Friday, November 29, 2013
Rookie Report: Detroit Lions Week 13
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.
As a complete class, Detroit's rookies might have played their best collective game Thursday during the Lions' 40-10 thrashing of Green Bay.
They accounted for four sacks. They kept Matthew Stafford upright and one of them even had a breakout game. There's a chance this might be the best overall rookie class in the NFL this season and for that, Martin Mayhew and the Lions scouts deserve a lot of praise.
Here's a look at how they fared Thursday.
Lions rookie Ezekiel Ansah got to Packers quarterback Matt Flynn twice in Thursday's game, and he now has seven sacks on the season.
DE Ziggy Ansah (first round, BYU): This might have been the best game of Ansah's young career with Detroit. Due to the Lions' defense having so few plays -- only 43 all day -- Ansah saw only 28 snaps (65 percent of the plays), his lowest percentage since Week 3 in a game he wasn't injured. Ansah had three tackles -- two of them sacks -- in those 28 plays and generally caused havoc the rest of the game. For all Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley do, when Ansah is in the game and healthy, he makes a difference because between him, Willie Young and Devin Taylor, opponents have to be concerned about all four members of the defensive line rushing the quarterback effectively.
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.
CB Darius Slay (second round, Mississippi State): Easily the best game of Slay's rookie season. He was on the field for every play on defense and started at corner for the first time since Week 2 because of Chris Houston's injury. Slay defended three passes and made two tackles, but Pro Football Focus graded him out at plus-2.9, including plus-2.6 in coverage -- the first positive ratings he has received all season. He had been saying for a few weeks things were slowing down for him on defense and it showed Thursday. Pro Football Focus had him with six targeted passes and only three receptions caught on him -- and one was really late with Detroit up 30 points.
RG Larry Warford (third round, Kentucky): Another week, another positive grade for Warford by Pro Football Focus, making it the fourth straight week that has happened. He allowed pressure one of the times quarterback Matthew Stafford was hurried, but that's about it. He was one of two players, along with Rob Sims, to play all 81 offensive snaps for Detroit.
DE Devin Taylor (fourth round, South Carolina): Taylor played only 15 snaps Thursday, but was extremely effective in them. He had three tackles, two sacks and forced a fumble. He has combined with Ansah to be a strong rookie combination alongside Willie Young at defensive end. A marked change from last week, when Taylor was largely ineffective.
P Sam Martin (fifth round, Appalachian State): Not the best day for Martin. His only punt was a good one -- 33 yards but was fair caught at the 5-yard line. Kickoffs were his bugaboo Thursday. He had three touchbacks, but in trying to put the ball in the corner against Micah Hyde, he also sent two kickoffs out of bounds, resulting in penalties and good field position for Green Bay.
RB Theo Riddick (sixth round, Notre Dame): He had four offensive snaps Thursday and had one reception, on a wide receiver screen, for 5 yards. As usual, most of his work came on special teams, where he had 16 snaps.
TE Joseph Fauria (undrafted, UCLA): Not much from Fauria on Thanksgiving. He played his typical share of snaps these days -- between 23 and 27 percent -- but was only targeted once by Stafford and did not record a reception. The target did come in the red zone, though.
A brief look at Fauria's tracking: Week 1 -- three targets, three catches, one touchdown, 14 percent of snaps (11 plays).
Week 2 -- no targets, no catches, 10 percent of snaps (six plays).
Week 3 -- three targets, one catch, one touchdown, 18 percent of snaps (12 plays).
Week 4 -- no targets, no catches, 20 percent of snaps (13 plays)
Week 5 -- no targets, no catches, 13 percent of snaps (9 plays)
Week 6 -- three targets, three catches, three touchdowns, 31 percent of snaps (23 plays)
Week 7 – four targets, one catch, 40 percent of snaps (31 plays)
Week 8 -- no targets, no catches, 19 percent of snaps (15 plays)
Week 10 -- two targets, one catch, 23 percent of snaps (14 plays)
Week 11 -- two targets, one catch, 27 percent of snaps (20 plays)
Week 12 -- one target, one catch, one touchdown, 12 percent of snaps (9 plays)
Week 13 -- one target, no catches, 23 percent of snaps (19 plays)
OT LaAdrian Waddle (undrafted, Texas Tech): Officially the starting right tackle on the depth chart these days, Waddle had a strong day. He registered a 4.2 overall rating from Pro Football Focus and only allowed one quarterback hurry (it was also a quarterback hit), his best performance in that area since Week 9 against Chicago.