Lions vs Us....

Angry Pope

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Raiders Host Lions at McAfee Coliseum

The Oakland Raiders, The Team of the Decades and members of the American Football Conference Western Division, face the National Football Conference North Division Detroit Lions this Friday in their fourth preseason game.

TELEVISION: This week's game will be televised locally on KICU-TV Channel 36, with Grant Napear handling play-by-play, Raider Legend Jim Plunkett and veteran football analyst and former college and NFL coach Artie Gigantino as color analysts. Raider Legend George Atkinson will handle sideline reporting duties while Jim Gray will serve as host of the telecast. If the game is not sold out, the game will air on a tape delayed basis at 10 p.m. Friday night.

RADIO: KSFO 560 AM is the Raiders flagship for the multi-state Raiders Radio Network. Greg Papa and former Raiders player, assistant and head coach Tom Flores will man the booth for the 10th straight year. The pregame show and postgame show will feature Raider Legends George Atkinson and David Humm along with KGO's Rich Walcoff.

RAIDERS-LIONS SERIES: This game marks the fifth preseason game between the Raiders and Lions. The Raiders lead the preseason series, 3-1, with the first contest having been played in 1974. The last time the two teams met in the preseason was in 2000. The Raiders hold a 6-3 advantage over the Lions in regular season action since the teams first met in 1970 in Detroit at Tiger Stadium.

LAST TIME, PRESEASON: The Raiders beat the Detroit Lions, 23-17 on Friday night, August 18th, 2000 in the preseason home opener for the Silver and Black at the Coliseum in Oakland.

CONNECTIONS

RAIDERS: WR Ronald Curry played with Lions CB Dré Bly at North Carolina... CB Fabian Washington played at Nebraska with Lions S Daniel Bullocks...WR Will Buchanon, RB Justin Fargas, LB Darnell Bing and Lions DT Shaun Cody, TE Kori Dickerson and G Fred Matua all played for USC...Rookie S Michael Huff played with Lions T Jonathan Scott, FB Will Matthews, DE Cory Redding and WR Roy Williams at Texas...WR Burl Toler, QB Reggie Robertson, LB Ryan Riddle and CB Nnamdi Asomugha were Cal teammates with Lions DB Harrison Smith...S Stuart Schweigert and Lions T Kelly Butler played for Purdue...DT Anttaj Hawthorne played for Wisconsin with Lions LB Alex Lewis and RB Brian Calhoun... P Shane Lechler played with both Lions G Rex Tucker and TE Dan Campbell at Texas A&M...RB DeJuan Green played for South Florida with Lions G Frank Davis and G Levi Newton... WR Jerry Porter and Lions WR James Davis were teammates at West Virginia... LB Kirk Morrison played at San Diego State with S Marcus Demps...K David Kimball was teammates with TE Sean McHugh and WR Eddie Drummond at Penn State...TE James Adkisson played with Lions DE Kalimba Edwards and DT Cleveland Pinkney at South Carolina...LB Sam Williams played at Fresno State with Lions DB Vernon Fow...C Jake Grove and Lions RB Kevin Jones played for Virginia Tech... DE Tyler Brayton played for Colorado and was teammates with Lions QB Joel Klatt...K Tim Duncan played with Lions LB Teddy Lehman at Oklahoma...S Jarrod Cooper, RB Joe Hall and DE Kevin Huntley were all teammates with Lions DB Jon McGraw at Kansas State...P Glenn Pakulak played for Kentucky with Lions RB Artose Pinner...WR Doug Gabriel and Lions K Matt Prater played at Central Florida...C Chris Morris was teammates with Lions WR Charles Rogers at Michigan State...C Adam Treu and Lions FB Cory Schlesinger both played for Nebraska...LB Timi Wusu played at Stanford with Lions CB Stanley Wilson...T Robert Gallery and Lions LB LeVar Woods were teammates at Iowa...DT Warren Sapp played under Lions head coach Rod Marinelli at Tampa Bay.

LIONS: General manager Matt Millen played for the Raiders from 1980-88...DBs coach Clayton Lopez coached for the Raiders in the same position during the 2004 and 2005 seasons...Head Coach Rod Marinelli was defensive line coach at Cal from 1983-91 and assistant head coach 1990-91...Defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson was the linebackers coach for Cal from 1990-91...Offensive coordinator Mike Martz was an assistant at Fresno State in 1979 at Santa Ana College in 1978, San Jose State in 1975 and at Bullard High School in Fresno in 1973...Linebackers coach Phil Snow coached Cal's secondary from 1987-91, he also coached at Laney College from 1979-81, Winters High School from 1977-78 and Berkeley High in 1976...DB Harrison Smith is originally from Oakland ...CB Stanley Wilson attended Stanford.

LAST WEEK: The Oakland Raiders defeated the San Francisco 49ers 23-7 at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland last Sunday.

SILVER LININGS

TWO MORE TAKEAWAYS: The Raiders added two more takeaways during last Sunday's action versus the San Francisco 49ers, bringing their total to nine - five interceptions and four fumble recoveries. Michael Huff recorded the first interception of his career when he stepped in front of a pass and returned it 44 yards last Sunday against San Francisco. Huff was the Raiders' first round pick, the seventh overall, and was named the Thorpe Award winner after leading Texas to a national title.

LOTSA YARDS:
The Raiders rushed for 156 yards versus the 49ers last Sunday, with ReShard Lee leading the way with 49 yards. Starter LaMont Jordan added 45 yards rushing in a half of action.

ALL GOOD SO FAR: Sebastian Janikowski added another successful field goal last Sunday versus the 49ers and now is seven-for-seven on field goal attempts, including three from 50 yards and beyond. His 55-yard field goal on Monday night, August 14 at Minnesota matched his Raider record for the longest field goal made in the regular season (11-2-03 at Detroit) and his career long. Janikowski is the Raider leader in field goal accuracy entering 2005 at an 80.8 percent clip. Janikowski has scored over 100 points five of the last six seasons and has led the Raiders in scoring in each of his pro campaigns.

GETTING THEIR KICKS: Kickers aside from Sebastian Janikowski got to attempt field goals versus San Francisco and made the most of their opportunities. David Kimball converted on a 23-yard field goal while Tim Duncan hit on a 45-yarder.

STAT TO NOTE: The Raiders more than doubled the time of possession during the 23-7 win over the 49ers last Sunday. The Raiders offense was on the field for nearly 42 minutes while the 49ers offense had the ball nearly 19 minutes.

NEXT WEEK: The Oakland Raiders break training camp this week and return to the team's permanent Alameda facility to prepare for their final preseason game against the defending NFC Champion Seahawks on Thursday, August 31, at 7 p.m. in Seattle.
 
Kitna knows how Raiders' fans can be

Aug 24, 2006


By PAULA PASCHE


ALLEN PARK - Oakland Raiders fans aren't known for showing love toward the opposition. Quite the opposite.
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But that doesn't mean Detroit Lions quarterback Jon Kitna shies away from playing in Oakland.

In fact, he seems to relish it.

That is where he got his first NFL start and saw the first preseason action of his career.

"As a matter of fact, in my first start the fans told me in the first half that I was the Raiders' MVP that day because I'd thrown an interception or two in the first half," Kitna said Wednesday. "But we came back and beat them 23-21 or something like that."

Maybe it's those good memories that have him looking forward to Friday night's preseason game. It'll be the Lions' third outing and also a crucial one.

"It's going to be a good gauge. I can't think of a better place to go to play this game," Kitna said.

He is not bothered by the fact that the team will fly out to Oakland that morning and fly home immediately after the game, which has a 10 p.m. Eastern kickoff. They will arrive in Oakland midday. Kitna said since the players usually sit around all day waiting for a preseason game, he thinks this travel itinerary could provide more focus.

"Coach, he's never backed down from his philosophy that he's going to try to create adversity for us. ... He's never shied away from the fact that he's trying to toughen us up," Kitna said.

Neither head coach Rod Marinelli nor offensive coordinator Mike Martz would say whether Josh McCown or Dan Orlovsky would be the No. 2 quarterback in Friday's game. That does not seem to be a priority.

"Jon should get a pretty good piece of (action) this time, then we'll just get a feel for the game," Martz said. "I'm not trying to be evasive. I'm more concerned about getting Jon some snaps and getting some things done with him, showing him some things in our offense he has to do in a game situation."

This will probably be the final preseason game where Kitna will see much action.

Martz will be looking for more consistency from the offense which struggled last Friday at Cleveland.

"We had an awful lot of mistakes last week which we didn't have in our first game," Martz said.

He's looking for good fundamental offense and he'll keep the gameplan simple. Execution is key, especially after the running game's anemic performance against the Browns.

"Obviously we've got some guys out (injured) on the offensive line, and we're looking at a lot of different plays in the preseason. But we'd most definitely like to get something established in the running game," Martz said. "We'd like to get back and play mistake-free football, especially in the running game."

Martz said it's been a good week of practice but it is hard to tell if the team will bounce back after a sloppy display last week.

If they come back and execute, it could quiet those rowdy Raiders fans.
 
Scouting Report: Oakland Raiders


Detroit Lions @ Oakland Raiders
August 25, 2006 | 10:00 p.m. (Eastern) | McAfee Stadium



Oakland Raiders Roster Changes:



Key Additions:
DB Michael Huff (Draft-R1), LB Thomas Howard (Draft-R2), OT Paul McQuistan (Draft-R3), SS Darnell Bing (Draft-R4), OG Kevin Boothe (Draft-R6), OC Chris Morris (Draft-R7), WR Kevin McMahan (Draft-R7), DE Lance Johnstone (UFA), CB Tyrone Poole (UFA), QB Aaron Brooks (UFA), CB Duane Starks (UFA), TE Marcellus Rivers (UFA), RB Rod Smart (UFA), LB Robert Thomas (UFA), TE O.J. Santiago (UFA)

Key Losses: DT Ted Washington (UFA), CB Charles Woodson (UFA), CB Renaldo Hill (UFA), DT Ed Jasper (UFA), LB Tim Johnson (UFA), QB Kerry Collins (UFA), FB Omar Easy (UFA), OG Ron Stone (UFA), DT Kenny Smith (UFA), CB Denard Walker (UFA)

Detroit Lions injuries: OG Tyrone Hopson (season-IR), LB Ted Lehman (PUP), TE Casey Fitzsimmons (6 weeks), OT Rex Tucker (game), OG Damien Woody (game), DT Shaun Rogers (game), WR Scottie Vines (PUP), WR Charles Rogers (game)

Offense: The new head coach in Oakland, Art Shell, is hoping to bring this team back under control. After a dismal 4-12 season last year and a number of player issues, owner Al Davis jettisoned former coach Norv Turner and hired (again) the former head coach that took the Raiders to the AFC playoffs in the early 90’s. Shell is a structured and disciplined head coach and Davis is looking to him to bring the Raider Nation something to cheer about. The task is not an easy one, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Former starting quarterback Kerry Collins was released and is being replaced by the highly inconsistent yet younger and more athletic former Saint Aaron Brooks. This move could spell even more trouble for this squad, as Brooks is known to give coordinators and receivers fits because of his streaky play. The unseasoned Andrew Walter returns as the primary backup, with Marques Tuiasosopo likely returning to hold the clipboard as the emergency third string signal caller. Superstar wideout Randy Moss has already thrown a few tantrums in training camp, and the season is only promising to become even more of a spectacle if he doesn’t see enough throws come his way. Art is not likely to be amused by Randy’s selfish behavior, and we could see the poltergeist of Owens versus Reid manifest itself in Oakland with Shell versus Moss sometime this season. As if that weren’t enough, the Raiders have yet another dissatisfied customer with receiver Jerry Porter begging to be traded or released. Doug Gabriel and Alvis Whitted offer talented depth, along with speedster Carlos Francis. Should Porter or Moss get benched, one of these three will be more than happy to step in. With the season not having even started, poor Art has his hands full, but the fun doesn’t stop there. There is questionable depth at running back, with Lamont Jordan returning as the starter and veterans Justin Fargas and Rod Smart being the primary backups. While Jordan had a mediocre season in 2005, should he get injured neither Fargas nor Smart are widely viewed as capable backups, with Smart likely to be used predominantly as a return specialist. I’m sure the Raiders will keep their eyes open after this game to see if any capable backs are released so that they can add some quality depth behind Jordan. Short yardage specialist Zack Crockett gets the starting nod at fullback. The tight end position is a big question mark on this team. The very unheralded Courtney Anderson is penciled in as the starter, with Randall Williams and James Adkisson being the backups. Who, you say? Exactly. The Raiders really needed to address their tight end position either in free agency or in the draft, and for some reason they weren’t able to or chose not to. We’ll see if they make a move after the first cuts to strengthen that spot. Along their offensive line, Robert Gallery, the second overall pick from 2004 lines up at left tackle. While Gallery was considered a top notch prospect coming out of Iowa, his play in the NFL has hardly been worthy of a second overall selection. Veteran Barry Sims lines up next to Gallery, while Jake Grove handles the pivot duties. Third round rookie Paul McQuistan has been given the starting job at right guard for now, with sixth round selection Kevin Boothe serving as his primary backup. Rounding out the offensive line at right tackle is veteran Langston Walker. In all likelihood the Raiders are using McQuistan at guard for a season until he is prepared to take over the right tackle duties from Walker in 2007.

Art Shell likes to run the ball and control the clock. With the receiving corps he has and with the shaky personnel he has at running back he may have to rethink that strategy. Much will depend on how well Aaron Brooks can lead this team, and how well the offensive line is able to open up holes. While Grove and Sims are steady, Gallery and Walker are inconsistent and McQuistan, a small school player from Weber State, remains a mystery. Lamont Jordan is a strong runner, capable of picking up tough yards between the tackles. He wanted out of the Jets organization so that he could be a featured runner. He didn’t exactly light up the field with his performance in 2005, but he had little help from the remaining roster. If the line can become a cohesive unit and the troubled receivers start focusing on their production, Brooks becomes the focal point for this units success.

Defense: The defense took a big loss in the middle of its line when Ted Washington was lured away by Cleveland to be their 3-4 nose tackle. Warren Sapp enjoyed lining up next to the space eating Washington which allowed for his having to face single blocking most times. However, Sapp is returning from rotator cuff surgery and may not be 100% by the time the season starts. Antajj Hawthorne is the backup behind Sapp, with Tommy Kelly being the likely replacement for the departed Washington. Hawthorne has something to prove, as his draft status in 2005 plummeted amid allegations of drug use and poor workouts. Kelly is not as big and strong as his predecessor, but he is more athletic and could contribute more in passing situations than Washington was capable of. Sack master Derrick Burgess, who collected 16 quarterback takedowns in 2005, returns to play right end, while Lance Johnstone was signed to a free agent contract to compete with Tyler Brayton and last years starting right end Bobby Hamilton. Brayton is currently the listed starter on the depth chart, and the Raiders like his strength and tenacity.

cont'd...
 
cont'd...

Last season the Raiders linebackers left something to be desired, except for the emergence of middle backer Kirk Morrison. He proved himself a very capable run stuffer, but can he repeat that performance with Washington gone? Al Davis used his second round pick on athletic UTEP backer Thomas Howard to help add speed to that unit. Howard is somewhat raw, but he has already earned the starting nod at the weakside spot. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan envisions using Howard in a variety of ways and likes his natural blitz abilities. Free agent Robert Thomas was signed to help add depth at both outside spots, with Sam Williams being the likely starter on the strong side. Former USC strong safety Darnell Bing has been asked to make the switch to linebacker, and he is likely to work at multiple spots in training camp to help add versatility to the unit. In the secondary, gone is enigmatic cornerback Charles Woodson. Rather than franchise him, the Oakland Raiders decided to allow Charles to leave as a free agent and instead signed two former Patriots, Duane Starks and Tyrone Poole, with the money it would have taken to keep Woodson. Neither Starks nor Poole have the athletic talents of Woodson, but Charles has had injury problems the past few years and the emergence of Fabian Washington allowed for his departure. Fabian will start along with Nnamdi Asomugha at the corners. Stanford Routt, a pleasant surprise player for the Raiders in 2005, will fight with Poole and Starks for the nickel and dime spots. The Raiders used their first pick in this years draft (to the chagrin of many Lions fans) on Texas defensive back Michael Huff. While the Raiders had a good pair of safeties in Stuart Schweigert and Derrick Gibson, neither of them has the athletic gifts that Huff does. Huff can play any spot in the secondary, hits well, is a solid tackler, has wide receiver speed and shows great natural instincts. It is likely that he will take over at strong safety for Derrick Gibson, possibly by the start of the season.

The Game – what to watch: This is the third pre-season game for the Lions and the fourth for the Raiders, who were participants in the Hall of Fame game. This is the game where coaches keep their starters in for the longest time before regular season. Typically the ‘ones’ play for the first half, sometimes a little less or more, depending on the amount of work the coaches feel the player(s) need. Typically the first half has a ‘regular season’ feel to it, and the coaching staff will open up the playbook a little more than usual. Starters are looking to secure their spots before the depth charts get finalized, and ‘bubble’ players are trying to impress coaches enough to find their way onto the final roster. In this game the interesting match ups will be between the Lions secondary and the talented receivers of the Raiders. In the new defensive scheme, the front four of the Detroit defense will need to get pressure on Aaron Brooks to force him into making mistakes. The cornerback spot on the Lions defense is a concern, as neither Dre’ Bly nor Fernando Bryant are prototypical Cover 2 style corners. Should Donnie Henderson decide to roll the free safety toward Randy Moss, that will leave the other corner responsible for either Jerry Porter or Doug Gabriel. The advantage would be with the Raiders in many of those circumstances. I expect a few more blitzes out of the Lions than we’ve seen to this point. To keep Aaron Brooks’ scrambling in check, the best strategy is to have the ends crash upfield, have the tackle collapse the middle and send an extra attacker to force Brooks out. Aaron throws well on the run, but he is not a creative playmaker in those circumstances.

Offensively the Lions will look to establish a successful ground game against a young and untested linebacking corps for the Raiders. The loss of Ted Washington could be the undoing of the Raiders ability to stop the run in 2006, so it will be interesting to see how the Lions front five are able to open holes and let Kevin Jones run loose into the secondary. Passing wise, the Lions will look to create mismatches by using the Martz movement offense. While Fabian Washington and Nnamdi Asomugha are good corners, I don’t think they match up well with Roy Williams. Look for the Raiders to try doubling Roy up when they can, which should allow Kitna to look off Roy and find single coverage on his second or third receivers. During passing situations, watch for the battle between left tackle Jeff Backus and Raider end Derrick Burgess. This will be a good measuring stick to determine if the Lions overpaid for Backus, or if his ankle injury last season kept him from having a far more productive campaign.

Summary: In reality, I would have hoped that the Lions faced a better team on this third week of pre-season so that they could better gauge their competitiveness with such a squad at this point. I expect the Lions should be able to move the ball successfully all night against the Raiders, particularly on the ground. The Raiders don’t have a great deal of depth in their defense, so how the Lions do in the first half is what should be closely scrutinized. Likewise, the Raiders running game is not expected to be overly productive in 2006. While Lamont Jordan is a good back, he didn’t impress last season and his limitations were magnified because of a mediocre offensive line. The Raiders are lining up a rookie at right guard, and moved Robert Gallery to left tackle. Gallery has struggled with his footwork and his pass protection has been questionable as a result. This will be the last opportunity to see the Detroit starters before the regular season opens against the Seahawks, and after this game the roster must be cut down to 75 players. Most of the players that will be cut have already been identified by the coaching staff, but the second half of this game will likely be dominated by those who are playing to keep a job in the NFL. That alone often makes the second half of this third exhibition game very entertaining.
 
Raiders feel good about winning 3-0 preseason has Oakland dancin' in locker room

David White

Friday, August 25, 2006


Exhibition games aren't supposed to mean squat, ranking somewhere between pregame calisthenics and midweek teleconferences in the NFL's big picture.

Good luck telling that to the Raiders, the happiest 3-0 team in preseason land.

The Raiders' giddy run under the watchful eye of coach Art Shell continues tonight against the Lions at the Coliseum. It's their final home showing until the Sept. 11 season opener against San Diego, when the games count for more than company morale.

Win, and the Raiders will have their first 4-0 exhibition-season start in 30 years. None of this counts in the AFC West standings, but victories against Philadelphia, Minnesota and San Francisco aren't altogether pointless.

"They say preseason doesn't matter," cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said after practice Thursday in Alameda, talking loud over the sound of rap music ricocheting off the four locker room walls as teammates rhymed along and danced in towels.

"But, if we were 0-3 right now, we wouldn't be feeling very happy. The fact that we're 3-0 is very good for us."

You'll have to excuse the Raiders for enjoying the August ride. Remember, this is a team that won four games last year, and an underwhelming 13 in three years to match the 49ers for the league's worst mark.

Training camp priorities involved reshuffling the offensive line, appointing a new quarterback, unveiling a new offense and instituting discipline.

But as much as all the above, the Raiders needed to remember what it's like to smile after a game.

"We talk about it being just the preseason," free safety Stuart Schweigert said, "but once you establish that winning feeling, you want to have it every week. I think we lost what it felt like to win the last couple years. We're hungry for it and want to keep getting it."

It's worth noting the Raiders have not excelled their way to a 1.000 winning percentage. The first two victories came despite stonewalling by the first-team offense. The third victory, convincing as it was, left up to three touchdowns on the field because of turnovers and penalties.

Brooks and wide receiver Randy Moss have yet to ace chemistry class together. Injuries to Barry Sims and Jake Grove have watered down the offensive line's cohesiveness. The defensive line has three sacks, which won't have any left tackles shaking in their boots.

But they're winning, and that still matters to an organization that keeps score year-round.

"Look, winning is part of what we need to do," said Shell, who has had four losing records in 20 exhibition seasons as a player or head coach. "It creates good habits, good feelings. The players understand there is a lot to be done. There are a lot of mistakes we have to take care of in order to be ready for the regular season.

"I've always felt you need to create an atmosphere of winning, so every game is important to me and to this organization that we win."

Grove update: Grove, the starting center, won't require surgery on his left shoulder and could be back in three-to-four weeks.

Grove strained a muscle in his left shoulder during practice Tuesday. The team feared he tore the muscle and would require surgery, which would have shelved Grove for up to 12 weeks.

"It looks like I dodged a bullet this time," he said.

Briefly: Left guard Barry Sims (elbow) and strong safety Michael Huff (ankle) are doubtful for tonight's game. ... The NFL's first round of roster cuts is Tuesday. The Raiders must eliminate 15 players from the 90-man roster and lose all roster exemptions for NFL Europe veterans.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tonight's game
Who: Lions

vs. Raiders

Where:

Coliseum

Time: 7 p.m.

TV: 10 p.m.
 
Exhibition serves as audition

Steve Corkran

It's something that Raiders coach Art Shell says to his players before each game. Some will be hearing it for the last time tonight before Oakland's exhibition game against the Detroit Lions.

"I make a blanket statement to everybody in the room," Shell said. "I say, 'Look, give yourself every opportunity to make this team and be a part of what we are doing here. Continue to be a part of it. Every man is here for a reason. We felt you had a chance to make this football team, so give yourself every chance to be part of what we are trying to do here.'"

Tonight's game at McAfee Coliseum affords the scores of players not named Randy Moss, LaMont Jordan and Michael Huff perhaps one last shot at showing Shell and his coaching staff that they belong here beyond Tuesday's mandatory roster cutdown.

At that time, Shell must pare 15 players from his 90-man roster and go into the exhibition finale against the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night with 75 players vying for the final 53 spots. The second and final roster cutdown is Sept. 3.

Such proven players as Moss, Jordan, Derrick Burgess and Kirk Morrison already are assured roster spots. Others such as rookies Huff, Thomas Howard and Paul McQuistan know they can relax because of their status as high draft picks.

However, the majority of players on Oakland's roster aren't assured of anything other than tonight's game, three more nights' lodging, a handful of meals and a ticket out of town.

Young players such as wide receiver Will Buchanon, cornerback Dennis Davis and linebacker Timi Wusu are hoping to build upon already impressive showings throughout training camp and exhibition games.

Veterans such as cornerbacks Tyrone Poole and Duane Starks, tight end O.J. Santiago, guard Kelvin Garmon and linebacker Robert Thomas are hoping to squeeze one more year from their battered bodies.

Tonight's game can be a make-or-break one for some players. Injured players such as Wusu have to hope that what they accomplished before they got hurt carries enough significance.

Shell said he tends to factor in everything: offseason workouts, minicamps, training camp practices and games.

"It's a difficult thing to do because the evaluation process is ongoing," Shell said. "But the process started during the offseason. It continues throughout training camp.

"It's not just one game. It adds to it. It helps you. But it is an accumulation of a lot of days working out on the field and showing the coaches what you are capable of doing. So, when the time comes to make those decisions, you have to weigh all those things."

Third-year receiver Johnnie Morant has been through this process twice before. He arrived as a fifth-round draft pick in 2004, on a team loaded with receivers.

Trying to figure out what coaches think about you and where you stand in the overall scheme of things can be mentally draining, Morant said. So, he tries to block it out and concentrate on learning the offense by night and executing it by day.

"My goal is just to make this team," Morant said. "I go day by day, come out every morning and work hard in practice. I can only control what I can control by playing."

Note: Center Jake Grove said he won't need surgery to repair the strained muscle he sustained to his left shoulder in practice Tuesday. "It's not as bad as they thought it would be," Grove said Thursday. "I'm not going to have to have surgery. Hopefully, it will be three to four weeks, at the most. It looks like I dodged a bullet this time." Grove added that he initially thought that he would be out for as long as 12 weeks.

• TODAY: vs. Lions, 7 p.m. TV: Ch. 31 (tape-delayed on Ch. 36 at 10 p.m.). Radio: 560-AM
 
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