Harrington could replace limping Garcia for Lions

Updated: November 1, 2005, 12:04 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Joey Harrington lost his starting quarterback spot with the Detroit Lions because of inconsistency. He could regain it because of injury.

Quarterback
Detroit Lions

Profile
2005 SEASON STATISTICS
Att Comp Yds TD Int Rat
69 45 395 0 1 75.0

Backup quarterback Jeff Garcia, who replaced Harrington in the lineup two weeks ago and has fashioned a 1-1 mark, was battered in Sunday's overtime defeat to the Chicago Bears, and his availability for this week's game against the Minnesota Vikings will not be known until later in the week. Garcia, who returned to the field only 8 weeks after he suffered a broken left fibula and sprained ankle in the preseason, was limping Sunday and acknowledged Monday his status for this week is uncertain.

The Lions, who at 3-4 are just one game behind the Bears in the woeful NFC North, will begin on-field preparations for the Sunday matchup at Minnesota on Wednesday. Garcia said that he feels he needs two practices, meaning getting on the field by Thursday, to be able to start against the Vikings, who will start backup Brad Johnson.

"If I can't be out there Thursday, it's best for the guy who's taking the snaps to be out there on Sunday," Garcia said. "I feel like getting two good, solid days of practice is important for me to feel comfortable with what I need to do."

Still not 100 percent recovered from his leg injury, and arguably not as mobile as he would like to be, Garcia was sacked twice Sunday and took about 18 to 20 more hits in the overtime defeat. Being able to move in the pocket, and make improvisational plays on the run, has always been a major part of Garcia's repertoire.

Quarterback
Detroit Lions

Profile
2005 SEASON STATISTICS
Att Comp Yds TD Int Rat
143 76 726 4 8 55.6

In his two starts, the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback, signed this spring to provide the Lions with veteran insurance behind Harrington, has completed 45 of 69 attempts for 407 yards, with no touchdown passes and one interception. The one interception was returned by Bears corner Charles Tillman for the game-winning touchdown in overtime Sunday.

The embattled Harrington started the first five games of the season, posting a 2-3 record, and completed 76 of 143 pass attempts for 798 yards, with nine touchdown passes and eight interceptions. The third overall player selected in the 2002 draft, Harrington is one of five quarterbacks leaguewide who have lost their starting jobs this season because of performance and not injury.

Detroit's offense ranks No. 29 in the league and is 24th in scoring, with an average of just 16.7 points per game. The Lions have just 11 touchdowns on offense. Only eight teams have fewer. Detroit has just two touchdowns in its last three games and has scored more than two touchdowns just once this season.

Whoever starts at quarterback on Sunday might have the advantage of getting back two of the team's highly regarded wide receivers. Charles Rogers is eligible to return this week from a four-game suspension for a repeat violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. Roy Williams, who miss the last three games with a thigh injury, might also return to the lineup.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.