Detroit Lions: Joique Bell

Jim Caldwell said last week this wouldn’t be an anomaly. At least as long as the Detroit Lions still has issues keeping players healthy.

Injuries at various positions have forced the Lions into a timeshare at multiple positions, something that bore out during Detroit’s 19-7 win over Green Bay on Sunday.

The time split that was both the most expected and most surprising was at right tackle, where rookie Cornelius Lucas took 40 snaps and veteran Garrett Reynolds took 35, even though Reynolds earned the start for the second straight week. Both are playing in place of LaAdrian Waddle, who is out with a calf injury, and Corey Hilliard, who is out for the season with a Lisfranc injury.

Reynolds played the entire first quarter for Detroit. Lucas played the second and they rotated in the second half. Neither player did particularly well, either. Pro Football Focus rated the combination of Lucas and Reynolds at minus-2.4 on the day and said both had pass blocking efficiency grades in the bottom 20 percent of tackles in the league.

This isn’t surprising considering Julius Peppers, who matched up on that side most of the time, had three quarterback hits, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

This proves the Lions really need Waddle back – especially if they want to keep Matthew Stafford healthy.

The time share at the right tackle also hurts right guard Larry Warford, who would benefit from having consistency next to him on the edge of the line.

The major defensive time split came at nickel, where the Lions played their fourth (Don Carey), fifth (Danny Gorrer) and sixth (Mohammed Seisay) players of the first three weeks. Carey started the game there and played two snaps – scoring a touchdown – before leaving with a hamstring injury.

This left Gorrer there most of the game and he played 40 snaps. Seisay spelled him for 10 snaps in the second half and made two tackles. Caldwell said after the game the Lions had planned on playing multiple people at the slot corner, but if Carey had stayed healthy it would have been surprising to see the Lions do that.

Neither Gorrer nor Seisay played particularly well, so monitoring Carey’s injury is going to be important this week. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see the Lions once again work through some cornerbacks during the week.

Detroit’s running backs also saw an equal time split for the first time this season. Reggie Bush had 37 snaps and Joique Bell had 36 snaps, with Theo Riddick accounting for four snaps and three touches.

Bush played primarily at running back this week, although was split out wide for a handful of plays.

The Lions' tight end snap situation had Brandon Pettigrew with the most snaps (49-of-75), followed by Joseph Fauria (25-of-75) and then Eric Ebron (23-of-75). This is similar to the past two weeks for Fauria and Ebron.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. – The Detroit Lions are taking on the Green Bay Packers in an NFC North divisional game Sunday. Here are some things to watch during the rivalry game.

1. The slot corner. It’s been a rotation not by choice, but by injury all season long. Already, the Lions are on their fourth potential starting slot corner in three weeks. Bill Bentley is out for the season with a torn ACL. Nevin Lawson is out for the season with dislocated toes. Cassius Vaughn is out with an ankle injury. Enter either Danny Gorrer, Don Carey or Rashean Mathis will move from outside into the slot. If it is Mathis, watch for the Packers to pick on the outside corner who replaces him. If it is Gorrer or Carey, expect Aaron Rodgers to look for those quick routes early on to test Detroit’s defense. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see DeAndre Levy shade over to the slot corner side as well to help in coverage in certain situations.

2. Detroit’s run game: It hasn’t gone well so far, especially in the first half against Carolina and New York, with 44 yards on 25 carries. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi seemed focused on both establishing the run early against Green Bay on Sunday and also finding more touches for running back Reggie Bush. It would not be shocking to see the re-emergence of the screen pass for the Lions on Sunday, either, as it is a way to utilize Bush well. This could be a good week for Detroit to re-establish the run as well. Green Bay is 29th in the league in rushing yards allowed (353) and 21st in yards-per-rush allowed (4.77).

3. Stopping Eddie Lacy: The Lions haven’t faced a top-flight running back yet this season – sorry, Jonathan Stewart – and Lacy will be that test. Detroit has been the best in the league against the run, though. The Lions are allowing a league-best 2.5 yards per carry. A lot of that has to do with a front seven led by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and linebackers DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch. All three have a lot of experience against Green Bay and Rodgers, so they could be able to read the Packers’ run vs. pass situations better than other teams.

4. Wide receiver fun: Jordy Nelson has emerged as one of the best receivers in the NFL this season, leading the league in yards from receivers who have played two games with 292. Calvin Johnson is right behind him with 247. Green Bay’s secondary is superior to Detroit’s at this point – see the injury ward above – and Rodgers is a premier quarterback. But if the Lions can shut off at least part of the Rodgers-to-Nelson combination, they’ll have a shot Sunday, especially if Matthew Stafford can find Johnson in smart spots while also keeping Bush, Joique Bell, Golden Tate and Detroit’s trio of tight ends involved. That’s been the key to the Lions’ offense all season, finding proper offensive balance. When they do that, they move the ball well. When they don't, they stall frequently.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Reggie Bush sat by his locker Monday afternoon after barely being used the day before against the Carolina Panthers and understood the questions would come.

Bell
Bush
Bush
He is listed as the Detroit Lions' starting running back, yet his counterpart, Joique Bell, has received more snaps and touches than Bush over the first two games of the season. And as Lions coach Jim Caldwell downplayed the distribution as game plan versus Bush being replaced as the starter, there were definitive questions about his role.

Whatever his true role is, Bush appears fine with it for now as Detroit tries to find a rhythm for a running game ranked 28th in the league in yards (146) and 29th in yards per carry (3.04).

"Joique's a good player and I'm glad he's on our team," Bush said. "He really brings a different element to our offense that really helps us and makes us that much more dynamic. We're going to find ways to get guys the ball.

"Coaches have talked about that and we've talked about that early on [Monday]. We're going to find a way to correct our mistakes and get better."

Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi preached patience with the Lions' running game Thursday as he continues to develop the offense. The Lions were taken out of running somewhat last Sunday against Carolina when Detroit fell behind. Against New York in the opener, Lombardi liked what he saw in the second half.

"It's one of those things you have to be patient with," Lombardi said. "I'm confident we're going to get it going."

Part of that could be involving Bush into the game plan more. That's something Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi told ESPN.com on Monday. For instance, if the Lions had stuck with the run game more last Sunday against Carolina, Bush probably would have seen some of those touches.

And there is a way Lombardi wants to use Bush, too. It just hasn't presented itself much in games.

"Sometimes, it's the flow of the game," Lombardi said. "Reggie has made a lot of his production when, hey, that's not there, boom, give [him] the ball on the checkdown. That happened early in the Giants game."

Bush has 10 fewer carries than Bell this season. He has one more catch than Bell (8 to 7) on two fewer targets (11 to 9). Bush, though, presents an interesting situation for Lombardi.

With just 15 carries and 41 yards, Bush's 2.7 yards per attempt is the fewest in his career, although he is working with a small sample size for now.

Lombardi wants that to increase. He also wants to make sure the Lions don't overuse the 29-year-old who has only played in all 16 regular-season games twice in his nine-year career.

"It's maybe the flow of the game," Lombardi said. "But you do have to be mindful that you do want to keep that player healthy. Keep him fast."

This is where Bush becomes an issue. He said Monday he can handle the ball more than he has touched it -- something Lombardi agrees with. But he also understands his role is different this season than it was last season under former offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.

Bush has run 20 routes out of the backfield through two games. He has run routes 13 times either in a designated tight end slot close to the line or lined up essentially as a receiver according to ESPN Stats & Information. This is the way the Lions envisioned using Bush, as when they can get him in open space, he can make one move and outrun almost everyone else on the field.

Those are the types of opportunities Lombardi is searching for.

"Some of it is in the game-planning," Lombardi said. "Some of these plays, who do we put [in]. Like that first bubble play we threw against the Giants, just give him more, 'Hey, we're throwing it to you, make something happen.' "

With Bush, that's always been his forte.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Ezekiel Ansah has dealt with injuries since the beginning of his rookie season and after two games of appearing healthy, the defensive end is on the injury list again.

Ansah sat out Wednesday's practice with a knee injury, one of three Detroit Lions players to not practice at all, joining linebacker Travis Lewis (quad) and tackle LaAdrian Waddle (calf).

A bunch of Lions were limited in practice Wednesday, including starters James Ihedigbo (neck), Nick Fairley (biceps) and Joique Bell (knee). Also limited were rotational defensive end George Johnson (groin), fullback Montell Owens (hamstring) and cornerback Cassius Vaughn (ankle).

Of the limited players, Vaughn might be the most concerning considering Detroit's lack of depth at corner.

Safety Don Carey practiced fully for the first time during the regular season.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Each week, we'll take a look at who or what might be rising or falling with the Detroit Lions.

RISING:

Vaughn
CB Cassius Vaughn: The whole next man up cliché has been fitting well with Detroit's slot cornerback position, as injuries shelved starter Bill Bentley and top reserve Nevin Lawson for the season. This leaves the inside corner position to Cassius Vaughn or the outside corner spot if the team chooses to play Rashean Mathis inside. Either way, it's a starting opportunity this week for Vaughn against a tough Green Bay passing attack led by Aaron Rodgers. But the extremely confident fifth-year pro from Mississippi could be in a position to thrive.

RT Garrett Reynolds: He was signed last week and started against Carolina on Sunday at right tackle. Considering he is essentially a converted guard, Reynolds held up well against a talented Panthers front four and did enough to probably hold on to the starting role until LaAdrian Waddle returns from a calf injury. Right now, it is unclear when Waddle will be back, although it is expected he won't be out for too much longer.

CB Darius Slay: The second-year corner from Mississippi State had his second straight good game on Sunday against Carolina. The Panthers threw at Slay seven times according to Pro Football Focus and he had only three of those passes caught on him, including two by tight end Greg Olsen, who was always going to be a mismatch problem for him. Slay appears more confident through two games this season than he was at any point during his rookie year in 2013. He is slowly developing into Detroit's best cornerback.

FALLING:

Bell
Bush
Bush
Detroit's run game: Joique Bell and Reggie Bush have not been as effective as the Lions would like so far this season. Neither player has over 100 yards rushing and both Bush and Bell are under 4 yards per carry this season. The first halves of games have been particularly tough, as the Lions have 44 yards on 25 carries in the opening two quarters of games. Ball security is also an issue as Bell has two fumbles in his first two games.

CB Nevin Lawson: Rough situation for Lawson, who is out for the season after dislocating the toes in his left foot against Carolina on Sunday. The rookie was seeing his first planned significant action when the injury occurred on special teams. This could be a difficult injury to come back from, so it might take him some time.

Tight end reception production: Through two games, the Lions aren't using their tight ends a ton in the passing game. Combined, Joseph Fauria, Eric Ebron and Brandon Pettigrew have six catches for 93 yards. Despite the Lions calling for balance, the tight ends seem to be at the very least the third or fourth option on almost every play behind Calvin Johnson (13 receptions, 247 yards), Golden Tate (11 receptions, 150 yards) and either Bush or Bell (combined 15 catches for 111 yards).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Calvin Johnson stood at his locker Sunday afternoon and lamented the obvious, something he experienced far too often last season.

Turnovers once again destroyed the Detroit Lions on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers in the 24-7 loss. Detroit couldn’t force any turnovers, while giving up the ball three times. Combined that with two missed field goals from Nate Freese, and it was enough to turn a close game into a blowout.

The three turnovers came at critical times Sunday. A fumble from Joique Bell ended a Detroit drive just outside of the Carolina red zone during the first quarter. A Matthew Stafford interception gave the Lions a one-play drive in the fourth quarter and the next drive never got started as Jeremy Ross fumbled the kick return.

Here’s a look at what happened on each turnover.

The Bell fumble

Bell
Bell had just run the ball up the middle for three yards on first down to give Detroit a manageable 2nd-and-7 from the Carolina 27-yard line. Lined up in an I-formation with Jed Collins in front of him, Bell took the handoff from Stafford and headed toward the right.

The right side of the line blocked well, although Collins slowed up a little bit and Bell made contact with him, but not enough to really take him off stride in front of a falling Dominic Raiola. This allowed Carolina cornerback Antoine Cason to approach Bell from the right side, although a little bit late.

Bell looked like he was past Cason, but Cason grabbed the ball and started to rip at it. One rip along with a little punch and the ball popped out. Cason then finished the play on his own, recovering the fumble. There wasn’t much Bell could do on the play. It was a perfect punch-out by Cason.

“You let your team down. I let my city down,” Bell said. “Coming from a place I have a lot of pride for. I know a lot of people who were pulling for me and I feel like I let those people down. I had to get back in there and I wanted to do something to bring a light back to the team.”

Bell finished with 36 yards rushing and 61 yards receiving.

The Stafford interception

Stafford
Stafford
Detroit trailed 13-7 with 12:32 left in the fourth quarter when the offense took over on the Lions’ 48-yard line. Stafford once again lined up in I-formation, with Johnson on the bottom, Golden Tate on the top and Brandon Pettigrew moving in motion on the line.

Stafford used playaction to Bell, got through the motion and almost immediately looked to launch the ball to Johnson. Stafford threw into double coverage and Carolina safety Thomas DeCoud tipped what appeared to be an underthrown ball that Johnson never had a shot at. It appeared Stafford locked on throwing to Johnson almost immediately.

“You have to give him a chance,” Stafford said. “I just wish I would have thrown it out there a little bit more, throw a better ball.

"... Just a poor physical throw, I guess.”

It went right into Melvin White on a perfect tip-drill play and White’s return to the Carolina 30-yard line set up a nine-play, 67-yard drive that ended in a Panthers touchdown, changing the game.

“Cason and DeCoud made the play because they were tight coverage on him and they tipped it up,” White said. “I just came and secured the ball and finished up.”

The Ross Fumble

Ross
Down 21-7 following the Stafford interception and a Carolina touchdown drive, Ross caught the ball five yards into the end zone and chose to take it out along the right hash mark. Ross accelerated and had some speed heading into the blocking when he tried to switch direction and cut upfield.

As he did, Chase Blackburn tried to wrap Ross up, eventually grabbing his ankle. As Blackburn slowed Ross down, linebacker Ben Jacobs dove and his hand made contact with the ball right after Blackburn hit the ball.

“Just in traffic, changing directions, started to reaccelerate,” Ross said. “Guy just got his arm in there, got a good grip on the ball and started ripping on it.

“Tried to come over with my left hand to secure it but he had a good grip on it and kind of ripped it out of there as I was in the process of changing direction.”

Three turnovers helped flip a close game into a Carolina blowout, at least in terms of score. It is something the Lions need to fix as soon as possible.

“Fall behind like that,” Johnson said. “It’s hard to win games when you’re 0-3 on the turnover battle.”
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Here’s a weekly look at some numbers behind the Detroit Lions' 24-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

0 – Turnovers caused by Detroit against Carolina.

1 – Reception by Calvin Johnson when Matthew Stafford threw the ball more than 10 yards.

3 – Drops by Lions pass catchers Sunday, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

3.89 – Yards per rush for the Lions on Sunday, 20th in the NFL.

4 – Consecutive road losses by Detroit, dating back to last season.

5 – Receptions by Johnson from 10 yards and in.

11 – Targets to Joique Bell, the second most in Bell’s career.

49 – Yards of both field goals Nate Freese missed against Carolina.

55.0 – Stafford’s QBR on Sunday, 43 points lower than his QBR in the season opener.

62 – Offensive snaps Johnson played Sunday.

66 – Offensive snaps Golden Tate played Sunday.

72.5 – Stafford’s passer rating Sunday, more than 50 points lower than the opening week of the season.

108 – Consecutive games with a reception for Johnson, a franchise record.

130 – Consecutive games played by Stephen Tulloch, the longest active streak for a defensive player in the league.

150 – Don Muhlbach's games with the Lions. He’s the 20th person to play 150 games for the team.

Some statistics provided were courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information. Follow Stats & Information on Twitter @ESPNStatsInfo.

The Film Don't Lie: Lions

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
4:00
PM ET
A weekly look at what the Detroit Lions must fix:

Other than one drive in the second half against New York in the opener, the Lions’ running game has struggled the first two weeks of the season. Joique Bell and Reggie Bush each have fewer than 100 yards rushing this season. Bell has 87 yards on 25 carries. Bush has 41 yards on 15 carries. Neither has gained more than 12 yards on a single run.

Despite Bell playing more snaps and having more carries, Lions coach Jim Caldwell said the team’s starting running back is as listed on the depth chart, which means Bush. Caldwell said they will be balancing both backs, but right now, the Lions would be happy to get consistent production from either one of them.

The Lions are hosting a Packers team that has the second-worst run defense in the league, allowing 176.5 yards per game.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Reggie Bush may be listed as the Detroit Lions’ starting running back, but the snaps don’t lie.

Joique Bell is seeing more action.

Bell
That’s one of the biggest things to pull from the first two weeks of snap counts, particularly Sunday against Carolina, where Bell had 42 plays compared to Bush’s 29. The more interesting part is Bush’s usage seemed to go down as the game wore on, even as the Lions were shifting from a balanced team to a team needing to pass to score because they fell behind.

And then there’s Bell’s fumble -- offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said he isn’t going to punish a guy for fumbling once or twice as long as it isn’t habit-forming. The fumble didn’t hurt his usage, either. Last week, Bell had five more snaps than Bush.

It always felt like the Bell/Bush combination would be a time-sharing situation anyway, but the way it has broken down so far certainly is an indication that it might be Bell more than Bush as Detroit’s main running back.

Meanwhile, Theo Riddick had just two offensive snaps Sunday as the third back.

Some other snap count thoughts:
  • Garrett Reynolds received the start at right tackle over Cornelius Lucas and played 55 of 72 snaps (76 percent). Lucas came in, mostly late in the game from what I could tell, and played 17 snaps at right tackle. It isn’t clear when LaAdrian Waddle will return from his calf injury, but when he does, he’ll end up right back in the lineup as neither player was overly impressive.
  • The tight end snap count is going to be something to watch. As long as Waddle is out, expect Brandon Pettigrew to get a decent amount of snaps (35 of 72), followed by Joseph Fauria (25 of 72) and Eric Ebron (26 of 72). Fauria is turning into the most complete tight end of the three, mostly due to his massively improved blocking. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Pettigrew’s snaps drop while Fauria’s and Ebron’s rise over the course of the season.
  • George Johnson is starting to emerge as Detroit’s third defensive end. He played 27 of 67 snaps on Sunday, nine more than Devin Taylor (18 of 67) and 13 more than Darryl Tapp (14 of 67). He has had the production to match it. Johnson had another tackle against Carolina.
  • Cassius Vaughn’s snaps are about to go up. With Nevin Lawson out for a while and no other corners on the roster right now, he’s likely to slide into the nickel corner spot that seems to be an injury-prone area right now after Bill Bentley’s ACL tear in Week 1 and Lawson’s dislocated foot Sunday. Cornerback Rashean Mathis, who could also play inside, had confidence in Vaughn and so did the coaches. Even before Lawson’s injury, he was getting some run at the slot corner. It’s almost a guarantee Detroit is making a move for a defensive back again this week. At least one of them.

Morning Roar: The run game issue

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
8:00
AM ET
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It happened again on Sunday against Carolina, and as much as the Panthers' defense had a lot to do with it, there is reason to be concerned about Detroit's run game right now.

A season after both Reggie Bush and Joique Bell both rushed for over 500 yards -- and Bush had more than 1,000 yards rushing -- the Lions appear to be stuck in neutral rushing the ball. This is especially true early in games.

In the opener, the Lions had 15 yards on 13 carries in the first half. Against Carolina on Sunday, the Lions had 29 yards on 12 carries -- once again struggling to move the ball on the ground in the first half. It has turned the Lions at least somewhat one-dimensional early, which could be an issue if they can't rectify it.

"We have to be more effective running the ball, yes definitely, 100 percent, because the run and the pass go hand-in-hand," Bush said. "If your run game is not effective, then it is going to affect the pass. We need to do a better job as running backs and as a team, too, just run the ball better."

So far, the Lions have averaged 73 yards rushing a game -- 28th in the NFL heading into the Sunday night game. The 3.04 yards per carry is 29th in the league. It's only been two games, but neither Bell (87 yards) nor Bush (41 yards) has hit over 100 yards for the season yet.

That should be concerning for an offense that wants balance both in who it is throwing to and at least a little bit more in how well they run the ball.

And now, a look at Lions news from around the Interwebs:
Each week, we'll take a look at who or what might be rising or falling with the Detroit Lions.

RISING:

CB Nevin Lawson: The rookie fourth-round pick out of Utah State was forced into the game when Bill Bentley tore his ACL early in the first quarter, and he handled his first action -- mostly facing Victor Cruz in the slot -- well enough. He allowed three receptions on four targets, but didn't get beat too bad too often. Now, with Bentley out for the season and the Lions signing an offensive lineman instead of a defensive back, it looks like Lawson could be the slot corner of the present after being picked as a developmental selection for the most part. The Lions could still make a secondary move here, but Lawson just became a lot more important to Detroit.

QB Matthew Stafford: Played arguably the best game of his career Monday night against the New York Giants, completing 22 of 32 passes for 346 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a touchdown using a nifty cutback move. This is the type of play Detroit is going to need from Stafford this season if the Lions are going to have a good year. He looked calm, confident and made the right reads over and over again. He appeared to be a quarterback who is ready to make a jump to another level.

CB Darius Slay: The second-year corner was another player who had a lot of questions surrounding him this preseason, and he played well. Pro Football Focus gave him a positive grade, charting eight passes thrown his way with only three of them being caught -- and none for more than nine yards. I'll preface this by saying the Giants were not a very good offense on Monday night, but this is encouraging for Detroit if Slay can keep this up. He'll get two tougher tests the next two weeks with Carolina and Green Bay.

FALLING:

WR Kevin Ogletree: He was playing with the starters for a good chunk of the preseason and even though he didn't have a great statistical preseason, he appeared to be solidly in the game plan each week. Then the Lions made Ogletree inactive Monday night in favor of Corey Fuller, who was on the practice squad last season. This doesn't send a great message for Ogletree or Ryan Broyles, who was also inactive. Jim Caldwell said the Lions had to go with the strategy to only keep four receivers active, but that Ogletree wasn't one of the four is an interesting situation worth watching.

Lions' run game: Yes, it was only one game. But the Lions sure didn't look like a team that would have a ton of success running early on. They averaged 1.2 yards a carry in the first half and 2.5 yards per carry in the game. Considering the tandem of Joique Bell and Reggie Bush, this should get better in a hurry, but for right now it is certainly a concern for the Lions.

CB Bill Bentley: During the spring, Bentley was convinced he was going to have a breakout season. He felt Teryl Austin's scheme really suited him well and he understood what he was doing more in his third season with the Lions. He had a decent preseason, too, and held onto his starting job. Now, though, his season is over after tearing his ACL on Monday night. This has longer implications, though, because if Lawson plays well at nickel during the 2014 season, then Bentley could become expendable in 2015 if he isn't able to come back to the form he appeared to be in.
DETROIT -- An examination of what the Lions must do after their win over the Giants:

The numbers were at least a little bit staggering for the Detroit Lions at first. One half into their season, and half of their offense became essentially ineffective.

Joique Bell and Reggie Bush, the team’s two-headed running back, touched the ball 11 times. They gained a total of 12 yards -- 10 of them coming on one run from Bell. While the Lions were able to pass the ball easily, they couldn’t get either of their running backs going.

Bell
Yes, Detroit finished with 76 yards on 30 carries, but other than one elongated drive in the second half, neither Bush nor Bell looked particularly productive. Considering what is to come for the Lions, this is an area that needs improvement, as the opponents become tougher starting Sunday against Carolina.

“I really felt like New York was playing well up front,” left guard Rob Sims said. “They were stuffing us, and it was always an extra safety. They were really loading our box up. We just kept after it, and when we needed to run, we ran it.”

Detroit was particularly good rushing in a pass-first offense last season under Scott Linehan, with both Bush and Bell getting 500 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving. Bush rushed for more than 1,000 yards, the first time that happened with the Lions in a decade.

On Monday night, though, the run game looked bad until Detroit had a lead at the end of the game and went run heavy both in play-call and to grind clock. That this is one of the Lions’ biggest issues at this point -- and it was still at least mildly successful -- is a good sign for Detroit after the first week of the season.

But as good as Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson looked Monday night, Detroit knows it needs running back production similar to last season for there to be continued success for the Lions this season.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- It is a situation the Detroit Lions want to avoid at any cost, but like any football coach, they have to have a contingency plan.

Tate
Tate
Bell
So what would the Lions do if quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Dan Orlovsky both were injured in the course of a game? The obvious answer might seem like Kellen Moore, but it would be impractical for Detroit to keep three quarterbacks on a game-day active roster.

And they can’t just randomly activate Moore, so they would have to look somewhere else.

"I’m sure both Joique (Bell) and Golden (Tate) will fight over that," offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said. "They both, deep down, consider themselves great quarterbacks."

Quarterbacks without any experience, though. Tate has an extensive baseball background, including playing collegiately at Notre Dame. Bell attempted 17 passes in college at Wayne State, completing nine for 280 yards and four touchdowns.

He has an almost-unreal quarterback efficiency rating of 257.2 in his career. Bell joked Friday that he has "a cannon" for an arm.

"I don’t really get into rundowns of what other people can do. I can only speak from what I can do, and I can launch that ball down the field," Bell said. "If you need me to hit a 5-yard out, I can hit that. If you need me to hit a comeback, or audible something, work the Cover 3, whatever the coach needs me to do. I’m here for the team.

"Big team, little me."

The Lions, of course, hope it doesn’t come to that.

As for a fight over who would play? The Lions might not have to worry about that, either. Tate appeared to somewhat concede the position to Bell when he was asked about it Friday.

"I think I have a better arm and I think I have better placement," Tate said. "But because Joique knows the blocking schemes because he is a running back and he has to know who to block, I think he would do a better job of managing the offense.

"... I wouldn’t fight (over it). I like scoring the touchdowns. I’ve already thrown a touchdown in my career. So been there, done that."

The Lions would prefer if neither one ever has to do it at all.
A week from now, you'll be watching a bunch of teams in their first regular-season games. The Detroit Lions won't play until the next night, but cut downs have happened. Regular-season football is finally here.

And the Mailbag remains. As always, to ask a question for the Mailbag, tweet with the hashtag #LionsMailbag, drop me a note on my Facebook page or email me at michael.rothstein@espn.com. With all of the roster movement and fluidity, this is a shorter mailbag than usual because I avoided roster questions from when this was put together and when it would run.

Now, on to your questions:

@mikerothstein: If Joique Bell or Reggie Bush were to get injured -- and you saw it last season with Bush -- the other would probably receive a good chunk of the other's snaps. In addition, the Lions would certainly lean on Theo Riddick a little bit more and perhaps give some carries to a fullback. Depending what the roster looked like at that point in time -- remember, the roster is a constantly evolving thing -- there could be a pickup or promotion from a practice squad as well.

@mikerothstein: If you had asked me this question two weeks ago, I would have said Ashlee Palmer without question. Now, I'd lean heavily toward Tahir Whitehead. The former Temple player has had an extremely strong preseason and has grown into a player who could be a capable starter in his third NFL season. He'll always have a big special teams role, but that he can play linebacker effectively as well is helpful. That said, you might as well throw Bill Bentley in there since most teams run nickel as much as a base 4-3/3-4 (in Detroit's case, 4-3) defense.

@mikerothstein: Considering the person asking this question is in one of the leagues I participate in, I feel like I shouldn't answer this, but I will. Eric Ebron should have a decent fantasy season for a tight end because the Lions are going to pass the ball a lot and Ebron is going to be a stretch-the-field tight end. I wouldn't expect massive numbers -- most rookie tight ends don't do that -- but respectable ones. Maybe 400-500 yards and a handful of touchdowns. That's been around the projection on ESPN's fantasy site and something that could be close to right. He's going to compete with Joseph Fauria for playing time early and Fauria has the better hands and is a better blocker right now. Plus, as Fauria improves, his ability as a red zone target as well shouldn't go unnoticed for fantasy purposes. 
The NFL season is a little over a week away, and that means a bunch of prop bets for teams this season. Bovada, out of Las Vegas, was kind enough to provide some prop bets for the Detroit Lions this year.

Here are some of those, involving offensive and defensive players:
  • Over/under total passing yards for quarterback Matthew Stafford: 4,700 yards
  • Over/under passing touchdowns for Stafford: 29 1/2
  • Over/under interceptions thrown by Stafford: 16 1/2
  • Over/under rushing and receiving yards for Reggie Bush: 1,200 1/2 yards
  • Over/under rushing and receiving touchdowns for Bush: 6
  • Over/under rushing and receiving yards for Joique Bell: 1,100 1/2 yards
  • Over/under rushing and receiving touchdowns for Bell: 8 1/2
  • Over/under receiving yards for Calvin Johnson: 1,500 1/2 yards
  • Over/under receiving touchdowns for Johnson: 11 1/2
  • Over/under receptions for Johnson: 92 1/2
  • Over/under receiving yards for Golden Tate: 900 1/2 yards
  • Over/under receiving touchdowns for Tate: 5
  • Over/under sacks for Ndamukong Suh: 6 1/2
  • Over/under sacks for Ezekiel Ansah: 9

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