummond was something special. That's why they stuck with him through a couple of injury-riddled seasons and brought him back this year.

And Drummond paid dividends again this week with punt-return touchdowns of 55 yards and 83 yards in the 23-17 overtime loss to Jacksonville.

In scoring two punt-return touchdowns in one game, Drummond, a former Penn State running back signed by the Lions as an undrafted rookie three years ago, performed a feat that only 12 others have accomplished in the NFL before him.

Jack Christiansen did it twice in the 1951 season, and Eddie Payton had two return touchdowns — one on a kickoff, the other on a punt — in the 1977 season.

Drummond's first punt-return touchdown came on what was essentially a free return after a Jaguars player touched the ball while trying to down it.

"The first one was just knowing the rules of the game," he explained. "Once the punt team touches the ball, if I can get the ball I can do whatever I want with no consequences."

The second punt-return touchdown was achieved the traditional way — by outflanking and outrunning the punting team.

"That was just adrenaline and having vision," Drummond said. "It was more of a middle return, but you've got to have instincts so I took it to the outside and saw daylight."

  • Some of the veteran Lions are growing frustrated with the three-game losing streak that has dropped the team from its 3-1 start to a 4-5 record with a tough second-half schedule ahead.

    "We waste too many opportunities," said guard Damien Woody, who left the New England Patriots as an unrestricted free agent to sign with the Lions last March. "You get the ball at the 50 — anywhere close to it — you've got to make a touchdown from that. We squander too many opportunities."

  • RB Kevin Jones still hasn't had his breakout game or his breakaway run, but he believes he's closer after the 23-17 overtime loss at Jacksonville.

    Instead of going with a three-back rotation, the Lions gave Jones all the carries in the running game. He responded with 19 attempts for 81 yards.

    "I think I made some progress," Jones said. "I know that I can run the ball, but they gave me more of an opportunity today. I still didn't get the long one that I wanted. I'm still waiting for it to come, but the offensive line did a good job. I was just running behind them."

    Jones pushed his season total to 308 yards on 88 rushing attempts and improved his per-carry average slightly, from 3.3 to 3.5 yards.

  • QB Joey Harrington apparently is in no immediate danger of losing his starting job after two consecutive subpar performances in the Lions' last two losses. His 11-for-33 performance in the 23-17 overtime loss at Jacksonville dropped his season passer rating to 81.2, the lowest it has been since the opening game of the season. Coach Steve Mariucci indicated Harrington will start Sunday at Minnesota, but there are indications backup QB Mike McMahon might get additional practice time during the week.

  • WR Roy Williams still is not fully recovered from the sprained ankle he suffered Oct. 10 in Atlanta, but he apparently suffered no additional damage in making two catches Sunday in Jacksonville. His condition has improved gradually over the past two weeks, but it is still obvious he can't run as well as he normally does.

  • WR Az-Zahir Hakim remains uncertain for the Lions' game Sunday at Minnesota. Although he was active and started Sunday at Jacksonville, he left the game early because of a bothersome, recurring back injury before getting a catch.

  • QB Mike McMahon, who hasn't thrown a pass in a regular-season game all season, might get additional work with the first offense this week after back-to-back subpar performances by Lions QB Joey Harrington. Harrington said he was told by quarterbacks coach Greg Olson that McMahon might get more snaps this week in preparation for the game Sunday at Minnesota.

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