With week one behind us now, we look on to week two and a brand new opportunity ahead to show last week was an abnormality. The Lions will take on the Houston Texans after having joint practices with them this past week. With that being said, let’s get to the five players to watch this week.
1. QB Matthew Stafford
Stafford did not play last week against the Patriots, however, he should see some playing time this week. I hope Stafford does not play long, maybe a series or two, but he needs to get on the field and start building chemistry with his players in this new system. I know some may say he can do that in practice, but practice is not live game scenarios with your opponents trying their best to hit the QB and really testing each level of the new offense.
2. RB Ty Johnson
Johnson was one of — if not the only player — to stand out to me last week before shuffling through the mediocrity that was the remaining Lions. Johnson made some nice plays and with him being a late-round pick and trying to prove he not only deserves a roster spot, but some regular seasons snaps as well. He will be a player to keep an eye on for sure.
3. LB Jahlani Tavai
Tavai played sparingly in his first-ever preseason game. It seemed he got the starter treatment by only playing a series. That can be viewed as a good thing that the Lions think highly of him enough to try to protect him for the season, however, these young players need playing time to get use the speed of the NFL game. Last week, Tavai made a mistake and had his pad level too high and got beat on a last. On the very next play, he learned from his mistake, got lower than his opponent and was able to get by his blocker. This not only shows me he can adjust on the fly, but also that Tavai learns from his mistakes and does not make the same one back-to-back.
4. TE T.J. Hockenson
Hockenson, like Tavai, played very few plays last week. Some say he did not play at all because they did not see him out there, nor did the Lions did attempt to get him the ball. Hockenson has been hailed in practice and is receiving a lot of hype — at least a lot more than I have heard for a first-rounder in the last five years. I hope the Lions let Hockenson play a few series to allow him to get some reps. From a fan perspective, it would also be nice to get a glimpse of what to expect in the regular season.
5. Lions D-Line
I’m not a fan of putting a whole unit here but no one knows if we will see Trey Flowers, Damon Harrison, Mike Daniels, Da’Shawn Hand, or any other of our main factors on the D-Line Saturday. Some of those players may play, some may not, so keep an eye on which D-Line starters are getting some action. On paper, this is a top fivev unit in the league, however, they need to get some snaps in together. Just like the O-Line, they need to be able to communicate and not leave a gap open or know when to stunt. Once this group is fully healthy and on the field together, they will force teams to throw the ball and give the opponents less time to throw it. In turn, that should give our defensive backs a shorter time to cover their receivers.
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