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Monday, December 30, 2013
Rookie Report: Detroit Lions Week 17

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 season.

They are rookies no more.

With the Lions wrapping up their season against Minnesota in a 14-13 loss on Sunday, the Lions rookies officially transitioned into second-year players Monday morning. Here is a look back at the season that was for the Detroit rookies.

DE Ziggy Ansah (first round, BYU): Ansah played a career-high 78 percent of the snaps Sunday in the season finale, making one tackle. On the season, he had 32 tackles, eight sacks and two forced fumbles. Ansah led all NFL rookies in sacks this season, two ahead of New England defensive tackle Chris Jones.

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; at Minnesota -- 78 percent.

CB Darius Slay (second round, Mississippi State): Slay had four tackles and a pass defended during his first game back from a torn meniscus. He played 86 percent of the snaps (50 plays). In 13 games this season, he played 271 snaps, had 31 tackles and five pass breakups. He did not intercept a pass in his rookie season, a year where he bounced in-and-out of the lineup due to injuries to himself and others.

RG Larry Warford (third round, Kentucky): Warford played every snap of the season for the Lions and graded out by Pro Football Focus as the team’s top offensive lineman at a plus-23.3 for the season. According to PFF, Warford did not allow a sack all season and only allowed Matthew Stafford to be hurried 10 times.

DE Devin Taylor (fourth round, South Carolina): Taylor played 34 percent of the snaps Sunday (20 plays) and made one tackle. In mostly spot duty this season over 14 games, Taylor had 14 tackles, 2.5 sacks and forced two fumbles. Depending on what happens in the offseason, he could take a big leap in his second year depending on what the Lions do with other personnel.

P Sam Martin (fifth round, Appalachian State): Martin finished the season with 72 punts, averaging 47.2 yards a punt and 39.99 yards net per punt. The 39.99 was tied for 10th in the NFL and his 47.21 gross per punt was sixth in the league. He finished 10th in the Pro Bowl fan voting at his position.

RB Theo Riddick (sixth round, Notre Dame): Riddick played in 14 games this season, mostly on special teams duty. He scored one touchdown -- against the New York Giants in Week 16 -- and had nine carries for 25 yards along with four receptions for 26 yards this season. He also had seven special teams tackles this season.

TE Joseph Fauria (undrafted, UCLA): Fauria saw more action the last two weeks of the season after Brandon Pettigrew injured his ankle, opening more opportunities. His season was hard to read. His usage varied greatly by the week and he was used more as a pass catcher than a blocker. He had 18 catches for 207 yards this season on 30 targets -- but the biggest number were the seven touchdowns he caught. Fauria was second among rookies in touchdown catches, trailing only San Diego’s Keenan Allen (eight) and being tied with Baltimore’s Marlon Brown. Depending what the Lions do with Pettigrew in the offseason, he could end up with a larger role in 2014.

A brief look at Fauria’s tracking:
OT LaAdrian Waddle (undrafted, Texas Tech): Waddle was inactive for his final game of the regular season. Waddle played in 12 games this season, eventually solidifying himself as the potential right tackle of the future for Detroit. Waddle graded out at a plus-7.9 this season, third-highest among the Lions offensive linemen.