With the cutdown days (Aug. 29 and Sept. 2) approaching, there is increased speculation among fans…
Last rites: Final chance for Rogers, Williams
Since arriving in Detroit, Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli and his staff have provided the one dynamic that has been missing within a team flooded with talent: fair and balanced competition. But while there has no question that every position, and every player, is under constant evaluation, two players in one particular skill group have attracted the most attention -- from the coaching staff to the media and fans. During Thursday night's preseason finale against Buffalo, respective first-round receivers' Charles Rogers and Mike Williams will be fighting to avoid not just a roster cut, but local and national embarrassment. Better late than never. According to head coach Rod Marinelli, the two players will see "a pretty good dose" of playing time, a significant change from the relative obscurity the two players had been relegated to. While Williams' stock has dropped in recent weeks (as evident by his absence at Oakland on Friday), Rogers has frustrated coaches by missing the last two games with what has been called a 'deep knee bruise.' Team physicians have cleared Rogers to finally step on the field. Varied excuses aside, both players will see the advanced playing time for the same reason: to see whether or not they belong on Detroit's 53-man roster, which will be determined immediately following the contest. Marinelli has maintained that his club would be formulated by what coaches see during practice and camp, not by collegiate and other irrelevant accolades. "We've got guys at every position right now (competing) and we've tried to keep it open as long as we can," said Marinelli on Tuesday. "When it's open like that, you're getting quality work from those men and they're improving themselves. "The biggest thing is if they're improving in practice they've got a chance to put out a good resume for the rest of the league too - which I want. I want each guy to put out as good a resume as they can and hopefully they all get picked up - the ones we can't keep." Selected No. 2 and No. 10 overall, respectively, in previous drafts, Rogers and Williams will battle for two available receiver spots with a slew of undrafted receivers, including rookie free-agents Shaun Bodiford and Devale Ellis and second-year player Glenn Martinez. Marinelli said that Rogers, who was an off-season gem but tailed off significantly since camp began, could use the game to prove himself. "Like I see everybody else, I want to see his best," he said. "Whatever he has, let's see it on tape." NOTES: Paving the way for Rogers and Williams' increase playing time will be starter Roy Williams, who is likely to be held out against the Bills. Williams has missed the last two practices with a slight groin pull. OG Ross Verba and CB Fernando Bryant were also held out of Tuesday's practice for precautionary reasons. With DE Bill Swancutt placed on IR, the Lions signed former Michigan State Spartan defensive end and second-year pro Clifford Dukes to a contract.
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