NFC North Notes

The ongoing saga of wide receiver Mike Williams continues in Detroit, and the Packers were embarrassed by their run defense on Monday Night Football.

DETROIT LIONS
One step at a time, wide receiver Mike Williams is trying to work his way back into the good graces of offensive coordinator Mike Martz and, thereby, into the Lions offense.

He started with a couple of good weeks on the practice field and — with the help of injuries that sidelined wide receivers Devale Ellis and Eddie Drummond — Williams got his most extensive playing time of the season in the Lions' Thanksgiving Day game against Miami.

The net result: His first reception of the season — a seven-yarder that helped set up a first-quarter field goal.

Coach Rod Marinelli noted that Williams also delivered an effective block but, overall, he was noncommittal when asked to evaluate the second-year receiver's performance.

That apparently means that Williams has no assurance that he will not be back on the inactive list Sunday for the Lions' game at New England, a situation with which he has become familiar in his second NFL season since being taken by the Lions with the 10th pick in the 2005 draft.

Williams got off to a bad start in his rookie season under Steve Mariucci with a weight problem and a record of reporting late to work. But he was optimistic as he started his second season, under a new coach in a new offense.

As it developed, however, the 6-foot-5 receiver continued to struggle with his weight. The Lions reportedly asked him to come in at 220 but he had a problem getting that low, and the coaching staff was not impressed with his work ethic.

As a result, while Martz has paraded a handful of receivers through the practice facility in seach of a productive No. 3 receiver, Williams has watched all except three of the first 11 games from the sideline, inactive in seven and not playing in an eighth.

He had no throws his way in the Sept. 24 game against Green Bay, had a dropped pass in his only opportunity Oct. 8 against Minnesota and finally — after being inactive for the next five games — got his first catch in the Thanksgiving Day loss to Miami.

"What I want to do is finish this season off on the right note," Williams said. "Obviously, playing is a step in the right direction."

It remains uncertain if Williams will be active at New England if Drummond and/or Ellis is able to play.

NOTES

  • QB Jon Kitna is showing no signs of being gun shy, although he couldn't be blamed if he were. Kitna has been sacked 41 times in the Lions' first 11 games, including eight in the Thanksgiving Day loss to Miami. Kitna has been intercepted at least once in each of the last nine games and his interceptions (13) outnumber his touchdown passes (12) for the season.

  • RB Kevin Jones, who missed the Lions' Thanksgiving Day game against Miami with a sprained ankle suffered four days earlier at Arizona, was able to participate in some of the practice Monday after the long holiday weekend. Coach Rod Marinelli declined to speculate on Jones' status for the upcoming game at New England but expressed hope Jones would be able to play.

  • TE Dan Campbell was signed by the Lions to provide a blocking presence at the TE position but he has reinvented himself as a receiving TE. In the Lions' first 11 games, Campbell has caught 16 passes for 226 yards and three touchdowns. He has had only two seasons with more receptions - 2002, when he caught 22 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown with the New York Giants, and 2003, when he caught 20 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown at Dallas.

  • WR Roy Williams goes into the Lions' 12th game of the season with 993 yards, his best total in three NFL seasons. Williams is among the NFL leaders in receptions (60), yards and per-catch average (16.6). With seven more receiving yards, Williams will have his first 1000-yard season.

  • WR Corey Bradford has caught four passes for 70 yards in two games since being re-signed by the Lions, who cut him after the third game of the season. The Lions brought him back in an attempt to solidify their No. 3 WR position, which has been filled by a variety of players during the first 11 games of the season. Bradford caught three passes for 54 yards against Arizona in his first game back and had one catch for 16 yards in the Thanksgiving Day game against Miami.

  • LB Ernie Sims, the Lions' first-round pick in the draft last April, has started all 11 games at the WLB position and leads all Lions defenders with 86 tackles, putting him among the top rookie NFL defenders this season.

  • FS Terrence Holt leads all Lions defensive players with three interceptions, matching his career high. Holt also had three interceptions in his rookie season 2003.

  • DT Cory Redding has registered a career-best four quarterback sacks since being moved from starting DE to starting UT. His previous best was 3.5 sacks last year.

  • WR Mike Williams, last year's first-round pick for the Lions, has one reception for seven yards in the first 11 games. Williams has spent most of the season in offensive coordinator Mike Martz's doghouse battling weight and work ethic issues. He has been inactive or did not play in eight of the first 11 games and got his first catch in the Thanksgiving Day game against Miami.

  • DT Shaun Cody has been put on injured reserve with a dislocated left big toe suffered in the Oct. 8 game at Minnesota. Cody sat out four games before attempting a comeback Nov. 19 at Arizona, where he re-injured the toe.


    GREEN BAY PACKERS

    The defense missed middle linebacker Nick Barnett more than it was letting on following a 34-24 loss at Seattle on Monday night.

    Without Barnett's read-and-react instincts, the Packers were a huge liability for the first time against the run this season. Shaun Alexander ripped off 201 yards in 40 carries as the Seahawks churned out 235 yards on the ground.

    "Whatever gap we left open, for what coverage we were in, they found it. He's a great back, so give him a lot of credit as well," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. "We played bad, and they played pretty good."

    The absence of Barnett wasn't mentioned as an excuse. Barnett, the team's second leading tackler, was sidelined because of a broken right hand he sustained in the previous game. Rookie Abdul Hodge stepped in to make his first pro start.

    The Packers, who have lost two straight to drop to 4-7, hadn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in the first 10 games this season and came into the game allowing an average of 99.6 yards per game.

    The Seahawks, primarily Alexander, had their way pounding the football with an emphasis on running behind tackle Walter Jones and guard Floyd Womack on the left side. Twenty-six of Alexander's runs were to the left, many on stretch plays that caused the Packers to overpursue and gave Alexander open cutback lanes.

    "I don't think it was just one thing. If it is, we need to fix that," coach Mike McCarthy said. "They ran particularly a lot to (their) left. They got the ball outside, was able to cut it back. I'm sure tackling probably factored some into that. Those are all things we need to look at and get cleaned up."

    The ease with which Alexander piled up the yardage — he had six carries of more than 12 yards — enabled Matt Hasselbeck to shake off a four-turnover first half and rally Seattle from a nine-point deficit with three touchdown passes in the second half.

    "He was running the ball. If you have Alexander running the ball six, seven yards a carry, you pretty much do anything you want to after that," Pickett said.

    NOTES

  • Quarterback Brett Favre extended his peerless starting streak to 252 games Monday despite having a bruised right elbow.

    Favre made it through the entire game and didn't seem to be too hampered by the injury, which knocked him out of the previous game eight days earlier and caused him to lose feeling on the right side of his throwing hand.

    "I thought the ball came off his hand accurate," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I had no communication from him that he was affected by his injury."

    Favre completed 22 of 36 passes for 266 yards. Yet, he had a season-high three interceptions, all of which were on downfield throws into double coverage. Cornerbacks Marcus Trufant and Kelly Jennings picked off Favre in back-to-back series late in the fourth quarter when the Packers were trying to overcome a 34-24 deficit.

    Favre had a fourth turnover when he fumbled the ball on the final play of the game.

    His only touchdown pass came on a short slant that Donald Driver turned into a 48-yard gain in the opening series of the second half.

  • FS Nick Collins sustained a hamstring injury and was sidelined for the last 8 1/2 minutes of the Packers' 34-24 loss at Seattle on Monday night. Rookie Tyrone Culver replaced Collins. The extent of the injury wasn't known after the game.

  • CB Charles Woodson suffered a forearm injury in the first half but returned to finish the game. Woodson came into the game questionable because a sore shoulder and a bruised knee. He had two interceptions to gain the outright team lead with four.

  • MLB Nick Barnett didn't play Monday because of a broken right hand sustained in the previous game. It was only the second game Barnett missed in his four-year career. Rookie Abdul Hodge made his first pro start in Barnett's place and had a 29-yard fumble return for a touchdown late in the first half.

  • RT Mark Tauscher was sidelined for the second straight game because of a pulled groin. Rookie Tony Moll started again in Tauscher's absence.

  • FB Brandon Miree returned to game action after missing the previous three contests because of a hyperextended elbow. Miree didn't start but had extensive action.

  • TE David Martin was deactivated Monday, missing his first game of the season. Martin suffered a ribs injury in the previous game and didn't practice all of last week.

  • Viking Update Top Stories