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Short practice

Mornhinweg kicks Lions out of practice after 35 minutes

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Posted: Monday July 30, 2001 7:53 PM
Updated: Monday July 30, 2001 9:02 PM
  Marty Mornhinweg, Matt Millen Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg (left) converses with president and CEO Matt Millen during a recent workout. AP

UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. (AP) -- In a fight to change the attitude of the Detroit Lions organization, first-year head coach Marty Mornhinweg delivered the first blow at the start of an afternoon training camp session Monday.

Mornhinweg threw his sunglasses on the ground 35 minutes into the practice at Saginaw Valley State and kicked all of his players off the field.

"You guys are loafing," Mornhinweg told his team. "I want everybody to run off the field and [go] back to the locker room."

Mornhinweg stormed off the field, hopped on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle outside of Wickes Stadium and drove off, leaving the Lions players scratching their heads and the 3,000 fans in attendance upset.

"I saw his glasses hit the floor and I said 'Uh oh. Somebody messed up,'" wide receiver Johnnie Morton said. "I knew he was upset about something but by the time I figured it out everybody was leaving and it was too late to get everyone to stay.

"[Lions wide receiver Herman Moore] and I and a couple of linemen were saying lets pick it and up start all over again but by that time, coach had driven away."

All of the commotion was unexpected following the Lions toughest workout in the morning session, which Mornhinweg called "the best two-minute drill on offense that I've seen this early in a season since I began coaching."

Players remained in the locker room following practice, waiting for the green light to practice again.

"Everybody was sitting around, waiting to see what was going to happen," linebacker Allen Aldridge said. "Is he for real or are we getting ready to go back out there. Then a couple of coaches came in and said 'It's official, take your pads off. ...

"I just want to know why. What is the reason why and what can we do to correct it because he's been on winning organizations for a long time. Maybe he saw something that we can't see."

Lions president Matt Millen and Mornhinweg have stressed their concern over the team's attitude. "The new attitude" is the slogan advertised on television and is a marketing slogan for season tickets.

Safety Ron Rice said that message has been creeping into the Lions workouts, especially after Monday.

"The message was definitely sent," Rice said. "Coach Mornhinweg keep telling us that we've got to go out and practice hard no matter what the conditions are.

"Sometimes you've got to do whatever you've got do to spread your message around."

Related information
Dr. Z's NFL Power Rankings
2001 Detroit Lions team preview
Teams welcome back key players from injuries
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