Monday, August 28, 2006

Marinelli's Cloak And Dagger Act Will Wear Thin Soon

One thing I think we're learning about new Lions coach Rod Marinelli is that he won't easily satisfy our curiosity.

Already, he's made cryptic remarks in training camp about certain star receivers who shall remain nameless -- for another paragraph or two. Then he flew the team to Oakland the day of an exhibition game Friday, offering no real reasoning beyond the maddening, "It's a team issue."

Now he's at it again -- and again the topic du jour is one of those nameless receivers. Namely, Mike Williams.

Williams, the #1 draft pick in 2005 out of USC, didn't play a single down in Friday night's 21-3 loss. And, as usual, no real reason was given.

"Players earn their time in practice," was about all Marinelli would say about the matter. Yet there had been no indications during the week that Williams had disappointed the coaches on the practice field.

Williams, for his part, doesn't know why he didn't play.

"They usually tell you," Williams told the Free Press. "I'd think they'd tell you if you weren't going to play at all.

"I'm not trying to verbally go find out. Just going to keep working and, you know, when they feel like I've earned it, I'll be in," Williams said.

If the Lions -- Marinelli specifically -- are trying to make Mike Williams some sort of poster boy for work ethic and self-discipline, that's fine. But it seems to be drifting off into the realm of punitive to a fault. There's no question that Williams almost looks like a tight end instead of a wide receiver, but if he can play at that weight, what's the big deal? And if his practice habits are unacceptable, why not just come out and say it?

This smacks of head games, and I'm not sure that's appropriate coming from a first-year head coach. Scotty Bowman? Sure. He did it all the time. He also had a cache of Stanley Cups to back him up.

I still think Rod Marinelli is the right man for the Lions' potential rebirth. I just wish he'd back off the cryptic comments and mind games. It's one thing to have the power; it's quite another to abuse it.

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