Detroit Lions Early August Scouting Report
With one preseason game in the books (a 31-3 loss to the Patriots) along with my attendance at practice on August 1, let’s talk about some things that we have seen and heard so far from the Lions
QB: No surprise, QB Matthew Stafford did not play against the Patriots. Reports have said he has been a little shaky in camp from a standpoint of throwing some interceptions, but I’m not reading too much into that. One odd thing is that the Lions gave him a couple of practice days off over the weekend. Stafford is a guy who never misses practice so most feel this is just part of the coaching staff’s plans to keep him fresh and no big deal. Backup QB Tom Savage started against the Patriots but left early due to a concussion. The Lions allowed 9 sacks against New England, which seems like it should be impossible in a preseason game where teams aren’t blitzing or anything like that. Savage has had concussions before, so with his return up in the air, the Lions went out and signed QB Josh Johnson off the scrap heap for insurance. Of course people on social media are wondering if the Lions would be interested in signing a certain former San Francisco quarterback but I doubt he would be interested in signing for the minimum to be a backup with the Lions. QB David Fales ended up playing most of the game against the Patriots and didn’t very good.
RB: If it was up to me, RB Kerryon Johnson wouldn’t play at all in the preseason. I think he is the real deal. I saw him make a nice catch on a wheel route at practice. Remember, he showed last year he is a good receiver, and with Theo Riddick gone, Kerryon will put up solid PPR numbers. RB CJ Anderson still looks big but that didn’t seem to slow him down last year. People were curious to see what rookie RB Ty Johnson would do on Thursday night, and he looked pretty good. One of the few bright spots in the totally lopsided loss, he had 22 yards on 3 carries, plus a nice 13 yard gain that got erased due to a penalty. I mean, when your offense is so bad that they are only on the field for about 40 plays and generate less than 100 total yards of offense, it’s tough to get enough game reps for all of your offensive players.
WR/TE: There was some bad news from the game on Thursday as WR Jermaine Kearse suffered a nasty broken leg and he is now out for the season as he was placed on IR. Kearse was having a strong camp, including a couple of really nice catches the day I was at practice. He was on track to be the 4th receiver, but now that spot is up for grabs. The top three receivers (Golladay, Jones, Amendola) didn’t play against the Patriots and it will be important for them to stay healthy with the limited depth. Jones seems to be a little banged up currently. TE Jesse James was the biggest name to appear in the box score Thursday as he caught his one target for 16 yards. I think you will see the snap counts for James and TE TJ Hockenson will be pretty even throughout the season. And Hockenson might have to stay in and block more than expected if the line is going to be giving up 9 sacks every week. I did see the Lions working on a red zone drill with the tight ends where they were throwing high passes in order to take advantage of the height of James, Hockenson, and TE Logan Thomas. Improving in the red zone is always a goal and Lions tight ends haven’t scored many TDs in previous years.
K/DST: Not much to report here. PK Matt Prater isn’t facing any competition for this spot, so while some teams around the league are still trying to upgrade at kicker, the Lions are set. Things are coming together on defense with players gradually coming off of the PUP and NFI lists. If you are looking ahead to the week 1 matchup against Kyler Murray and the Cardinals, it is worth noting that the Lions will face Deshawn Watson in joint practices (and maybe a small part of the game) with the Texans this week. Then next week in the so called dress rehearsal game they face Josh Allen and the Bills. These mobile quarterbacks should help them be ready for Murray.
Next up for the Lions are games on the 17th against the Texans, and then the 23rd against the Bills. I will have more on these games in my next report later this month.
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