Windsor Star

Marinelli believes in Kitna

- BY JIM PARKER STAR SPORTS WRITER ALLEN PARK, MICH.

Jon Kitna’s three intercepti­ons in Sunday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers will not cost the Detroit quarterbac­k his starting job.

Lions head coach Rod Marinelli insisted Monday he still believes in Kitna, who also threw a key intercepti­on in the season-opening loss at Atlanta when the Lions appeared on the comeback trail.

“Yeah, he had a bad game,” Marinelli said after watching film of Sunday’s game. “I feel he’s our leader and a very good quarterbac­k.”

Kitna wasn’t the only veteran to struggle in the loss.

Nine-year veteran Dwight Smith missed a tackle on Greg Jennings in the fourth quarter that went for 60 yards and set up the go-ahead field goal.

Eleven-year veteran Brian Kelly fell on another play in the second quarter that saw Jennings pick up 62 yards and set up Green Bay’s second touchdown.

“The breakdowns were big ones,” Marinelli said. “A guy falling down, all of a sudden that’s a 60-yard pass and then we got beat on a one-on-one. Those are explosion plays and to play good defence, you can’t have explosion plays.” But it was Kitna’s performanc­e that was glaring.

After Aaron Rodgers, who was making his second career start, drove his team for a go-ahead field goal, Kitna had a chance to answer.

Instead, Kitna threw intercepti­ons on three straight possession­s, including two that went for touchdowns.

“When that happens, you’re really bitter and mad at your- self,” Kitna said after watching film. “It’s been worse than this before.”

Kitna’s teammates weren’t ready to throw the veteran signal caller under the bus.

“We’ve got to support him and stay behind him,” centre Dominic Raiola said. “We’ll never turn on anyone in this locker-room.”

Marinelli said he is the one to be held accountabl­e for the struggles because he’s the one who has put together the roster over the last three years.

And because he’s put the pieces together and drawn from many players who worked under him in Tampa Bay, he’s not about to start shuffling the roster hoping for a better fate.

“I think that, at least for the way I am, it’s poise, not panic,” Marinelli said. “I’ve said that a thousand times. I just believe in what we’re doing.

“I think there’s a way you can panic and think I’ve got to change this and change that and do this and do that. Some people that works for, (but) it doesn’t work for me.”

 ?? Reuters photo: Rebecca Cook ?? Lions QB Jon Kitna
Reuters photo: Rebecca Cook Lions QB Jon Kitna

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