The Vikings expect the Lions to spread out their offense, but the Lions are talking opening about trying to get wide receiver Roy Williams more involved. See what Brad Childress, Jon Kitna and others had to say about the subject, and get numerous notes from Detroit.
It's not hard to figure out what Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz will do Sunday against Minnesota.
"I have no illusions about Mike going to line up in a phone booth and run the ball at us," Vikings coach Brad Childress said Wednesday. "I mean, he's going to spread us out and see what kind of damage he can do."
Martz loves to throw the ball, and he has plenty of people to throw to — and he has plenty of reasons to throw it to them.
If the Lions can jump out to a lead, they can take the Vikings out of their game plan. The Vikings like to play low-scoring games. They like to win with their running game and defense. The Lions would love to make them throw to play catch-up.
The Vikings have a formidable pass defense — a physical front four, led by defensive tackle Pat Williams
, and a solid secondary, led by cornerback Antoine Winfield
Last year, the Vikings caused all kinds of trouble for the Lions, especially in the teams' first meeting. Williams stripped Jon Kitna
and the fumble was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown, and linebacker E.J. Henderson
returned an interception for a touchdown, as the Vikings came back from a 17-3 deficit to win, 26-17.
But the Lions are confident.
"They have a great collection of talent on their defense," Kitna said. "We have our work cut out for us, but we feel pretty good about who we are."
The Raiders defense ranked third overall last year, first against the pass, and the Lions scored 36 points Sunday at Oakland. The Raiders clamped down on wide receiver Roy Williams
, but the Lions adjusted.
"Our best player's 11," Kitna said. "That's our best player. We're going to try to get him the football. That's point-blank. And if you do something that doesn't allow us to get him the football, we'll go to somebody else."
Williams finished with only four catches for 20 yards and a touchdown. But Shaun McDonald
caught six passes for 90 yards and a touchdown. Mike Furrey
had five catches for 52 yards. And Calvin Johnson
had four catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.
McDonald said the Lions expected the Raiders to play mostly man-to-man, because that's what the Raiders played against everyone last year. But the Raiders ended up playing a lot of Cover 2.
"That shows you respect," McDonald said. "All last year, they were manning up every team. So that shows you that we've got some weapons over here that they didn't think they could match up with."
Right now, teams might be paying attention to Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson on the outside, leaving things open for Mike Furrey and Shaun McDonald on the inside. But McDonald thinks that will evolve as the season goes on. "I mean, it might start that way, but once me and Mike start making plays inside, then they're going to have to ... concentrate more on the inside and Roy and Calvin will open up," McDonald said. "And then eventually everyone's going to be dangerous. Then we'll just be able to throw to whoever."
Quarterback Jon Kitna said the Lions are confident enough not to put too much into Week 2. "If we don't get this one this week, it's not like, ‘Oh, well, they're not who we thought they were,' " Kitna said. "We know who we are. We'll just keep plugging along, and hopefully we'll be able to come out with a win this week. If we execute well, I think we have a great opportunity."
The Lions are trying to establish an advantage at Ford Field. "Winning at home is big in this league," Kitna said. "You almost have to assume that you're going to win at home. It has to become that kind of environment for you at home. Winning on the road is very difficult in this league, but if you protect your home ... I've always said it. If you go 8-0 at home, that gives you a great leg up."
Offensive coordinator Mike Martz moved around the pocket in the season opener. "He was trying to maximize my athletic ability," Kitna said, laughing. "We just want to give teams different looks, not always be in the same spot. It helps the offensive line. It helps us."
The Vikings like to win low-scoring games, relying on their running game and defense. The Lions don't want to let them chew up the clock, and coach Rod Marinelli talked to the team about it Wednesday. "If they can clock it on us and keep our offense off the field, that's what they'll do," Marinelli said. "We have got to go in and slam the run. ... We've got to take this run out."
Last year, defensive tackle Shaun Rogers dominated in the opener, then struggled because he wasn't in great shape and his body couldn't recover. This year, Rogers dominated in the opener, but he has recovered much better because the Lions limited his snaps and have worked to get him into better shape. "He is really strong," Marinelli said. "That's what I feel pretty good about right now."
Marinelli declined to comment on a Boston Herald report that the Lions caught the Patriots stealing their signals last season.
The Lions released wide receiver Brandon Middleton and brought back running back Aveion Cason, because running back T.J. Duckett has a mild high ankle sprain and running back Kevin Jones still isn't ready to return from a Lisfranc injury.
Duckett didn't practice Wednesday and walked off the field in a boot.
"It'll be tough," Rod Marinelli said of Duckett's chances to play Sunday. "I'm not going to count him out, but it's going to be tough."
Marinelli plans to continue rotating his defensive backs as he did in the opener, because the players are so close together on the depth chart and he wants to develop everyone.
RB T.J. Duckett didn't practice Wednesday because of a high ankle sprain suffered Sunday at Oakland. He probably won't play this week.
QB Dan Orlovsky was limited in practice because of turf toe and probably will be the third quarterback again.
RB Kevin Jones has experienced some soreness in his injured foot, but that was expected. He has not suffered a setback and continues to practice. It is unknown when he will play.
DT Shaun Rogers is recovering from the opener better than he did last year because he is in better shape and the Lions limited his snaps. They hope to increase his snaps gradually.
WR Roy Williams had only 20 receiving yards Sunday, fourth best on the team, but quarterback Jon Kitna reiterated Williams was the Lions' best player and No. 1 option.