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Lions set to bring in QB Garcia for physical

Will he want to be a backup?

February 26, 2005



INDIANAPOLIS -- Quarterback Jeff Garcia will take a physical -- probably in the next two days -- as part of the Lions' due diligence in their search for a qualified veteran backup for Joey Harrington.

Coach Steve Mariucci said Friday that he expects Garcia to be examined "as soon as we can" by Lions doctors at the NFL scouting combine.

"We are trying to determine who the best addition would be to our pitching staff," Mariucci said. "And he's a candidate."

Garcia, 35, was a three-time Pro Bowl quarterback for Mariucci when they were together with the San Francisco 49ers in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But Garcia was disappointing last season at Cleveland and was released Tuesday.

Since then the Lions have been in touch with Garcia and his agent, Steve Baker, and Mariucci said the physical is the first step toward possibly signing him.

Although other quarterbacks are available or will become available at the start of free agency next week, Garcia is considered by many as the leading candidate for the Lions because of his background with Mariucci's West Coast offense.

"He has some familiarity, obviously, with the system, but that's not the only thing we're taking into consideration," Mariucci said. "It's got to be a fit. It's got to be right for that player coming in, it's got to be right for us, and he's got to understand the situation we have.

"Joey is the starter so -- for him, specifically -- that would be different than going to Cleveland last year.

"So when I say we have to go through the process, we have to get the physical done first. Then we have to discuss those sort of things and see if it works for everybody before we start talking with agents and contracts. That's the third thing that has to happen."

When he left San Francisco a year ago, Garcia insisted on going to a team that wanted him as a starter. After a subpar season with the Browns, it is uncertain whether he still feels that strongly about not being considered a backup.

"Haven't spoken to him about that," Mariucci said, "but we would need to."

Mariucci has been reluctant to endorse Harrington as the Lions' long-term quarterback, so many have questioned his intentions -- whether he is truly interested in signing a backup or whether he's looking for a player capable of unseating Harrington.

Mariucci indicated the quarterback roles would be determined gradually, whether the Lions sign Garcia or another veteran.

"We wouldn't name a new starting quarterback the next day, before minicamps," Mariucci said. "Joey is the incumbent right now, and he's the starter. He would have to be -- you know -- beaten out, or somebody's got to be there ready to go in case he gets hurt."

Aside from describing Harrington as the Lions' starter, Mariucci was noncommittal about his development after three years in the West Coast offense, two with Mariucci.

"If you had Joey surrounded right now, he'd probably say he would like to have been more productive, would like to have had more wins under his belt and will do everything under his power to develop his skills," Mariucci said.

Mariucci defended Harrington's work ethic, but his endorsement was lukewarm, compared to his defense of Garcia after his subpar season at Cleveland.

"Well, he got hurt," Mariucci said. "He played a large part of the season and then got hurt. He played pretty well in some games and had to adjust to a new scheme, which is not always the easiest thing to do."

Harrington, in his best NFL season, completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,047 yards, 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, with a passer rating of 77.5. Garcia completed 57.1 percent for 1,731 yards and 10 touchdowns, with nine interceptions and a rating of 76.7.

Mariucci said the Lions will look at other available quarterbacks before making a decision, and he said he has no target date for signing a backup.

"I'd like to get the right guy," he said. "When that occurs, I don't necessarily care too much, but we'd like to have the right fit."

Contact CURT SYLVESTER at 313-222-2621 or [email protected]

I'm kind of getting excited about this. NO B) MORE HARRINGTON.....

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The Lions signed Kenoy Kennedy and Marcus Pollard on March 7th.

Kennedy is a safety who played his first 5 seasons with the Broncos. He is known for being a hard hitter and subsequent fines and suspensions from such.

Pollard is a 33 year old tight end who spent the last 10 seasons with the Colts. I guess his wife went to Farmington High School, so they sort of have ties to the area.

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