NFL Preseason Preview - St. Louis (1-1) at Detroit (0-2)


By Tony Moss, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - A national television audience will get a chance to see the new high-octane look of the Detroit Lions on Monday night, when Steve Mariucci and company host the St. Louis Rams in the third preseason game for each franchise. Detroit will unveil an offense in 2005 that includes three former first-round picks at wide receiver - Charles Rogers, Roy Williams, and Mike Williams - as well as a former first-round running back in Kevin Jones and quarterback Joey Harrington. The lineup has received minimal playing time in the Lions’ first two preseason games, which have both resulted in losses. Detroit fell to the Jets, 10-3, in its first warm-up, and last Saturday lost to the Browns, 21-13. The Rams, meanwhile, have split their two preseason games, defeating the Bears, 17-13, before losing to San Diego, 36-21, last Sunday.
Harrington has been almost letter-perfect in the preseason to date, completing 14-of-15 passes for 146 yards in two games combined. The fourth-year pro has outplayed veteran Jeff Garcia, who is 16-for-26 for 151 yards and has thrown a touchdown pass but has also fired three interceptions. Each member of Harrington’s elite trio of receivers has four catches in the preseason, and Rogers also has a 29-yard touchdown catch, which came from Garcia last week, to his credit. For his part, Jones has carried nine times for 39 yards, and he and the other Lions starters should see more extensive time on Monday night than in their first two games. Defensive linemen James Hall (shoulder) and Shaun Rogers (shin) are among the Detroit players that are questionable for the St. Louis tilt.
The Rams will look for a stronger defensive effort than they displayed in last week’s loss to the Chargers, when Mike Martzs team surrendered 215 rushing yards and three ground touchdowns to the Chargers. St. Louis will be undergoing a shift in the secondary beginning with this week, as Adam Archuleta moves from free safety to strong safety and converted cornerback Michael Hawthorne shifts to the starting free safety role. Archuleta had played strong safety during his first four seasons in the NFL. Offensively, the Rams will try to keep moving at their normal, swift pace. Quarterback Marc Bulger was 15-for-21 for 181 yards, two touchdowns and an interception against the Chargers last Sunday. Bulger threw TD passes on consecutive drives, hitting Kevin Curtis with a 13-yard scoring strike before heaving a 41-yard touchdown to Torry Holt. Running back Steven Jackson, who rushed seven times for 51 yards last week, is expected to play the entire first half against the Lions. Tight end Roland Williams (knee sprain) is not expected to see action for St. Louis on Monday.The Rams hold a 2-0-1 advantage in the all-time preseason series with the Lions, winning a 17-6 road decision in the last such matchup, prior to the 1999 campaign. St. Louis also has a 40-37-1 edge in the regular season series, though Detroit narrowed the gap with a 30-20 home victory in 2003. The Lions have a 1-0 lead in the all-time postseason series, scoring a win over the then-Los Angeles Rams in a 1952 NFL playoff contest.