NFC North: 2014 snap counts

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.
The preseason is over and on Thursday night, many Detroit Lions starters did not play a snap against Buffalo.

But many players battling for roster spots did.

Here’s a peek and some analysis on the defensive snap counts:

DEFENSIVE ENDS:

Tapp
Larry Webster 29 snaps (48 percent); Darryl Tapp 25 snaps (42 percent); George Johnson 23 snaps (38 percent); Devin Taylor 23 snaps (38 percent); Ezekiel Ansah 15 snaps (25 percent).

Analysis: The Lions are still trying to get Webster as much experience as possible to try and work him into a rotation player as soon as possible. Nothing else to really read into here.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES:

Xavier Proctor 29 snaps (48 percent); Jimmy Saddler-McQueen 29 snaps (48 percent); C.J. Mosley 21 snaps (35 percent); Andre Fluellen 20 snaps (33 percent); Nick Fairley 13 snaps (22 percent); Caraun Reid 13 snaps (22 percent).

Analysis: This went about as expected other than Reid, who appeared to have some sort of injury in the game. But Proctor and Saddler-McQueen are players Detroit wanted to get one last look at, perhaps for practice squad decisions.

LINEBACKERS

Tahir Whitehead 28 snaps (47 percent); Travis Lewis 26 snaps (43 percent); Julian Stanford 25 snaps (42 percent); Brandon Hepburn 23 snaps (38 percent); DeAndre Levy 7 snaps (12 percent); Stephen Tulloch 7 snaps (12 percent); Shamari Benton 2 snaps (3 percent).

Analysis: With Kyle Van Noy out, the Lions played Whitehead probably more than they would have liked. Lewis needed to continue to show linebacker skills. That Benton played fewer snaps than the starters is not a good sign for his roster chances.

CORNERBACKS

Chris Greenwood 40 snaps (67 percent); Nevin Lawson 31 snaps (52 percent); Cassius Vaughn 29 snaps (48 percent); Mohammed Seisay 25 snaps (42 percent); Bill Bentley 21 snaps (35 percent); Darius Slay 15 snaps (25 percent).

Analysis: Rashean Mathis didn’t play and Slay didn’t need to do much, especially once Sammy Watkins left the game. The Lions needed to play Greenwood a lot since he is on the roster bubble and likely wanted to give Lawson as many snaps as possible. Seisay’s 25 snaps feel like an attempt to hide a good player for practice squad purposes.

SAFETIES

Jerome Couplin 45 snaps (75 percent); Isa Abdul-Quddus 40 snaps (67 percent); Nate Ness 25 snaps (42 percent); Glover Quin 10 snaps (17 percent).

Analysis: With Don Carey and James Ihedigbo not traveling, there were a lot of snaps for Couplin, Abdul-Quddus and Ness to have one last chance to impress. Couplin again showed up a lot of places and seems to be close to a roster spot. Abdul-Quddus intercepted another pass. With Carey and Ihedigbo’s status unknown, he’s almost a lock for the roster at this point.
The preseason is over and on Thursday night, many Detroit Lions starters did not play a snap against Buffalo.

But many players battling for roster spots did.

Here’s a peek and some analysis on the offensive snap counts:

QUARTERBACKS:

Moore
Kellen Moore 56 snaps (77 percent); Dan Orlovsky 17 snaps (23 percent)

Analysis: Moore was going to get the majority of snaps in Buffalo. Orlovsky remains the No. 2 quarterback as Moore waits to find out if he has a roster spot or has to go through waivers. Moore had a strong preseason, though, and will give coaches something to think about.

RUNNING BACKS:

George Winn 31 snaps (42 percent); Mikel Leshoure 26 snaps (36 percent); Theo Riddick 18 snaps (25 percent).

Analysis: Reggie Bush and Joique Bell didn’t play. Riddick didn’t see much time as the third back. This was a final audition for both Winn and Leshoure, and neither one stood out. Winn had the most carries for the second straight game and should be ahead of Leshoure on a roster spot fight if the team keeps either one.

FULLBACKS:

Emil Igwenagu 22 snaps (30 percent); Jed Collins 5 snaps (7 percent)

Analysis: Montell Owens didn’t play, probably meaning he’s on the roster. Jim Caldwell said he wanted to take a long look at Igwenagu and he got it, although not sure how much he really saw.

WIDE RECEIVERS:

Ryan Broyles 36 snaps (49 percent); Jeremy Ross 26 snaps (36 percent); Andrew Peacock 23 snaps (32 percent); Kris Durham 23 snaps (32 percent); Kevin Ogletree 23 snaps (32 percent); Patrick Edwards 23 snaps (32 percent); Corey Fuller 20 snaps (27 percent).

Analysis: No need for Calvin Johnson or Golden Tate to play. That Broyles was in the game so late was somewhat curious -- and leads to some question about his potential roster spot. That said, I have Broyles on my final projection. Fuller receiving the least amount of snaps again leads me to think the team might be trying to hide him for the practice squad.

TIGHT ENDS:

Jordan Thompson 27 snaps (37 percent); Joseph Fauria 22 snaps (30 percent); Eric Ebron 21 snaps (29 percent); Michael Egnew 20 snaps (27 percent).

Analysis: Nothing to read into here, although the team took a look at Egnew. Still don’t think he fits anywhere on the roster.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE:

Cornelius Lucas 56 snaps (77 percent); Michael Williams 56 snaps (77 percent); LaAdrian Waddle 17 snaps (23 percent); Corey Hilliard 10 snaps (14 percent); Riley Reiff 7 snaps (10 percent).

Analysis: Waddle received the start and it is still unclear who wins that right tackle between him and Hilliard. That Lucas and Williams received the same number of snaps, to me, means that’s still a really tight competition for the fourth tackle spot. Could be close to a 50-50 decision there.

INTERIOR LINEMEN:

Rodney Austin 66 snaps (90 percent); Travis Swanson 57 snaps (78 percent); Darren Keyton 55 snaps (75 percent); Garrett Reynolds 33 snaps (45 percent); Larry Warford 7 snaps (10 percent).

Analysis: Dominic Raiola and Rob Sims sat with no real reason to play. Warford played sparingly as the Lions needed to get some work for reserves. Reynolds getting the start was curious to me. That Austin played so much Thursday night makes me wonder if he is more on the roster bubble than previously thought, with both Keyton and Reynolds pushing him.

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