Rookie Report: Roles starting to be defined

September, 30, 2013
9/30/13
10:00
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Each week, we’ll take a look at how the Detroit Lions' rookies fared in the prior week’s game, along with their overall stats and trends for the season.

By now, Detroit’s rookies seem to be settling into potential roles.

For some, this means a spot as an entrenched starter like Ziggy Ansah, Larry Warford and Sam Martin. For others, it means a matchup-based scenario, like tight end Joseph Fauria.

Yet others still, like Darius Slay and Devin Taylor, there is still a figuring out of where their exact slot on the Lions will be in the future.

Ansah
DE Ziggy Ansah (first round, BYU): By now, Ansah has become a consistent part of the Detroit defense. He’s an entrenched starter on the same line as Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Willie Young, and has become a good speed-rusher a month into his first NFL season. Ansah’s numbers were down Sunday from prior weeks, as he only had one tackle, one pass defended and didn’t hit Bears quarterback Jay Cutler at all, but teams are starting to notice him more. Ansah played 68 percent of Detroit’s defensive snaps (49 of 72), and that is in the same range of the past two weeks -- 62 percent against Washington and 70 percent against Arizona. The number of snaps also remained the same, as he has now averaged 49 snaps over the past three games.

CB Darius Slay (second round, Mississippi State): When Rashean Mathis went down with a head injury in the first quarter, Slay returned to playing cornerback for Detroit. He showed improvement in his first substantive action since being benched, making seven tackles and defending one pass. He played in 88 percent of Detroit’s defensive snaps (63 of 72) and every snap once Mathis went down. He also played 14 snaps on special teams, including kick coverage.

RG Larry Warford (third round, Kentucky): Warford continued his strong play. He has played every offensive snap for the Lions the first month of the season (66 of 66 on Sunday) and has seamlessly made the transition to the NFL. As a group, the offensive line only allowed Matthew Stafford to be hit once and opened large holes for running backs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. Also, with three wins in his first month as an NFL starter, he has more wins than he did during his final year at Kentucky.

DE Devin Taylor (fourth round, South Carolina): When Jason Jones went down for the season, it opened up a spot for Taylor in the defensive end rotation. He played 17 percent of the defensive snaps (12 of 72), mostly in the second half, and also played five special teams snaps. He hurried the quarterback once. Expect these numbers to increase a little as he continues to work his way into the rotation.

P Sam Martin (fifth round, Appalachian State): Martin only had to punt three times Sunday, with a gross average of 50 yards and a net of 37.7 yards. He placed one inside the 20-yard line and had one touchback. His net punting yards dropped again this week (was 40.7 yards last week) but considering the special teams were dealing with Devin Hester, that isn’t surprising. He appeared happy with his coverage units, tweeting positively about them after the game:

 

RB Theo Riddick (sixth round, Notre Dame): With Reggie Bush back, Riddick’s role in the offense dropped dramatically as expected. He took three offensive snaps, being targeted by Stafford once. He continued to make a contribution on coverage and return units, playing 19 special teams snaps.

TE Joseph Fauria (undrafted, UCLA): Fauria went from a shoutout on Jimmy Fallon on Tuesday to a limited role in Detroit’s offense on Sunday. Fauria’s targets and number of snaps will probably vary based on opponent and red-zone opportunities from here on out. He played 20 percent of the offensive snaps (13 of 66) but was not targeted at all. His percentage of snaps, however, was the highest of his four career games. He also got in on six special teams plays.
A brief look at Fauria’s tracking:
Week 1 -- three targets, three catches, one touchdown, 14 percent of snaps (11 plays). Week 2 -- no targets, no catches, 10 percent of snaps (six plays).
Week 3 -- three targets, one catch, one touchdown, 18 percent of snaps (12 plays).
Week 4 -- no targets, no catches, 20 percent of snaps (13 plays)

OT LaAdrian Waddle (undrafted, Texas Tech): Waddle again only played special teams for Detroit, getting in on eight snaps with the field goal team.

Michael Rothstein | email

ESPN Detroit Lions reporter

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