Lions ready to rest overworked Sims

Lions' rookie linebacker Ernie Sims isn't eager to give up plays, but he doesn't disagree with head coach Rod Marinelli's plan to keep him fresh in the second half of the season. How Detroit's improving health at linebacker will help Sims remain explosive as the season wears on. More notes inside.

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.

It's Marinelli's theory that his rookie linebacker has been overworked in the first seven games because of injuries that have sidelined fellow linebackers Alex Lewis and Teddy Lehman.

"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."

PLAYER NOTES

  • DE James Hall will use the bye weekend to rest a sore shoulder. He suffered the injury in the Lions' Oct. 15 game against Buffalo and played last Sunday against the Jets but had to miss more than he normally would have.
  • TE Marcus Pollard was listed as the Lions' starting fullback last Sunday in the absence of FB Cory Schlesinger, who missed the game with a hamstring injury. However, Pollard lined up primarily in tight end or H-back positions, and the Lions went primarily with RB Kevin Jones in a one-back formation.
  • DE Kalimba Edwards has only one sack in the Lions' first seven games of the season. The Lions went out of their way to get him signed last spring when he became an unrestricted free agent, but Edwards has yet to pay any dividends as a pass rusher.
  • CB Dre' Bly was the most vocal critic of former Lions QB Joey Harrington after coach Steve Mariucci was fired last year. This year, with Harrington no longer around as a scapegoat, the Lions are 1-6 at the bye week break and Bly is still without an interception.
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