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News » Awful Lions have talent

Awful Lions have talent

Awful Lions have talent
The Detroit Lions are not without talent.

The Lions have eight consensus All-Americans on the roster: defensive tackle Shaun Cody, defensive end Jared DeVries, linebacker Jordon Dizon, punter Nick Harris, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, center Dominic Riaola, safety Dwight Smith and halfback Kevin Smith.

Johnson won the Biletnikoff Award as the top pass catcher in college Football and was a first-round draft pick. The Lions have five other players who entered the NFL as first-rounders: offensive tackles Jeff Backus, Gosder Cherilus and George Foster, quarterback Daunte Culpepper and linebacker Ernie Sims.

The Lions have a running back who produced the second-greatest season in NCAA history - Kevin Smith, who rushed for 2,567 yards at Central Florida in 2007. They also have a former NFC receiving champion in Mike Furrey.

What the Lions don't have are victories. They are 0-12 following Thursday's 47-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans .

No team has gone 0-16 in NFL history. Only seven teams have lost their first 11 games in a 16-game season - and the Lions are the lone repeater on that list.

The 2001 Lions also started off 0-11, as did the 2007 Miami Dolphins , 2000 San Diego Chargers , 1989 Indianapolis Colts , 1984 Buffalo Bills and 1980 New Orleans Saints.

The 2001 Lions started 0-12 before winning their first game. The 2007 Dolphins and 1986 Colts started 0-13 before winning, and the 1980 Saints started 0-14 before winning.

Rising stock

Jerome Harrison

RB, Cleveland

In 2005, Harrison rushed for a Pac-10-leading 1,900 yards at Washington State. A slow start by the Browns in 2008 gave Harrison a chance to see the field. He caught a 21-yard pass in the second game against Pittsburgh and scored his first career touchdown on a 19-yard reception the following week against Baltimore. He's averaging 8.8 yards on 27 carries this season and 13.9 yards on eight receptions.

Falling stock

Leonard Pope

TE, Arizona

I thought Pope, from Georgia, had a chance to be special. A giant at 6-8, 258 pounds, Pope was starting by the end of his rookie season in 2006 and caught five TD passes in 2007, the most by a Cardinals tight end since Rob Awalt in 1987. But Pope caught only seven passes with no TDs through the first 10 games of this season and has been benched.

Around the Ranch

Mike Singletary saw the Cowboys up close last weekend and, as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, he's not sure he wants to build a team in the image of America's Team. "Jerry Jones has been very aggressive to go out and acquire talent," Singletary said. "When I look at what we have done, I think we've been more selective in terms of what we want, the kind of talent that we want." Which means a Tank Johnson and a Pacman Jones need not apply for NFL employment in San Francisco.

DRAFT WATCH The Matthew Stafford Derby

The play of rookie quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco this season is driving up the draft stock of Georgia's Stafford. Ryan and Flacco have been starters from Day 1 and have their teams in playoff contention. Ryan's Atlanta Falcons and Flacco's Baltimore Ravens are 7-4. The 0-12 Detroit Lions need a quarterback, and Highland Park's Stafford is looking more attractive to them with each loss. That's if Stafford decides to skip his senior season at Georgia. If Sam Bradford decides to come out after his sophomore season at Oklahoma, the Lions could have two attractive options.

Commish for a day

I'm so tired of seeing receivers after contested incomplete passes reach into their back pocket and pretend to toss penalty flags into the air for pass interference. Last weekend, I saw it done on a regular basis in both college and NFL games. It's becoming as widespread (and as tired) as the old "first down" signal by receivers after catches.

Let the players play, the coaches coach and the refs ref. It's a cheap trick to incite the home crowd. I've got a sure-fire way to stop such showmanship - slap a 15-yard penalty on the receivers for unsportsmanlike conduct. That'll keep imaginary flags in back pockets.

From the wallet

If I'm buying

an NFL

ticket this

week, here's how

I spend my money:


Pittsburgh at New England: Matt Cassel has passed for 400 yards in two consecutive games. But Pittsburgh is allowing 168.8 passing yards per game.


Chicago at Minnesota: Chicago and Minnesota share first place in the NFC North with 6-5 records.


New York Giants at Washington: The Redskins were the last NFC East team to beat the Giants, winning 22-10 last December at Giants Stadium.

INSIDE THE NFL is posted every Tuesday on dallasnews.com. It can also be delivered via e-mail for free.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 29, 2008

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