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Monday, December 23, 2013
Rookie Report: Detroit Lions Week 16

By Michael Rothstein

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

They really aren’t rookies anymore, and considering how much Detroit leaned on its first-year players Sunday, they shouldn’t be looked at as such.

Due to an injury to Brandon Pettigrew, Joseph Fauria saw the most action of his career at tight end. Ziggy Ansah saw his most action in weeks and almost every rookie played a good amount of snaps in a 23-20 overtime loss to the Giants on Sunday.

Here’s a look at how they fared.

DE Ziggy Ansah (first round, BYU): Ansah played 74 percent of the snaps Sunday against the Giants, making three tackles, hitting quarterback Eli Manning once and recording one of two sacks for the Lions. He finished off a strong first season for the Lions, albeit one with a decent amount of injuries that kept him out of two games.

Ansah’s snap percentages after the opener, when he was recovering from injury:
Arizona -- 70 percent; Washington -- 62 percent; Chicago -- 68 percent; at Green Bay -- 72 percent; Cleveland -- 75 percent; Cincinnati – 70 percent; Dallas -- 21 percent; at Chicago -- DNP/injured; Pittsburgh -- DNP/injured; Tampa Bay -- 77 percent; Green Bay -- 65 percent; at Philadelphia -- 39 percent; Baltimore -- 63 percent; New York Giants -- 74 percent.

CB Darius Slay (second round, Mississippi State): Slay was forced into being active Sunday against the Giants after both Rashean Mathis and Chris Houston were deemed inactive before the game, but did not play as he recovers from his torn meniscus.

RG Larry Warford (third round, Kentucky): Warford continued his streak of playing every offensive snap this season, being in on all 85 for the Lions on Sunday. The Lions rushed for 148 yards behind Warford and the offensive line but also allowed two sacks. The Kentucky product continued his strong play that began before the start of the season.

DE Devin Taylor (fourth round, South Carolina): Taylor saw action in 22 snaps Sunday (34 percent of the plays), defended a pass and make a tackle for loss on Sunday. When he has played between 20-30 snaps, he has been at his most effective spelling Ansah and Willie Young in spurts against the Giants. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not his role increases next season, something that will likely depend on the health of Jason Jones and whether or not Detroit elects to bring back Young, an unrestricted free agent.

P Sam Martin (fifth round, Appalachian State): Fairly quiet day for Martin, who punted six times for 270 yards, a gross average of 47 yards and a net average of 41.2 yards. He put two of those punts inside the 20-yard line and a long of 55 yards. It was Martin’s best net punting performance since Week 11 against Pittsburgh.

RB Theo Riddick (sixth round, Notre Dame): The effectiveness of Riddick once again came in short spurts. He had three offensive snaps and received the ball on two of those plays, carrying twice for 8 yards, including his first-ever NFL touchdown, a 2-yard run to give Detroit the lead in the fourth quarter.

TE Joseph Fauria (undrafted, UCLA): No touchdowns for Fauria on Sunday, but with Pettigrew out with an ankle injury, Fauria saw the most extensive action of his career. Fauria saw a career-high seven targets, catching three passes for 43 yards. He played a career-high 62 snaps (73 percent) and was used as both a blocking tight end and one who ran routes. Fauria had Matthew Stafford’s pick-six hit his hands, but he had to extend his body with a defender on him to make the catch. Fauria tweeted after the game he blamed himself, but Stafford’s throw could have been better. Fauria also caught a two-point conversion attempt after Riddick’s touchdown in the fourth quarter.

A brief look at Fauria’s tracking:
OT LaAdrian Waddle (undrafted, Texas Tech): Waddle was injured for the second time in three games Sunday against the Giants, playing the first 56 snaps for Detroit before leaving the game with an ankle injury. He did not return and was replaced by Jason Fox. It is the second time in three games Waddle had to leave a game with an injury.