Furrey, Harris making most of opportunities

Furrey, Harris making most of opportunities

When wide receiver Mike Furrey and running back Arlen Harris came to the Detroit Lions last spring, they had the look of the typical new-coach entourage and, to a certain extent, that was the case. But both have taken advantage of their knowledge of offensive coordinator Mike Martz's offense.

ALLEN PARK -- When wide receiver Mike Furrey and running back Arlen Harris came to the Lions last spring, they had the look of the typical new-coach entourage and, to a certain extent, that was the case.

Furrey, a wide receiver-turned-safety, and Harris, a backup running back/kick returner, both had played the past three seasons at St. Louis under Mike Martz, the Lions' new offensive coordinator. They seemed like the type of fringe players who frequently follow coaches from job to job.

They understood Martz's system and could help the rest of the Lions veterans during the installation process, then fade into the background when other more talented players took over.

So far, however, Furrey and Harris have shown no inclination to fade off the Lions depth chart. Furrey, who returned to his more familiar role as a receiver with the Lions, has been their best slot receiver and Harris is hanging tough as the No. 2 running back behind Kevin Jones.

In two preseason games, Furrey has caught just two passes for 10 yards but he makes very few mental mistakes, gets open and does all the little things a player less familiar with Martz's offense might not do.

Harris got few opportunities to line up in the backfield with the Rams, playing behind Marshall Faulk, Lamar Gordon and Steven Jackson at various times in his three years with the Rams but he returned kicks in 2003 and 2004, and Martz liked his work ethic.

With the Lions, he has worked for his reps and made the most of them when they come along. He carried seven times for 36 yards and caught three passes for 26 yards (and a touchdown) in the opening preseason game; in the second game he carried twice for no net yards but caught another pass for 13 yards.

There are still no guarantees but it appears increasingly likely Harris and Furrey will be on the roster when the Lions open the season Sept. 10 against Seattle. One thing is certain: They have proven they had more going for them than a first-hand acquaintance with the offensive coordinator.

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