Alama-Francis up; Kalimba down?
Lions coach Rod Marinelli said rookie defensive end Ikaika Alama-Francis will play this week for the first time since Sept. 30. A second-round pick out of Hawaii, Alama-Francis is healthy after missing the last three games with a pulled hamstring.
He should play plenty over the next four weeks as the Lions try to determine what sort of contributor he'll be next year. The team has three or four positions it desperately needs to address this offseason: Right tackle, linebacker, cornerback and maybe defensive end. If Alama-Francis proves a capable pass rusher and by all accounts he's made big strides in practice scratch one need off the list.
Marinelli said Alama-Francis is among his top seven linemen this week and he'll decide Saturday whether to dress seven or eight. The most likely candidate to sit is Kalimba Edwards, who's disappointed all year and could be a salary-cap casualty come June. With Dewayne White and Jared DeVries starting at end and four tackles likely up, there's a good chance Edwards and his three sacks could be a healthy scratch.
As poorly as he's played the last four weeks, there's no reason to sit Shaun Rogers Sunday. He's woefully out of shape, but the Lions (6-6) are still in the playoff hunt and if Rogers has one big game left in him it's bound to come against the Cowboys, his home-state team. Alama-Francis has worked everywhere on the line in practice, including nosetackle, so it's possible Rogers could be benched later this season. But for now, keeping him and Alama-Francis up gives the Lions their best chance to win.