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Harrington shows playmaking ability

8/2/2004 - Detroit Lions

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Five observations on the Detroit Lions from training camp practices.


1. Joey Harrington is developing nicely as a quarterback. Outsiders misinterpret his talents. He's an accurate thrower. That his completion percentage has been under 60 percent in his first two years isn't all because of bad throws. It's more because he's had bad receivers with bad hands. One of the interesting things he's developing this year is the ability to scramble more. For a pure pocket passer, Harrington has decent running ability. He has the ability to break a longer run than a Peyton Manning and if he runs one or two times a game, it could open up more downfield throwing opportunities.

2. People missed the boat on Dre' Bly a year ago. Some NFL people thought the Lions overpaid to get him in free agency. How wrong they were? Bly is a play-maker and a leader. He went to the Pro Bowl because he's got good man-to-man coverage skills and he makes plays. He had six interceptions and forced five fumbles. Now, the signing looks like a steal.

3. The offensive line added a needed attitude adjustment with the signing of Pro Bowl guard Damien Woody from the Patriots to a six-year deal worth $31 million. For years, the Lions have patched the guard position with older vets. Woody, who was a first-round pick in 1999, brings a fire to a line filled with technicians. The addition of Woody could open up a more potent inside running game.


4. Even though Pro Bowl free safety Brock Marion should help with leadership and direction, the safety position has to be an area of concern. Strong safeties Brian and Bracy Walker are long-time veterans but they both lack speed. Don't be surprised to see the Lions look for safeties as they get closer to the start of the season. Marion, entering his 12th season in the NFL, started 16 games last season for the Dolphins and had three interceptions.

5. Charles Rogers has so much more confidence than he did a year ago. Though he has great speed, Rogers seemed to run in a herky-jerky fashion last season. This year, his routes are smooth. His upper body isn't jerking around as he rushes downfield. Rogers was limited to five games last season as a rookie because of injuries, catching 22 passes for 243 yards. He showed that he has recovered from last year's collarbone separation by doing a flip and landing on his shoulder after making a low catch during the first day of practice.

Senior writer John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com.