Notebook: Locking Longhorns

Detroit wide receiver Roy Williams and Vikings cornerback Cedric Griffin practiced against each other for three years at the University of Texas, and they gave each other mutual respect this week. Plus, get more on the Lions' receivers and see Rod Marinelli's answer to Brad Childress' "competitive advantage."

What Roy Williams has done for the Detroit Lions this year should come as no surprise, as his numbers pretty well mirror his production from his days at the University of Texas.

And his production in 2006 doesn't surprise Vikings cornerback Cedric Griffin either. Griffin lined up against Williams every day in practice for three years when the two were teammates with the Longhorns.

"He's a physical guy at times and he knows how to play the wide receiver position," Griffin said. "His hands are incredible. He can catch, he can jump. He's fast, and he has a tough mind. When you've got all that at the receiver position, he can pretty much dominate a lot of DBs out there."

When he was with the Longhorns, Williams averaged 16.0 yards per catch and averaged nearly 1,000 yards per season. With the Lions this year, Williams has 1,043 yards in 12 games and is averaging 16.6 yards per catch.

"I don't really see a lot of difference because I saw a lot of him. The only thing I see now is that his routes are getting a little more defined and I'm pretty sure the wide receiver coach got with him and coached him up on doing the little techniques that he can do better," Griffin said. "Other than that, I've seen so much of Roy that nothing is really different for me."

Griffin said that other than practicing against Williams and having a few classes with him, the two didn't do much off the field.

But the mutual respect remains.

"They got a steal in the second round," Williams said of Griffin. "To me, I thought he was a first-round guy. He's really come a long way. When he first got there, would I say he was a first- or second-rounder? No, but as I watched him grow and watched him play more and more games at the University of Texas, he grew into a first-rounder in my eyes, so the Vikings got a good steal in that package."

While Williams said he'd rank Griffin with the physical corners of the league, maybe behind Quentin Jammer and Al Harris, Griffin didn't think his opportunity to go against Williams on a regular basis would come this soon.

"I pictured that one day I'd line up against him. I didn't know it would be so soon, but when I go out there I'll be ready to go," Griffin said.

THE OTHERS

The Lions have an interesting set of receivers. With their release of Charles Rogers earlier this year and Mike Williams seemingly a non-factor with the new coaching staff in Detroit, Mike Furrey has Roy Williams beat in receptions, 65 to 63.

And then there is their new "weapon," backup quarterback Josh McCown, who has been used for depth at receiver as well lately.

"Josh is a role guy; all he wants to do is win. He's too athletic to just sit on the bench. He wants to help the team win, and once Corey Bradford went out, Mike Williams does not play in that package that Josh played in, so that's why Josh was out there on the field more than Mike was," Williams said, who joked that McCown getting an offensive pass interference penalty last Sunday against New England officially put McCown in the receiver ranks.

Vikings safety Dwight Smith knew that McCown has two catches, but he wasn't concerned about what Detroit does.

"We don't prepare for other teams, we prepare for the Vikings. We're the only team that can beat us," Smith said.

Nevertheless, Vikings fans will remember that McCown was the quarterback who escaped the pocket and connected with WR Nate Poole for the game-winning touchdown against the Vikings when they were members of the Arizona Cardinals. That 18-17 loss in the regular-season finale in 2003 kept the 9-7 Vikings out of the playoffs.

GAMESMANSHIP CONTINUES

Vikings coach Brad Childress declined to name (or confirm) his starting quarterback again on Friday, but Lions coach Rod Marinelli seems to think it will be Brad Johnson behind center on Sunday.

"I'm preparing for Brad, if not Brad, I think we'll be in good shape," Marinelli said. "We have our blitz packages ready for Brad and for (Tarvaris Jackson). It wouldn't change the blitzes. It would all be basically the same. Now, as a four-man rush, you're a little bit more aware - Brad will always (be) working as a step up guy, ok? This guy can take off lateral on us, but we're aware of that and we've got to adjust in the game as it goes."

Likewise, Marinelli declined to name his starting cornerback opposite Dre' Bly. Fernando Bryant is out with a concussion, leaving Marinelli to decide between Jamar Fletcher, Keith Smith and Stanley Wilson.

INJURIES

  • Running back Chester Taylor (ribs) remains doubtful going into the Detroit game. He took some reps Friday in practice, but there wasn't any contact.

  • Backup QB Brooks Bollinger (shoulder) was upgraded to questionable, but don't expect him to start. More than likely, he'll be the emergency QB.

  • Marcus Johnson isn't on the injury report, but Mike Rosenthal is expected to start at right tackle with Ryan Cook rotating. Look for Marcus Johnson to be deactivated again.

  • Guard Artis Hicks (ankle) is also questionable.



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