- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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Each week, we’ll look at who or what might be rising or falling with the Detroit Lions.
WR Kris Durham: The Georgia product received more snaps in the wake of the Nate Burleson injury and had one of the most productive games of his career, catching three passes for 58 yards and playing almost every snap Sunday for the Lions. As long as Burleson remains out, Durham will continue to be a long, reliable target for another former Georgia player, Matthew Stafford.
PR Micheal Spurlock: The Indianola, Miss., native finally received a chance to break off a long return on Sunday, going 57 yards -- easily his longest return of the season. Considering some of the struggles he had getting going earlier this year, that’s a big boost for his confidence.
TE Brandon Pettigrew: Detroit’s starting tight end had a strong, confidence-building day Sunday. He caught all seven passes thrown to him and actually had room to maneuver off of the line of scrimmage, a rarity for him this year. If he can display that type of pass-catching ability as consistently as he has in the past, he would add a dynamic short-yardage option to the already-potent Detroit offense.
Detroit’s safeties: Other than the defensive line, the most powerful group on the Lions’ defense has been their two safeties -- Louis Delmas and Glover Quin. Neither player practiced Wednesday (for Delmas, that’s typical, for Quin, not sure yet) but they were good breaking on the ball against Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler. If Detroit can receive that type of production over the top as it does pressuring the quarterback, the Lions' defense will be really difficult to beat.
TE Joseph Fauria: It isn’t the lack of catches Fauria had Sunday that is concerning. It is more the absence of any targets. Some of that likely had to do with Detroit often scoring from outside the red zone and Fauria is mostly a red zone target right now. But with Burleson out, it appeared to be an opportunity for Fauria to add more to the offense. But he did not. That said, he is at a pace of scoring a touchdown every other game, so he is due Sunday. His role, perhaps more than anyone else in Detroit’s offense, appears to be a week-to-week scenario.
The KR Spurlock: While he got a boost returning punts, his kick-return decisions were not as good. He took the ball out of the end zone three times on returns and didn’t reach the 20-yard line once. When you’re pulling the ball out of the end zone instead of taking the touchback, you have to at least break net even for it to be close to a success. That didn’t happen for Spurlock on Sunday.
Secondary health: Rashean Mathis practiced Wednesday, but fellow cornerback Chris Houston did not. This injury is something to pay attention to throughout the week, because the Lions will need a healthy Houston against Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his corps of receivers.