Lions conference calls

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Lions head coach Steve Mariucci

(on Joey Harrington's development as a quarterback) "He is making good progress. I'm encouraged with the direction he's headed. He's in a similar situation as David Carr; early draft picks, third-year guys, playing on developing teams, getting better and better as time goes on, they've earned their stripes and that sort of thing. I've been encouraged with Joey's maturity and the leadership qualities are starting to show. His understanding of the direction we're going and what defenses are trying to do is expanding. He is going through the necessary learning curve and ups and downs of a developing quarterback. I think he's right on schedule."

(on Joey Harrington's knack for getting rid of the football and only being sacked 19 times in three seasons) "The sack statistic is a team statistic. It's all-inclusive. It's not just the quarterback getting the ball out on time or escaping from the pocket and getting out of trouble, or dumping the ball off. That's part of it, certainly. There is more to it than that: there is protection from the offensive line, there is protection from the backs that is very important. Sometimes you get a coverage sack where the defense simply plays very well against that pass play and there is nowhere to go with the ball and the quarterback has to hold onto it. There is the timing of it all, the design of the route, route-running, shaking open and separating from defenders. It includes everybody who is on the field. It's not just a defensive lineman beating an offensive lineman for the sack. It's much more involved than that."

(on Harrington's role in not getting sacked so much) "Some of it (is Harrington). There is a fine line between having a clock in your head and knowing when the ball should be out versus staying in the pocket, poised and waiting for things to develop, waiting for receivers to run into the next window and those sorts of things. We've been pretty lucky. I'd like to think we've done a pretty good job protecting him. But like I said earlier, it's not just the quarterback. It's a lot of different things."

(on former University of Texas players, DT Shaun Rogers, practice squad CB Rod Babers. DE Cory Redding and WR Roy Williams) "They are good guys, good players and hard workers. We love having them. Of course, we drafted Roy Williams from Texas. We've got a bunch of them (Longhorns) and they are a very important part of this team. They are good friends and they are coming into their own. Cory Redding started his first game. He's a redshirt freshman coming into his own and he is contributing in a lot of ways here. We have high expectations for Shaun because we think he can be a very dominant player. The same with Roy. We love having those guys."

(on the chance of moving Babers to the active roster) "Is there a chance at some point? Sure there is. We did (move him up) last year. He was active for a few games last year, and then he had a shoulder injury. He' on our practice squad and he's doing good and working hard."

(on the pressure for Roy Williams to step up now that Charles Rogers is on Injured Reserve) "We've got some other receivers that are more veteran than Roy. Tai Streets, that was a real good acquisition because he's been starting at this offense for a lot of years. Az Hakim has been a good player for the Rams and for us. He seems to be a real healthy now, too. Roy is a real important part of that receiver group but he's still learning how to play the game. He's going to develop his skills as we go and understand this offense. He's off to a good start. We didn't play him all that much, I think he had about 60 snaps in the preseason. He played more against Chicago than he did all preseason. He's going to get better as time goes on."

(on noticing anything San Diego did defensively to force four turnovers in the game) "We watched the film, obviously. We saw Houston turn the ball over, which was really a factor in that game, certainly. It was a hard-hitting game, chasing down the quarterbacks. The game could have gone either way. We know that. We know that Houston is a good team and they're not going to turn the ball over four times again. We have to play better than we did against the Bears."

(on if he expects the Lions' running game to improve this week) "We were last in the league in rushing a year ago. We got off to a very average start in that regard. There were things on film we certainly can clean up. We've got young running backs with Kevin Jones and Artose Pinner. Kevin Jones played 26 snaps in the preseason, he played 33 in this game. He's still getting his feet wet. Artose Pinner was a rookie last year and he only played 42 snaps last year. We're very young there but very promising. I'm encouraged with where they are headed. We're certainly not there yet. They are good players."

(on taking Kevin Jones in the draft and what he likes about him) "We knew there were other teams that liked him in the first round. We took Roy (Williams) first. When he was still available toward the end of the first round, we were trying to do everything we possibly could to move up and we ended up trading up from 32 to get him and give away a draft pick. We thought he was well worth it. He used to be a sprinter, a 100-meter guy. He's got some breakaway speed. He's 228 pounds, so he's certainly strong and put together well. He's catching on quickly. He's a good kid, good worker and has a smile on his face. He's focused. He moved here, to Detroit, and settled into the community. He wants to make this his home. He's dong all the right things. Tom Rathman is coaching him like crazy. It's going to be fun watching him grow."

(on if the Detroit offense will go after Dunta Robinson) "Do you want me to give you our game plan? I don't know. You do what you do best. I'm still trying to figure out what that is. We just need to be more efficient and productive. Our third down conversions weren't what we needed. Our red-zone production wasn't what we needed. We have to clean up a bunch of things here that we certainly need to improve on."

(on Lions' assistant head coach/linebackers coach Richard Smith) "He and I coached together prior to his coming to Houston. We were at Cal State-Fullerton when we were kids in 1981. Richard and I used to rent a car and go north, and visit Stanford and the Oakland Raiders, and just try to learn as much football as we possibly could and try to be a sponge and try to improve ourselves professionally. There are all kinds of coaches in this league. There are some guys who are experienced and keep a mono-toned voice and there are some guys who are wild and crazy guys. That's what he is. He's high-energy. I think he jumps out of bed and brushes his teeth hard. He's wound tight and he gets the most out of his players, whether he's coaching linebackers or special teams. He has so much energy and you like that with a linebacker coach. He's my assistant head coach too."

(on ending a 24-game road losing streak) "It was nice to get the streak broken. It was something that we, as a team, did not dwell on. I did not (say) each week, 'Guys, the number is 22. We gotta break it. Now it's 23. Oh my God, now it's 24.' We didn't dwell on it that way, at all. The media did. It was worth dwelling on, I guess, because it was a story. When you talk about an NFL record, then it's worth reporting. It was beating a dead horse, week-in and week-out. I felt badly for the players because a lot of them had nothing to do with the entire streak. What I said was, that this team here is responsible for breaking the streak. We're all responsible for breaking the streak. We did. But that's not the cure-all, either. We have to become a good road team. Like all playoff teams in the league, you have to win your share on the road. We have to get to that level."

(on his low sack totals) "I've been blessed with a terrific offensive line. They do a terrific job of picking up blitzes. Not only the offensive line, but our running backs are very well coached and are prepared. I feel they are more prepared than any running backs I've seen to pass protect and pick up things on the fly. They adjust very well to blitzes they haven't seen and they do a great job."

(on facing defensive pressure) "The idea of brining pressure is to create a sack. There's really no difference. One is the completion of the other."

(on adjusting after Charles Rogers' injury) "You feel terrible for him. I can't say enough good things about how hard Charles worked to get back this year and to see this happen again on his first pass this year, you feel terrible for the guy. As far as our team dropping off, I don't see us missing a step to be honest because that is why we brought Tai Streets in. Tai Streets has been the starting receiver for a playoff team the last five years. He's shown all through training camp and all through his career that he is very capable of being a starting receiver in this league and he's done it. I'm not only very happy to have Roy (Williams) but with Tai coming in and also, you know what, we have the luxury of having a pretty deep receiving corps this year. (Az-Zahir Hakim) is no slouch himself. He's proven on many occasions to be a very quality receiver."

(on his relationship with David Carr) "It's kind of funny. Our relationship was mostly through the media. It seemed like our paths were always just missing each other during the time right after our senior years in college. I've really only spent significant time (with him), more than a minute or two, just once. We've crossed paths and said hello maybe once or twice but it wasn't until a golf tournament this off season where they were honoring Trent Dilfer that we really got a chance to talk and say hello. It's kind of funny for as much as we're linked and connected that way through the media, I haven't had a whole lot of connection with him."

(on California head coach Jeff Tedford who coached both Harrington at Oregon and Carr at Fresno State) "He started at Fresno State. He had David – I guess he would have had him his red shirt freshman year. So he would have had him for a year. Then he came to Oregon and I had him for my last four years. He is without a doubt one of the biggest reasons why I'm in the position I am right now. He is an incredible coach. I can't say enough good things about him. He's done a great job, not only with David and I but with every other player he has coached. You look at his track record; he was (Trent) Dilfer's coach, he was David's coach, he was my coach, he was Kyle Boller's coach, he had A.J. Feeley when he was at Oregon. The number of quarterbacks he has produced is really uncanny."

(on having Roy Williams in the offense) "It has been nice. It has been nice to have the receiving corps that we've had so far. Losing Charles obviously hurt, but I know now Roy is in the position where maybe he'll be become – I don't want to say the featured guy in our passing offense – but he has the talent to become that. He's just a natural pass catcher. He's very fluid with his hands, he's a very smooth runner, he runs great routes and he's physical on top of that. He has the tools to be a great receiver."

(on the Texans defense) "I'm sure I will see something new, especially from this defense. I would be surprised if I didn't. The 3-4 isn't something that's too common in the NFL but we've had the luxury of playing and practicing against it for two weeks during the preseason. Of the teams around the league I think we might be one of the most prepared to see this type of defense, but I'm sure they'll have a new wrinkle for us."

Lions QB Joey Harrington
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(on his low sack totals) "I've been blessed with a terrific offensive line. They do a terrific job of picking up blitzes. Not only the offensive line, but our running backs are very well coached and are prepared. I feel they are more prepared than any running backs I've seen to pass protect and pick up things on the fly. They adjust very well to blitzes they haven't seen and they do a great job."

(on facing defensive pressure) "The idea of brining pressure is to create a sack. There's really no difference. One is the completion of the other."

(on adjusting after Charles Rogers' injury) "You feel terrible for him. I can't say enough good things about how hard Charles worked to get back this year and to see this happen again on his first pass this year, you feel terrible for the guy. As far as our team dropping off, I don't see us missing a step to be honest because that is why we brought Tai Streets in. Tai Streets has been the starting receiver for a playoff team the last five years. He's shown all through training camp and all through his career that he is very capable of being a starting receiver in this league and he's done it. I'm not only very happy to have Roy (Williams) but with Tai coming in and also, you know what, we have the luxury of having a pretty deep receiving corps this year. (Az-Zahir Hakim) is no slouch himself. He's proven on many occasions to be a very quality receiver."

(on his relationship with David Carr) "It's kind of funny. Our relationship was mostly through the media. It seemed like our paths were always just missing each other during the time right after our senior years in college. I've really only spent significant time (with him), more than a minute or two, just once. We've crossed paths and said hello maybe once or twice but it wasn't until a golf tournament this off season where they were honoring Trent Dilfer that we really got a chance to talk and say hello. It's kind of funny for as much as we're linked and connected that way through the media, I haven't had a whole lot of connection with him."

(on California head coach Jeff Tedford who coached both Harrington at Oregon and Carr at Fresno State) "He started at Fresno State. He had David – I guess he would have had him his red shirt freshman year. So he would have had him for a year. Then he came to Oregon and I had him for my last four years. He is without a doubt one of the biggest reasons why I'm in the position I am right now. He is an incredible coach. I can't say enough good things about him. He's done a great job, not only with David and I but with every other player he has coached. You look at his track record; he was (Trent) Dilfer's coach, he was David's coach, he was my coach, he was Kyle Boller's coach, he had A.J. Feeley when he was at Oregon. The number of quarterbacks he has produced is really uncanny."

(on having Roy Williams in the offense) "It has been nice. It has been nice to have the receiving corps that we've had so far. Losing Charles obviously hurt, but I know now Roy is in the position where maybe he'll be become – I don't want to say the featured guy in our passing offense – but he has the talent to become that. He's just a natural pass catcher. He's very fluid with his hands, he's a very smooth runner, he runs great routes and he's physical on top of that. He has the tools to be a great receiver."

(on the Texans defense) "I'm sure I will see something new, especially from this defense. I would be surprised if I didn't. The 3-4 isn't something that's too common in the NFL but we've had the luxury of playing and practicing against it for two weeks during the preseason. Of the teams around the league I think we might be one of the most prepared to see this type of defense, but I'm sure they'll have a new wrinkle for us."

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