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On Detroit's first passing play last Sunday at the Metrodome, rookie right tackle Gosder Cherilus found himself locked up with Minnesota left end Ray Edwards. It wasn't pretty. Edwards drove Cherilus about five yards into the backfield before planting him on his backside, a welcome-to-the-NFL moment that came a bit too late in the season for the Lions' liking.
The embarrassing play was indicative of a performance that led coaches to bench Cherilus this week in favor of veteran George Foster.
The Lions are in rebuilding mode and would like nothing more than to establish Cherilus, their first-round draft choice, as a full-time starter. Every rookie has growing pains, but Cherilus doesn't appear ready to be on an NFL field yet.
Speaking to Detroit reporters Thursday, offensive coordinator Jim Colletto said Cherilus hasn't adapted to the speed of the professional game.
"It happened on the first [passing] play of the game. The guy ran right over him. He's got to get used to the level and tempo of the guys he's playing against every week. It's different than college. ... He's got to understand that every Sunday in this league there is somebody pretty good lined up on you, and that will come with experience."