The Detroit Lions fly out to Arizona for the first week of the regular season. Here are five players to keep an eye on if the Lions want to leave the desert with a win.
1. WR Kenny Golladay
The Arizona Cardinals are going to be missing half of their starting defensive backs and that will make a guy like Golladay lick his lips with anticipation. Golladay has been a name thrown around the league as a breakout candidate and in order to do so, he has to cash in early and often.
With the Cardinals missing both of their starting cornerbacks, Golladay will most likely be covered by rookie CB Byron Murphy who was the Cardinals second-round pick in this years NFL Draft. Also, with Golladay being in a new offensive scheme, look for a fair share of downfield passes to start the season off nicely.
2. TE T.J. Hockenson
We finally get to see a fair sample size of the Lions first-round pick TE TJ Hockeson. Hockenson only played a handful in the preseason and of course, the Lions aren’t going to show off their new weapon when it does not matter.
With the regular season finally opening up, I believe the Lions will feature Hockenson sooner rather than later. The quicker the Lions can show teams what he can, the quicker those teams will have to game plan for him. If you can make a defense game plan around one individual, it should open up other options like Golladay, Jones, and fellow TE Jesse James.
3. CB Darius Slay
Slay is the heart and soul of the Lions defensive backs and they will look upon him to set the tone. With a first time starter in Walker and a big question mark on the other corner spot, Slay will need to lock his man down to give the rest of the unit less to think about.
Slay might match up against future hall of former Larry Fitzgerald from time to time but will also probably see plenty of WR Michael Crabtree on the outside. Both are very physical receivers.
4. DE Trey Flowers
The Lions have been without a pass rush threat for multiple years after the continuous injuries to former star DE Ziggy Ansah. Flowers missed some time in the offseason with an injury of his own, however, he has been cleared to play and for the first time, we will all get to see what Flowers can do in Honolulu blue.
With other run-stuffers like DT A’Shawn Robinson and DT Snacks Harrison next to him, Flowers will be able to pin his ears back and rush full-go after the QB
5. DT Snacks Harrison
As I touched on while talking about Flowers, Harrison is the best run defender in the NFL. Harrison joined the Lions midseason last year and turned around the Lions defense single-handedly. There was a very noticeable difference from day one with the man they call “Snacks”.
This season, Harrison will start the year with the Lions and be a force for us the whole season — not just the last half of the season like last year.