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Monday, November 11, 2013
Rookie Report: Look at the offensive line

By Michael Rothstein

Each week, we’ll take a look at how the Detroit Lions’ rookies fared in the prior week’s game along with trends and stats for the rest of the season.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit’s top defensive rookie missed the first game of his career and in his place, another rookie saw his most extensive action.

And there is an interesting situation developing on the offensive line, where Detroit might have the right side of its future in place with two rookies -- guard Larry Warford and tackle LaAdrian Waddle -- playing well side-by-side the past two games.

The second half of the season is where some rookies make a big push for more playing time, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens on a Detroit team where rookies have already made an impact.

DE Ziggy Ansah (first round, BYU): Anash was inactive for the first time Sunday as he recovers from an ankle injury suffered against Dallas two weeks ago.

Ansah’s snap percentages after the opener, when he was recovering from injury:
Arizona -- 70 percent; Washington -- 62 percent; Chicago -- 68 percent; Green Bay -- 72 percent; Cleveland -- 75 percent; Cincinnati – 70 percent; Dallas -- 21 percent; at Chicago -- DNP/injured.

CB Darius Slay (second round, Mississippi State): The cornerback appeared to be in line for more playing time with an injury to Bill Bentley. But Slay was picked on early by Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler and eventually gave way as the third cornerback/nickel back to safety Don Carey, who played in the slot with Rashean Mathis staying outside on one of the corners. Slay also played 12 special teams snaps, but Sunday -- with both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery -- was always going to be a tough matchup for him.

RG Larry Warford (third round, Kentucky): Another week, another nice game for Warford, who played every snap and was part of a line that kept Matthew Stafford from being hit once and only allowed three tackles for loss the entire game. Plus, Reggie Bush was a 100-yard rusher with 105 yards.

DE Devin Taylor (fourth round, South Carolina): The rookie picked up his first start in place of Ansah and had one of the Lions’ 11 quarterback hits but no tackles in his first true extended, starter-type role action. Taylor played 35 snaps (47 percent) in a time share situation with new signing Austen Lane and veteran Israel Idonije. His playing time the rest of the season might end up dictated by Ansah’s injury.

P Sam Martin (fifth round, Appalachian State): Not a great day for Martin, but he still averaged 44.5 gross yards and 40.5 net yards on his four punts, putting one inside the 20-yard-line and hitting a long of 59 yards. He had some cramping issues late Sunday, but they didn’t appear to be too much of a concern.

RB Theo Riddick (sixth round, Notre Dame): Riddick is perhaps becoming a consistent special teams presence midway through his rookie season. He had three special teams tackles Sunday and is starting to create a niche for himself there. Riddick has no offensive snaps but played on 17 special teams plays (68 percent).

TE Joseph Fauria (undrafted, UCLA): Fauria returned to at least being a red zone participant Sunday as one of his two targets from Matthew Stafford came in the end zone. He couldn’t make the play, so the Lions threw the ball to Calvin Johnson on essentially the same route the next play. Fauria actually had a third target, but that was nullified when he grabbed a Chicago player’s facemask, earning himself a 15-yard penalty.

A brief look at Fauria’s tracking:
OT LaAdrian Waddle (undrafted, Texas Tech): Waddle picked up his second straight start in place of Corey Hilliard and Jason Fox at right tackle and, like Warford, was part of a line that kept Stafford upright all game long. Somewhat crazy to think the line protecting their quarterback better than anyone in the NFL has a pair of rookies starting on the right side at this point. He played every snap but one, where he appeared to lose his shoe for the second straight week.