Pregame linkage: Detroit Lions at Cincinnati Bengals


I have the Lions’ “unofficial” depth chart going into Sunday nights game. Just click to enlarge.

The only major changes come from a pair of players who’ve been activated from the PUP list. Dan Campbell is now the starter at TE in front of Michael Gaines and Shaun McDonald, instead of Devale Ellis, is now behind Roy Williams as the number 3 receiver.

Save for Dave Rayner taking kicking duties over from the released Eddie Johnson, backing up the injured Jason Hanson, nothing else stands out. No rookies are higher than 2nd string, with the vast majority being 3rd on the depth chart. It’s to be expected from Rod Marinelli, who holds almost all rookies in the same regard. They are ALL the lowest of the low who need to earn his trust.

For the opposition POV, head over to Fan Sided’s Bengals blog, Stripe Hype. They aren’t too concerned about losing to the Lions…

If history is any guide, the Bengals ought to record their second preseason win Sunday. They have only dropped their second preseason game once under coach Marvin Lewis, last year’s 27-19 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Before that, they had won four straight, beginning with a 23-10 drubbing of the Lions.

I honestly don’t care if the Lions win or lose to Cincy. The 2nd exhibition means two things, jack and shit. All I want is to see the 1st string play well and no one get hurt. Even if the 1st team didn’t play well, as long as everyone came out of the game healthy, I wouldn’t all that uptight about the results. I’d also like to see good performances from the backup QB’s and improvement from the rookies. (Gosder Cherilus, I’m looking at you!)

At Mlive, Killer Kowalski tells WDFN that it make take the Lions’ OL a year to learn the new zone blocking scheme, and “gel.”

“I was talking to some of the national guys who make the rounds, and they were talking about what happens when you go to a zone blocking scheme. And generally, those offensive lines don’t really start getting better until the second half of the year, if not the second season because it takes a while to (learn the system).”

Does this sound like a built-in excuse for failure to anyone else? Can this coaching regime afford a year? With William Clay Ford as the owner, they may believe so.

At the News, Mike O’Hara looks at roster battles, as the first roster cut down is only 10 days away. If rookies and backups want to make an impressions, let alone the team, they need to show something the next two weekends.

Some positions, such as quarterback, are clear cut.

The Lions will keep three quarterbacks, and three are on the roster — starter Jon Kitna and backups Dan Orlovsky and Drew Stanton.

But a handful of starting jobs haven’t been decided:

• Rookie Kevin Smith could start at tailback over Tatum Bell.

• Gosder Cherilus, the No. 1 pick, might beat out George Foster at offensive right tackle.

At other positions, the battles are for depth and roster spots.

When it comes to Smith and Cherilus, I don’t want to see “could” and “might.” “WILL” is the operative word when it comes to those two. As RB and RT are may be the most troublesome positions on the team, and both Smith and Cherilus were specifically drafted to fill those needs, the Lions can’t afford them to be backups. If Detroit is going to do anything this season, Smith and Cherilus HAVE to start, and play well.

Speaking of such, the Lions beat writer at the Oakland Press, Dave Birkett, thinks Cherilus will be the starter before too much longer. Possibly by next week, which is the regular season dress rehearsal.

He’s at least a week away from starting (judging by Friday’s rotation, at least). There’s no way coaches could have elevated him from backup after his three-penalty performance against the Giants, even if he excelled in other areas like the run game. If he turns in a flag-free performance Sunday, the Lions would be wise to name him the starter. That way the first-team offensive line could work together for the remainder of the preseason, including next week’s all-important third game.

Good Lord, for all of our sake’s, please let Cherilus stop using “Mr. Can’t Remember The Snap Count,” George Foster, as a role model.  For all I care, Cherilus can use Lord Voldemort, Dr. Rusty Venture, Chairman Mao and Jeff Backus as inspirations, as long as he remembers the GOD DAMN SNAP COUNT!

For the first time in recent memory, the worst columnist in America checks in on the Lions. As usual, his analysis is as deep as a bulimic is wide.

If they play defense — we’re talking good, solid, stop-’em defense — they have a shot at a successful season.

If not — and that’s what most fans should expect until they prove otherwise — it will be the same old story. The Lions will lose more games than they win. Worse, they will miss the playoffs for the ninth straight season.

Brilliant! Next thing you know, Rob Parker will be telling us the offense doesn’t play well, the Lions will lose more games than they win. Or if the opposition outscores the Lions, they will lose more games than they win. Or if Jon Kitna gets injured…Hell, you get my drift. Typical Parker boilerplate.

As for tomorrow’s game thread, I’m still experimenting with different types. I’m thinking I’ll do a game thread where all my thoughts and running commentary will be in the comments. We’ll see how it goes, if it works better than a live blog.

Be there or be square.