ALLEN PARK, Mich. (Nov. 3, 2005) -- Joey Harrington wasn't benched for long.
The Detroit Lions quarterback, who sat out the previous two games in favor of Jeff Garcia, will be running the NFL's 29th-ranked offense Nov. 6 at Minnesota, coach Steve Mariucci said.
Garcia missed the first five games because of a broken left leg suffered in Detroit's final preseason game. He led Detroit to a 13-10 victory at Cleveland two weeks ago, but is questionable for the Vikings game after taking several hard hits in a 19-13 overtime loss to division-leading Chicago.
"Jeff didn't feel well enough to think that by Sunday he is going to be able to run around and do all those things he likes to do," Mariucci said. "That is how it looks right now."
Harrington had started 37 consecutive games, but had the NFL's lowest passer rating when Mariucci sat him before the Cleveland game. Garcia ran for Detroit's only touchdown, finished 22-for-34 for 210 yards, didn't turn the ball over and wasn't sacked.
Fans were delighted by Garcia's ability to scramble and improvise. But against the Bears, improvisation turned to implosion when Garcia lofted an ill-advised pass that Charles Tillman picked off and returned 22 yards for the winning touchdown.
Mariucci said he was comfortable returning Harrington to action against Minnesota (2-5). But he also hinted he hoped Garcia's style would rub off on the third overall pick in the 2002 draft.
"I think in terms of decision-making and being able to throw the ball down the field ... which options are always available to (Harrington), maybe he will be more likely to do that having seen Jeff do that over a couple of weeks of practice time," Mariucci said.
"That is a decision-making thing; that is not a physical thing necessarily."
Harrington responded to the promotion with the same composure he has shown while absorbing a couple years worth of fan and media wrath.
"I don't know that it is necessarily my job right now," he said. "I don't know what the situation is, but like I said -- if it is for one week, than I'm going to come in and do my job and lead the team for one week. If it is for the rest of the season, then I'm going to use this opportunity to play and prepare like I always have."
Harrington will return to a familiar situation when Detroit (3-4) tries for its first victory in seven tries against Vikings coach Mike Tice: a banged-up receiving corps. Charles Rogers is back from a four-game drug suspension, but Mike Williams and Roy Williams are questionable.
The Associated Press News Service
Copyright 2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved