NFC North: Kassim Osgood

Free Head Exam: Detroit Lions

October, 15, 2012
After the Detroit Lions' 26-23 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, here are three issues that merit further examination:
    Free Head Exam

  1. In the 2012 debut of safety Louis Delmas, the Lions doubled their season's takeaway total (three). They hit quarterback Michael Vick 11 times, including three sacks, and made 10 tackles behind the line of scrimmage against the run game. It was no coincidence. As we noted last week, there was a clear drop-off in takeaways and playmaking last season when Delmas departed the Lions lineup. Sunday, he had an interception and two tackles for loss, but his biggest contribution was his frenetic attitude and energy. You might think that kind of boost doesn't exist on the professional level, but coach Jim Schwartz said: "It was real on the field. It was real this week in practice. It was real in the locker room before the game, pregame warm-ups. He's that kind of guy. He's got personality." Said Delmas: "No matter what the circumstances are, I can motivate them and get them to play that extra [bit] and use that energy and effort." I would equate Delmas' impact to the role of the first confident souls on a dance floor. If they're kicking it and having fun, as the kids say, soon the floor will be full of crazy people. If not, you have a lot of people standing nervously near the punch bowl. (Not that I would know anything about dancing or the dance floor. Although I am familiar with punch.)
  2. We've had plenty of discussions this season about the Lions' ineffective downfield passing. But an interesting split has developed. During the first three quarters of games, quarterback Matthew Stafford has completed only eight of 22 passes that traveled at least 15 yards past the line of scrimmage. One has been intercepted, none have gone for touchdowns and only one has resulted in a play of at least 30 yards. In fourth quarters and overtime, however, Stafford has completed 10 of 19 such passes. Why is that? One explanation: Lions players are pretty good at ad-libbing with each other when the game turns into a scramble. One example came in the fourth quarter when Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson discussed a potential adjustment to an inside route if Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha took it away, as they expected. That adjustment led to Johnson's 16-yard sideline reception that set up Jason Hanson's game-tying field goal. Johnson: "I'm supposed to get inside, but Nnamdi was taking away the inside for most of the game, especially in the second half. I just found open space back there. The crazy thing is me and Matt had talked about it. It was there and I just took it." Sunday went pretty much as the matchup might have suggested for three quarters, as Stafford was 1-of-5 on downfield throws against the Eagles' elite secondary. After the start of the fourth quarter, however, he completed 4 of 7 such throws.
  3. Place-kicker Jason Hanson is 42 years old and in his 21st season, and guess how he felt as he jogged onto the field for the game-winning field goal in overtime? "I was nervous," Hanson said. Obviously, Hanson wasn't hand-shaking nervous. I interpreted his sentiment as the Lions' most overt admission of how important they considered the outcome of this game. There is only one game's difference between 2-3 and 1-4, but a loss Sunday would have pushed a losing streak to the other side of their bye week. "We needed it," Hanson said. "We needed it bad … We needed it to get our season back on."
And here's one issue I still don't get:
Did Delmas' return also help settle the Lions' special teams? I'm not sure if we can make the connection, but here goes: With Delmas and 2011 partner Amari Spievey each making their first start of the season at safety, the special teams got two of their better players back on a full-time basis. John Wendling and Erik Coleman both focused on their special-teams duties -- although injuries forced Coleman to play a handful of defensive snaps -- and the Eagles' return game was largely stymied. The Eagles averaged 24.4 yards on five kickoff returns and didn't have a punt return longer than 11 yards. Lions cover man Kassim Osgood bottled up the Eagles' DeSean Jackson on his only return, a loss of 3 yards at the end of the first half.
In which we look ahead to the remainder of Week 3 in the NFC North's preseason schedule:

Chicago Bears
Opponent: New York Giants
Location: MetLife Stadium
Day/Time: Friday/8 p.m. ET
Personnel notes: After an intense week of discussion about linebacker Brian Urlacher's future, there is more reason than ever to scrutinize Nick Roach's play at middle linebacker. Whereas we once considered it a lock that Urlacher will be ready to start the season, there now seems at least a chance that Roach will open the year at middle linebacker. It's not his best position. … Punter Adam Podlesh has a hip flexor, so rookie Ryan Quigley will handle all of the punting duties Friday night. His performance will determine whether the Bears need to consider other options if Podlesh isn't ready to start the season. … The game will be televised nationally on CBS.
Focal point: What else, if not for the Bears' offensive line? The Giants aren't expected to play All-Pro defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul because of back spasms, but they should still give the Bears' line its best test yet. The Bears would like to make a final decision on their starting left tackle, where J'Marcus Webb is trying to hold off Chris Williams, as well as at left guard. Chris Spencer and Chilo Rachal are competing for that job.

Minnesota Vikings
San Diego Chargers
Friday/8 p.m. ET
Personnel notes:
Tailback Adrian Peterson won't play but will participate fully in pregame warmups, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen. … Cornerback Chris Cook (concussion) and nose tackle Letroy Guion (knee) aren't expected to play. … The Vikings will continue to search for possibilities to replace receiver Jerome Simpson during his three-game suspension. Look for second-year player Stephen Burton, along with veterans Michael Jenkins and Devin Aromashodu, to all get long looks. … Rookie cornerback Josh Robinson has impressed the Vikings in training camp and could get a chance to work with the first team Friday night. … Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst will start for the Chargers, who don't want to risk starter Philip Rivers behind an injury-riddled offensive line. Tight end Antonio Gates will also sit out.
Focal point:
This might be middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley's final chance to secure the starting job. The Vikings haven't been thrilled with his tentative preseason performances, coming after a hip injury cost him the 2011 season. Another poor outing could put the team on a search for replacements.

Detroit Lions
Opponent: Oakland Raiders
Location: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
Day/Time: Saturday/7 p.m. ET
Personnel notes: Tailback Mikel Leshoure is expected to make his NFL debut, nearly 17 months after he was drafted and nearly 20 months from his last live game. Leshoure last played for Illinois on Dec. 29, 2010. He missed last season because of a ruptured Achilles and a portion of training camp this summer because of a hamstring strain. The Lions want to get him some preseason work because he'll has been suspended for the first two weeks of the regular season. ... New special teams ace Kassim Osgood isn't expected to play. ... Rookie Kellen Moore's chances of making the team increased with the release of R.J. Archer, but he still must earn a roster spot even though he is one of only three quarterbacks on the roster. The Lions could keep only two on their final 53-man roster.
Focal point: It would be nice to see defensive tackle Nick Fairley have a signature, breakout game to reinforce projections that he will be a significant factor this season. But in reality, a game with impact would suffice.

BBAO: Kassim Osgood and the Lions

August, 23, 2012
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz wasn't happy with the team's special-teams coverage groups in last Friday's preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens. Schwartz threatened to bring in new players, and it appears the Lions have followed through.

Veteran Kassim Osgood, a three-time Pro Bowler on special teams, tweeted Wednesday night that he had signed with the Lions. Osgood earned Pro Bowl honors in 2006, 2007 and 2009 while playing for the San Diego Chargers and spent the past two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Osgood, 32, is also a wide receiver. But if he makes the team, it will be as a multi-phase special-teams player. For the time being, he helps alleviate a talent drain caused by John Wendling's ascendance to starting safety and Stefan Logan's ankle injury, among other developments.

Continuing around the NFC North:



Thursday, 9/4
Sunday, 9/7
Monday, 9/8