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.