First-round pick McDougle to start

Wednesday, November 1st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) _ It took a lot longer than expected, but Detroit Lions coach Bobby Ross is finally going to get to see his two monster linemen at the same time.

Aaron Gibson's 380 pounds at right tackle will be balanced Sunday by rookie Stockar McDougle's 360 pounds on the left side.

``It's time to see what they can do together,'' Ross said. ``They've both been hurt, but Aaron has done a good job.''

McDougle was the Lions' first-round pick out of Oklahoma in April, but his progress was slowed by a training-camp knee injury. Ross was bringing him along slowly, but an accumulation of injuries to Ray Roberts meant that McDougle will get his chance.

``I'm comfortable with Stockar being at left tackle,'' Ross said. ``He hasn't played since August, but he has been working in our system and he's a first-round pick. I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes.''

For McDougle, his NFL debut comes two months later than he expected.

``I don't know how nervous I will be on Sunday, but I'm anxious to get out there,'' he said. ``I'm ready to play.''

McDougle was a tackle at Oklahoma, but had been penciled in as the Lions' left guard before the injury. Now, with Roberts out, he finds himself back at tackle.

``I wouldn't say it is a relief to be playing tackle again, because I think I can play guard,'' he said. ``The reason that the Lions picked me in the first round is that they thought I was able to play both positions.''

McDougle's debut comes at a critical time for the Detroit line, which struggled in Sunday's 30-18 loss to Indianapolis.

So not only is he expected to shore up the line, his first assignment will be to stop Miami's Jason Taylor, who is tied for second in the AFC with seven sacks.

``It's going to be interesting to see how Stockar does,'' said Lions quarterback Charlie Batch. ``A rookie going up against Jason Taylor in his first game isn't an easy assignment.''

Obviously, no one has more at stake in McDougle than Batch, who has taken a beating in the last several games. He has been vocal about not taking all the blame for the struggles in the passing game.

``It's frustrating, because you want to get into a rhythm and get things going, and you can't do that when you don't have any time,'' he said. ``A lot of it just a matter of miscommunications letting guys go free, and you can't have that. All five guys need to be on the same page.''