Lions Players No Longer Allowed to Ride Golf Carts Back to Huddle
DETROIT--Since taking over for Steve Mariucci in the offseason, new Lions coach Rod Marinelli has made no secret of his desire to toughen up the teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s training camp. Gone are the lazy days of summers past when the camp resembled a country club and players did more standing around than sweating. Now they're forced to run laps, do calisthenics, and abandon old practices such as getting massages on the sidelines and riding golf carts back to the huddle during scrimmages.
The new changes have made practices more strenuous, but the players have welcomed the challenge.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is like night and day from when coach Mariucci was here,Ã¢â‚¬Â said guard Damien Woody. Ã¢â‚¬Å“When he was coach it was very laid back and easy. He used to let us take golf carts back to the huddle during those intra-squad scrimmages. It was a great way to conserve our energy, but I think ultimately it made us a little softer. Plus there were too many carts out there, and everybody was always beeping their horns. Talk about a traffic nightmare.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The act of walking back to the huddle has streamlined practices and also helped get the players into shape faster. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a welcome sight for veterans on the team who were tired of Mariucci's laid back approach.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s refreshing to see guys having to go that extra mile by walking around the field of play instead of driving,Ã¢â‚¬Â said cornerback Dre Bly. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It certainly builds character and helps prepare us for the rigors of the regular season. Plus the past few seasons we've been too reliant on golf carts. They were like a crutch. The only time I really, really appreciated them was when we had to do wind sprints, because they were quicker and had those little roofs to block out the sun. Other than that, I felt they just encouraged laziness.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The absence of golf carts is just one of the signs that times have changed for the Detroit Lions. For instance, all players have been required to read and memorize the playbook. Also, players are occasionally reprimanded by the coaching staff for not doing their jobs.
Under Mariucci, players who didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do their jobs were given a pat on the back and told to Ã¢â‚¬Å“hang in there.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just two different philosophies, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all,Ã¢â‚¬Â said receiver Charles Rogers. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Coach Mariucci respected us and treated us like men. He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t scream and yell and constantly look over our shoulders. He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect us to know things or do things or care about anything. He just smiled a lot and hoped for the best. He was super supportive. By contrast, coach Marinelli seems to truly hate us and want us to suffer.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He added: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what it is, but thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s something about coach MariucciÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s style that meshes with my personality.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Observers say this is the most focused, determined Lions camp in years. The offense is crisper, the defense more aggressive and players are paying more attention to the fundamentals. Marinelli isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t getting too excited, however, as he knows itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s far too early to properly evaluate his team.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I like what I see so far. The players seem, for the most part, to be a disciplined bunch,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Of course, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to tell what you have this early on. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll just wait until the season starts and see who gets it and who doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t. Luckily weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve already gotten rid of the King of Not Getting It, Joey Harrington. Talk about addition by subtraction. We couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have improved the team more if weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d signed a young Joe Montana.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The change in tempo has been difficult for some players, who are still experiencing culture shock. Apparently their bodies are not used to the wear and tear of a Rod Marinelli-style training camp.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ow! Ow! I think I pulled something!Ã¢â‚¬Â said receiver Mike Williams, grabbing his thigh during morning calisthenics. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Stop the play. Hold on. Man hurt over here. Trainer! Goddamn it. This is exactly why you shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t overwork yourself during training camp. Why do we have to do these fucking calisthenics? ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like a high school gym class. Now I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even move my leg. I think IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m paralyzed. Can somebody get a stretcher?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Williams was ignored by coaches and trainers, and was later diagnosed with a mild cramp.