The Lions cant afford to coddle their rookies. Many of them are needed to have an immediate impact on a team that had many holes to fill.
Those guys, any member of the team. Weve sort of put it on them to catch up to speed and to know everything. We havent limited packages because of any rookie, coach Jim Schwartz said.
Its way to early to judge the Lions 2009 draft class, but early signs are encouraging. Of the nine players drafted all are with the team if you include the three who are on the practice squad. Four of them quarterback Matthew Stafford, tight end Brandon Pettigrew, defensive tackle Sammie Hill and safety Louis Delmas are expected to start their third game today. They could be joined on Sunday by rookie linebacker Deandre Levy who could fill in for the injured Ernie Sims (shoulder).
If we identify the right players, coach them up well and they respond well theres no reason they shouldnt be playing, Schwartz said. Lets not put any of those guys in the Hall of Fame yet just because theyre starting. Its a positive sign theyre on the field, Schwartz said.
The rookies have the opportunities, in part, because Sims is the only player drafted between 2002 and 2006 who is still with the Lions.