Lions Have Their Own ‘Slash'

The Detroit Lions, shorthanded at wide receiver, are starting to use a backup quarterback as a reserve receiver. The Vikings see some of the speedy Josh McCown lined up wide.

Josh McCown is having the time of his life catching — instead of throwing — passes but he's not quite sure what — if anything — will come of it.

"As far as I'm concerned, I'm a quarterback," said McCown, who until recently had watched his Lions teammates from the sidelines as the team's backup quarterback. "That's my focus, first and foremost — playing quarterback.

"I take care of all that stuff before I think about playing receiver. When I go home at night I study as a quarterback and then I study as a receiver. I don't know how much it will lead to; I just don't want it to take away from what I'm doing.

"That, for me, is when it stops, when I feel it takes away from what I'm doing quarterback-wise. That's when I don't know how much further I want to pursue it because I enjoy playing quarterback. That's what I'm here to do mainly so I guess that would be as far as it would go."

In the meanwhile, it appears offensive coordinator Mike Martz and coach Rod Marinelli will continue to use McCown, their backup quarterback, as a wide receiver.

He got his first playing time Nov. 19 in the Lions' game at Arizona when he lined up for one play as a wide receiver. He got no plays on Thanksgiving Day against Miami but, after more practice time last week, he was on the field for perhaps a dozen plays at New England and caught two passes for 15 yards. He was denied a third catch by what the Lions feel was a very borderline call for offensive pass interference.

Marinelli has been questioned about his decision to use the 6-4, 213-pound quarterback at receiver ahead of some of the Lions receivers, most notably former first-round pick Mike Williams.

Marinelli says Williams is used primarily as an inside receiver and McCown lines up outside because of his superior speed.

"You've got really good speed," said Marinelli, describing McCown. "He's a very good athlete. He's got height and he's got range. That's what I really like about him. Josh gives you some really good speed, especially when Corey (Bradford) was sick and wasn't as strong as he could be."

McCown's only NFL reception before Sunday was when he was with the Arizona Cardinals. He had a pass deflected and caught the ball that had been batted back to him, for a five-yard loss. Aside from that, he says he had never caught a pass in youth football, high school or college.


  • QB Jon Kitna is firmly entrenched as the Lions quarterback - according to coach Rod Marinelli - despite his recent difficulties. Kitna has thrown at least one interception in the last 10 consecutive games and his passer rating has slipped to 78.3 with 13 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Nevertheless, Marinelli said he sees Kitna as the starting quarterback for the remaining four games of 2006 and for 2007.

  • RB Kevin Jones might not reach the 1,000-yard mark as a rusher but he already has piled up 1,145 yards total offense and has scored a career-best seven touchdowns. Jones has 692 yards and six touchdowns rushing and has a career-high 453 yards and one touchdown on 55 receptions.

  • TE Dan Campbell needs five receptions in the Lions' remaining four games to match his career-best of 22 catches in one season (with Dallas in 2002). With 17 receptions for 247 yards, he already has a career-best in receiving yardage for one season.

  • WR Roy Williams is the Lions' first 1,000-yard receiver since Johnnie Morton's 1,154 yards in 2001. With four games remaining, Williams has 1,043 yards in the first 12 games, putting him on pace for nearly 1,400 yards. He has been effective all season but still has no red zone touchdowns, primarily because the Lions seldom throw to him in that situation.

  • WR Mike Furrey, with a team-high 65 receptions, is on pace for a 1,000-yard receiving season. Furrey, who starts across from WR Roy Williams, has 773 receiving yards. Williams already has 1,043 yards. If Furrey can maintain his current pace, he will finish with 1,030 yards and the Lions will have two WRs with 1,000 yards each for the first time since Germane Crowell (1,338) and Johnnie Morton (1,129) did it in 1999.

  • CB Fernando Bryant, who was knocked out and suffered a concussion early in the Lions' 28-21 loss Sunday at New England, remains uncertain for the game next week against Minnesota. Coach Rod Marinelli expressed reservations whether Bryant would be cleared to return to practice this week in time to play against the Vikings.

  • CB Dre' Bly, who has been the Lions' leading defensive playmaker the past three seasons, showed flashes of those previous three seasons with an interception and fumble recovery in the 28-21 loss to New England. He had only one interception in the previous 11 games and has just two for the season.

  • DT Shaun Rogers is likely to get one last look on the practice field before the Lions decide whether to keep him on the active list or put him on injured reserve to recover from the arthroscopic knee surgery he had while sitting out a four-game suspension for testing positive to a banned substance. The knee swelled up last week after a similar test.

  • WR Mike Williams, last year's first-round pick for the Lions, has gotten more playing time in the past two games after spending most of the season in offensive coordinator Mike Martz's doghouse. Martz said last week that Williams has been making progress on the practice field but some feel he is using Williams only because Devale Ellis and Corey Bradford are battling injury and illness problems.

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