Rogers, Williams drop in rotation
Former first-round picks are running third team on depth chart for Friday's exhibition game.
Mike O'Hara / The Detroit News
ALLEN PARK -- It is written on paper, not in stone, which makes it subject to change. But the first semi-official ranking of the Lions' wide receivers is more noteworthy for who is on the bottom than who's on top.
Roy Williams and Corey Bradford are the starting receivers on the depth chart released by the team for Friday night's exhibition game against Denver. No surprise there. They have been the No. 1 tandem from the start of the offseason workouts.
The surprise comes further down. Mike Williams and Charles Rogers, former first-round draft picks, are listed with the third group. Ahead of them with the second group are Glenn Martinez and Mike Furrey.
Martinez spent most of last season on the practice squad. Furrey was moved from wide receiver after two seasons to defensive back last year in St. Louis.
And when practice started Tuesday morning, Shaun Bodiford, an undrafted rookie from Portland State, was working with the first unit.
No one involved should have trouble reading the handwriting on the wall, that there are few secure jobs among the wide receivers. The depth chart was not a mistake. How valid is it?
"It's how we're going to go into this game," coach Rod Marinelli said. "That's how we're going to start the game -- go like that and let everybody perform, get good reps and let's go."
The Lions have invested heavily in Rogers and Mike Williams, with signing bonuses of $14.4 million and $9.5 million, respectively, for drafting them in the first round. It was mentioned to Marinelli that it is stunning to see two recent first-round picks languishing on the depth chart as third-stringers. Marinelli shrugged and smiled slightly.
"That's how we line them up," Marinelli said. "Here we go."
That's how they start the exhibition season. It does not mean that's how they will end it.
A 21-day period, from Friday's game with Denver until the Lions end the exhibition season at home against Buffalo, will hammer the depth chart at receiver in stone.
Every receiver in camp will get a fair chance to make the final 53-player roster. Don't think reputation and financial investment might not play a role when the final cut is made. But it also would be folly on the part of any player to count on it.
No position has been watched as intently as the receivers. Every practice -- in some cases, every play -- has given cause to adjust the depth chart. In some ways, it has been like trying to predict where the ball will land on the next turn of the roulette wheel.
But make no mistake. The receivers are playing a game of opportunity, not chance. Jobs and careers are on the line.
"We're just making guys earn it and earn it and earn it," Marinelli said. "Guys are moving -- moving down, moving up. A guy has a good practice, move up. Bodiford had a great scrimmage the other night. Give him a shot. Get a few snaps with the first group.
"Let guys run, see how they react under that type of pressure. You just mix guys in. Let's go compete and see what we've got."
Roy Williams, a first-round pick in 2004, is rock-solid secure. He is an emerging star who makes a highlight catch almost every day in camp. Bradford is a solid complement on the other side. After that, it's a jumble.
Return specialist Eddie Drummond is getting a long look at receiver. He was listed with the fourth group on the depth chart, but he has worked regularly with the first two units.
Offensive coordinator Mike Martz coached Furrey in St. Louis and loves his toughness. Furrey caught 20 passes in 2003 and one in '04. He moved to defensive back to fill a void.
Rogers started camp on an upswing but leveled off quickly. There have been no flashes of speed. It would seem Mike Williams has moved ahead of him. His size, strength and hands make him a bigger factor.
How much staying power Bodiford and Martinez have is open to question.
One thing seems certain -- jobs won't be won on reputation.