The Detroit Lions visit the Houston Texans in Reliant Stadium seeking their first win after starting the season 0-5. The Lions finished 7-9 in the 2007 season, winning only one game in the second half of the season after a 6-2 start.
Rod Marinelli is in his third season as head coach of the Lions, owning a 10-27 record over that time period.
Quarterback: Dan Orlovsky made the first start of his career last week in place of Jon Kitna and threw for 150 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota. Kitna, the Lions' normal starter, has been placed on injured reserve due to a back injury. Kitna is one of only nine quarterbacks in NFL history, and the only in Lions history, to pass for 4,000 yards in back-to-back seasons (2006-07). He was named as an alternate for the NFC Pro Bowl squad in 2007 and has thrown for 758 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions so far in 2008. Drew Stanton, a second round pick out of Michigan State in the 2007 NFL Draft, will serve as the Lions backup quarterback.
Running back: The Lions' third-round selection in this year's draft, Kevin Smith, began the season as a starter but has since been replaced by recent free agent signee Rudi Johnson. Smith has rushed for 195 yards and two touchdowns this season, including 62 yards on five carries last week. Johnson has recorded 160 yards on 40 carries in only one start this season.
Wide receiver/tight end: First-round pick Calvin Johnson is as talented as any receiver in the league. Johnson is in his second season and has caught 23 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns in the first five games of 2007. Shaun McDonald moves into the starting role after the Lions traded Roy Williams to the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday. McDonald broke out in 2007 with 79 receptions, 943 yards and six touchdowns, all career highs. The Lions signed tight end Michael Gaines in the offseason. Gaines won the starting job and has caught five balls for 50 yards this season.
Offensive line: The Lions spent their 2008 first-round draft pick on tackle Gosder Cherilus. After playing in a reserve role in the first two games this season, Cherilus moved into the starting right tackle spot in the Lions' Week 3 game versus San Francisco. Right guard Stephen Peterman is the team's starter after he made the most of his opportunities in the 2007 season when an injury thrust him into the lineup. Left guard Edwin Mulitalo has started 121 games in his career, including Super Bowl XXXV when he was with Baltimore. Center Dominic Raiola has played in every game since being picked in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft. The Lions' first-round pick in that same draft, left tackle Jeff Backus, has never missed a game or a start in his career. This game will be Backus' 118th consecutive start.
Defensive line: On the defensive line, left end Jared DeVries, a third-round pick in 1999, has two sacks and 16 tackles on the season. Defensive tackles Chuck Darby and Houston native Cory Redding stuff the middle of the line. Darby was signed in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent after playing the last two seasons in Seattle. Redding was a third-round pick in the 2003 NFL Draft out of Texas. Right end Dewayne White is in his sixth year in the league, second with the Lions. He has three sacks this season with 17 tackles.
Linebacker: Former first-round pick Ernie Sims anchors an impressive linebacker corps. In his career, Sims has started every game he has played in and has 42 tackles and 0.5 sacks on the season thus far. Middle linebacker Paris Lenon is in his seventh season in the NFL and has 30 tackles and one sack this year. Alex Lewis mans the strongside linebacker position and is in his fifth year in the league.
Secondary: The Lions' secondary is a veteran group, with three of the four starters having been in the league for six or more years. Cornerback Travis Fisher is in his seventh season and his second in Detroit. At the other corner, Leigh Bodden is in his first season in Detroit after being acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Browns during the offseason. Bodden was tied for fifth in the NFL in 2007 with six interceptions and has 19 tackles and one interception so far this season. Free safety Daniel Bullocks missed the 2007 season with an injured knee but has come back strong and already has 32 tackles and one forced fumble in 2008. Strong safety Dwight Smith is in his eighth year in the league and his first in Detroit. Smith has 26 tackles on the season.
Returning: Wide receiver Shaun McDonald returns punts for the Lions and wide receiver Mike Furrey returns kicks. McDonald has three punt returns for 25 yards. Furrey has three kick returns for 30 yards.
Kicking: Kicker Jason Hanson is a perfect six-for-six on field goal attempts and eight-for-eight on extra point conversions. The punting duties are handled by Nick Harris.