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Coach Marinelli speaks about the Lions players


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Marinelli: Williams stays

Lions coach says Kitna will start at quarterback because he's got leadership, intelligence.

Mike O'Hara / The Detroit News

INDIANAPOLIS -- Coach Rod Marinelli is keeping an eye on the Lions veterans while scouting talent for the upcoming draft.

The offseason involves speculation and manipulation of the roster, and the main focus has been on Jon Kitna, Roy Williams and Shaun Rogers.

Rogers is on the trading block. The only issue appears to be when, not if, the massive nose tackle will be traded.



Kitna remains the starting quarterback, but he will have legitimate competition from Dan Orlovsky and Drew Stanton, Marinelli said Sunday.

Marinelli has no plans to trade Williams, despite speculation.

Marinelli envisions Williams and Calvin Johnson, the Lions' first-round draft pick last year, as a dominating receiving tandem.

Marinelli was forceful in answering when asked if Williams will be traded.

"No," Marinelli said. "I know the rumors that are out. Those two guys together, I want to see those guys where they can really impact a game. They are special.

"They've got to have, and they will have, great years for us. We have to ensure they have great years. Those are explosive weapons.

"Not many people have two guys like that on a team. We've got to do everything we can do to protect our quarterback -- get the ball to those two big guys. I'm very confident he's (Williams) here. Very confident."

Williams, a first-round pick in 2004, will be on the last year of his contract this season.

The Lions have been listening to offers for Rogers since they made it known at the Senior Bowl he's available.

Rogers has played seven seasons with the Lions. He played well in the first half of last season and tailed off in the second half, largely because he wasn't in good condition.

"He's a heck of a player," Marinelli said. "We like him. He performed well. Obviously, the thing (trade talks) started at the Senior Bowl. We'll just kind of wait and see how the whole thing works out."

It would help the Lions to have Rogers' situation resolved before the free-agent signing period begins Friday.

The quarterback competition isn't exactly wide open. Kitna has started all 32 games in his two seasons with the Lions, and Marinelli still considers him No. 1 on the depth chart.

However, Orlovsky and Stanton will have a fair competition in the offseason and in camp. Kitna will have to be beaten out decisively to lose his job.

"Jon's going to start for us," Marinelli said. "I'm going to say that each and every day. He's got leadership and intelligence, and he's a good quarterback."

Draft depth

Marinelli is satisfied with the first-day draft picks the last two years but wants to improve the second day. He was particularly disappointed with last year's second-day picks.

"That second day, that's where you've got to get your bonuses," Marinelli said. "I look back and we did not do a good job. Last year's draft, we had the second pick in the fourth round. We did not make it."

The Lions took cornerback A.J. Davis of North Carolina State in the fourth round -- after having a night to research the pick -- and Davis didn't make the roster.

Linebacker Johnny Baldwin of Alabama State was drafted in the fifth round. He was cut, signed to the practice squad and signed to Kansas City's regular roster.

Time trials

Darren McFadden of Arkansas solidified his status as the top-rated running back with a time of 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Rashard Mendenhall of Illinois was timed in 4.45. Chris Johnson of East Carolina had a 4.24.

The times posted on NFL Network for McFadden and Mendenhall were faster -- 4.27 and 4.37, respectively.

Mike Hart of Michigan had a 4.67. Devin Thomas of Michigan State was fifth among wide receivers at 4.40.

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