ALLEN PARK -- Ernie Sims isn't eager to give up plays, but he doesn't disagree with Lions coach Rod Marinelli's plan to keep him fresh in the second half of the season.
"We're playing him -- to me -- too much," Marinelli said. "He goes so hard, so fast, every down and then he gets in the kicking game and he does the same exact thing. ... You wear down."
By Marinelli's count, Sims -- the Lions' first-round draft pick last April -- has played more than 70 snaps on defense and special teams in some games.
"If you can pull him back a little bit and freshen him up, now he's really explosive, especially if you've got quality depth," Marinelli said.
During the first seven games, Sims has played well but the Lions have been thin at the linebacker position, which is one of the reasons their defense has been inconsistent and partially responsible for their 1-6 record at the bye week.
Lehman has been on the physically unable to perform list, still recovering from a foot injury, but he is eligible to play now and is practicing with the team for the first time. Lewis was one of the Lions' best players in the first two weeks of the season before a knee injury put him on the shelf.
If Lewis and Lehman are ready to play Nov. 5 against Atlanta, Marinelli feels
the Lions can be better defensively and also on special teams.
Sims understands what Marinelli is saying.
"To be honest with you, I like playing that much," he said. "But, at the same time, there are times in games I need a break, so it would be kind of nice to get a little break.
"When you're tired, you can't think straight sometimes, and when you're tired
you get a little lazy sometimes, so that would definitely help me out."