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Published: 8/13/2008

Lions' plans to run suit Furrey

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Wide receiver Mike Furrey caught 61 passes for 664 yards last season, running his productive underneath patterns. Wide receiver Mike Furrey caught 61 passes for 664 yards last season, running his productive underneath patterns.
PAUL SANCYA / AP Enlarge

ALLEN PARK, Mich. - Mike Furrey has been the forgotten man at Detroit Lions training camp this season.

With all the talk about Detroit's new run-oriented offense and its explosive receiving duo of Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams, no one has been talking about Furrey.

"This is going to be very good for all of the receivers, not just Roy and Calvin," Furrey said yesterday. The Lions play an exhibition game at Cincinnati on Sunday.

Furrey didn't come to Detroit as a first-round pick like Johnson, Williams and spectacular busts like Charles Rogers and Mike Williams. In his last two seasons in St. Louis, he had caught exactly one pass for eight yards.

But Mike Martz liked Furrey's game and brought him to the Lions when he took over as offensive coordinator in 2006. That season, Furrey caught 98 balls for 1,086 yards and six touchdowns.

Last year, he moved from the No. 2 spot to No. 3 after Johnson's arrival but still had 61 receptions for 664 yards.

Martz and his pass-skewed offense have moved onto San Francisco to be replaced by new offensive coordinator Jim Colletto. That means an attack based on the running game, which will put fewer balls in the air for Johnson, Williams and Furrey.

Williams and Johnson have both been vocal about embracing the new plan, figuring that forcing defenses to focus on a running game will mean more big-play opportunities for them.

In turn, Furrey thinks that a credible ground attack and a pair of big-play receivers will mean that defenses won't be able to put as much effort into stopping the kind of underneath routes that have become his specialty.

"This is going to really open things up, because teams are going to have to pay attention to the run and try to stop Roy and Calvin," he said. "It's going to be good."

Lions coach Rod Marinelli agrees, having stressed for months that the Lions have to build off an improved running game.

"That's the key - that's what everything else builds off," he said.

"When a team starts to be able to dominate the line and run the ball, you can see the way it changes the chemistry and the energy levels. That's what we have to have."

So Furrey is looking forward to the season, something that seems much closer now that the Lions have played their first exhibition.

"This is the easy part of camp," he said.

"The hardest part is all the practices without any games. Now that we have started playing games, we're almost home."

NOTES: The team held a full-squad workout in the morning and a special-teams practice in the afternoon. Both sessions were open to the public, but did not draw large crowds. Johnson took part in individual drills during the morning practice, but sat out full-team sessions to rest a bruised leg. "We're just being cautious with him - he's fine," Marinelli said. Offensive line coach Mike Barry threw G Manny Ramirez off the field during a drill that took place after the main morning session. After an exchange of words, Ramirez picked up his helmet and went inside while the other linemen continued the drill.

NEWARK, N.J. - Fans heading to the Meadowlands Sports Complex can expect fewer hours for tailgating under new rules regarding alcohol and fan behavior.

Parking lots for Giants Stadium, the Izod Arena and the Meadowlands Racetrack will open five hours before events, instead of seven.

In addition, season ticket-holders who are ejected from the stadium or arena will have their tickets revoked, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority announced.



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