In this corner
A lot was made yesterday of Joe Barry's comments that Leigh Bodden is the Lions' new starting left cornerback (he started there against San Francisco after opening the season on the right side) while Brian Kelly and Travis Fisher will play right corner.
I talked to one defensive back in the locker room today and he said the switch means absolutely nothing. In the Lions defense, cornerbacks have the same responsibility no matter what side they play. The only time that changes is for the nickel cornerback, who's a linebacker in some coverages and a corner in others. The right corner may match up with an opponent's X receiver more often in a typical pro set, the X or No. 1 receiver usually splits wide of the left tackle on the opposite side of the tight end but that's so convoluted by gameplans and formations and pre-snap movement that corners have to be able to cover no matter where they line up.
Basically, the move comes down to who feels comfortable where. Both Kelly and Bodden started on the left side in their former haunts, Kelly in Tampa Bay and Bodden in Cleveland, while Fisher has plays everywhere including nickel. Kelly briefly lost his starting job earlier this year.
"He started out playing right corner and now he's playing left corner, which he's totally comfortable with and feels fine with," Barry said of Bodden. "When you're 0-3 you've got to move some people around and try some different things. We decided to do that. Obviously, we wanted to make sure the players were comfortable with it and they were."
Bodden, by the way, missed practice Friday with a calf injury and is questionable for Sunday's game.
A few other Friday practice notes:
Expect defensive end Cliff Avril to be active against the Bears as the Lions try to generate more pass rush against Kyle Orton. Avril and fellow rookie linemen Landon Cohen and Andre Fluellen stayed after practice Friday to sharpen their technique with defensive-line coach Joe Cullen. "Since we're not getting as many reps as the other guys, trying to be ready whenever our opportunity comes to make an impact," Avril said.
From quarterback Jon Kitna on the Lions' decision to open up their offense more: "I just think we have tried to determine what our best personnel package is and I think the feeling is that that is with three wide receivers, whether that be with two backs in the backfield or three wides with a tight end and one back in the backfield. I think that's what we're trying to do is identify what gives us the best chance to put seven points on the board, and I think right now we're saying that we think that might be our three wide receivers."
Sports Illustrated's Peter King indicated earlier this week that the Cowboys still might be willing to trade a first-round pick for receiver Roy Williams. I love Williams. He's colorful in the locker room, a great quote and a good player, but don't you have to work that deal if you're the Lions? Chances are you'll be getting pick No. 30, 31 or 32, but it's not a cap-killing choice, you're already short a fourth-rounder next year (Dallas, coincidentally, owns that) and there could be a glut of receivers on the market after the season (Chad Johnson, Anquan Boldin and others).
The only way I wouldn't take that deal, by the way, is if the Lions win the next two games. At 2-3 with division wins over the Bears and Vikings, you've got to stay the course and try to make the playoffs.
The Lions avoided the first blackout in Ford Field history when they sold their remaining tickets before 1 p.m. Friday. That good quote Williams had this take on the possibility of a blackout: "That's on us. Everybody loves a winner. Oh-and-three, they ain't going to show up. Baseball, you're terrible, they don't show up. You're a winner, they show up. That's on us."
A reporter also pointed out that the 50-year curse former Lions quarterback Bobby Layne supposedly placed on the franchise when he was traded to Pittsburgh ends Monday. "That's what I read," Williams said. "We play on Sunday, though."